Raw honesty, radicalism, and unfamiliar territories are the foundation of Samidin’s continuous life’s work called Societies. At the core, is the essence of seeing, hearing and accepting a human being without prejudice and judgment. Documenting the lives of minorities, the oppressed and of those with unorthodox lifestyles all around the world. Creating a shift in the individual and collective consciousness by challenging
our perception and raising the voices of the unheard through photography and film.
During his teenage years, Samidin (1987, Rotterdam) had difficulty conforming to the world around him. Being labeled by stereotypes and feeling unheard himself, Hip Hop and radicalism became his allies. He started documenting his environment without the intent of becoming a photographer. This came to the attention of a professional documentary photographer who introduced him to the field. Shortly after, Samidin got the opportunity to exhibit his first series Moluccans in The Netherlands (2011), a controversial subject about the Republic of South Maluku (RMS) youth, in the Nederlands Fotomuseum. From that moment on Samidin understood the power of his medium. Photography became his language and it continues to have a tremendous influence on his personal life and strong work ethic.
Becoming the first gang photographer of The Netherlands was his goal until he was yet again confronted by stereotypical labels and started traveling extensively. This developed the desire to question one’s truth. Studying the relationship between the character of a person and its environment. Offering a platform for open and honest dialogue. A broader motive came to life: Societies (2008).
Samidin is a true visual anthropologist. As explained by himself, ninety percent of his work consists of connecting with his subjects, building trust and even living alongside them. The remaining ten percent uncovers the material, a direct reflection of himself as both a person and artist. Each photograph is an intimate authentic moment, a millisecond in time only his analog camera can capture. Through this, Samidin believes, even the subconscious is exposed. The process in itself is a work of art. The inspiration came from the masters of photography who defined the expertise through analog methods. A legacy Samidin strives to continue with Societies. When it comes to the places Samidin explores, many often wonder how he can enter spaces most of us never get to see. His sincere approach and fascination for the real parts of a neighborhood combined with majestic synchronicity guides him every time. Beyond The Netherlands, Samidin has captured Societies in Khartoum, Kingston, Nairobi, Dakar, Paris, Los Angeles, Chicago, Berlin, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Paramaribo, Jakarta, Aceh, Bali, Ambon, and the list keeps on growing. By exhibiting the photographs of all these individuals, groups and places by random order Samidin reminds us that no matter where we are from or how we live our lives, we are all human beings. The similarities or differences are ours to define.
Societies has been awarded with the International Ranald MacDonald Lifetime Achievement Award (2020) and the Grand Prize of the Jury by De Kracht van Rotterdam (2016) amongst others. The vision and technique behind Societies extend to all other areas of Samidin’s work: commercial photography, teaching master classes, and directing music videos and documentaries. Even with commissioned photography exhibitions such as ‘t Café (2018) for Rijksmuseum, about the bar culture in The Netherlands and Merdeka! (2019) for Wereldmuseum about the aftermath of Indonesian colonization by the Dutch. Recently, one of Samidin’s works was included in the Gallery of Honor of Dutch Photography (2021) in the Nederlands Fotomuseum. A special exhibition featuring the top 99 works throughout 180 years of Dutch photographic history.
The ongoing journey inspired Samidin to open an art gallery called Gallery Stacii Samidin (2019) in his beloved hometown Rotterdam. Here is where the global Societies family is being honored with high-quality, fine-art photography, next to workshops, masterclasses, and cultural events centered around the philosophy behind Societies.