PAARKESINE: a Trip to Indonesia, the Land of Contradictions

So here I am, writing about this project that I thought would never happen…

It all started with an urge to make a surf video. One featuring my long-time friend Tito Lavole.

We thought the best place to start would be in Guadeloupe, the Caribbean Island that we both grew up on. At that time, Tito was surfing a pink and yellow striped 5’4”, and I was holding a MiniDV camera. Almost a decade later, and a few details have changed: Tito is surfing a slightly bigger board, and I’m holding a slightly better camera. But apart from that, things were pretty much the same on that trip. Sleeping at Tito’s house and surfing the empty wind-blown left out front, all day every day.

But we knew we wanted this video to be more than a one-trip thing, and Indonesia was the only other place we wanted to document. Not only because of its mechanical reefs, but for its surreal atmosphere. Indonesia can be a perfect illustration of the word, contradiction, and the picture painted often hides a darker universe that I wanted to immerse the project in.

Driving on sketchy mountain roads in the middle of the night to cross paths with a group of men armed with machetes. Finding the most idyllic turquoise water bay and witnessing it being submerged by plastic at high tide. Meeting locals who don’t even own a decent roof, but surf the web on their smartphone. Seeing 10-year old kids smoking cigarettes. Finding out that you can buy rifles at your local grocery store, and later seeing the same kids riding a motorbike, carrying similar rifles on their shoulders.

This is what you’re getting hit with every day when road tripping through remote parts of Indonesia. A country where extreme beauty and obscure chaos walk hand in hand to create this constant flow of uncommonness that we can’t help but come back to every time.

The following photo series was shot on 35mm black & white film during our two-week trip through Indonesia while filming for PAARKESINE.

Words and film photography by Yentl Touboul


Watch the full video here and check more of Yentl's work here.