"Besides facing moments that insist upon answers of his identity, Pramuhendra is challenging the tendency towards childhood amnesia, the inability to remember the times when they were young. This desire to rediscover the past, to understand his present identity, to Pramuhendra has become the stimulus in almost all his works." - Aminudin TH Siregar, Spacing Identities
"Engaging with specific moments in the artist's life, the works accentuate, perhaps even fixate on exposing the constructedness of our identities which have come to be assumed as natural and given." - Shabbir Hussain Mustafa, Spacing Identities
H. 87 is a significant composition in J. Ariadhitya Pramuhendra's central theme of piecing together fragmented identity. The prototype for this work is an old family photograph, now rendered in monochromatic charcoal upon a large-scale canvas. As with the other works in Pramuhendra's pivotal Spacing Identities exhibition, H. 87 is about annotating a historic moment and transferring it to a non-mechanical medium, shaped by the hand of the artist. However the resulting image is blurred, as though the actual visage is less important than the space it occupies with his recollection. Like Proust's madeleine moment, the artist savours and distills his memories, reworks them within his mind, and recreates them as the semblances of nostalgic impression. Pramuhendra does not seek to capture specifics, but is instead concerned with human context, the circumstances which cause us to come into being and turn into the people whom we are.
Within H. 87, the interlocking of familial networks and relationships is especially evident. The black and white matrix of taller people in the background and children in the foreground represents a generational ladder, with each individual having his own prescribed place. Additionally, with the production of the original black and white photograph, this place achieves a permanent fixity. To depart from this familial role would be to shatter the pillars of one's society and effectively remove oneself from one's biological context. The person who does so becomes a drifter, a rootless individual. How then, does one discover individualism within this context? For Pramuhendra, the answer is to describe these moments as irrevocably being in the past. The black and white photograph is now only the relic of a departed episode. The selective choice of effacement empowers the creator who is re-imagining this moment into being. He alone makes the constructive choice to document selective aspects, and render the others into eternal obscurity.
Even the title, H. 87 is left deliberately enigmatic, unlike other works from the series with more specific names. Appearing, perhaps deceptively so, to be a graffiti stencil upon the grey border of the photograph, it could be a leftover artefact from the actual scene, the photographic code on a polaroid snap, a categorical value known only to the artist, or even reference to the year 1987. By being deliberately vague, Pramuhendra obscures the key to this work and as viewers we can only understand it through association. Some light can be shed when referring to another aesthetically similar canvas titled The Absent. Despite populating it with over a dozen individuals, to Pramuhendra, only what is not present bears notable significance. H. 87 is about investigating non-chronological memories, and illuminating what is not documented, in order to document it again, even if only through a form of historic absence.