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A decade ago, my mother embarked on a transformative journey to Sukabumi, an enchanting town nestled on the Indonesian island of Java. Amidst the mountains, she orchestrated the construction of a familial haven, a testament to her unwavering dedication and the collaborative efforts of local craftsmen. This dwelling, a sanctuary amidst our family's global dispersion, stands as a poignant symbol of unity, embodying the love and labor invested by my mother and the skilled hands of the village.

Sukabumi, poetically translating to "liking earth" or "welcoming earth," serves as a muse that decelerates my pace and heightens my senses. It is a place where the echoes of singing frogs, reverent prayers, and rhythmic afternoon thunder converge to orchestrate a symphony of inspiration. Within this haven, nature intertwines seamlessly with my artistic vision, framing my subjects in the organic beauty inherent to Sukabumi.
Capturing the essence of my grandmother became a profoundly personal endeavor, an homage to my roots and the remarkable women who have shaped my existence. The series, aptly named "Ode Opung," pays tribute to my grandmother, known as "Opung" in the Batak language, a distinctive tongue from our Indonesian ethnic heritage. This photographic narrative weaves a tale of reverence and gratitude for the matriarchal lineage coursing through my veins.

The enigmatic "Risma Sinaga," my grandmother's name, takes on a mythical dimension, as the 'Sinaga' surname translates to "The dragon." Intriguingly, dragons find their way into the frames, even in images without my ‘Opung’, symbolizing a continuous celebration of her spirit and influence.
The selected locations for these evocative shots were deliberate, rooted in the sentimentality of my favorite spaces the lush garden adorned with fruit trees and vibrant blooms, and the communal floor, a symbolic meeting ground in Indonesian culture. It is on this floor that memories are woven, conversations unfold, and meals are shared a poignant canvas for the essence of familial ties.

Ultimately, these photographs transcend the visual realm; they serve as a love letter, an eloquent expression of my connection to the rich tapestry of my culture. Each image is a brushstroke in this visual poem, weaving a narrative that extends beyond the immediate, resonating with universal themes of love, heritage, and the enduring embrace of one's cultural identity.

Photographer: Louise Sinaga Helmfrid / @rohanasin
Stylist: Paul Edwards /@paul_edwardss
Talent: Rinda Lamadjido, Emelie Helmfrid, Risma Sinag
Sukabumi, for me, is a repository of familial warmth and nostalgia, a sanctuary of permanence in a life marked by perpetual movement. My return to this haven is an annual voyage, a ritual that deepens my connection to the roots embedded in its soil.