Q&A: Leonard Suryajaya — Don’t Hold On To Your Bones


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? It’s more important to be responsible and compassionate than to be right. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? We are messier than they are. Are you aware of any conspiracies? The American presidency. What is it that interests you about photography? Communicating without words. What is the worst thing about city life?
I wish I had more space for what I pay for. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Other people’s experiences. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? That it is already happening but you are just too limited in your capacity to suscept it. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Without further context, I’d say no one. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Math. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I have my phone camera with me almost all the time. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Assistant to people I care for. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. My maternal great grandfather. He’s not of Chinese descent, like my father. How often do you take other people’s advice? Not often. Describe a personal hell. Being stuck. Feeling stuck and powerless. Which living person do you most admire?
My Mom. On what occasion do you lie? Everyday in bed. What was the last crime you witnessed? Right now. This question. What is the best way to educate yourself? Seek it out yourself. What is the next book you want to read? I don’t read books. Ultimate camera? I have a Linhof Technikardan. Sometimes I wish I had a more expensive Linhof but then I’ve made so many great things with my Technikardan that my camera is my ultimate camera. Most used camera? Linhof Technikardan. What object do you want? Money. What object do you need? Money. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950s? It’s omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. It’s god in your fingertips. You just gotta afford it. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? No. I’m training to get stronger. Describe a cheap thrill. Stoned at home with my partner. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. This is not how I set out to make my images. Are impulses more important than consequences? No. You learn how to calibrate both better as you gain more experiences. Which talent would you most like to have? Speaking multiple languages. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Getting my steps in.

Leonard Suryajaya (Chicago, IL) uses his work to test the boundaries of intimacy, community and family. He uses photography, video, performance and installation to show how the everyday is layered with histories, meanings and potential.

BFA, 2013, California State University, Fullerton; MFA, 2015, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; 2017, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Selected exhibition venues include Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago; Benaki Museum, Greece; Photoforum Pasquart, Switzerland; National Library, Singapore; Wrightwood 659, Chicago; Barney Savage Gallery, NYC; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago. His work is included in collections such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Joan Flasch Artist Book Collection, Mana Contemporary and Center for Photography at Woodstock. Awards: Aaron Siskind Foundation Award, Artadia Awards, Robert Giard Foundation Fellowship, New Artist Society Award, James Weinstein Memorial Fellowship, Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Prize for Emerging Artist, The Santo Foundation Fellowship.

To see more of Leonard Suryajaya’s work visit — Website / Instagram.