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Under the full Moon

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Borobudur, a jewel of human heritage, a symbol of spirituality

“This photographic work on Borobudur will be a new opportunity to raise the general public’s awareness regarding the importance of the Borobudur site, one of the world’s greatest Buddhist monuments, which is included on the World Heritage List. These photographs will enable the public to discover this site, endowed with great symbolic and spiritual value, in an original manner thanks to life-size photographs and work accomplished to capture the monument’s bas-reliefs from a new angle. This initiative is fully in line with the Organization’s efforts to support the conservation and promotion of cultural heritage. So allow me to congratulate you on this excellent initiative to which I have the great pleasure of granting the Organization’s patronage…”

Irina Bokova, Director-General for UNESCO - Paris, 2 September 2016

The photographic intention

Borobudur Under The Full Moon was born from the willingness to participate in the rediscovery of this symbolic place. Borobudur has been photographed many times over for scientific, educational or touristic purposes. Caroline & Hughes Dubois offer a more artistic and contemporary interpretation of the carvings in this gigantic architectural mandala.

Caroline & Hughes Dubois chose to photograph at night in order to accentuate the subtle play of shadows on carvings of a bygone era and so create a special resonance that renders them more alive today.

Using the night as a darkroom, they transformed the open sky into a studio. They played with the lighting to shape forms and find a rhythm that echoes the mystery of the place.

Photography enables, despite time and culture, a connection with the humanity that’s portrayed within these scenes of everyday life. The faces resonate out of the stone and reveal the nature of their message and the teaching of the ancestors.

Let us be seduced by the subjective and sensitive interpretation of the photographers. The sculptures become emotion.

Watch the Making Off

Borobudur, a spiritual symbol of human heritage

Located in the center of Indonesia, Borobudur, built in the shape of a pyramid and standing in the heart of nature, is the most magnificent Buddhist temple ever conceived. With its stone terraces that rise into the tropical sky, illuminated by beautiful carvings and statues of the Buddha, it is considered « the largest, oldest and the most beautiful monument in the southern hemisphere ».

There are very few examples in the world of such a complex and coherent building. Borobudur constructed in the 9th century AD, with its symbolic and religious architecture, displays a new level of symbolic meaning at each level of the building. Within its series of ascending terraces, one finds the fundamental diagram of the mandala: the square - the symbol of the earth, and the circle - symbolizing the sky, which combines to produce the number 9, the highest figure of Buddhism. In fact, it is as much a place of pilgrimage or university as it is a temple. The visitor experiences a labyrinth of corridors and stairs, and when finally attaining the top platform through a physical and spiritual journey, they further understand the Buddha’s long and difficult search of ultimate truth.

There are 1300 narrative panels and 1212 decorative panels to discover along the 2500 meters of galleries. Borobudur is like a huge stone book, illustrating the life and times of the Buddha master. The base of the pyramid represents the Sphere of Human Desires. The carvings that cover the walls of the second, third, and fourth galleries, tell a story of Sudhana’s endless wanderings in his quest for Supreme Wisdom. Once at the summit, the visitor sees three circular platforms and the large central stupa, which represent the sphere of detached forms and Ultimate Truth.

In Indonesian prehistoric cultures, the pyramid symbolizes the ancestral home. The ten floors of the edifice corresponds both to the attainment of the Buddha’s sanctity and to the number of sovereign Sailendra who presided over the site prior to Borobudur’s construction.

There is a strong symbolic significance of Borobudur relating to this twined origin, inspired by both Buddhism and ancestor worship.

Patronage & supports

The photographic work is under the patronage of UNESCO

+ Read institutional partners testimonies

Dr. Harry Widianto, Director Cultural Properties and Museums, Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia

“Your photographs taken at night, participate in a contemporary and artistic reading of the carvings and reliefs of Borobudur. They let us see the reliefs as we have never seen before and give the opportunity to rediscover BOROBUDUR. As part of my duties for the Ministry, I am particularly concerned with the transmission of knowledge and the preservation and the promotion of cultural heritage of Indonesia. With regard to the exceptional quality of the photographs proposed here, I am convinced that this publication and exhibition will educate the general public and will highlight this heritage jewel of Indonesia in Asia and all over the world.“

Sophie Makariou, President, Museum Guimet

“This project is a unique occasion to underline the universal importance of this site, the greatest Buddhist monument in the greatest Muslin country in the world. We must do everything we can to promote this exceptional part of history as a cultural heritage of Indonesia and the world.“

Vincent Guerend, Ambassador, delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, European Union

“We trust that these actions will contribute further to the protection and promotion of Borobudur World Heritage Site and beyond Indonesia's heritage and its recognition in Europe, as well as the partnership between Europe and Indonesia.“

“These pictures will be experienced as a reflection form the past, put in modern and contemporary setting. Similar exhibitions and publications will only improve the knowledge of the beauty, and fragility of World Heritage. A theme unfortunately, more present and topical than ever.“

Daniel Janicot, Président, Commission nationale Française pour l’UNESCO

“La Commission nationale Française pour l’UNESCO, vous accorde également son patronage pour cette exposition qui sensibilisera un large public et contribuera à mieux faire connaitre Borobudur à l’échelle du patrimoine mondial.“

Patrick Herman, Ambassador of The Kingdom of Belgium

“The positive social and environmental impact that your awareness-generating project would have on the welfare of the people of Magelang and the rest of Indonesia, I very much welcome your initiative.“

Hubert Gijzen, Ph.D, Director and representative of UNESCO office, Jakarta

“As one of UNESCO’s listed World Heritage Sites, a wide range of assistance has been given to the Indonesian government to ensure the protection and promotion of the site. Considering your activity is also working for the people of Borobudur and Indonesia, we very much welcome your initiative.“

Stanley Bremer, Director, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam

“All photographs of Mrs and Mr Dubois are of outstanding quality… I am convinced that the spiritual power of the Borobudur has never been shown on such level. The craftsmanship of Mrs and Mr Dubois and the spiritual power of the Borobudur at night will open a new dimension that no one has never been able to see.“

©Luna Light Agency – 2018
Borobudur under the Full Moon is a Luna Light Agency production