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Intersection of art and land struggles in Central Java

Sri Taarna
Sri Taarna

Writer and teacher living in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta | Wed, April 26, 2017 | 03:09 pm
Intersection of art and land struggles in Central Java

Titled “Born Premature,” the exhibition is an exploration of how technology and industry are moving too fast for the world and the likely results of this over-acceleration. (JP/Sri Taarna)

The Clash vibrated through the speakers as people thronged to a small vegan restaurant and art space, Simple Plant, in Yogyakarta on April 8. They came to get a glance at the first solo exhibition of artist Rangga Lawe. Titled “Born Premature,” the exhibition is an exploration of how technology and industry move too fast for the world and the likely results of this over-acceleration.

"Born Premature" exhibition by artist Rangga Lawe runs until May 18 in Yogyakarta.(JP/Sri Taarna)

A Jakarta native, Rangga has lived in Yogyakarta for four years and actively supports local farmers in the Kulon Progo area, among others. Kulon Progo’s first battle was a protracted dispute with mining corporations and now they are up against a proposed new airport (NYIA) in the area.

Read also: Countdown begins for Yogyakarta’s new airport

The key speaker at the opening was Widodo, known by friends as Maswid. He is a leading spokesperson for the Kulon Progo Coastal Farmers Association (PPLP-KP). He spoke about why support was vital to the farmers in their opposition. Kulon Progo has often sought out local artists, writers and activists to help in their campaigns. Rejecting the bargaining style of groups such as NGOs, Kulon Progo farmers believe their success comes from working "from the ground up" in their resistance and in the support for local communities.

Visitors flock to the first solo exhibition of artist Rangga Lawe. (JP/Sri Taarna)

The 24 pieces display a range of woodwork Rangga is well known for, as well as intricate pen and ink drawings and a first for the artist, a sculptural installation.  The bold black and white depictions in most of the work seem to display a bleak world, as if the machines marching across the paper come out the winners. The occasional pop of vibrant green in some of the drawings draws attention to these bright spots in desolate landscapes. All of it shows the conflict between industry and nature. Heavy equipment such as bulldozers trapped in trees or reaching zombie-like out of natural debris make it clear on which side of the fight the artist stands.

Read also: Annual Yogyakarta art fair to return in May

“The condition of the Earth is deteriorating rapidly because of destructive industry and the grip of global capitalism. People need a healthy world to survive. Environmental damage means the destruction of man and everything else on the planet. It’s not something we can ignore.” –Rangga Lawe

Simple Plant is the perfect space for this type of artwork. (JP/Sri Taarna)

Simple Plant is the perfect space for this type of artwork. In keeping with the theme of the importance of the Earth and the protection of animals represented in its vegan menu, its wants the art displayed there to also personify those ideals. The intersection of farmers’ survival and sustainable local food supply is at the forefront of issues affecting local communities today. Rangga’s unique perspective sheds light on this ongoing struggle. (asw)

 

Born Premature runs from April 8 through May 18, from 1p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday to Monday

Simple Plant Resto and Art Space Jl. Prawirotaman 1 No. 32 Yogyakarta

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Sri Taarna is a writer and teacher living in Yogyakarta. Visit her personal blog at https://sritaarna.wordpress.com/.

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