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2018 Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design: A celebration of stories

Dylan Amirio
Dylan Amirio

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, October 26, 2018 | 10:16 am
2018 Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design: A celebration of stories

The wave of punk: Posters depicting the history of the Indonesian punk scene are on display at the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) exhibition at grandkemang hotel, South Jakarta. (The Jakarta Post/Umair Rizaludin)

Going strong in its ninth year, the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) exhibition returns this year with “Kisah” (Story), the main subject that ultimately serves to frame the artists’ finished works.

Held from Oct. 18 to Nov. 30 at grandkemang hotel in South Jakarta, the exhibition presents a fuller scope of a new generation of artist’s contributions to contemporary Indonesian art and design.

This year’s ICAD focuses mainly on the concept of a “story”, where the histories, processes and mind-sets of artists are given the spotlight instead of their results. It celebrates these artists’ behind-the-scenes efforts and invites visitors to appreciate their process as much as their product.

Co-curator Hafiz Rancajale said the organizers had purposefully given the participating artists the challenge of transforming the hotel’s lobby area while not taking away from the room’s functionality as an ordinary hotel lobby.

He said they discussed ideas with the artists regarding what parts of their story they wanted to share with the public. “Therefore, there are many storytelling methods on display at this exhibition as it welcomes us to understand their art a little more,” Hafiz says.

For this edition, ICAD invited artist collectives and contemporary artists to fill the hotel’s halls with their stories, inviting visitors to awe at the ideas and processes exhibitors go through to produce their artwork. Works from various mediums, such as video, literature, performance, fashion, product design, sketch and music are included in the exhibition and each artist is given an adequate amount of space to accommodate their stories.

Tiles of wonder: A piece by Harry Purwanto is displayed at the exhibition. Tiles of wonder: A piece by Harry Purwanto is displayed at the exhibition. (The Jakarta Post/Umair Rizaludin)

The archives of well-known videography collective The Jadugar are one of the most interesting sections of the exhibition.

The creative brainchild of film director Anggun Priambodo, Nana Suryadi and musician Henry Foundation, The Jadugar is well known for its distinctive and quirky video creation techniques, having been responsible for many music videos for independent bands in the 2000s.

The collective has been lauded by several visitors familiar with their work, such as indie videographer Adythia Utama as “ahead of their time”, producing videos that ooze fun and cool in their own ways, serving as inspiration for Adythia’s own work.  

The Jadugar has made several iconic music videos for bands including Seringai, Naif, The Brandals, Goodnight Electric (Henry’s band) and The Upstairs.

Dozens and dozens of draft tapes from the collective’s work are displayed in its section, as well as the old school video cameras that the members used to shoot these videos and a video screen looping the team’s process and end results.

Another fascinating exhibition in this event is the playful and innocent display of performance artist Agus Nur Amal or PM Toh’s stage props. PM Toh is a celebrated performance artist known for his compelling method of storytelling, in which he uses everyday objects to describe his stories.

The props are played around usually handmade and simple scenery, therefore presenting his performance similarly to puppetry: large bucket lids are used as a prop sun, while the characters in his story are depicted as objects such as plastic bottles.

Everyday items: A piece by performance artist Agus Nur Amal (aka PM Toh) titled The Story of Imaginative Objects, in which ordinary household objects are used by the artist to tell his stories. Everyday items: A piece by performance artist Agus Nur Amal (aka PM Toh) titled The Story of Imaginative Objects, in which ordinary household objects are used by the artist to tell his stories. (The Jakarta Post/Umair Rizaludin)

Transitions between tales are also shown through these objects, such as crudely-cut cardboard representing waves of the sea. The man’s jovial and cheerful way of delivering his stories is charming and whimsical that it could make both adults and children enjoy it the same way.

The props behind all of his stories let audiences’ see how he structures these tales and the creative ways that he sees the simplest of objects.

At the tail end of the exhibition space is a semi-outdoor room dedicated to the history of celebrated indie-pop band White Shoes and the Couples Company. Here, the band’s history is laid out comprehensively from their beginnings to their prime, to even hints of what may come.

The band is known for their charming 1950s old Jakarta aesthetic, which ranges from their style of music to the clothes that they wear, and were a significant force in the young Indonesian indie scene of the 2000s, still respected in the indie scene today.   

Iconic dresses worn by singer Aprilia Apsari and keyboardist Aprimela Prawidyanti are on display next to the iconic shoes worn by guitarist Rio Farabi, as well as other memorabilia that defined drummer John Navid, bass player Ricky Vergana and guitarist Saleh Husein.

The band carefully lays out every single record they have released, as well as every physical single and compilation album they have appeared on in one section, while filling the rest of the room with prints, posters, photographs and antique knickknacks that celebrate their style and the bygone era of which they embody. It is truly an immersive and thoughtful display that does their history justice.

Aside from histories, the exhibition also puts forth displays that honor artistic mindsets, such as the solitary and simple orb that contemporary author and illustrator Lala Bohang hangs in one almost-hidden section of the exhibition area.

World of sleep: Artwork featuring themes from author Lala Bohang’s books displays a story behind the artist’s work. World of sleep: Artwork featuring themes from author Lala Bohang’s books displays a story behind the artist’s work. (The Jakarta Post/Umair Rizaludin)

The piece aims to celebrate the act and importance of sleeping to not just her but to everyone, including artists, especially considering that artists tend to be a sleepless bunch.

The piece brings a degree of fullness to her usually 2D illustrations and manages to fill the space.

The event is also holding workshops related to storytelling techniques, with one particular event helmed by famed Hollywood producer Jon Kruyper, who is responsible for executive producing Hollywood flicks such as The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

Kruyper said the stories behind finished art were ultimately the most interesting aspects of the art itself as the audience was able to connect with the creator’s emotional processes on a deeper level in understanding the work.

“Once you understand what it takes to make a piece of art, you tend to connect with it a little more. As the artist, once you realize what you went through, you’ll appreciate it more too,” he said.

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