From one period to another, from one creative summit to the other, the sublime in Ay Tjoe Christine’s art works tend to increase in proportion.
Taking us on a ride through the depth of soul, her works this time are the result of an incredible solitariness leading to a kind of stillness that flows into a powerful all-encompassing energy.
Titled Lama Sabakhtani (Why have you forsaken me), the very words that Jesus Christ uttered in anguish when feeling all alone at the cross, the exhibition at Lawangwangi Art and Science Estate’s gallery is about death and mourning, but also about the joy of resurrection. A combination between art and technical execution, Ay Tjoe Christine has cooperated with Deden Sambas, an artist-executor and curator Hendo Wiyanto.
Lama Sabakhtani #03, 2010, an aluminum and typewriter machine (photo above). Lama Sabakhtani # 02, 2010, in wax, nails, powder, fabric & solder (photo right). JP/Carla Bianpoen
Apparently, the works emerged from Ay Tjoe Christine’s thoughts about Easter rituals at church and the emphasis on mourning preceding the feast, compounded by the experience of utter loneliness, comparable in that sense to Jesus’ ordeal on the cross.
But more than grief or the agony of suffering, Ay Tjoe Christine wants to express the joy of overcoming, and the resumption of life. Her meditations on death, mourning and the overcoming of grief, are visualized in installations in which a profound sense of spiritual stillness is merged with a sense of immense joy, of celebratory emotions.
In the main exhibition hall of Lawangwangi Science and Arts Estate in Bandung, a guillotine stands out. One is reminded of the French guillotine, one of European history’s most bloody icons, a copy of which also stands in the exhibition “Crime et Châtiment”, currently on show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Conceived to show that everyone is equal in the face of death, the guillotine was made as an act of humanitarian benevolence that ironically became one of the French Revolution’s most formidable killing machines.
But that was certainly not why Ay Tjoe Christine chose to prostrate that preposterous guillotine in its original form. For her, the killing device has the ability to produce a perfect thundering sound, which she needed to include in her exhibition to convey a sense of strong calling, a calling which she perceives as the ultimate intimacy between the caller or the human being and the called, the Maker.
The celebratory aspect is achieved with balls jumping up accompanied by musical jingling.
Indeed, when the three 9-kilogram knives go up and down, a repeated thundering sound is heard, and in the dim space of the gallery on the Mekarsari hill, one could imagine Golgotha. But the brass balls dancing at the back of the guillotine are a reminder that there is life after death, joy after agony.
A small silver colored typewriter with 18 long, unpadded arms can be seen not far from the guillotine, which can be considered as a means of seeking to “connect” to God. The viewer is invited to “type” and when the only three letters “G.O.D” are hit, suggesting the successful finding of God, music is generated from a music box hidden under the surface.
One would have expected to hear choral music of hymns and praise springing up, but instead one is confronted with thundering tones of Balinese gamelan, suggesting a heavy storm. When asked, the artist said the music conveyed emotions felt when “meeting” one’s Creator.
But surely the most powerful of installations is the Lama Sabakhtani #2, a 1.70-meter black candle with a 12-centimeter diameter. Reminiscent of the Easter Candle, it encompasses the entire spectrum of Ay Tjoe Christine’s meditation. Nails have been inserted in the candle while in production.
Heated, the candle melts, with the dripping symbolizing black tears, suggesting profound sadness. In the original concept, the sadness was meant to be soothed by the sound of nails falling on the cymbals through the push of the melting candle.
Sadly, the placement of the candle and technical execution did not fulfill the artist’s dramatic artwork.
As an introduction to the main subject, three plates and paintings denoting he preparation of this exhibition are seen. Three copper plates with scribbles in white-etching ink were made following the usual order of sin, penitence, absolvence. However, Ay Tjoe’s three copper plates are placed in a different order.
Likening blackboards with white-etching ink scribbles, the “Plate of Prayers” is designed to be flanked by the “Thank You” plate and the “Plate of Repenting”, but strangely the plates were hung without such consideration.
Other works include paintings or sketches for the design of the three-dimensional works. While these were “drafts” for the 3-D works, some of these have become almost independent works.
There is no doubt that Ay Tjoe Christine is on the way to the highest order of creative summits.
Creative, passionate, honest, and authentic, she marches on. But her innovations are in dire need of professional, skilled and highly educated technicians able to match her artistic might with technical expertise.
Lama Sabakhtani Club
A solo exhibition by Ay Tjoe Christine
in collaboration with Deden Sambas
April 16 to May 2, 2010
Lawangwangi Art and Science Estate
Jl. Dago Giri 99, Warung Caringin,
Ph. +62 22 2504065