This year’s annual Yogyakarta art fair (Jogja art fair) — or Art|Jog 13 as it has been named — kicked off on Saturday evening with a pledge to make it both more regional and global in the future with more countries participating.
“One of the most challenging things to make the event better known and encourage greater international participation is problems related to access,” Art|Jog 13 director
Satriagama Rakantaseta said prior to the opening ceremony by Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa at the Yogyakarta Cultural Center.
Satriagama was referring to the challenges the organizing committee often faces with the Immigration Office when trying to bring in foreign artists’ works to Indonesia.
“We need the government’s help to provide this access,” said Satriagama, who has been Art|Jog’s director since 2010.
First organized in 2008 as the Jogja Art Fair (JAF), the event has allowed since 2010 artists from other countries, mostly from Southeast Asia, to participate. This year, foreign participating artists come from Australia, Malaysia, Japan and the US.
Apart from that, the event also involves foreign institutions, galleries and art management companies.
Among them are Christie’s and Sin Sin (Hong Kong); Valentine Willie special projects (Malaysia); the Primo Marella gallery (Italy); the MiFA gallery and National Gallery of Victoria (Australia); the Arndt and Starke Foundation (Germany), and One East Asia (Singapore).
“Our target is not just artists but also art lovers and institutions,” Satriagama said.
Indonesian participants mostly come from Yogyakarta (82) and Jakarta (12). Others come from Bandung in West Java; Bali, as well as Magelang, Semarang and Surakarta in Central Java.
The wall of Taman Budaya Yogyakarta is covered with metal strips taken from old barrels to reflect the maritime theme adopted by this year’s festival.
In total, the event is hosting 115 participating artists presenting 158 artworks. They comprise 58 paintings, 24 installation works, nine videos, nine sculptures, two kinetic artworks and a mural. The rest are photographic works presented by 12 art photographers.
“They were selected from 1,423 submissions that we received during the open application period from March 1 to May 13,” Art|Jog 13 curator Bambang “Toko” Witjaksono said.
Bambang also said that changing the look of the Yogyakarta Cultural Center to give it the image of a ship to reflect Art|Jog 13’s central theme of “Maritime Culture”, the event’s creative team needed 360 drums to be later turned into metal sheets to cover a surface of 14 meters by 24 meters of wall space of the main venue.
Maritime culture, according to Bambang, was deliberately selected as the theme of Art|Jog 13 as an entrée to the nautical mind-set that was very closely linked to Indonesia but had structurally been forgotten.
In relation to the maritime theme, Indonesia has played an important role in the current development of political, economic and sociocultural fields.
“In the field of art, similarly, Indonesia has huge potential thanks to the abundant number of progressive artists, weekly art exhibitions and a supportive atmosphere,” Bambang said.
As in previous years, the event, which is considered an outlet reflecting the latest artistic trends in the development of Indonesian contemporary fine arts, is divided into three main categories: commission work, special presentations and an art fair.
For the commissioned work this year, the event presented artist Iwan Effendi featuring the Papermoon Puppet Theater. Together, they present seven life-sized puppets in the outer circle of a five-meter diameter and eight-meter high carousel, representing seven wanderers.
In the inner orbital,more than 20 medium-sized puppets and a small doll act as the search point for the seven wanderers.
Artist Farhan Siki works on a mural on the chronicle of ancient maritime trade in Indonesia as an archipelagic country.
“This work presents the story of the seven wanderers in search of a legend believed to be a child name Lunang, which in ancient Javanese means ‘waves’,” said Bambang.
He added that Lunang was used to symbolize the innocent and unspoiled Nusantara (nickname of Indonesia), while the seven wanderers represented those who had been part of the archipelago’s history.
For the special presentation, noted US graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister presents three collaborative video works that are located in three different rooms: one video per room.
The videos basically relate Sagmeister’s personal experiences; for example, when he was unable to take orders while working as a graphic designer.
A graduate of the School of Graphic Design at the University of Applied Art in Vienna, Stagmeister has designed a number of brands, graphics and packaging for renowned brand names, such as The Rolling Stones rock band, Home Box Office (HBO), the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Time Warner.
He has received two Grammy Awards; the first in 2005 for his design of Talking Heads’ box set, and the second for his design of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today in 2010.
Other supporting programs for Art|Jog 13 include the giving of Young Artist awards, a discussion, studio visits and performance art.
The discussion, which is scheduled for Sunday, will present the director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, Tony Elwood, as keynote speaker. The discussion will talk about establishing contemporary art museums in Indonesia.
“We consider the topic relevant because Indonesia has a very strong potential in the field of fine arts that has been receiving appreciation not only regionally but also globally,” Satriagama said, adding that with the discussion the art fair wanted to urge the government and other stakeholders to build a museum for Indonesian contemporary fine arts.
A performance entitled Men of the Sea will be presented by the Papermoon Puppet Theater on July 13 and 14 in the cultural center. These special performances are free of charge but tickets are required.
“People can get tickets at the reception desk on July 7-12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” said Hamada Adzani, Art|Jog 13’s communications and publications officer.
For the studio visits, which are scheduled for July 15, three studios have been prepared. They are the Nasirun Studio belonging to noted artist Nasirun; the Biru Studio belonging to artist Agus Suwage, and the Sarang Studio belonging to Jumaldi Alfi, who was included among the 15 greatest Asian contemporary artists according to online journal Art Radar Asia in August 2011.
“This program is especially aimed at bringing the public closer to fine arts, as many people still view a career in fine arts is being something that is not serious,” Satriagama said.
“Through these studio visits, we want to stir the public’s curiosity about fine arts,” he added.
— Photos by Slamet Susanto
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