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In Melbourne, artists explore a connection with Yogyakarta

  • Dina Indrasafitri

    The Jakarta Post

Melbourne | Tue, November 25, 2014 | 11:43 am
In Melbourne,   artists explore a connection  with Yogyakarta

(Dina Indrasafitri)

The lovechildren born out of the romance between artists in Indonesia and Australia are currently on display in Melbourne'€™s city center and suburbs.

'€œVolcanic'€, '€œOMG'€ and '€œcorrosive'€ were some of the words used by Australian and Indonesian artists when asked to describe the chemistry of their collaboration.

Those in Melbourne, Australia, this month, can view, listen and even play with the products of that chemistry.

Some of the pieces, in the form of unconventional musical instruments, are currently on display in the Ian Potter Center in Federation Square in the heart of the city.

Bluntly named '€œThe Instrument Builders Project'€, the exhibition at the center is the third iteration of an ongoing collaborative project between Indonesian and Australian artists.

During roughly the same period, the works of an art studio from Yogyakarta are on display at the Footscray Community Arts Center (FCAC), about 15 minutes away.

TheTanah/Impian (Dream/Land) exhibition at FCAC showcases reproductions of advertisments, book covers, and other materials from various eras in Indonesia, to show what sort of dreams the citizens were dreaming - or, at times, were led to dream '€“ in the nation'€™s past.

A container, for example, displaying arts from SURVIVE! Garage, an art space in Yogyakarta that supports young, independent artists, was seen among a number of other art stalls, stages and food stalls.

Most of the work for the Instrument Builders Project took place in Yogyakarta during the residences of Australian artists.

It is only this year that the process of creating instruments was carried out in Melbourne - this time with Indonesian artists in residence.

Lintang Radditya, one of the Indonesian artists participating, noticed some of the differences between exhibiting in Melbourne and Yogyakarta.

'€œ[Visitors] tend to be less shy in trying out the instruments,'€ he said. '€œIn Jogja, most of the visitors already have connections with the art scene, while here I saw families coming with their children, and they are not afraid to try.'€

It was Lintang'€™s first time in Melbourne, and he was still taking in the city'€™s multiculturalism and orderliness. '€œI might try and make something that is actually in contradiction [to Melbourne]'€ he said when asked about his plans.

Pia van Gelder, an Australian artist who stayed for a month in Yogyakarta as part of the IBP, said that what impressed her the most during her stay had been the self-sufficiency of local residents and do-it-yourself (DIY) culture.

'€œIt is so embedded in Indonesia society,'€ the artist who built the Mountain Operated Synthesizer with fellow artists Michael Candy and Andreas Siagian, said.

'€œIt'€™s not just about making art. its a way of life, and for me that'€™s really inspiring, because I am really interested in that in my own practice [....] In Australia, its very different culturally.'€

Many of IBP'€™s instruments are playable by people, although van Gelder says that the Mountain Operated Synthesizer uses oscillators controlled by the behaviour of Mount Merapi volcano.

'€œThe idea is that the work is kind of an offering to the mountain and then also an opportunity for the mountain to play as well,'€ she said.

Bo Svoronos, the creative producer at FCAC, is yet another Australian artist who feels a certain fondness for Yogyakarta, since he made a spur-of-the-moment visit to the city four years ago.

He called Yogyakarta the main doorway to Southeast Asia, particularly for FCAC, which has its roots in Melbourne'€™s working class and a strong affiliation with activists.

The reproductions showcased by Tanah/Impian by Yogyakarta'€™s Krack! Studio are at times funny and ironic.

One, for example, is based on a 2007 '€˜Villa Praha'€™ advertisement, featuring stately mansions and elaborately dressed dancers, for a housing complex in Puncak, West Java

'€œA quick online search for '€˜Villa Praha'€™ reveals the dream doesn'€™t exactly match the reality '€” the houses are crammed closely together and there are no gypsies dancing in the street'€ goes the label.

'€œNonetheless, we love this ad for its reverse-Orientalism: eroticizing the Czech Republic with little regard for facts.'€

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