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Contemporary performance artists fill in the landscape

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, March 22, 2017  /  09:38 am
Contemporary performance artists fill in the landscape

Rolling in the deep: Known as an artist who voices concerns about women's rights, Prashasti W. Putri wraps herself in a cloth that is fixed to a wall - tugging and pulling as she inches closer to the attached end before trying to break free. (JP/Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak)

In heavy silence and minimal lighting at one point the room was left on purpose in nearly total darkness as the artists experimented with objects, sounds, lighting and their bodies to fill up the “stage” of dusty, chipped flooring that took up about a fourth of Hall B in Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem in Pancoran, South Jakarta, on March 6.

Themed Of Horizon Landscape, all seven performances were gripping, as those in the audience sat curious about what was going to happen next after each performer set up their props.

It started with internationally renowned contemporary artist Reza “Asung” Asifina, who dragged behind him a red tarpaulin across the room. After extending the tarpaulin, Asung made a wave with the fabric, sometimes from under it, running across trying to catch the end of it and at one point made a ball of it with him inside.

The second performer was Hanif Alghifary, who took a length of time arranging chairs on the empty space and after that tying the chair altogether with a string of nylon rope. At the end of his performance, he tugged on the rope, making the chairs fall and dragged them toward the corner where he was standing.

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Hauritsa took over the stage next, placing bags of colorful pebbles usually used as fish tank decorations near each row of audience seats.

“You may use them if you find it necessary,” he said. And that was not his only interaction with the audience.

Hauritsa threw pebbles from his own bag at a wall while sitting on a piece of newspaper, standing to run until he produced the “zing ” sound from the echoes made by pebbles hitting the walls. He later threw the pebbles at the audience and even approached the seats spraying them with water, an action that called for retaliation.

Next was Pingkan Polla, who perpetuated the excitement from the last performance by marching toward a corner singing “Let It Go” that continued with her running, doing some exercises, pushups, sit-ups, and even as she was crawling diagonally across the dusty floor. The song ended only after she lied on her back in exhaustion.

The silence that ensued broke by the screeching sound of a foldable ladder being dragged from the back of the room by Prashasti W. Putri. She used the 16step ladder to fixate a large white cloth on the hooks at one side of the wall and spread it down to the other side of the room giving an illusion of volume to the space.

Known as an artist voicing her concerns for women’s rights, Prashasti started to wrap herself in the cloth — tugging and pulling as she inched closer to the hooked end until she tried to break free.

The already dimmed hall became pitch black until one floor lamp was turned at a corner to create a path of light. Carrying a large  square mirror that covered his face, Ragil Dwi Putra walked with his back toward the wall to get to the farthest corner where the light ended.

The mirror reflected and flashed the blinding light around the hall as Ragil walked on the illuminated path toward its source, as if he was trying to wipe out the imaginary landscape.

Burn the bridge to the past: Artist Okky Widasari looks on while flames catch onto the oil paper used as a projection screen for an old documentary about Dutch colonizers in Indonesia.(JP/Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak)

The last performance required less lighting, just a headlamp attached to a swirling floor fan going around the stage space as Otty Widasari brought out props. She arranged two metal bars side-byside and tied to them a rope with a piece of oil paper attached.

She played an archive video of Dutch colonials in Indonesia from her Mac and projected it on the oil paper, which went through to a wall. Otty sat among the audience members watching the images before she lit a candle and burned the oil paper to ashes.

“She’s always interested with archives from Dutch colonial era. The performance is her way of criticizing colonialism,” said Hafiz Rancajale, who initiated the establishment of 69 Performance Club, of which the contemporary artists belong.

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Of Horizon Landscape was the 11th edition of the club’s monthly performance — held every sixth or ninth of the month — since December 2015.

“That was one of the best performances by far. I didn’t expect it to be this happening,” said Hafiz, who’d been with the artists in a month-long workshop and rehearsals before the performance as the curator.

“We’ve discussed each performance, how they respond to new landscape and therefore giving it new identities, but never down to the last details. It’s obvious they have given multi-interpretation to what a landscape is, embodying it with their commentaries on social and political issues.”

The club, which was founded following a performance art lecture by Hafiz is a study platform to bring ideas about performance art created by Forum Lenteng, a community focusing on alternative education and development of audio-visual media knowledge.

“So far only club members or artists who are part of Forum Lenteng can perform, but in near future we will also have guest performers,” Hafiz said.

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