Artivist, observes and reports on developments in the Bali and Indonesian art scenes
How may we define Indonesian art? Unlike other nations, Indonesia is without an international standard museum as a foundation through which its distinct art narratives and identity may be imparted internationally and locally.
We can, however, reference a different platform, ART|JOG, the art fair that supports artists over galleries. Celebrating its tenth edition this year, the festival has grown to iconic status, presenting the ‘voice’ of Indonesian contemporary art diversity to a global audience.
ART|JOG|10 Changing Perspectives opened with a limited preview on May 19 at the Jogja National Museum (JNM), Yogyakarta, officiated by GKR Mangkubumi, the eldest child of Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono.
Annually the event attracts additional foreign visitors, this year there were more international art industry insiders, many expressing ideas about future collaborations.
Read also: ART|JOG|10: Changing perspective
Running parallel to Jogja Art Weeks, a month long abundance of events set throughout the Special regency, and now in its second year, (another organizational feat by Heri Pemad Art Management), ART|JOG is a fixture on the international art map, a boom for cultural tourism in Central Java.
“The combination of an art fair founded for artists by an artist, hosted at the Jogja National Museum, over a relaxed time frame with daily performances and artist interactivity against a backdrop of the uniquely engaging energy of the Yogyakarta arts community is highly inspiring in a world where art fair fatigue is prevalent,” said artist, art historian, curator, gallerist and collector Jane Walker, who is London and Singapore based, on her first visit to the fair.
ART|JOG|10’s Open Call Application granted entrance to 15 artists, while a further 58 artists were invited. One of the most enjoyable features of its format is the freedom to observe works without any presence/pressure of sales, gallery staff and infrastructure.
Both local and foreign, emerging and established artists exhibit side-by-side over 3 floors. The JNM designed alternative shaped showrooms offers possibilities for varying art encounters. Artists granted individual space, who understood how to create intimate art experiences, were generally the most memorable.
A giant batik parasol depicting the sky spans the ceiling and a mural rendered in clay revealing order and disorder are the two prominent features of Seti Legu’s installation, Universal Syndrome. Observers are immersed within an intriguing reconstruction of opposing positive and negative forces -- the world according to Javanese cosmology -- where human and environmental exploitation contrasts with ideology, religion and materialism; the modern world in conflict with the past. Legu sits and reads poetry aloud, while a traditionally attired elderly musician completes the distinctive ambiance.
Invited Chinese artist Geng Xue presents a 13-minute animation, Mr Sea. Her two characters, set within a surreal forest landscape are all made from porcelain. In this extraordinarily sensitive tale, that takes the art form to wonderful innovative heights, breath taking beauty and tragedy go hand-in-hand. This is a mesmerizing, emotional journey.
Syagini Ratna Wulan’s Chromatic Chimera, and Chromatic Myth 1,2&3 together create a tangible atmosphere. Her ‘gloomy’ skyscapes feature tiny colored ‘figures’ floating seemingly without purpose. A hanging geometric form projected with colored light creates beautiful patterns up into a corner, its energetic distinctions, married with her painted compositions create a potent, mysterious abstract experience. While other artists exhibit abstract works, many fail to excite, Wulan’s imagination, however fully engages our senses via the subtle powers of suggestion.
Season In The Abyss, Jim Allen Abel’s commemorative installation honoring 102 people lost in 2007 on an Adam Air flight from Surabaya, East Java to Manado, is thought provoking, and ultimately touching. At front a display case presents facts and details including archive photos. Within the darkened space the installation merges elements, projected images, and flashing lights reflect upon mirrors from the ceiling to the floor, and wall. The experience is intriguing and upsetting, yet beautiful as well. Such a thematic is bold, revealing artistic maturity.
Angki Purbandono collaborated with adventure traveler/actor and advocate for the preservation of Indonesia’s endangered Sumatran elephant, Nicholas Saputra, to make a documentary describing the alarming decline of this species. Post Jungle – Tangkahan Project introduces an alternative story, in a visual art language aimed at inciting the public’s curiosity and concern toward grave Indonesian environmental issues.
Floating Eyes, the commissioned work by Wedhar Riyadi of giant eyeballs floating in water, is spectacular. Positioned at the front façade of JNM, evening time it contrasts wonderfully against the white building and the night sky, in the presence of the new, honorary R.J Katamsi statue, flanked by majestic banyan trees. The work, however, lacks any local iconography.
Some other works of note include J Aryadhitya Pramuhendra’s Holy Lamb, Mulyana Mogus’ beguiling visual world, Silent Prayers, Agung Prabowo’s linocut reduction print on handmade paper, Study of Convex and Concave by M.C Escher 1955 and Hendra “Blankon” Priyadhani’s, Fashion As A Weapon. Recipients of this year’s Young Artists Award, a program open to artists under 33 years in appreciation of artistic endeavor, were Bagus Pandega and Syaiful Garibaldi.
The popular Fringe Program, headlined by the Curator’s Tour, Meet The Artists, and the ASRI Historical Tour, enhanced the public’s engagement. This year’s new Merchandise Project gave selected local creative communities and artists a chance to showcase their signature works. The strong line-up of Daily Performances including performance art, music, dance, fashion shows and theater, featured well-known artists Melati Suryodharmo, Garin Nugroho and Rahayu Supanggah, Bimo Wiwohatmo and Astri Kusuma Wardani.
The post preview consensus was, however, that the quality of art was down from 2016. “The works were less innovative and less challenging this year compared to last,” said art critic Jean Couteau. “While the local component was minor, the visual and symbolic language is global.”
A decade of ART|JOG is a huge distinction. Such an event faces great challenges, both internal and external. The vision of Heri Pemad, along with the vigor of Heri Pemad Art Management deserves enormous credit. Indonesia, and the global art world, please take note!
Date: Continuing through to June 19; daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Place: Jogja National Museum, Jl. Prof. Ki Amri Yahya No. 1, Yogyakarta
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.