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‘Reinventing Eve’ highlights women’s identity in art industry

Ni Nyoman Wira
Ni Nyoman Wira

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, March 15, 2019  /  05:06 pm
‘Reinventing Eve’ highlights women’s identity in art industry

Ella Wijt’s 'Painting by 6 Kids of BUMIDUNIA' is among the artwork displayed at the 'Reinventing Eve' exhibition held at 1Park Avenue in South Jakarta from March 13 to 17. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

March 8 and April 21 are special days for women in Indonesia, as they commemorate International Women’s Day and Kartini Day, respectively. The latter celebrates the day R. A. Kartini was born. Named a national heroine, R. A. Kartini is known for her role in women’s rights and education.

Held to coincide with both dates, the exhibition Reinventing Eve features works of 14 Southeast Asian and Australian artists from March 13 to 17 at 1Park Avenue in South Jakarta.

Arahmaiani's 'Silent Rainbow VIII' (left) and 'Silent Rainbow VII' (right).Arahmaiani's 'Silent Rainbow VIII' (left) and 'Silent Rainbow VII' (right). (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

The event is presented by PT Intiland Development Tbk and curated by Jakarta-based art consultancy ISA Art Advisory, which is part of Indonesian Luxury, an online marketplace for furniture, artwork, architecture and property. “The idea came up last year, [when] we held Kartini Day event, so this is the second year we’re really promoting women artists,” said Deborah Iskandar, founder of Indonesian Luxury, during the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday.

Iskandar said women were underrepresented, especially in the art scene. They had other responsibilities that may take them out of the art world. A lot of women were not allowed to pursue formal education as well, especially when related to art. “If you talk to the artists, there’s a common thread – it’s about their identity, both as an artist and what they want to project in the art world,” she said.

Four artists attend the press conference of the 'Reinventing Eve' exhibition on Wednesday at 1Park Avenue in South Jakarta: Melissa Tan (left to right), Ines Katamso, Rega Ayundya and Ella Wijt.Four artists attend the press conference of the 'Reinventing Eve' exhibition on Wednesday at 1Park Avenue in South Jakarta: Melissa Tan (left to right), Ines Katamso, Rega Ayundya and Ella Wijt. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Visitors can marvel at paintings, photography and installations from different artists including Arahmaiani, Ella Wijt, Ines Katamso, Melissa Tan, Mella Jaarsma, Natisa Jones and Rega Ayundya. Their diversity in characteristics and style gives the exhibition an exceptional touch.

Ella Wijt’s Painting by 6 Kids of BUMIDUNIA, for instance, explores layers of personalities she has. “People like to say I have a lot of personalities, because I can hang out with different people, so I thought why not make a panting where I could change personalities. That’s why it’s very crowded – there’s a part of me that’s messy or keen to create objects,” said Ella at the same occasion, adding that it was part of a large project titled Bumi Dunia.

Read also: Women's March in Jakarta to be held in April after elections

The Jakarta-born artist often incorporates her personal belongings into the paintings. “I want to tell people that every object is meaningful and has value,” said Ella, adding that she had also been influenced by symbols taken from the bible.

When it comes to gender representation in the art industry, Ella said, “I’m actually happy if people don’t know whether [a painting] was [made] by a woman or not, because to me, defining a person as a woman artist is already discrimination. Artist is just artist."

'Arches and Gateways: 7 Iris' by Melissa Tan'Arches and Gateways: 7 Iris' by Melissa Tan (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Unlike Ella, Singaporean artist Melissa Tan works with metal in the three-dimensional Arches and Gateways: 7 Iris. Actually comprising four artworks, Arches and Getaways maps positions of asteroids that are named after liminal goddesses: 7 Iris, 100 Hecate, 26 Proserpina and 78 Diana.

To create the work, she had her friends teach her several design software programs, including Rhino and Autocad. “I always want to do something that I can’t do very easily. I think that’s how I push myself, by learning different software. When I feel uncomfortable, that’s when I know I’m growing,” said the creator of the Arc of Uncertainties (Installation) -1862 Apollo at the Facebook Offices in Singapore.

'Fragments of Sobriquet' by Rega Ayundya, featured at 'Reinventing Eve' exhibition'Fragments of Sobriquet' by Rega Ayundya, featured at 'Reinventing Eve' exhibition (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

Meanwhile, Indonesian artist Rega Ayundya shows through Fragments of Sobriquet that detailed and repetitive patterns can have their own beauty. Commenting on the 2017 artwork, she said the drawing process was a form of meditation for her. “The challenge is not to get bored because it’s repetitive,” said Rega. “But it’s like meditation inspired by a Sufism approach, where it’s believed that something that is performed repetitively will give power to both the audience and the performer.”

Another artist, Ines Katamso, merges painting with weaving accents in her works, one of which is called Volonté – Willingly. The French-Indonesian artist also combines geometric shapes with organic elements, block colors and plants as she is always surrounded by plants in her home in Bali.

In her artwork, French-Indonesian artist Ines Katamso often combines geometric shapes with organic elements, block colors and plants, as she is always surrounded by plants in her home in Bali.In her artwork, French-Indonesian artist Ines Katamso often combines geometric shapes with organic elements, block colors and plants, as she is always surrounded by plants in her home in Bali. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)

“It’s about how we’re able to hide ourselves from reality, because sometimes reality is too difficult. Painting is what I do, so I can build a new world where I feel better than in reality, while weaving means two parts become one identity,” said Ines, adding that her paintings also displayed a contrast that symbolized how to find ourselves between our reality and consciousness. (mut)