The Jakarta Post
Walled off: Artist M. Lugas Syllabus involves an Islamic preacher and construction workers in his Leksikon performance Seperti Butiran Pasir (Like Grains of Sand). (ARTJOG/-)
Artist M. Lugas Syllabus sat on the stage with his back to the audience, reading aloud from papers about humans and volcanoes, then threw away the papers sheet by sheet.
In the background, a video was screened showing his installation Berbatas tapi Tak Terbatas (Bounded but Limitless).
An Islamic teacher then descended onto the stage. He picked up the papers and explained that, according to the Quran’s Surah Al-Muzammil, volcanoes could be both a blessing and warning to human beings.
The artist and the ustad sat face to face while two construction workers were building a brick wall; the audience could only see their heads.
Lugas’s performance, Seperti Butiran Pasir (Like Grains of Sand), was staged on Aug. 9 on the main stage at Jogja National Museum (JNM), where Yogyakarta’s premier art festival ARTJOG is being held until Sunday.
It is part of ARTJOG’s new educational program, Leksikon, which saw eight artists give performances about their artworks on Aug. 9 and 10.
The art festival’s spokesperson, Amelberga Astri, said the program also featured Natasha Tontey, Fika Ria Santika, Etza Meisyra, Uji Handoko, Teguh Ostenrik, Syaiful Garibaldi and Riri Riza.
“This is a program for the artists to talk about their creative process or the meaning of their works using performance art,” she said, adding that Leksikon complemented the existing educational programs of Curatorial Tour and Meet the Artist.
“Through the program, we challenge fine artists to perform,” Amelberga added.
Prior to the presentations, the artists joined three-day sessions on performing art under the tutelage of Teater Garasi’s Gunawan Maryanto and Arsita Iswardhani.
Leksikon will remain part of ARTJOG until its 2021 edition.
Lugas said his performance was about his installation Berbatas tapi Tak Terbatas, which features the statue of a woman prostrating in a corner of a mushola (Islamic prayer room).
One of the three paintings decorating the room is a reproduction of Raden Saleh’s Gunung Merapi (Mount Merapi).
“[One of the issues I addressed in my performance is] the spiritual experience of people who witnessed Mount Merapi eruptions,” Lugas said, referring to an active volcano near Yogyakarta that has erupted several times in recent years.
In another Leksikon presentation, artist Uji Handoko gave a Steve Jobs-style speech on the negative impacts of the internet to explain his work titled There is no free lunch.
Artist Teguh Ostenrik crooned Joe Cocker’s “You’re So Beautiful” to explain his installation titled Daun Khatulistiwa – a large dome made of iron bars that will be sunk in Jikomalamo waters in Ternate, North Maluku, after ARTJOG concludes.
Love song for nature: Artist Teguh Ostenrik sings Joe Cocker’s “You’re So Beautiful” to explain his installation Daun Khatulistiwa, which conveys a call for environmental protection. (ARTJOG/-)
Teguh said the iron bar installation was serve as a frame for coral reefs to grow.
“I once wanted to change my citizenship, but a friend of mine tore off my immigration form, telling me ‘why would you change your citizenship while you have a very beautiful country?’,” he said.
While on vacation, Teguh went snorkeling at Senggigi Beach in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, and was mesmerized by the beautiful coral reefs there. This experience reignited his love for Indonesia and inspired him to save damaged coral reefs in the country.
Teguh’s account was followed by the performance of the Sakatoya Community, where actors – acting as two coral reefs and a blue fish – promoted the conservation of coral reefs, as they produced almost 70 percent of the oxygen needed by all living creatures.
Natasha Tontey, who won this year’s ARTJOG’s Young Artist Award, told the story of cockroaches in her performance, Manifesto Persekongkolan Jagad Raya (The Manifest of Universal Conspiracy).
On the stage, Natasha and two other people told various stories about power relations and hypothesized an alternative future. In the background, a video showed Natasha riding a cockroach to cross a river in Jakarta.
The performance is Natasha’s response to her work Hama Memberkati (Pest to Power).
Musician Dwi Rahmanto said he enjoyed Leksikon’s casual approach even though he felt some of the symbolism in the presentations was not easy to understand.
“Through the performance we can gain abundant information about the works of the respective artists,” he said.