The Jakarta Post
Now, the 45-year-old is looking at the time as a journey of experience and knowledge.
'The journey is experience and, therefore, is also a process of gaining knowledge. Questions and statements from the past must always be looked upon again in a continuous process,' Titarubi says.
'There is knowledge that I remain faithful to, there are things that need to be corrected, there are other things that need to be questioned again and still there are many more things for which re-questioning had to be delayed for certain reasons.'
Titarubi said that she had gone through changes as an artist throughout the last 25 years, making her more convinced that art is a way to share and process her thoughts on understanding life.
'I am more and more convinced that art is not merely expression or presentation of thoughts or feelings about troubles I am facing myself or with others,' she says. 'It is a way to get knowledge and a chance to question ourselves.'
The artist said she has been awakened to the realization that the processes of making art and that art's connection to the public offered chances to give and take ' as well as a chance to move forward or backward.
'It is at this point that art becomes substantial ' not a process that produce items with artistic elements, but that also can produce knowledge and understanding of life itself,' said the artist, whose real name is Rubiati Puspitasari.
Born in Bandung, West Java, in 1968, Titarubi began producing art while studying ceramics at the Department of Fine Arts at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1988.
She is known for her work across multiple mediums, such as sculpture, installations, performance art, happening art, painting and graphic design; and for exploring the human body, identity, gender, memory and colonialism.
Titarubi has collaborated with musicians, theater artists, dancers and filmmakers, with many of her works presented at events in Asia and Europe, such as the Singapore Biennale, the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Germany, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory of Australia, the Busan Biennale Sculpture Project in South Korea, the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea in Italy and the Singapore Art Museum.
Titarubi is also involved in social movements, especially those related to politics and humanitarian issues. In 1998, Titarubi joined the student movement protests, supporting activists and creating performance art to back the demonstrations.
Around that time, she also backed Suara Ibu Peduli (Voice of Concerned Mothers), which was formed to address the state's failure to support mothers in providing for their families, highlighting the then-rapidly rising prices of basic necessities.
She is a founding member of the Indonesian Contemporary Art Network (iCAN) and Forum Rempah; the former is an organization promoting public education and multi-disciplinary work in art, the latter a forum focusing on the history of spice and its culture in the archipelago.
Her latest solo exhibition, 'Discourse of The Past', exploring Indonesia's colonized past, will run at the Philo Art Space gallery in South Jakarta until Apr. 18.
'The idea to hold a solo exhibition at the gallery popped out two years ago, when I was developing a lot of works related to history, education, thoughts and knowledge and their connection to our social problems today,' Titarubi said.
She said that in preparation, she tried to evoke memory through charcoal, burned wood, and books with words written by charring. One piece featured gold-plated nutmeg, which she described as a reminder about the golden past of Indonesia and the dark centuries of colonialism.
'These works are presented as questions about what have we achieved today and how will we treat these thoughts in the future ' as individuals, as a community and as a nation,' she said.
Always looking to break boundaries, Titarubi has begun preparing for her next project: an underwater installation in Padang Bai in Bali and in the Karimun Jawa Islands off of Central Java.
'I'm researching for material and the engineering. I plan this work to be an artwork that is also part of effort to repair and support the underwater habitat,' she said.
The idea, she said, surfaced during some of her diving sessions and was propelled by an intention to share with the sea, sea life and people.
Titarubi is married to a fellow artist, the renowned Agus Suwage, and says that they always found time and space for their teenage daughters Carkultera Wage Sae and Gendis Genclang Hatena Wage Sae.
'There is special time for the children that is not connected with art ' a special time for them. I can only hope that those moments are quality time and will lay an awareness upon them that they are the most important people for me,' she said.