Back in June, four of us visited this exhibition, Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia, being shown at the National Gallery of Australia. I meant to write about at the time, but then we travelled extensively.
Just today I noticed that this exhibition closes in nine days, so I thought I’d better get something posted.
The arts in modern Indonesia have been affected by three periods. It flourished under the enlightened policies of President Sukarno (1945–65). But the regime of General Suharto (1966–98) was brutal, oppressive, right-wing and corrupt. His New Order dictatorship had a devastating impact on artists, the intelligentsia, ethnic Chinese, the environment and the whole of Indonesia’s social fabric. The years since 1998 are known as the Reformasi (reformation) era.
This show is a selection of art from the Reformasi era, which has seen a freeing up in thinking and liberties across many topics that are important to this huge South East Asia country and one of Australia’s closest neighbours. The exhibit has 54 pieces by 24 Indonesian artists who have been working since the fall of President Suharto.
The first pic in this post is by 70-year-old FX Harsono. He is the senior artist at the exhibition. Most of the other exhibitors are quite young.
Below, I have added notes about five pieces. The captions don’t let me include enough information. The numbers let you know how images and explanation connect.
1. Art as purifying dialogue (Seni penjernih dialog) is displayed at the entry to the exhibition. It was specially commissioned for Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia.
2. This dress is composed of many ceramic panels. Created by Mella Jaarsma in 2013, the piece is titled The Landscaper. Every panel shows a rural scene of Indonesia. The lefthand photo shows the dress and a video (in the background) with someone dancing in the dress. Totally captivating.
3. Shelters is by Albert Yonathan Setyawan, 2018–19. Mind the gap is by Faisal Habibi, 2015.
4. 1001st island—the most sustainable island in archipelago by Tita Salina has been created out of plastic waste fished out of Jakarta Bay. It is held together with fishing net. The video in the background shows plastic being gathered and then shows the island being floated in the sea.
5. Silent operation: sign study based on the formula of contemporary (visual) art by Uji ‘Hahan’ Handoko Eko Saputro and Adi ‘Uma Gumma’ Kusuma, 2018–19.
Do you have favourite piece?