Jakarta Biennale 2017: JIWA

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Opening: Saturday, 4 November 2017 at Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem 18.30 - 22.00 WIB Exhibition: 5 November - 10 Desember 2017 Performance Sries: 4 - 14 November 2017 Symposium: 13 - 14 November 2017 at IFI (Institut Français d’Indonésie) Jl. M.H. Thamrin No. 20, Jakarta Pusat 10350

13.00 - 20.00 WIB

Venue: Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem Jl. Pancoran Timur II, No. 4 Jakarta Selatan 12780 Open daily from 11.00—19.00 WIB Free admission Museum Sejarah Jakarta Jl. Taman Fatahillah, No. 1, Jakarta Barat, 11110 Open Tuesday - Sunday, 09.00—17.00 WIB Museum Seni Rupa & Keramik Jl. Pos Kota, No. 2, Jakarta Barat, 11110 Open Tuesday - Sunday, 09.00—17.00 WIB



Taking a glance through the last four editions of the Jakarta Biennale (2009—2015), we can clearly see the salient role the event has played in offering a myriad of themes in the reading of contemporary realities. Over those four editions, the Jakarta Biennale brought urban issues to the table and provided space to accommodate artistic practices offered by artists, both in the forms of exhibitions and interventions of public spaces, as well as site and community-based art projects. The intersections and elements that were retained across editions were reflected in the Jakarta Biennale 2013 with its theme of “Siasat” (strategy, scheme, maneuvering), which was aimed at re-examining the positions and artistic practices of society in an attempt to negotiate limitations, instabilities, issues, threats, potentials, or opportunities available in urban spaces. Several issues came under thorough scrutiny at the Jakarta Biennale 2015, with particular focus being given to city and history, water and environment, and gender and its relationship to other social dimensions that continue to structure society. As such, the Jakarta Biennale has served as a stimulus for critical reflection, and also celebration, of the ensuing boisterousness and noise surrounding us. Amid the current system that is rife with fanaticism, the loss of politicians’ sanity, intolerance, and struggle for space, it is pertinent and crucial to rethink the forces underlying human desires, observe plural relationships, and make use of our senses, sensibilities, and knowledge. JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 has been organized as an endeavor to perpetually enrich and widen the artistic experiences and critical thinking skills of the general public in approaching contemporary phenomena in a more contemplative and sensible manner. Such is the reason behind the appointment of Melati Suryodarmo as artistic director of the Jakarta Biennale 2017. She put forward the concept “Jiwa” (literally ‘soul’) to discuss wide-ranging issues and inquiries into contemporary arts and culture. Jiwa can be taken to mean a basic human impulse, togetherness, society, nature, or anything intangible and spiritual. Armed with broad experience and sensibilities as an artist, curator, and networker, Melati Suryodarmono is expected to bring about a new, inspiring perspective and approach that differ from the previous ones. After several stages of discussion, four curators were selected to work alongside Melati Suryodarmo in planning and artistically directing JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017. These curators include Annissa

JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017

Gultom, Hendro Wiyanto, Phillipe Pirotte, and Vit Havranek. JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 is taking place at Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem, and in order to engage a broader audience, events and exhibitions are also being held at the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics and the Jakarta History Museum. JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 is featuring 51 artists hailing from within and outside of Indonesia. With three exhibition venues, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is mainly centered in two bustling areas of Jakarta, namely Pancoran, South Jakarta, and Kota Tua, West Jakarta. In addition to showcasing contemporary art, the artistic team of JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 has also placed particular focus on the publication of art books, something that has been on the agenda since the Jakarta Biennale 2013. Three books will be published in parallel with the Jakarta Biennale 2017, namely a book of Bambang Bujono’s selected articles from 1968—2017; a book on the art accounts of Siti Adiyati from 1975—1997; and a book that contains reviews, writings, and archival materials pertaining to Semsar Siahaan. At each and every event, the Jakarta Biennale is invariably committed to continually providing art education to the public. One manifestation of this commitment has been a multitude of workshops that train the public on how to make use of post-exhibition objects. We also invite artists to visit and teach at schools with which the Jakarta Biennale is in collaboration. All of these activities are carried out in order to bring arts closer to the public, especially the younger generation. Besides the aforementioned activities, the Jakarta Biennale Foundation will continue to strive for the development of educational and cultural activities outside of the Jakarta Biennale itself. We are hoping to play a significant role in the development of fine arts in the country. We put together these activities as an attempt to widen our network and expand our collaboration so that knowledge can be disseminated more broadly. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of the parties involved in making this exhibition possible, and also for the ideas, spirit, and camaraderie that together enrich the Jakarta Biennale 2017.

Ade Darmawan Executive Director of the Jakarta Biennale 2017




Foreword 2

Cur atorial introduction Whither Does Jiwa Wander? 8

Melati Suryodarmo Reviving the Soul of Museums 14

Annissa Gultom The Artist and Artwork’s Jiwa 18

Hendro Wiyanto Jiwa, Anima, and Image 24

Philippe Pirotte Sickness as a Metaphor 28

Vit Havranek

JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017

artists Abdi Karya 36

Marintan Sirait 92

Afrizal Malna 38

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc 94

Alastair MacLennan 40

Nikhil Chopra 96

Alexey Klyuykov, Vasil Artamonov &

Otty Widasari 98

Dominik Forman 42

Pawel Althamer 100

Ali Al-Fatlawi, Wathiq Al-Ameri 44

Pinaree Sanpitak 102

Aliansyah Caniago 46

PM Toh 104

Arin Rungjang 48

Ratu Rizkitasari Saraswati 106

Chiharu Shiota 50

Robert Zhao Renhui 108

Choy Ka Fai 52

Shamow’el Rama Surya 110

Dana Awartani 54

Siti Adiyati 112

Darlane Litaay 56

Ugo Untoro 114

David Gheron Tretiakoff 58

Willem de Rooij 116

Dineo Seshee Bopape 60

Wukir Suryadi 118

Em’kal Eyongakpa 62

Ximena Cuevas 120

Eva Kot’átková 64

Yola Yulfianti 122

Gabriela Golder 66

Komunitas Bissu 124

Garin Nugroho 68 Gede Mahendra Yasa 70

Ar t Brut or Outsider Ar t 127

Hanafi 72

Dwi Putro Mulyono (Pak Wi) 130

Hito Steyerl 74

Ni Tanjung 132

Ho Rui An 76 I Made Djirna 78 Imhathai Suwatthanasilp 80 Jason Lim 82 Karrabing Film Collective 84 Keisuke Takahashi 86 Kiri Dalena 88 Luc Tuymans 90

Retrospec tion: Revisiting Histor y Dolorosa Sinaga 135 Hendrawan Riyanto 140 I Wayan Sadra 145 Semsar Siahaan 150

Performance Art & Symposium 156 Acknowledgements 158 JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 Team 162



Whither Does Jiwa Wander?

Being both a local and international event, a biennale functions as a general picture of the dialogue between these two spheres. This sense of locality is one of the seminal questions for us, the art community in Indonesia. Unending questions regarding the search for the origins of Indonesian art have presided over and served as the basis for scrutiny of the Jakarta Biennale 2017. Just as we can ostensibly point to an underlying condition based on its manifestation, we can understand the driving force of an epoch through the cultural products it creates. Does jiwa or the driving force of an artwork still exist even though its elements have disappeared? The dominant paradigm through which we perceive things is a way of thinking that sees everything according to achievements that lie directly in front of us, from the position of where we are standing today. From this standpoint, death is an inevitability that everyone must face. Moving forward is always a way to seek a condition that is an improvement on what currently exists, or to rectify past mistakes, and can only be completed once we are not among the living anymore. By means of this criterion, we estimate both progress and setbacks, be it thought, behavior and even culture. One of the aims of the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is to examine this benchmark that has dominated our thinking. Today, art is still one of the most important aspects of life. Other than being a cultural product, as conditioned by culture, art gives us means to observe and extend our knowledge. First of all, this is made possible by the personal relationship between viewers and works of art. It is almost certain that everyone has background knowledge or past experience that they collect throughout their lives (a tabula rasa is, therefore, impossible). An encounter with a work of art, on a personal level, should act as a means to extend, magnify, reinforce, or even revise our own knowledge. Looking back into history, it eventually becomes clear that art ought to be a part of our lives to act as an intermediary for thoughts about humankind as beings who face all the facts of life. No matter how many centuries are behind us and for how many more centuries human civilization on this earth will continue, art will always find its place; whether it is an honored or humiliated one, as the soul of objects or a vessel for human thoughts to see into the future. Art and its creators are inevitably bound by the conditions of their era, which is dependent on factors such as economy, politics, military, and lately, globality. An artist, through her work, acts as a mirror reflecting her social conditions that form the background of the art world, or even works


to overcome the obstacles and barriers inside the art world. Therefore, to advance the art world, artists must work inside the art world; no creators of art are situated or work outside the art world. In light of this principle, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 must first be seen as a platform facilitating various interactions of knowledge in society, through its point of enquiry, that is, jiwa. Jiwa, as the theme of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, appears in various guises. Jiwa can be understood as the spirit underlying every work of art, a platform of imagination and a creation in space and time. Jiwa as spirit means jiwa as identity. A signifier to encapsulate and separate entities necessary to life. Without the understanding of jiwa, we cannot understand the diversity and background behind a number of works of art composing the body of art. This is the meaning of “locality� as mentioned in the first paragraph. One of the ways to present such identity is to revisit history. History is an expanse of various events in life in which there is power and the forgotten. One of the aims of the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is to re-establish, or to provide opportunities to encounter, the jiwa of Indonesian art by attempting to venture into the lives and stories of several figures in the history of Indonesian art. Without familiarity with the histories of art, the search for identity, or the fulfilment of jiwa, in art cannot be accomplished. Whereas, if the jiwa of Indonesian art cannot obtain its autonomy, then, the domination of an esthetic regime which has been forced upon us, whether consciously or not, can and will always loom in the dark corner waiting to ambush. The attempt to find the spirit or the jiwa of Indonesian art is pushed by the passion of resistance against such esthetic domination. Moving forward is only possible if one has a starting point. If we forever attempt to move forward without using esthetic theories that are the fruits of our own thinking, we will remain lost in a maze of alienation. This means that we are more and more severed from an understanding that there are really no cultures that are better or worse than others, there are only different cultures; that two artworks from two artists cannot be compared in terms of which one is better and which one is worse; that we are different and we must feel comfortable working with this difference. Thus, art cannot be perceived as an end to the beautiful presence of things, however, art is jiwa that has found its deeper substance in its relationship with life itself. This can only be possible if we understand art as a manifestation of the living and lived jiwa. Art and jiwa move together


as a unity infused with the breath of life. Both art and jiwa tirelessly provide for and seek opportunities to meet humans and learn about the values of their life. In step with the times, art flows and forms a mirror of the history of mankind. At the same time, the totality of art depends on the love humanity can give to it; while sustaining it, attending to it, honoring it, or conversely—forgetting about it, debasing it and destroying it. With the joint effort by the artistic team and their careful considerations, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 would like to encourage viewers to look back and understand the thoughts and practices, in the form of an exhibition containing archival materials and small retrospectives about several Indonesian artists who have come before us. This small retrospective is an effort to analyze and reveal the creative process of these artists through their biographies and the force of their thoughts. The past forms a valuable link in the chain of Indonesian art history. The works and the thoughts behind these works reflect the intellectual struggle of their epoch. Therefore, albeit to a limited extent, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 has enquired, and finally found new aspects of our predecessors’ contribution to the social and political domains through their works. Like science, art maintains its endurance and sustainability in order to continue making a contribution to humans and their lives. Hence, the second meaning of jiwa in the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is jiwa as the necessary condition for belief systems, which give meaning to every facet of life. In other words, the jiwa that is present in every human being. If we take a glance at the past, far into bygone eras, or perhaps even human societies that existed in a primordial state, every aspect of life was contained within a circle of life or a system of belief. Through these belief systems jiwa is born; nothing escapes jiwa’s embrace. Neither does creative force. When time was still so very pure, every individual had many opportunities to think about and live out their respective systems of belief. This is true not only in Indonesia. Movements advocating a return to our roots, be it through archaeology or a reinterpretation of the values of ancient belief systems, have time and again occurred throughout history. The demise of primordial belief systems left jiwa to wither away. These changes can be seen in every part of the world. A recent example can be seen in the series of events that have occurred in Jakarta and other parts of the world. As we all know, the defeat of Germany in World War II practically erased many things connected to the traditions exploited by the Third Reich. The same thing happened in communist Europe. Many of the member states of the Soviet Union used images with roots in the


traditions of indigenous peoples. Now, those traditions are starting to be abandoned and replaced by new images to avoid association with the politics practiced behind the iron curtain. Unfortunately, the discourse of the primordial is often used by the populist movements raging in every part of the world. The debate between “indigenous” and “immigrant” (pribumi and non-pribumi) in Indonesia is a real example of the fierce battle between populism and democracy. Be that as it may, talking about tradition need not be entrenched in political jargon; the turn to tradition does not necessarily presuppose a certain political ideology. Of course, everything must be embedded within ideology. Ideology here is understood not only as concepts such as, socialism, nationalism, communism, liberalism, etc. Ideology can mean a stance or perspective, and can take any form. In the Jakarta Biennale 2017, for instance, the underlying ideology for the concept of jiwa is a belief system. This means a belief system exists insofar as jiwa exists. And vice versa, jiwa can only exist as long as we have a belief system. The relation between jiwa and a belief system is an enriching reciprocal relationship. On the other hand, belief systems, complete with their various paraphernalia and customs, have been frequently associated with a repression of freedom. Considering that the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is an art event, the freedom in question is freedom of expression or artistic freedom. Beyond the edge lies only the uncharted territory outside the scope of the human mind. Hence, freedom is the ability to move within limits, be they the limits of tradition, rules, norms, culture, customs, or even artistic convention. Jiwa in the context of the Jakarta Biennale 2017 means an ability to see tradition and indigenous culture with clarity. Contemporary and traditional art are actually two sides of the same coin. One must sustain the other. The Jakarta Biennale 2017 does not try to romanticize or glorify tradition as represented by jiwa. Instead, by trying to re-observe and appreciate jiwa, through a collection of certain belief systems, we can learn a precious lesson about the importance of preserving art. In short, we attempt to see jiwa from a realistic, not pragmatic, point of view. The presence of jiwa embodied in various forms provides an opportunity to reflect on the unexpected spaces penetrating the limits of the viewers’ perspective and reasoning. The long journey one has to undergo to trace the path of her jiwa through the works she creates, through exploration, experimentation, and the ebb and flow of her conscience, either direct or indirect, provides answers to the questions that emerge from the search.


We can see a manifestation of that meaning through the choice of artists participating in the Jakarta Biennale 2017. The logic behind the selection of artists was not merely based in geography, but instead was informed by the unifying theme of this year’s event. The selection of participating artists is one of the ways to showcase the diversity of creative practice. As a unifying theme collecting various forces of feeling, thought, breath, and body, jiwa is something that we understand as one of the most important facets of life. Jiwa in relation to its position as the unity of desire, feeling, and the thoughts of art-makers is presented as a commitment between private and social spaces. The variety of perspectives about and enquiries into jiwa was a starting point for the artists to present their work through various methods and forms. Jiwa as a driving force in the reading of one’s cultural biography, as a way to read human political behavior, as a platform to learn about the influence of the esthetics of its creator, and jiwa as a spiritual force are all a part of the exhibition, which encompasses paintings, object installations, multimedia, video, and photography. The relation between the first and second meaning of jiwa can be seen as an interdependence between macro and micro universes. The micro universe in the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is jiwa as the identity of local art. Whereas, the macro universe is jiwa in its second meaning, that is, jiwa as the driving force behind a universal belief system. The macro universe consists of a set of micro universes; micro universes are composed of various entities, one of which is the tradition of local art. Jiwa’s interrelation with the body is a general theme to be examined, considering both are so deeply connected to each other. The body as a living element incorporated with the ideas and thoughts of its occupant concerning social, political, cultural, environmental and spiritual themes is present in a number of performance art works at the Biennale. Gestures, texts and bodily energy in performance art prioritize actions related to time and space. It is liminal but consists of involvements that are sometimes abstract, poetic, but in the form of real actions and materials. Performance art, as an esthetic strategy and a mode of practice which has become increasingly recognized in art discourse, is an important part of the Jakarta Biennale 2017. Additionally, journalism in the history of art in Indonesia has made an important contribution that cannot be ignored. Journalistic writing has made an impression and provided a reflective note on various artistic activities. Journalism has undoubtedly provided a unique outlet for discourse and art criticism in Indonesia and is something that needs to


be compiled and presented in the form of a printed book. The Jakarta Biennale 2017 is initiating this literary tradition by publishing a collection of essays and reportage written by artists and journalists about art and artists. The principal venue for the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem. However, the event itself is spread over various locations alongside the main site. In order to reach a wider public and to facilitate the needs of the metropolis to continually construct its physical shape and set the speed of its mobility, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 took the strategic measure to put numerous pieces in the Jakarta History Museum and the Jakarta Art and Ceramic Museum. The Jakarta History Museum, as a vessel of knowledge about the city’s history with a long background dating back to colonial times, ought to open itself to visitors through presenting a comprehensive and critical perspective of history by displaying contemporary artwork included in the Jakarta Biennale 2017. Meanwhile, the Jakarta Art and Ceramic Museum should be a popular destination for members of the general public given its interest in the history of Indonesian art and ceramics, as well as modern art. Via the Jakarta Biennale 2017 exhibition’s placement of works in Jakarta’s museum spaces, one of the functions of the museum as a public place is augmented by the intersection with recent artistic discourse. It is never too late to try something new, and there should be nothing that dampens the fiery passion to continue to enrich and share the various discourses of life through art’s jiwa. Jakarta, October 28, 2017

Melati Suryodarmo Artistic Director of the Jakarta Biennale 2017

Melati Suryodarmo was born in 1969 in Solo, Indonesia. She studied art and finished her postgraduate program in 2003, majoring in Concept of Space and Performance Art at the Hochschule fuer Bildende Kuenste Braunschweig, Germany. Suryodarmo has presenting her performances in various international festivals and art exhibitions around the world, such as The Life of Egon Schiele in Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (2005); Videobrasil, Sao Paolo (2005); 52nd Venice Biennale Dance Festival (2007); KIASMA, Helsinki (2007); Manifesta7; Bolzano (2008), In Transit festival, HKW, Berlin (2009), Luminato Festival of the Arts, Toronto, (2012), Asia Pacific Triennale, Qagoma Brisbane (2015), Guangzhou Triennale, Guangdong, China (2015); Singapore Biennale, Singapore, (2016), Sunshower— Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia— National Art Centre Tokyo (2017), etc. Since 2007 she facilitated PALA (Performance Art Laboratory Project) and “undisclosed territory”, an annual performance art event. In 2012, she founded Studio Plesungan in Solo, an alternative space for performance art laboratory.




Reviving the Soul of Museums

We often emphasize keywords such as “identity”, “origin”, and “reminder of history” when talking about museums in Indonesia, removed from any discussion on abstract concepts and the will of the nation’s psyche. Don’t believe it? Take a look at museums with the word “national” in their name, which have borne witness to the difficulty in presenting Indonesia’s sense of nationalism. Subject to obstacles in their development, Indonesian museums are not yet able to discuss the abstract matters that set the foundation of the items in their collection. Protecting our intangible cultural heritage is a task that remains in the early stages, since we are still largely occupied with protecting our tangible heritage culture. Most of the museums in Indonesia present artifacts left behind by the departed, without properly dissecting the underlying traces of humanity, outside of the cultural systems that serve as the basis for academic analysis. Museums in Indonesia have yet to begin an in-depth exploration of what is actually represented by the expressions of aesthetics-forming life tools that humans have created, used, and left behind. This is probably why most of our museums were founded and established with political undertones and with the aim to create the image of a nation’s identity, a nation that was repeatedly colonized, be it by its own people or people from other nations. Perhaps this is also why our museums have yet to lure repeat visitors, people who use them as a source of inspiration, instead of mere backgrounds for selfies. In the context of Indonesia, the understanding of a “museum” or “gallery” is strangely boxed into works from various civilizations in its definition. As an institution, a “museum” is more associated with the aspects of history, archeology, and anthropology, while a “gallery” has more to do with “pure” fine arts or other types of modern art. This is a vastly different condition compared to the United States or Europe, where artworks representing a wide range of civilizations are displayed without regard to the time period or posing a burden to the collections of ancient artifacts with the task of establishing a nation’s identity. This issue stems from Indonesia’s colonial history, which employed the works of researchers in the fields of natural and cultural sciences to explore and establish the nature of potencies and threats possessed by a colonized region in order to measure to what extent exploitation can continue. Results from these explorations are what we see in the country’s oldest museums, such as Museum Nasional Indonesia (the National Museum of Indonesia). In the beginning, the museum also displayed collections of paintings and fine arts from the East Indies period, in addition to humanities books. However,


based on a later policy, these collections were eventually spread out and used as initial collections for Galeri Nasional (the National Gallery) and Perpustakaan Nasional (the National Library). Only one museum was established from the get-go with the aim of establishing a fine arts collection, which is Balai Seni Rupa Jakarta (the Jakarta Fine Arts Hall), now known as Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik (the Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum) in the Kota Tua (Old Town) area. The museum initially began with a modern-day fine arts collection compiled by Mitra Budaya Foundation. Up to now, the “divorce” between modern and ancient Indonesian fine arts—with the latter having existed since the end of the prehistoric age until the East Indies period—is still ongoing what with the lack of dialogue between these two classifications. Conventional museums typically display exhibitions on modern or contemporary arts, but in a separate room and with little to no interaction with their permanent collections. This might be one of the aspects that currently hinder dialogues with Indonesia’s historical roots, whether in the context of geographical ties or the national concept spearheaded by our founding fathers. Museums, alongside maps and censuses, are the factors that form a nation’s image—as Ben Anderson puts it. That is also the raison d’etre of museums in the Old Town area. In the 1970s, Jakarta governor Ali Sadikin began the conservation process in the area. It began by determining the area’s legal status as a preserved cultural heritage area by reusing a number of old buildings surrounding the Fatahillah square as museums, among which were Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik and Museum Sejarah Jakarta (the Jakarta History Museum), two additional venues for the 2017 Jakarta Biennale. Unlike Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik, which began as a fine arts hall accommodating and displaying a selection of fine arts collections, Museum Sejarah Jakarta carries the more complex task of displaying the city’s history. Located in the former Batavia City Hall (Stadhuis) building, the museum was previously used for the administrative functions of military institutions and West Java’s civil administrations in the early days of Indonesia’s independence. The building was established in 1707 by the colonial government to replace the old Stadhuis (also in the same location), turned into the biggest monument and symbol of the colonial era in Java. The Old Town area itself is a remnant from the Batavia period, the center of the VOC’s headquarters in Southeast Asia since 1619, which was then operated by the East Indies colonial administration upon the company’s bankruptcy in 1799. Its functions carried on until the Japanese occupation began in 1942.


The Stadhuis building was known for hundreds of years as the “Talking Building”, since its rooms were constantly used for a wide range of administrative, business, and legal activities. Power and exploration was the “soul” of Stadhuis at that time; the central “soul” of a colonial government that suppressed, blackmailed, divided, discriminated, and dictated how the islands across the archipelago could be used as machines to maximize profits. Hundreds of years of brutal rape and war were carried out based on mandates made in the building. Ailed souls, be they white or brown, marked their triumph via the suffering of other brown-skinned people: people who were less fortunate, who were not born from noble bloodlines, and who worshipped nature—many of whom did not even know soft cotton and were oftentimes used as commodities. Therefore, when the post-independence cultural policy wished to transform the building into a public museum, restoration was called for to renew its “soul”. Alongside his team, Ali Sadikin assigned artists Harijadi Sumadidjaja and S. Sudjojono to come up with two special artworks, which would become an inseparable part of the building’s physical construction. It was an advanced vision for its time and realized cooperation between artists to depict history with a visual approach and a larger picture, in order to renew the building’s “soul”. The two artists were chosen to carry out a visual history study so they would be able to depict the situation of a given era with the strongest resemblance. S Sudjojono, a modern fine arts artist/painter whose heyday began during the Sukarno era, painted the Batavia invasion by the Mataram troops in 1628 and 1629. It was deliberate that the canvas size matched the size of the wall in the southern part of the building, specifically the Sultan Agung room. For this painting, he went on a sketch study to the Netherlands as well as the Surakarta Sultanate. Harijadi Sumadidjaja, the only artist sent by President Sukarno to Mexico to study mural-making, painted Batavia during 1820-1950 in three wall murals at Museum Sejarah Jakarta. These murals could not be finished since the groundwater permeating the walls caused the watercolor to fade. The museum briefly implemented a policy to limit public access to these two artworks, amid concerns regarding space limits and conservation. This took place before the Sultan Agung vs VOC-themed painting was subject to conservation maintenance and a new museum flow in 2017, which placed the Harijadi murals at the entry point. Eventually, the vision that was conceived in the 1970s, to give a “soul” to the former Stadhuis building and color the museum with the traces of its past, was realized.


As of today, there are no other conventional museums in Indonesia that aim to bridge the past and the present via art. This is what the 2017 Jakarta Biennale aims to change. Differing from existing practices, the 2017 Jakarta Biennale has the initiative to bring contemporary fine arts into museums. “Jiwa” or “Soul”, as the theme of this year’s Jakarta Biennale, is a great momentum, with the event being held around the same time of revitalizations done by museums organized by the Jakarta regional government, started with both mentioned museums. Museum Sejarah Jakarta is ready to present its new museum flow in October 2017, at the same time ready to host the works of selected artists participating in the 2017 Jakarta Biennale. Some are placed in a separate room from the museum’s main display areas, while others are inserted into these areas, reorganizing the arrangement of current displays. All artworks have been chosen to incite dialogue among visitors and encourage them not to take what’s presented in the museum at face value. This inisitatif is hoped to be the trigger to develop that possess a soul and a dynamic life that provoke questions, discussions and discourses, and become spaces where old ideas are tested, while welcoming new perspectives.

Annissa Gultom Curator of the Jakarta Biennale 2017

Annissa Gultom has been working for and with museums since 2002 when she was a bachelor student in the Archaeology Department, Universitas Indonesia. She began her involvement as a volunteer of public program guide in the Jakarta History Museum, which was then followed up by curatorial works for temporary exhibitions in 2006 for the same museum and Museum Nasional. After she completed her master in Museum Communication program of Museum Studies Department, at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA, she continued further her works in museum design and research. Today her experiences in museum and exhibits are mostly in the subject of archaeology, anthropology, cultural heritage, modern history and relevant ethnographic living culture. Other than curating exhibits, as a museologist she has also been involved in different facets of museum projects, such as database development, education program design, public communication strategy, storage system development and audience research. In 2013-2016 she was the director for Museum Kain in Bali, and currently acts as curator for the Jakarta History Museum and Museum Bank Indonesia until December 2017.


The Artist and Artwork’s Jiwa

“When did the light come on?” “About ten minutes ago.” Ten minutes ago. A good name for a theme or a painting title, I think. Then what would the visual look like? Wait. First, the light goes out, and then it comes on again 10 minutes later. That means there’s been ten minutes between the light going out and it being turned back on. If the blackout is multiplied by the light-on and then divided by ten, what is the average speed…? December. 04.

(Ugo Untoro, Cerita Pendek Sekali, 2017, p. 62).

The platform and agenda of the Jakarta Biennale 2017 are united by a very complicated theme: jiwa, which has been interpreted through a handful of definitions that emphasize both the broadness and specificity of the term. Jiwa refers to immaterial things: ideas, thoughts, concepts, language, the mind, spirituality, intuition, feeling, social relations, relations with nature, the process of dematerialization, the ephemeral nature of time and space, and so on. Jiwa is also projected onto every physical being whose presence we can feel: my body, our world or my world, the people around us, our physical environment, antique objects, as well as the physical reality of contemporary art that contains a certain spirit or identity. Through jiwa we can feel more deeply the presence of the aforementioned things and perceive their defining features. The transcendental aspect of jiwa, as mentioned above, cannot be entirely severed from the physical world, which provides the basis for its existence. Jiwa requires both means and a medium to realize its transcendental aspect. The duality of jiwa and nonjiwa is usually elucidated in two distinct statements. Firstly, the seeds of transcendence cannot be treated like specks of dust in a laboratory; and secondly, jiwa—because of its requirement of a body—cannot be present to mourn its own death. The extensive definition of jiwa eludes our grasp. In a tangential discussion with fellow curators of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, we tried to delineate such an extensive definition. For example, by tracing the meaning of jiwa in its social and cultural contexts across Eastern and Western frames of reference. What is the meaning of a “national spirit”


(jiwa bangsa), the “spirit of the people” (jiwa masyarakat), the “spirit of socialism” (jiwa sosialisme), or the “spirit of capitalism” (jiwa kapitalisme)? Does jiwa in those phrases have the same meaning as what can be found in sentences in which we are talking about the body-soul-spirit triad? The spirit of the restless poet who wants to live “a thousand years more,” or “once with meaning and then die,”1 of course is incommensurable with the poetical spirit in collective traditions, such as pantun. 2 Trying to reach a unifying meaning of jiwa, which encompasses various things and states of affairs, brought us to something univocal. We are using the word jiwa in this identical and unifying meaning. Univocally, the word jiwa, in the context of a popular musical group, for example, means the same thing as the word jiwa in the sentence “let the spirit rise, let the body rise” in Indonesia Raya, the national anthem. This univocal identity gives jiwa a unifying yet indistinct meaning. On the contrary, the distinctive meaning of jiwa brings us to an equivocal meaning. Every usage of the word takes us to a completely different meaning. Each of these meanings refers to a specific entity. The word jiwa, for example, in Gogol’s Jiwa-jiwa Mati (Dead Souls) has a totally different meaning from jiwa in a bissu ritualistic performance from South Sulawesi. Due to the equivocal nature of language, the meaning of a word cannot be readily substituted with another word even though they sound the same. For example, the word “curse” (kutuk in Indonesian can mean chick), which Sudjojono used to refer to the young Persagi (Indonesia Organization of Drawing Masters, 1937-1942) artists full of hope for the future, would have had a different meaning to the word “cursed are those involved in making forgeries of Sudjojono’s paintings.” The language that relates breadth, singularity, ambiguity and distinction is the language of analogy. Through analogy, the word jiwa in the prayer phrase “jiwa-jiwa di api neraka” (souls burning in the fire of hell) can have a more or less identical, and at the same time different, meaning to “jiwa” in “Rumah Sakit Jiwa Grogol” (Grogol Mental Hospital) or “contemporary artists suffering from bipolar disorder, a type of mental illness.”3 In analogical language, the emphasis on sameness and difference can have the same probability. Sameness does not render both words identical, but the elements of difference do not reveal separate, distinct entities. Sameness and difference do not dismiss the fact that there exists a difference in kind and degree in reality, for example, between physical and non-physical reality, corporeal and transcendental reality, between the human and non-human, etc.

1. Two lines from the poetry of Chairil Anwar, one of the most important poets in Indonesian literary history. 2. A form of traditional Indonesian poetry. Although originally an oral tradition, today it has found its way into written form. It usually consists of four lines with an a-b-a-b rhyme scheme.

3. In Indonesian, the word jiwa can mean mental as in mental illness.


What is the meaning of Jiwa as the theme of the Jakarta Biennale 2017? In Indonesia, surely no artist expounds the meaning of jiwa with more clarity than Sudjojono (1913-1986). His most famous statement was “art is jiwa manifest.” But, what did Sudjojono really mean? Under the shadow of Sudjojono’s words uttered almost a century ago, I asked Melati Suryodarmo—artistic director of the Jakarta Biennale 2017—about the exposition of jiwa in this event. The intentionally thought-provoking question I asked was, “So, what is your opinion of Sudjojono’s famous statement about how the work of an artist is jiwa manifest?” Sudjonono’s concept of jiwa manifest does not have a critical area, answered Suryodarmo. It seems that way, I answered in a perplexed state. Since then, I’ve started to ponder the meaning of “critical area” in Suryodarmo’s reply. Where do I begin? Does it originate in the artist or their artwork? What is a “critical area” really? Must it be used to discuss the artists or their works in the Biennale? How would we go about this? Our conception of art and artwork cannot in reality begin with one or the other. I am reminded of the notion about the relation of a certain art practice and theological thinking. For example, the discourse of formalist art in Western Art. Formalism was challenged by the notion of “anti-art.” If the proponents of formalism saw their art as “art,” they were seen as being closer to the “history of art.” If “anti-art” (another term for “conceptual art,” especially in the West) is an effort to escape from the tradition of “art”, its proponents were said to have celebrated the triumph of “the history of art theory” over “art history.” Through “anti-art” tendencies, art theory seemed to evolve in a place too far removed from the history of art (practice), to some extent even ignoring it. There has been a state of over-discourse in the practice of art. Art ends and is replaced by theory. Art becomes a branch of philosophy. Yet, what we call “anti-art” is not really outside or traitorous to the art world. Doesn’t “anti-art” quietly claim to be “art”? “Anti-art” has also invited criticism because it identifies “doing art” with art practice and “practicing art” by doing nothing. The basis of theology, according to the writings of Thomas McEvilley, is the dispute between reason and faith in the long tradition of Christianity. “Art theory history” can be seen as rooted in reason, while “art history (practice)” can be traced to what is called the practice of “faith.” If art tradition rejected “anti-art” reasoning, then what really happened is that theological discourse moved to a narrower plane, namely art.


This dispute is a contest between the domain of reason and faith-based experience. Excessive puritanism that insists on the supremacy of jiwa or spirit obtains its articulation in art formalism. “Language” is considered predominant compared to the physical material championed by “antiart” artists, who extolled the artistic values of urinals, rubbish or merely playing chess. The former being considered more rooted in jiwa and more “faithful” than the latter. It appears that analogical language can help us find the critical area inside the contemporary art dispute described above. This means using anti-art as an analogy to art while not completely dismissing the “anti,” or using “art” as a liberal way to point out the provocation of “antiart.”Explorations of the relationship between art practice and jiwa can be found, of course, in the sphere of classical philosophy. For example, a tradition known as mimesis, or the practice of artistic imitation, is considered to be far removed from the notion of the ideal. The tradition of mimesis dates back to Platonic ideas of the form. Nevertheless, stopping at this tradition means that an artist’s jiwa will never be found, anytime or anywhere. The tradition of mimesis would later gain further traction through the assumption that the product of imitation is a representational entity, a more or less independent product. This product of mimesis creates a certain form, unity, and design. The aim of these forms, in the words of a theater student with a penchant for quoting Aristotle, is to describe the nature of humanity, an expressive action because of the presence of jiwa (psukhē). Artistic practice slips from the grip of the soulless tradition of mimesis to become a substantial spiritualistic practice. Regrettably, in Indonesia’s formal art education tradition, art practice almost always claims to be the most “faithful” and the “purest” compared to other artistic disciplines, including theater. And we all know the result of these unconscious “cleansing” processes. Hence, if we look back to Sudjojono’s claims about “jiwa manifest” quoted above, we can see that he was closer to the Aristotelian thinking of theater students with their concepts of “catharsis” or “psukhē” than art students with their über-ideal Platonic dreams. Thus, should we look for a critical area of discourse in the expression “art as jiwa manifest” or should we unquestionably accept the phrase? Readers of Sudjojono treat the word jiwa as something self-evident, something with a definite identity, or sometimes even as something with just one meaning. Sudjojono’s description of jiwa (which is manifest) is of course related to artwork. His view about this concept is like a description


of an inverted mirror. Artwork has a certain relation with reality through the artist’s jiwa. Of course, Sudjojono never clearly defined what he meant by the word “jiwa.” However, through the explanation below, we can surmise his interpretation of the word. Jiwa exists in the artist’s body. In this respect, surely the meaning of “in the artist’s body” is not as simple as pointing out a certain locus. The relation between the artist’s jiwa and the artwork’s jiwa can be illustrated as an inverted mirror: reality > eyes > jiwa >< jiwa > artist’s hands > artwork. Reality only gives birth to an artwork through the artist’s jiwa. However, the artist’s jiwa is still a mystery according to Sudjojono, because it possesses many “chambers.” These chambers process or filter the artist’s perceived or experienced reality in order to form it into a certain language, that is, art. We don’t know which “chamber” manages this perceived reality, or what is hidden when the artist’s jiwa is cultivating its ideas. Does the “jiwa manifest” in Sudjojono’s ideas dismiss or quietly include the intangible? Even though he believed in the artist’s jiwa, throughout his life Sudjojono never created abstract paintings. In fact, his view of abstract painting was very distinctive. In his view, abstractness is connected to a reality higher than physical or material reality. If material or physical objects can be a measure of the welfare of a person or a society, then it is impossible, for example, for an impoverished society or artist to create abstract objects. That is a rough outline of Sudjojono’s social platform of the jiwa of artists and their work. We can re-familiarize ourselves with his social platform through his seemingly individual ideas. As a consequence, should we open and find jiwa’s critical area in the ideas of a great artist? Or should we swiftly preempt such a possibility?


“Jiwa” in the Jakarta Biennale—as a common meta-discourse in an event such as this—should mean an effort to find such a critical area in conversations about contemporary art. Jakarta, October 27, 2017

Hendro Wiyanto Curator of the Jakarta Biennale 2017

Hendro Wiyanto Budiman studied art at the Indonesian Institute of Art (Yogyakarta) and philosophy at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy (Jakarta). He has been a curator for some exhibitions in Indonesia and writing about artists and groups of artist, such as Alit Sembodo, Dolorosa Sinaga, FX Harsono, the New Art Movement, Heri Dono, Jogja Agropop, Gede Mahendra Yasa, Melati Suryodarmo, Ugo Untoro, S. Teddy D. Hendro Wiyanto Budiman now resides and works in Jakarta.


Jiwa, Anima, and Image

1. Marc Benamou, Rasa. Affect and Intuition in Javanese Musical Aesthetics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 45.

2. In its most extreme interpretation, the jiwa of human beings is thought to be concentrated between the head and the hair, and in the past some groups sought to promote their own jiwa at the expense of an adversary.

3. Bruno Snell, The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953) p. 198.

4. Aristoteles, De Anima, 3rd Book, 7th Paragraph, 413a, 16-17.

Jiwa, a concept defying English translation, is cherished in collective consciousness throughout the Indonesian archipelago. It encompasses the whole spectrum of relations one could characterize as “animistic”, tapping into a very old tradition of spirituality. In all its shades of meaning, jiwa can be understood as the energy that forges relations between things. It is considered a driving principle that inhabits and animates individuals, societies, non-humans, and nature. It represents “life”, but also enthusiasm, spirit, inner self, thought, feeling, mentality, essence, and implication, and as such the concept of jiwa goes beyond the traditional understanding of the idea of the “soul”. In terms of Indonesian embodied culture, jiwa is to be understood as feeling and consciousness, as something that moves all living things in good ways, or bad. But jiwa is also—and this is what is most relevant for the exhibition project—a medium of perception, situated between the most bodily or physical layers of the human psyche and the most abstract ones, closely connected to the ability to express, to interpret, and the capacity for deep feeling and intuition.1 An ancient Greek concept analogous to jiwa can be found in nous (Latin: anima), which stood for soul or psyche (‘psychē’, or ‘psychein’ meaning ‘to breathe’ in Greek). Nous embodied the mental abilities of a living being: reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception, thinking, and so on. The important difference between nous and jiwa is that nous or anima is attributed to living beings in a strict hierarchical order. The hierarchy follows a progression from less to more consciousness. Human beings are situated at the end of the chain, and benefit from more potential of nous, enabling them to perceive and formulate concepts. Though primarily thought of as a means to forge relations, attachments, attractions, and inclinations that together weave a world, jiwa can also be considered as an attribute to human beings, just like nous or anima.2 Just as jiwa channels perception, in Greek philosophy nous is an “absorber of images.”3 In Aristotle’s famous text De Anima, the soul actually thinks, and it does not think without images: “To the thinking soul images serve as if they were contents of perception (and when it asserts or denies them to be good or bad, it avoids or pursues them). That is why the soul never thinks without an image. The process is like that in which the air modifies the pupil in this or that way and the pupil transmits the modification to some third thing (and similarly in hearing), while the ultimate point of arrival is one, a single mean, with different manners of being.”4

This complex paragraph suggests that the soul comprises an ordering principle of perception and a moral one. The moral faculty needs the image


(the soul never thinks without an image), which it judges at the same time. That for Aristotle the image goes far beyond a mere ocular perception, it can be derived from the fact that he introduces the faculty of hearing as part of the image-making process. But the most important fragment of this quotation is in the last line: “…the ultimate point of arrival is one, a single mean, with different manners of being.” This seems to be an attempt at defining the image as a combination of perception and imagination, bound together in an ambiguous relationship. Here, the moral faculty enters into the equation: disagreement about images is a primal characteristic of Aristotle’s “thinking soul”. And so, one can suppose, the moral discernment of images guides us ethically in the world. There are images that appear to the “thinking soul”— so they exist—but are avoided, while other images are actively pursued. An interesting parallel to the concept of jiwa, which can be both benign and malevolent, is that for the Ancient Greeks the power of images was evident, even in its negative guise. This is demonstrated in Greek mythology, most notably by the stories of Narcissus, Orpheus, and Medusa. Aristotle’s “thinking soul” assumes the pure “eye of the mind” (some sort of imagination) and the impure but immediately experienced sight of the actual eyes as constituents for conceptualization. Later Western philosophers such as Voltaire also believed nothing could be conceived without an image,5 and Immanuel Kant, in his Reflexionen zur Anthropologie, seems convinced that all conception needs imagination. If one wished to study and understand the human mind in the 19 th century, one would need methodical access to mental images that would exceed speculative intuition and the introspection of rationalism, and reach beyond empirical Sensualism.6 But a fear of the power of such images symptomatically appears in the 19 th century Western thought, which presupposes a strongly entrenched disquiet for the mythic, the mystic, and the animistic; the strongest opponents of modern rationality.7 Swaying back and forth between a fascination for the image and a basic iconoclastic desire, Western thinkers in the 19 th century turned away from the ambiguous situation in which image and reality merge, in which the borders between the iconic and the real dissolve. Living with mental images was thought to be subjected to a fatalistic influence that distorts the image of reality, encouraging the “unreal”, the illusion, the hallucination, or the dream. Subsequently, the progressive development of analytical philosophy at the beginning of the 20 th century allowed for a further denigration of vision, because thinking had now been understood as a verbal, discursive undertaking. Nous, anima, the thinking soul, thinking in images, or vision

5. “Rien ne vient dans l’entendement sans une image”, Voltaire, Imagination, in: “Encyclopédie méthodique: Grammaire et littérature”, Volume II (1784), 295. 6. “Sensualism” is an empirical philosophical doctrine, according to which sensations and perception are the basic and most important form of true cognition, which may oppose abstract ideas. 7. Like it is the case in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandmann, Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, Edgar Allan Poe’s Oval Portrait, or Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter.


8. See: Martin Jay, Downcast Eyes. The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: The University of California Press, 1993). 9. No theory of modernity seems falser as the one that identifies modernizing with a growth of rationalism. See: Bruno Latour, Nous n’avons jamais été modernes: essai d’anthropologie symmétrique (Paris: La Découverte, 1991). 10.See the chapter “Das Bild” in Vilém Flusser, Für eine Philosophie der Fotografie (Göttingen: European Photography, 1983).

itself—long considered the noblest of the senses—came under increasing critical scrutiny by a wide range of thinkers who questioned their dominance in Western culture. These critics of anima challenged its allegedly superior capacity to provide access to the world.8 But even if so-called “pre-modern” forms of magic, myth, cult, religion, and ritual may have officially dissolved in our modern societies, the energies contained in these spiritual structures now float as specters through all systems and levels of modern society to rewrite themselves (uninvitedly) into its structures.9 The iconoclastic impulse of discursive thinking hides a fascination for the image. Images are magic, according to Czech-born philosopher Vilém Flusser,10 because they substitute experiences for facts and translate them into imaginable scenes. Because of their inner contradictions and their inherent dialectics, images are vulnerable to both religious expulsion and deconstruction by rational, discursive thinking. As Flusser states, history is characterized by the conflict between discourse and image, revealing a dichotomy between historical consciousness and magic. He claims that texts do not represent the world; they represent images. To decipher texts thus means to discover the images they represent. The aim of the written word is to explain and interpret images and to retrieve the meaning of notions, terms, or concepts in order to understand visions. The image might be elucidated by text, but the text depends on visuals to be imagined. Likewise, rational thinking analyzes magic in order to eliminate it, but magic slips back into conceptual thought to invest it with substance or significance.


It is probably exactly because images have such magical meaning that artworks are made. And it is for the same reason art is destroyed. Time and again artworks evoke images that are able to create an ambiguous, uncontrollable situation for those—authority or subjects alike—who wish to rationally understand the world, and read sense into our surroundings.

Philippe Pirotte Curator of the Jakarta Biennale 2017

Philippe Pirotte is an art historian, critic and curator for various international exhibitions. He had his education as an art historian at the University of Ghent. In 1999, he cofounded objectif_exhibitions art center in Antwerpen. In 2004 he became a senior advisor at the Rijksakademie for Visual Arts in Amsterdam. Next, he became the director of Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland (2005-2010) and adjunct senior curator at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (in 2012). Currently he is the director of Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, while also an advisor of program director for Sifang Art Museum in Nanjing, China.


Sickness as a Metaphor

1. “La pensée du present“, Lecture at Institut Français, Athens, January, 30, 2014, https://vimeo. com/85497014.

2. Author: Hito Steyerl.

This text addresses a number of works at the Jakarta Biennale 2017, but it also follows its own theme, and as a result shouldn’t be read as representing the exhibition as a whole. It focuses on the issue of sickness, its medical conception, and also how sickness is perceived by a patient, which are topics all loosely linked to the theme of “Jiwa”. Sickness is not a popular topic in the theory of contemporary art or within its institutional context. Materials connected with degradation—impotence, inadequacy, disability, laziness, failure—among which we could also classify sickness, provoke antipathy, which resembles fear of contamination. Sickness is an indication (index) of death, just as smoke sends us a signal that something is burning nearby. The theme of social sickness, which we could refer to as a pandemic, became fully apparent to us in 2007. Jacques Rancière, in his analysis of the financial crisis, recalls the originally medical derivation of this term. In the Hippocratic tradition of ancient Greece, crisis was a decisive moment in the course of an illness and its treatment: when the doctor, after having used up all available means to save the patient, ceased his efforts and left the battle with sickness to the patient (and to nature), with the result that the patient would in the final phase either take on and conquer the sickness, or succumb to it. However, as Rancière states, in its current usage, the word “crisis” means the opposite. The financial crisis in 2007 did not bring about any culmination or resolution, but rather established itself as a pathological and chronic state that was transmitted from the economic sphere to society, and was transformed into a social sickness. “And naturally a sick society calls precisely upon that person whom the old crisis displaced, namely the doctor... and demands the attentive and constant care of a good doctor of society. The only problem is that the only doctors available are the originators of this crisis, who manage the production of wealth, and it is they who in the name of this production destroy the obstacles to its development.”1

Jacob Woods, the main character in Liquidity Inc. (2014), 2 is a financial analyst (though not a doctor, but a Clinical Laboratory Analyst) at Lehman Brothers who loses his job during the financial crisis in 2007. Successfully liberated from an environment in which he was under constant supervision, he retrains as a practitioner of Mixed Martial Arts, a recently established discipline enabling the use of all the previous rules of contact fighting. This fluid, professional transition into a world of semi-naked bodies in shorts with a guard over their genitals, who instinctively throw themselves


upon a mattress fenced in by elastic ropes to take part in an “anything goes” contest, will come as a surprise to nobody. Both environments are governed by similar rules. However, the “Inc.” has a second meaning. In addition to the legal status of a corporation, “incorporated” also means ‘integrated in one body’, ‘embodied’. Western or classical allopathic medicine approaches the body as a complex (biological) machine. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the subject, the body may be perceived as a machine only so long as it functions. As long as it is healthy and works, it may be “forgotten and/or surpassed in carrying out my projects in the world”. 3 If the body falls ill, the subject rejects the medical metaphor of the body as machine as foreign, nonetheless it is precisely at this moment that it comes into contact with medicine. Sickness is felt by the ill person not only as localized pain, a partial non-functioning of one part of the whole, but as something that encroaches upon the subject’s sense of being-in-the world. Our hero Woods is a special case. He embodies illness as an increase in muscle tissue. He suffers from an alienation, typical of the sick, between the Self and the body, which is realized as a reduction of the lived body to a perverse, narcissistic identification of the self with bodily intentionality and body image. Etiology of disease states that the lack or excessive proliferation of certain organisms or inorganic substances in the body is a cause of sickness, and nature or medicine heals us by re-establishing the disturbed balance. The high priest Bissu of the Bugis tribe, whose cultural legacy can be seen in the performance by the Bissu Community, 4 states: “If one of the five genders were to be separated, the world would become unbalanced.” The Bugis, an ethnic group inhabiting the south of the island of Sulawesi, distinguish between five gender identities, which are differentiated by the following names: makkunrai (feminine woman), oroané (masculine man), calai (masculine female), calabai (feminine male), and bissu (transgender shaman). In the mosaic of images of gender identities composed of partial aspects, the lack or excessive proliferation of a masculine female (calai), for example, would threaten not only those who identify themselves as such, but all the other subjects sharing a common aspect of identity, and as the high priest states, would create an imbalance of the whole. The main theme of the film Secteur IX B (2015) 5 is colonial practices of the collection and import of natural and cultural artefacts to the metropolis. This fictional story draws upon elements from the actual mission DakarDjibouti (1931-1933), which is known to us thanks to the books of the

3. J.P. Sartre, Being and Nothingness (1943), cit. from S. Kay Toombs, “Illness and the Paradigm of Lived Body“, Theoritical Medicine 9, no. 2 (1988).

4. Author: Bissu Community.

5. Author: Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc.


6. Nicholas B. King, “Security, Disease, Commerce: Ideologies of Postcolonial Global Health”, Social Studies of Science, 32/5 (October– December 2002) 763–789. 7. Author: Em’kal Eyongakpa, Karrabing Film Collective

8. Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc, Secteur IX B, 2015.

9. Author: Otty Widasari

10.Author: Karrabing Film Collective. 11.Author: Fyodor Dostoyevksy.

French writer Michel Leiris. But illness and madness (as well as hygienic and medical doctrines) are inherent to colonialism, as has been often demonstrated since Frantz Fanon. It is not only the fact that the film’s main hero, anthropologist Betty, falls ill—evidently as a consequence of contact with material contaminated by colonial practices. Medicine in the colonies was an important instrument of colonial administration: “Initially, assuring the health of European soldiers, traders and settlers in hostile climates was the priority, and strategies of avoidance and separation the preferred methods. In time, the focus shifted to the health of indigenous populations, primarily as a means of ensuring the availability of a pool of productive labour. In either case, ‘public health’ served the interests of colonial powers, with improvements in local health (excepting male members of the labor force) a negligible and secondary side-effect.”6 Western colonial medicine doesn’t proceed as a healing force, but separates those who need it, neglecting to heal them, and within hygienic doctrine creates ill out of healthy populations. This could be why these “strategies of avoidance and separation” in very contemporary works with a colonial and neo-colonial theme—Secteur IX B, WUTHARR, Saltwater Dreams (2016), Ones Who Are Being Controlled (2016) 7 —seek paths beyond the framework of western post-colonial theory and its academic episteme. “Each of the pills she swallows is like a condensed medicine box. These drugs profoundly modify her perception of reality. She writes that it is when subjectivity reaches its climax, that one reaches objectivity.”8 Altered states of consciousness as a way to reach the ancestors, hallucinations about equality with nature, talking in one’s sleep, and burning of colonial images are methods through which equality in thought is to be attained. The work Ones Who Looked at the Presence (2017) 9 directly rejects the notion that a contemporary artist from a former colony could speak about issues of colonization from the position of a hereditary victim. It is a cultural trope that is already processed in the ex-colonial collective consciousness, and serves as vaccination for neo-colonial politics. The author resolved the dilemma of stolen images (of people´s faces looking into the colonial cameras) through a radical cleansing, disinfecting it by setting it on fire. The chain of events in the videos When the Dogs Talked (2014), WUTHARR, Saltwater Dreams (2016) 10 is immediately reminiscent of The Idiot (1868),11 transposed into a current neo-colonial framework. The historical and class context is entirely different—“Tribulations of legislation, indigenous policy, and policing in the Northern Territories” are a chessboard delineated by the biased politics of controlling indigenous


populations. But even despite this, even in the conduct of the Karrabing Collective, as in that of the Prince Myshkin, the intersubjective urge decides. The search for a family member, which is intended to stave off moving out of home, is disturbed by a meeting with relatives in distress, a walk through the landscape is controlled by an encounter with ancestors whose will may alter the direction of the journey. The heroes must act and alter the path of their movement within reality according to the acuteness of the urge. “To be acutely conscious is a disease, a real, honest-to-goodness disease,” says a Dostoevsky´s character in another book. Psychoanalysis is not interested in the functioning of memory as such, but rather its lapses and other errors, because it is precisely these that indicate to the analyst the encroachment of the patient’s unconscious into the chains in which events are stored or imprinted upon memory. At this moment, it is necessary to separate individual and collective memory. Arin Runjang, in the recently completed work 246247596248914102516... And then there were none (2017) recapitulates the traumatic experiences of his childhood. His father, who was employed as a sailor in the merchant navy, was brutally beaten by neo-Nazis in Hamburg, and later died at home as a result of his injuries. The individual narrative is interwoven with memories of the artist’s grandfather, who was on the wrong side during the antimonarchist uprising of 1932, and with the recollections of the last official visitor to Adolf Hitler in his underground bunker in Berlin. The function of forgetting, according to psychoanalysis, is to suppress traumatic events from the past, or replace them with false memories. Recollection and its public repetition thus have the function not only of a “subjective” historical testimony, a subjective historicization of the event of a racist attack, but is a defense against the working of the author’s unconscious, which endeavors to suppress or alter recollections. If the subject does not defend himself and allow himself to forget, he will lose the ability to constitute his own future. “It is not a question of reality,” states Lacan concerning the aim of the psychoanalytical process, “but of truth, because the effect of full speech (i.e. psychoanalysis) is to reorder past contingencies by conferring on them the sense of necessities to come, such as they are constituted by the little freedom through which the subject makes them present.” As we know, fever is not a sickness, but a successful defense of the body against infection. Requiem for M (2010) 12 , Fiksi (2016) 13 , and In the Memory of the Birds (2010) 14 represent a defense of the collective body, and collective memory against its falsification or amnesia. In the first phase, collective memory is formed by means of communication as information

12. Author: Kiri Dalena 13. Author: Otty Widasari 14. Author: Gabriela Golder


about events. If information is under the control of the organs of state, and if these organs are direct actors as they were in the case of the Maguindanao Massacre in 2009, treated by Requiem for M (2010), this distorted version of events lays the foundation for a false collective narrative. “Images” of national history always reflect the position of power and class identity of those who ordered them; they act in the interest of their preservation and continuity (Monumen National, 1969-1976). Reminiscence is the only cure for collective amnesia (the dictatorship of Argentinian military junta 19761983 treated by In the Memory of the Birds, 2010), to salvage events that the strict censorship of the military regime has erased from reality. The immune-system response of the curatorial team of the Biennale against the amnesia of the history of art of the Indonesian neo-modern period is a display of two authors with different artistic practices and destinies in life—Siti Adiyati and Semsar Siahaan. Adiati was a member of the group Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (GSRB—New Art Movement), which in two declaratory exhibitions transformed the conditions of esthetic discourse through a radical inclination toward the international movements of neodada, pop-art, and object art with a strong relevance to vernacular socialpolitical issues. Unlike the male protagonists of the group (Jim Supangkat, FX Harsono, Dede Eri Supria, Nyoman Nuarta, etc.), Adiyati, due to social norms and circumstances, remained outside of the spotlight of attention focused on the group. Her paintings, both from that period and later, drawing upon post-surrealism and also avant-garde painting (Picasso), have remained in the shadows to this day.


The destiny of the work of Semsar Siahaan (1952-2005) was determined by his artistic activism in the time of the New Order. During his studies at the Bandung Institute of Technology, he set fire to a statue of his teacher, for which he was expelled from the school. He was a radical activist, and his sketches and monumental paintings since the 1980s contain an original synthesis of a post-modern approach to painting and social themes, criticizing the abuse of political and economic power.

Vit Havranek Curator of the Jakarta Biennale 2017

Vit Havránek is a Prague-based curator and art organizer. Since 2002 he has been the director of a contemporary art initiative, tranzit.cz (www.tranzit. org). tranzit.cz is a production platform, exhibition hall (tranzitdisplay), discourse platform (lecture series, talks, thematic conferences) and publishing house. Since 2007, tranzitdisplay has been a host to solo exhibitions of Eric Beltrán, Eija Lisa Ahtilla, Ján Mančuška, Sung Hwan Kim, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Babi Badalov, Luis Camnitzer, Haroun Farocki, Carla Filipe, Ruti Sela, Loulou Chérinet, Július Koller, Emily Roysdon, Chto delat?, Raqs Media Collective, Trinh T. Minh-Ha, etc. Vit Havránek, together with Zbynek Baladran (display), has been co-directing the hall since 2007-2015. Havránek is also a curator for many exhibitions in many places (Manifesta 8, Muzeum Sztuki Lodz, City Gallery Prague, New Museum Hub, VOX Montréal, etc).


Abdi Karya (Indonesia) Afrizal Malna (Indonesia) Alastair MacLennan (United Kingdom) Alexey Klyuykov, Vasil Artamonov & Dominik Forman (Czech Republic) Ali Al-Fatlawi, Wathiq Al-Ameri (Switzerland) Aliansyah Caniago (Indonesia) Arin Rungjang (Thailand) Chiharu Shiota (Japan) Choy Ka Fai (Singapore) Dana Awartani (Saudi Arabia) Darlane Litaay (Indonesia) David Gheron Tretiakoff (France) Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa) Dolorosa Sinaga (Indonesia) Dwi Putro Mulyono (Pak Wi) (Indonesia) Em’kal Eyongakpa (Cameroon) Eva Kot’átková (Czech Republic) Gabriela Golder (Argentina) Garin Nugroho (Indonesia) Gede Mahendra Yasa (Indonesia) Hanafi (Indonesia) Hendrawan Riyanto (Indonesia) Hito Steyerl (Germany) Ho Rui An (Singapore) I Made Djirna (Indonesia) I Wayan Sadra (Indonesia)


Imhathai Suwatthanasilp (Thailand) Jason Lim (Singapore) Karrabing Film Collective (Australia) Keisuke Takahashi (Japan) Kiri Dalena (Philippines) Komunitas Bissu (Indonesia) Luc Tuymans (Belgium) Marintan Sirait (Indonesia) Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (France) Ni Tanjung (Indonesia) Nikhil Chopra (India) Otty Widasari (Indonesia) Pawel Althamer (Poland) Pinaree Sanpitak (Thailand) PM Toh (Indonesia) Ratu Rizkitasari Saraswati (Indonesia) Robert Zhao Renhui (Singapore) Semsar Siahaan (Indonesia) Shamow’el Rama Surya (Indonesia) Siti Adiyati (Indonesia) Ugo Untoro (Indonesia) Willem de Rooij (The Netherlands) Wukir Suryadi (Indonesia) Ximena Cuevas (Mexico) Yola Yulfianti (Indonesia)


Abdi Karya

Abdi Karya was born in Sengkang, Indonesia, in 1982. After graduating from Makassar State University, he continued his education at Muhammadiyah University of Makassar. Since 2000, he has been active in theater and performing art as actor, director, stage manager, stage designer, dancer, and crew member. Since 2013 he has been developing his performance art practice.

Bugis traditional culture is a source of inspiration for Abdi Karya in creating his works. In playwriting, theater and his performance art, Abdi Karya always seeks to elucidate meaning from philosophical ideas found in customs, old stories, and Bugis mythology. One of his main sources of inspiration is the Bugis masterpiece I La Galigo, a story about the creation of the universe, which is still shared by farming families. For Abdi, the human body can be likened to a Buginese home, which consists of three sections: the upper world, represented by the head (mind); the lower world, personified by the body (fertility); and the middle world as the place of the soul (spirit). Awareness of these three things leads to spatial perception, that is, the interior space (woman, tenderness, femininity) and the exterior space (man, strength, masculinity). Home, as a stationary physical space, is a cosmos for the mind and body. Home is a birthplace and at the same time, a place to return to. In Memakai.Dipakai, created in 2016, Abdi Karya utilizes the sarong as a symbol of a kind of “second skin” in Buginese society The sarong is a signifier of space, time, and the state of affairs; for the Bugis people, from their birth to their death, the sarong is almost always present. In daily traditional life, the sarong holds various functions, from a piece of clothing, a food wrapper, to a climbing tool. The sarong as a second skin is a place for the body to grow across time. The mind and will (desire) make humans oblivious to time. The body becomes a place of struggle between the spirit, intellect, and reality. Memakai.Dipakai is Abdi Karya’s effort to share his observation that modern society looks at tradition as something to be proud of but not preserved. For him, tradition holds depth and he uses it as a way to read the present and to understand his roots; how he connects with the world outside his field of work. Since 2004, his works set off from I La Galigo in an attempt to reintroduce the manuscript as a theatrical work. Since 2007, he has worked with American theater and visual artist Robert Wilson. From 2011-2017, Abdi served as the development and cooperation manager at Rumata’ ArtSpace Makassar. He initiated Performance Lab, a workshop, training, presentation, discussion, and performance program in Makassar and formed a multinational theater collective, 5ToMidnight International. As an actor, director and stage worker since his college years at the Makassar State University, Abdi Karya has built working networks with artists from various disciplines, both in Indonesia and abroad. Currently he is in the middle of preparation for a multidisciplinary platform of residency in several art spaces in Makassar. [MS]


Memakai.Dipakai | 2016 Performance art | Textile, sarong | 5 days, 4 hours per day Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Afrizal Malna

Afrizal Malna was born in Jakarta in 1957. He writes poems, short stories, novels, literary criticisms, plays and scenarios, while also editing books and producing art video. He has received some awards, such as from the Jakarta Arts Council (1984), Tempo magazine and Kusala Sastra Khatulistiwa (2013).

Afrizal Malna is a poet and writer who works with various media including text, hypertext, sound, video, and installations. He has studied philosophy, participated in poetry festivals, and was featured on Poetry International Web. Teman-Temanku dari Atap Bahasa, published in 2008, was chosen as the best literary work of 2009 by the Indonesian magazine Tempo. Since 2016, he has also been a member of the Theater Committee of the Jakarta Arts Council. Since the 1980s Afrizal has continued to address in his works the subjective, poetic language that is closely intertwined with Indonesian urban cultures. An interest in enumerations (“Warisan Kita”, 1989), lists, and summaries (Jembatan Rempah-Rempah) gives his creations a certain affinity with the work of Georges Perec and the methods of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle). A conceptual approach is also a mainstay of his video poems, which combine sound poetry with video-animations. In his video work, Malna privileges the phonetic aspect of speech—repetitions, musical declamations, and rhythm—over the semantic quality of language. The visual aspect of his video works makes use of footage from his direct environment (including images of himself), found images of nature, and moving abstract patterns juxtaposed against each other (5 Gempa Orang), post-produced in a way than evokes the parallelity between poetical and visual methods. Esai Tentang Alfabet is a recording of a visual poem derived from the alphabet written by the author on a whiteboard. The poem merges into a drawing of a poetico-linguistic diagram. This conceptual logic is enhanced in Esai Tentang Puisi, a visual essay about the relation of words (signifier) and objects (signified). Starting by placing a pen on the board, Malna writes the word PEN next to the object and further continues while creating a tautological poem of objects and their language signs. These works best show his affiliation with conceptual art and visual poetry that situate the principle of language signification as the origin of knowledge and inter-human communication. Malna´s installation Alarm (2017), conceived specifically for the Jakarta Biennale 2017, questions the relationship between words and their semantic references. Using the techniques of hypogram, association, and antonym, Malna is attempting to seek a series of words that may “ring” with jiwa. What if our jiwa could ring like an “alarm” sounding a “warning”? What would happen if in Indonesia’s main dictionary, Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, the definition of “alarm” as a “warning” was replaced by “jiwa”? Using the logic of the Indonesian language, Malna deconstructs the prevailing affinity of meanings to play with his own invented language. [VH]


A>L>A>R>M | 2017 Installation | A box, crackers, debris, video | 400 x 400 x 240 cm Above: spatial installation; photo: Farid Burhanudin Below left: still photo from video, courtesy of the artist Below right: crackers (inside the box); photo: Farid Burhanudin


Alastair MacLennan

Born in 1943, Alastair MacLennan grew up in Blairatholl, Stanley, Kinross, Perth, and Dundee, in Scotland, before living in Chicago and Charleston, USA, then moving to Nova Scotia and Vancouver, Canada. Since 1975 he’s been based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, traveling and working internationally.

Under the piercing glare of sun and soaked by heavy rain, Alastair MacLennan sat for six hours, unmoving. As if in meditation, his performance in 2008, for undisclosed territory #2 at Padepokan Lemah Putih, Solo, involved him sitting “motionless” inside a heap of dirty, reeking domestic trash covering almost every part of his body, except his head. During the performance, it was as though his body dissolved into the structure of time-eternal and time-invented, between spaceobjective and space-invented. There, the body holds no authority of verbal meaning with respect to subject-object relations. The interconnections that emerged during the performance, were unity of mind and body, energy over time/space and poetics, which he presented in a tone of tranquil melancholy. This “condition” was a presentation of his reflection on human puncturing (and “punctuating”) of various difficult conflicts in humanity. For MacLennan, art is he intersection between hope and the will to overcome external and internal conflicts in spirituality, religion, politics, self, culture, and diverse permutations of “difference” in societies; ecology being not merely relations between humans and the natural environment, but between mind/body and soul. MacLennan’s output is not limited to performance art. He creates installations which engage aesthetic subtleties, while simultaneously embracing contradictions of “unrest”, as exemplified in Body of (D)earth, at the Venice Biennale (1997), where, on thin strips of paper, he presented printed out names of victims killed in the Irish Troubles, from 1969 to 1997 while a death-like, institutional, “organic” stench of increasing entropy, heightened a deepening, sombre mood. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, MacLennan is presenting Ash She He, a performance work of short duration, investigating empathy beyond conflicts of identity. MacLennan invites the public to enter an awareness which addresses the transformation of suffering. The primary materials he has chosen, such as ash, water, rocks, branches, paper, glasses, buckets, etc., are treated not only symbolically, or as elements to add a “poetic” note, but signal his inclusion of a public’s everyday actuality. For MacLennan, Ash She He shows a transitioning from “stasis”, to an “opening up” of time/space concerns and values. MacLennan’s devotion to performance art is also shared with communities and groups. Besides co-founding Belfast’s Art and Research Exchange, he is one of the co-founders of Bbeyond, a performance art organization in Belfast and a member of Black Market International, an international performance art entity. In addition, he is a Professor Emeritus from Ulster University, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, an Honorary Member of Dartington College of Arts, Devon, England and an Honorary Associate of the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, Scotland. [MS]


As She He | 2017 Performance art | 30 - 40’ Photo: Adi Priyatna


Alexey Klyuykov Vasil Artamonov Dominik Forman

Alexey Klyuykov & Vasil Artamonov were born in 1983 and 1980, respectively. They are an artist duo who have been collaborating since 2005. Although originally from Russia, they have been living in the Czech Republic since they were young children, and graduated from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. Currently they also collaborate with Dominik Forman.

Vasil Artamonov and Alexey Klyuykov are an artist duo of Russian origin who started to collaborate during their studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, in Prague in 2005. In the beginning, their works were mostly conceptual art (Monument to the Third International, 2005) and performances (How We Helped, 2006). In The Course of Autumn (2010), the duo created a monumental installation of archaic machines from wooden materials found in the Poldi Kladno factory in the Czech Republic. The factory is known as a prominent case of unsuccessful privatization, which led to the closure of one of the biggest industrial sites in the country. The installation Wisdom (2007) was a display of silhouettes of beards of famous historical personalities (Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakhunin, Piet Mondrian, Slavoj Žižek) cut from wood. Since approximately 2007 Artamonov and Klyuykov have turned their focus to painting and in particular its history, from the perspective of historical materialism as an archive of unfulfilled utopias of the future. In Photographs of Freight Truck (2007), they painted copies and variations of Kazimir Malevič’s composition on train buffers. The “tiger’s leap”—according to Walter Benjamin—that interrupts the continuity of the history of painting starts for the duo with Russian constructivism and cubism. In the series of paintings Fire in the Library, Demonstration and Globe (2007), conceived in a “cubistic style”, their concern was not to demonstrate the application of analytic cubism on real objects, but the performative use of painterly language in a collective process that commented on the absence of any imagination of better futures. The paintings combine barely abstract, indented cubical stilllifes on a white background with short or longer textual slogans painted in a nontypographic, free-hand fashion. Artamonov and Klyuykov’s series of paintings exhibited at the Jakarta Biennale 2017 are related to their more recent research, carried out in collaboration with artist Dominik Forman. In the Manifesto of Radical Realism (2016) that they co-authored, they argue for collective authorship and art that is directed toward the antagonisms of post-capitalist society. Their interest led them deeper into the archaeology of futures and history of the early Russian avant-garde (the group Jack of Diamonds, 19101917). More recently, the subjects of their paintings vary from still-lifes of workingclass paraphernalia or documents relating to the theories of historical materialism to the portraits of historical personalities (Rosa Luxemburg, Pablo Picasso) or relate to the motifs in paintings of various progressive realists. [VH]


Still Life with a Basket and Bricks | 2011 Oil on canvas | 45x105 cm Courtesy of the artist

Material Basis of Spiritual Life | 2012 Oil on canvas | 62x52 cm Courtesy of the artist


Ali Al-Fatlawi, Wathiq Al-Ameri

The performances of Wathiq Al-Ameri and Ali Al-Fatlawi reflect and challenge the West’s attitudes to Iraq and Iraqi culture—the fears and expectations and the dread arising from civil casualties, border-crossings, and the psychological pressure expressed in physical gestures. The mortal as part of everyday life, dealing with acts of war and the role of memory, and lives lost in war are also important subjects expressed in their performances. Al-Fatlawi and Al-Ameri won the Performance Art Award Switzerland in 2011, which was followed more recently with the prestigious Swiss Art Award 2012. This duo are based in Switzerland and collaborate as part of the studio Urnamo founded in 2002. They have known each other since childhood and studied together at the Baghdad Arts Academy in Iraq and F+F Schule für Kunst und Design. One of the subjects that appears regularly in Al-Fatlawi’s and Al-Ameri’s various performances is the importance of memory. They believe that memories are stored in the body and that their elements can be retrieved from the past to be accommodated in the present. As such, frictions between an official version of an event, its mediatic version, and reality lived by humans is a matter of concern of their performances. In White Haunting Black, performed at the Art Festival of Spitsbergen (2015), two figures wore contrasting costumes of Black and White. Even though they carried out actions in the same space, they were occupied by different, parallel activities—Black working manually, White walking and playing golf—and their paths never crossed. Watching one of the duo’s typical performances—the viewer doesn’t need any kind of comment or direct explanation; literally everyone takes part in the alienating matrix of labor and divisions of power. In order to speak without words and express narration by action, they use a wide range of objects. They also often use symbols of war and peace—military helmets, red roses, plastic soldiers that may be burned during performances, refugee life jackets, and various cultural symbols, such as Iraqi carpet that marks their origins. Their performances take place in theaters as well as in public places or landscapes, such as the prehistoric landscape covered with snow at the Art Festival of Spitsbergen, giving them a monumental stage. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017 the artist duo are presenting a work titled Vanishing Borders or Let’s Talk About the Situation in Iraq, (2014), which is an existential cogitation about the borders of life and death, and the instinct of destruction that annihilates the unique universe that each human contains. [VH]

Ali Al-Fatlawi and Wathiq Al-Ameri were born in Baghdad in 1972. Since 1997 they have been living and working in Zurich, Switzerland. This duo have participated


many art events, among others The Open International Performance Festival (China, 2009) and the Venice Biennale (Italy, 2012).


Vanishing borders, or let’s talk about the situation in Iraq | 2014 Performance art, video | 3 days, 6 hours per day Photo: Zainul Arifin & Panji Purnama Putra


Aliansyah Caniago

Aliansyah Caniago was born in Tangerang in 1987. Together with some friends he founded Ruang Gerilya, a collective art space. He has received several awards, including the Top Honor Indonesian Art Award (2015) and Bandung Contemporary Art Award (2015).

Public space is not something new for Aliansyah Caniago’s art practice. Despite his background in two-dimensional art as part of a major in painting at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) (2006-2011), he has always been interested in the form of public-related art practice. Since 2012 he has explored performance art in public spaces based on the necessity to dissolve himself into the public’s daily problems and his wish to work with a larger community. His focuses are identity, memory, social circles, tradition, and modernity. He uses landscape and social space interchangeably. According to Aliansyah, landscape cannot be understood as a panorama or static vista. Landscape art experts can show that landscape (landschaft, landscipe) is formed by two things, that is, land and skabe, schaffen or ship (partnership). There is a human element and space formation in every landscape because of human presence and interaction. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Aliansyah observes the fast-changing drama in the residential community of Kampung Akuarium in Penjaringan, Sunda Kelapa, North Jakarta. Kampung Akuarium is an area on the outskirts of Jakarta that has grown out of proportion in regard to its residents, floods, and fires. The social landscape which Aliansyah has observed since 2016 is a consequence of policing and residential relocation by the Greater Jakarta administration. A number of residents who have moved to a new area have always tried to return to their previous home despite it having been levelled to the ground. As if one within a reciprocal relation with their old “landscape,” many residents of Kampung Akuarium have built new homes from the debris. By identifying himself symbolically with the debris of social life, Aliansyah tries to bring his sensibility closer to the real traces of struggle of the kampong’s people. He has dubbed his practice con(tra)ceptual art. Inspired by the term conceptual art, for Aliansyah, his performance practice is against overly conceptual art. He has splits his performance between two separate places. In the first place, he grinds up the remnants of debris in Kampung Akuarium as a sign of the artist’s presence. The debris is then crushed to fill a punching bag, which is taken to his performance space at the Jakarta Biennale. This is his second performance space. The sandbag serves as a means for the public to be physically involved as well as a symbolic presence of the violence and wrath of the social landscape. As a former amateur boxer in Bandung, Aliansyah is trained to use the body’s physical movements and potential to face an opponent. The body’s ability to take a punch becomes a symbolic narrative to evoke our memory of social spaces imbued with indiscernible struggle. The same can be said of the presence of debris; invisible traces of invisibility inside the cover of the punching bag. [HW]


Sunda Kelapa: Selamat Datang Jakarta | 2017 Installation, performance art, HD-video, punching bag | 8 hours per day Above: performance art documentation., photo: Panji Purnama Putra Below: still photos from video, courtesy by the artist


Arin Rungjang

Arin Rungjang was born in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1974. He has presented his works at, among other places, the Venice Biennale (Italy, 2013) and in Faraway So Close! by Arin Rungjang (2013) in Den Haag, the Netherlands.

Arin Rungjang’s first encounter with “Bengawan Solo” was when he saw In the Mood for Love (2000) directed by Wong Kar Wai. The song, which in that movie was sung by Shanghai’s Rebecca Pan, was written in 1940 by the 23-year-old Gesang Martohartono. In 2000, Arin Rungjang was 26 years old, tortured by a sensual feeling he had harbored for one of his classmates—despite his adoration for his then lover —ever since he was a little boy. He identifies “Bengawan Solo” with that romance and melancholia, but in a rather bitter way. It was so powerful, it destroyed both his body and soul. Arin Rungjang then traced the genesis of “Bengawan Solo”and found that the song was about a river called Bengawan that passes through the city of Solo. Composed in a keroncong style, a genre influenced by Portuguese culture from the 15th century, the song depicts the beauty of Bengawan Solo. From that moment, the meaning of “Bengawan Solo” for him started to change. Subsequently, he found the story of Anneke Grönloh, a singer with Tondano and Dutch blood whose childhood was spent in a Japanese concentration camp in the Dutch East Indies. Anneke then moved to the Netherlands and in 1967 referred to her childhood memories by releasing a rendition of “Bengawan Solo”. In her childhood, “Bengawan Solo” was a very popular song among Japanese soldiers. Anneke’s story reminds Arin Rungjang of Koo Bun Koo Gum, a popular love story in Thailand involving a Thai girl and a Japanese soldier. This story is representative of a style of Thai love stories that end without clear resolution. It is only implied that Koo Bun Koo Gum ends with the soldier lying on the girl’s lap with his life fading after an American bomb attack during the Second World War. During the purge of communists and people of Chinese-descent in Indonesia from 1965 to 1966, Bengawan Solo was a place where many dead bodies were thrown. Those bodies were taken by trucks and thrown into the river. Several months back, Arin Rungjang visited the river and the true story of the massacre decimated his romantic desire. Arin Rungjang’s works are inspired by situations from everyday life and history. He uses various media, especially video and installation, which refer to specific sites to dive into history and the everyday life of its subjects. Through the mesh of time and space, his work takes us into different layers of meaning. In the seven-channel video work Bengawan Solo, Arin Rungjang invites Rachel Saraswati to sing “Bengawan Solo” with her keroncong group. The display of the individual singer and musicians on every screen is synchronized with texts recounting his personal experience. Arin Rungjang implies that the meaning of things that we find can change drastically following the tides and turns of our lives and the stories revealed in unexpected situations. [MS]


Bengawan Solo | 2017 7-channel HD video installation, audio Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Chiharu Shiota

Chiharu Shiota was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1972. She has been living and working in Berlin since 1997. She completed her education at Kyoto Seika University, Hochschule für Bildende




für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, and Universität der Künste Berlin (Germany). Currently she is a visiting professor at the Kyoko Seika University and California College of the Arts.

In her artistic practice, Chiharu Shiota aims to “connect the body with the universe”. After originally wanting to pursuing a career as a painter, Shiota found herself soon unable to paint. It had no spiritual meaning to her anymore; it became only a matter of the physical presence of paint on a canvas. This led to a performance at the Canberra School of Art, Becoming Painting (1994), in which she splattered herself and the walls of the gallery with red, toxic lacquer paint that burned her skin. This radical performance—understood as her symbolic liberation—connected her to her artistic forebears such as Hannah Wilke, Gina Pane, Valie Export, and Marina Abramović, with whom she studied in the mid-1990s in Braunschweig, Germany. Today, Shiota also invokes Ana Mendieta (1948-1985), with work combining body art and land art as a big influence. Though often working with performance, Shiota is mostly known for her large-scale installations filling entire galleries and art spaces with three-dimensional structures made of thread. Her first one, Return to Consciousness (1996), contained an ampulla with her blood at the heart of the mesh. The installation served as a metaphor of the body, hovering between a state of lethargy and lukewarm life. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Shiota is showing a video from 1999 based on a performance, called Bathroom. In the video, she sits in a bathtub in a claustrophobically narrow bathroom, pouring ink-like mud over her head. “I’ll never wash off the memories that are absorbed into my skin,” the artist said of the performance. Her intention was to “merge with the earth” in a kind of ritualistic homecoming. The philosophy of Japanese butoh (A poetic term meaning “earth dance” or “mud dance”) underlies a lot of Shiota’s work, but in the case of Bathroom it is particularly important. Butoh is one of the most important inventions of last century’s Japanese avant-garde. The dancers often perform naked and do not aspire to the beauty of movement. For them, primitive expression is key. Land or earth is a crucial concept in their philosophy. In Shiota’s Bathroom, a desire to return to some initial state, or to “pollute” a society dominated by rituals of purification, is apparent. As the video progresses, various close-up black and white shots show her “washing”. Shiota’s expression of emotion is understated. In its subtlety, it conveys a real sense of desperation. The drama of the video builds up slowly without any final resolution, which adds to the eerie, sinister atmosphere. [PP]


Bathroom | 1999 Super VHS-Video | 5’ 11” Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Choy Ka Fai

Choy Ka Fai graduated from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2011. He received the Young Artist Award of the National Arts Council, Singapore, in 2010. His artworks have been exhibited at numerous events, including ImPulsTanz Festival, Vienna (2015), and Tanz Im August, Berlin (2013 & 2015).

Choy Ka Fai is an artist and performance maker who is inspired by histories and theorizations that together contain the uncertainties of the future. His research springs from a desire to understand the conditioning of the human body, its intangible memories, and the forces shaping its expressions. These factors converge into complex articulations at the intersection of art, design, and technology. Since very early on in his career, Ka Fai has investigated the relationships between the digital, mental, physical, and real. In Drift Net (2007), he created an environment where the internet expanded into the physical space inhabited by a dancer. The transition between two worlds was mediated by a design of overlapping images, sounds, and texts in which the ephemeral materialization of the virtual could be witnessed. The triangle of the virtual world, digital materialization, and human reactivity also operated in V.I.S.T.A Lab (2007) and Revolution Per Minute (2009). In Rectangular Dream (2008), he explored the urban social and esthetic imaginaries and realities of the Singaporean state public housing program. Next, in Lan Fang Chronicles (2010), Ka Fai reanimated the removed historical story of one of the first modern republics, established by Chinese laborers in West Kalimantan during Dutch colonial rule. Starting from insignificant landscapes, the absence of material relics, and blind historical gaps, the documentary builds an access route to the past as it is imagined today. Since 2011 Ka Fai has been engaged in a long-term exploration of the digitization of human body movements, the history of dance, and third life re-stagings. Prospectus for A Future Body (2011) presented a complex technological interface that allowed the artist to make dancers perform digitalized choreographies—using sound electrodes connected to their muscles. In fitting with “Jiwa”, the theme of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Ka Fai is presenting a performance, Dance Clinic Mobile Lecture Demonstration, an outreach program created by a “Dance Clinic”, where a “Dance Doctor” travels with a portable setup to technologically deprived parts of our global dance ecology. This “Lecture Demonstration” utilizes the concept of a dance clinic to explore choreographic science and technology. The “Dance Doctor” will share various case studies of his dance patients and demonstrate the process of his consultation on mindbody paradigms. A second element of the work is a video documentary about the research and explorations of the “Dance Clinic”. Theory of the Dancing Mind provides an insight into these experiments with artificial intelligence and motion capture technology. [VH]


Theory of the Dancing Mind | 2017 Documentary video | Single-channel HD video | 10’ Digital imaging, courtesy of the artist. The Dance Clinic Project is co-comissioned by Da:ns Festival Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, and co-produced by tanzhaus nrw as part of MOCCA—Motion Capturing Creative Area, a project by Hochschule Düsseldorf, Fachbereich Medien, LAVAlabs, Velamed GmbH and tanzhaus nrw, supported by EFRE. Further support by NTU Centre for Contemporary Arts, Singapore.


Dana Awartani Dana Awartani is a Saudi-based, Palestinian-Saudi born artist who has been a pioneer in pushing geometric Islamic arabesque art into varied forms. She is inspired by Sufism, Islamic philosophies, and her own cultural background. Contemporary arts and museum development have been on the rise in the past decade in Middle East and North African (MENA) countries, and Awartani is among a small number of female artists from the region who have been attracting interest. Her works have been on display and performed not only in Saudi Arabia and other MENA countries but also in Asia, Europe, and the United States, and have become part of the Islamic art collections in the Sheikh Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi and the British Museum in London. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Awartani is displaying the work I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I’d forgotten you. I was dreaming. This dual installation introduces her first video work to date and is a call to celebrate the beauty of traditional Islamic design and architecture. The first element of the work is an impermanent hand-dyed sand installation that Awartani has meticulously assembled on-site over the past few days. The second element is a film projection showing her using a broom to sweep away a similar installation she had created inside a private home elsewhere, covering the floor of the house with traditional Islamic tile work that was once common in most Arab and Islamic homes. Awartani’s symbolism extends from the local pigments used to color the sand, to the home she chose as a site, namely a typical home amongst the wealthy elite throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s in Saudi Arabia. It was during this time that traditional architecture was being replaced by European esthetics in the name of a more “civilized” and “advanced” society, at the same time leaving no trace of their cultural identity. What lies on the floor and what is projected on the wall come together as a cautionary tale, contemplating the duality of creation and destruction, both past and present. The artist seeks to raise awareness about the importance of celebrating and preserving the timeless language of geometric esthetics as a universal language of beauty and harmony. This work has been on display in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; at the Franco Noero Gallery, Torino, Italy; and in London, UK, this year. [AG]

Dana Awartani completed her education in art and design at the Central St. Martin Byam Shaw, and in fine art at the Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. She received her master degree in traditional art from the Princes School, London.


I went away and forgot you. A while ago I remembered. I remembered I’d forgotten you. I was dreaming | 2017 Video and impermanent colored sand tiles installation | 24’ 48” Above: installation, photo: Angga Reksha Below: still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Darlane Litaay West Papua in Darlane’s body is not merely an inspiration for arranging naturesensitive choreography, but equally a trigger for a language that can represent his penetrating ideas in the current social environment. A union of his sensibility of sound, color and nature’s subtlety with meticulous timing is the defining feature of Darlane’s distinctive dance style. Darlane’s energy is not limited only to movements; his energy secures dense unification between his body and space. During his years living in Yogyakarta, studying in Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI), Darlane learned Javanese dance; a tradition with marked contrasts to the dynamics of Papuan dance. His move from Sorong, Papua, to Yogyakarta, Java, was a major influence in shaping his beliefs. Other than that, his move from a major in electrical engineering to dance brought about an idiosyncratic creative transition. This process was important for Darlane to perceive the theme of bodily estrangement from social space. His effort to interweave both Papuan and Javanese traditional elements in his dance technique has been ongoing for the last ten years. He put the combination to trial with instinctual power, without leaving his life’s reality behind. He consciously juxtaposes many visual elements in stark contrast, for example, Papuan afro hair and a Javanese hair bun, or a native Papuan person sitting in the center of a paddy field wearing a conical hat or even a Javanese palace in the middle of a Papuan jungle. His rather long stay in Java and various short residencies overseas did not estrange him from the land of his birth. Instead, that distance helped him to see Papua from a closer perspective. In Rider, Darlane was challenged to respond to Hexentanz II (Witch Dance) from Mary Wigman, a legendary German choreographer and contemporary dance pioneer working in the early 20th century who studied various Eastern cultures. The imagination of foreign cultures as the other, the unfamiliar sequence of movements that Wigman brought was unheard of in European cultural circles of that time. Hexentanz II is her work scrutinizing occultism and its relation to rites and magical powers. The work recounts a body bewitched by magical powers, represented through freedom of movement with a complete disregard of its genesis and even purer than her energy during the dance. Darlane interprets Hexentanz II through historical studies with a novel perspective. First presented at the Witch Dance Festival 2016 in Berlin, Rider called forth a magical power in which the body was exalted by the West Papuan expressive power to control magic, turning it into hybrid, nature-friendly wizardry. [MS]

Darlane Litaay has presented his works in many events, such as the Indonesian Dance Festival 2012, Andong Mask Dance Fest, and Bedog Art Festival.


Rider | 2016 Dance performance | 30’ | Photo: Farid Burhanudin & Panji Purnama Putra


David Gheron Tretiakoff David Gheron Tretiakoff is a visual artist, film editor, director, author, and performer, who focuses on contemporary political and social developments. He deals with subjects such as the perception and identity of Islamic states and the political and psychological consequences of international terrorism. As Tretiakoff has been traveling around the Middle East for many years, his intimate understanding of everyday life in the region is clearly apparent in his works. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, David Gheron Tretiakoff is presenting a new videoinstallation called Ceremony, consisting of three synchronized screens, each featuring 13 minutes of film, repeated in a loop. Ceremony’s first screen follows a flamboyant woman, who dances to Moroccan Gnawa music in a Parisian street, and rapidly enters into a trance. As she faints and collapses, the musicians wave goodbye and move on. The second screen presents a party in a village in the Siwa Oasis, a place inhabited by Berbers in the Egyptian desert. In a ritual, men participate in a danse macabre, trying to pull a bull to the ground, before one of them cuts the animal’s throat. The celebration in Siwa, known as the moon-feast after the Ramadan, is a specific syncretism from this isolated place. The central screen depicts a nocturnal scene, with its sound-reel serving as the soundtrack for the entire installation. In the darkness, one suddenly perceives a body, then a head, a mouth, a throat. Sounds emerge, loud and cavernous, as if disembodied from this fragile physique. It is katajjaq, a visceral Inuit practice of chanting and a form of trance. Gentle and otherworldly, it is an ancestral chant de vie, an animist skill drawn from Inuit knowledge. As a music of origins, the song integrates darkness and light. Moving back and forth between the profane and the sacred, Ceremony invites the public to take part in an unknown, imaginary ritual; a ceremony of sorts remembered from a forgotten religion. It reveals itself without discourse as a manifestation of a collective, global unconsciousness, as if certain aspects of the world cannot be understood by words or language, but only by gestures and shouting—through the body. Ceremony alludes to the tragedy of precisely those individuals and communities who have lost the self-evident relationship to their ancestral knowledge and to the various ways to deal with the world surrounding us. [PP]

David Gheron Tretiakoff was born in France in 1970. He makes films that try to create balance between documentary and experiment. His works highlight socio-political issues, such as Islamic identity and the consequences of terrorism in the international world.


Ceremony | 2017 3-channel video installation | 15’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist.

Division, Jakarta | 2017 Performance art, visual projection & audio | 40’ Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Dineo Seshee Bopape Known for her experimental video montages and dense sculptural installations, Dineo Seshee Bopape engages her viewers with powerful sociopolitical and metaphysical notions of memory, narration, and representation. In her most recent works, she is concerned with symbols, narratives, and memories hidden in the earth; in people’s relationship to the land and soil; and in the (cultural) angle through which one perceives land art. Bopape’s most recent work recalls Walter de Maria’s New York Earth Room, as well as Mayan temples. Often using mud bricks, clay pieces molded by a clenched fist, compressed soil structures created from locally sourced soil filling entire rooms, and featuring feathers, gold leaf, and healing herbs, Bopape suggests that the land is a material carrier of memories and history: the very metaphysical, spiritual, and cultural aspects of earth that several creation stories claim as the origin of life. Beyond its pure materiality, the earth reveals various processes of cultivation, changing claims to ownership, and geological resources. Bopape connects these characteristics to concerns of sovereignty, and to Afro-diasporic esthetics, spiritual and cultural practices, and particular rituals and games. Since 2012, she has been drawing on fire as the driving force behind every revolution since the dawn of humankind. For the Jakarta Biennale, Bopape is presenting an installation that revisits the importance of the Bois Caïman Ceremony at the dawn of the Haitian revolution in 1791 when the enslaved declared that “upon a given signal, the plantations would be systematically set aflame, and a generalized slave insurrection set afoot.”; the 1734 fire of Marie-Joseph Angelique, an enslaved woman in old Montreal who, while attempting to run away with her lover, started a fire that burned part of the city; the fire encountered by Moses on Mount Sinai where God declares “I am that I am”; the force of fire summoned in spiritual/animistic fire ceremonies globally and perhaps the fire at the center of every story ever told. At Gudang Sarinah Bopape is building an informal shrine or sanctuary of mud bricks, hosting small inextinguishable fires, as a meditation on this unavoidable insurgence, ignited in the human soul. Her installation draws parallels between the political liberation of a land, spiritual liberation through the all-consuming fire of revolt, and the biological means of keeping body and soul together offered by the earth. [PP] Dineo Seshee Bopape was born in Polokwane, South Africa in 1981. Known as a multimedia artist, her artworks raise the topics of human rights, social-political and economic system. They have been exhibited in many events, such as The Progress of Love, USA (2012), and Anthropology of Things and People, Poland (2013).


Ke Mollo | 2017 Mixed media installation | Adobe, fire, found objects | Variable dimensions Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Em’kal Eyongakpa

Em’kal Eyongakpa was born in Mamfe, Cameroon, in 1981. He has been involved in many exhibitions, both solo, in places such as A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy (2016); Kadist Art Foundation, Paris (2015); Institut Français du Cameroun, Paris (2015); and collectively, such as in 10 th Bamako Encounters, Bamako, Mali (2015); Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2015); and Africa Acts, Paris (2015).

West/Southern Cameroonian artist Em’kal Eyongakpa approaches the experienced and the unknown, as well as collective histories and transgenerational memories, through a ritual use of repetition and transformation. Central to Eyongakpa’s practice is the quest for negotiations, coexistence, and relationships between “objective” (life sciences/technology) and subjective (indigenous knowledge systems, ambiguous interpretations and projections) realms. His recent projects and performances increasingly evoke transgenerational memories. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Em’Kal Eyongakpa has created the work Untitled thirty-seven (sǒ bàtú), which literally translates as ‘to bathe one’s ears’ or ‘ear bath,’ in Kɛnyaŋ (Kenyang), a language widely spoken in the cross-river basin of Manyu, in present day Cameroon. It’s metaphorically a sonic bath, like a ritual, or an impulse that precedes an experience. The installation spatializes sounds, hardened 100% cotton thread/plant fibre structures, a glowing set of modelled and animated “eyeballs” in a cluster of historical prison cells under the colonial-era Batavia House in Fatahillah square, Central Jakarta. The sounds are recorded mainly from pure elements (water, fire, wind, earth). The configuration of the speakers in the cells, which aims to use the existing architecture to accentuate the low frequency elements from the subwoofers, creates a molten state between acousmatic nature sounds and a system of irregular monstrous heartbeats. In accessible cells, the healing aspects of water and nature sounds constitute a sonic backdrop for intervals of floating human voices: recordings of elderly natives, a couple of indigenous people in Manyu. The collage also includes vocal excerpts/ideas from well-known and barely known departed revolutionary figures in black liberation movements such as Amílcar Cabral, Chinua Achebe, Bate Besong, and Haile Gerima. 
 Intercepted Messages: Notes from Nyakumbo high security bunker detainees, a collection of 37 (the number of days of the Biennale) notes that take the form of poems and letters (from an imagined or real emergency or urgent situation, in recognised or non-recognised languages), will appear day by day over the course of the Biennale. The words on the notes could evoke a possible future, or a cosmology of a possible future. The final aspect of Eyongakpa’s project consists of a live performance featuring the artist himself or other performers reading selected notes or letters, which will be projected on a water-soluble paper screen that dissolves over the course of the performance and projection, with the video image subsequently fading into the backdrop of the dark sky. [PP]



Untitled thirty-seven (sǒ bàtú) | 2017 Sound installation | Plant fibers/cotton yarn Photo courtesy of the artist


Intercepted Messages: Notes from Nyakumbo High Security Bunker Detainees | 2017 Installation, performance | Letters, poetry, soluble paper screen Photo courtesy of the artist


Eva Kot’átková Eva Koťátková is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer (theater plays, performances) who focuses on the recollections of traumatic moments of human childhood, mental or physical otherness, and cultural, gender, and ethnic alterities. Her practice can be related to the “archival turn”, a renewal of surrealism or reinterpretation of absurd theater. She gathers historical documents, objects, and stories; a true research project in all kind of archives—mental hospitals, school books, scientific and governmental institutions, zoological gardens, newspapers, magazines, and art-brut collections. Her theater play, The Judicial Murder of Jakob Mohr (2016) is based on the accounts and drawings of psychiatric patient and artist Jakob Mohr, who suffered from the delusion that his behavior was being controlled by his doctor by means of a mysterious machine. She presented the outcome of her archival research by animating “uncanny” objects and giving them a voice to express suppressed violence—echoing Kafka or Beckett from afar. In the large-scale installation Asylum (2013), based on research at the Bohnice psychiatric hospital in Prague, visitors were confronted with a field of fragments of a human body armed or “rectified” by various wired or cage-like constructions related to factual constraints of a patient’s communication disabilities. An installation on a large pedestal was animated by performers, with body parts suddenly appearing under metal cages or in the pedestal’s apertures. Becoming a Bird (2017) is a performance conceived especially for the Jakarta Biennale 2017. The performance script engages a group of performers, recruited on the basis of an open call, for an experience of temporary transformation. They are invited to become “birds” for the duration of the exhibition. Prior to the main performance, a session with the performers and a couch as a prop is organized, but the artist doesn’t give any instruction on how to perform or behave. The participants should act according to their own will, maybe “remembering”, from personal or collective memory, how to become someone else. Performers are not given anything that would make them distinguishable among visitors (no costumes); the only restriction is related to verbal communication. There is a “sculptural” element in the space related to the performance, which is a high, empty, dead tree that serves as a marking point for the Birds to gather, relax, or be fed. Visitors can observe them performing this unique transformation of a human into a bird. [VH]

Born in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1982, Eva Kot’átková has been participating in various exhibitions in many countries: Czech, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the US. She was a nominee of the Dorothea von Stetten Art Award 2014 in Germany.


Becoming a Bird | 2017 Performance art | 6 days, 6 - 8 hours per day Above: installation; below: performance documentation Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Gabriela Golder

1.“Dirty war”, a period when the Argentinian military junta kidnapped and tortured people alleged to have left-wing views— practically any dissenters.

Gabriela Golder was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971. She is a recipient of the Sigwart Blum Award of the Argentinean Association of Art Critics (2007), the First Prize of the National Hall of Visual Art (2004), the Media Art Award of German Zentrum für Kunst und Medietechnologie (2003) and the first prize at the Videobrasil (2003).

Gabriela Golder is an artist, curator, and professor of experimental video in Argentina and abroad. She is the co-director of the Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento (BIM) and CONTINENTE, the Research Center in Audiovisual Arts of the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, in Argentina. She works primarily in the field of moving image—film, video, and installations. Her works gravitate around female identity as a social construction, and recollections of gaps in private and public memory in relation to current progressive thought, identity, and the critical theory of labor. In Through the eyes of the serious girls (1999), she investigates what imaginations stand behind a simple question: what is it to be a girl? The film features the replies of women 8 to 88 years old. Another film, In the memory of the birds (2000), is a trip back into the memories of her childhood during the time of the Argentinian military junta (1976-1983). She confronts the way memories find embodiment in images from historical investigations into the “dirty war”1 during which more than 30,000 people disappeared. Indeed, in her videos we are confronted with her sharp, critical stance on burning social and political topics along with an ambivalent, lyrical intensity of images that demand the viewer’s emotional collaboration. In her more recent works, Golder is concerned with class and the racial aspects of labor. For example, The Conversation (2010) consists of an 80-minute dialogue between Jean, an 85-year-old militant trade unionist and communist, and Diop, a young, undocumented Senegalese worker and militant. Progressive political consciousness appears in the film as the only possible ground on which relations of human equality and intergenerational solidarity can be constructed. A similar dialogue-based plot is employed in Conversation Piece (2012), which features two small girls and their grandmother, and their intergenerational feminist “reading group” that develops through an intimate and explanatory view of The Communist Manifesto (1848). A black and white landscape slowly appears and disappears behind a heavy curtain of fog while one hears birds singing. It is almost an idyllic image, yet something unidentifiable estranges the spectator. Tierra Quemada (2015), Golder’s video work selected in line with the “Jiwa” theme of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, is based on a real event—the biggest fire in the history of Chile, which claimed 15 victims, destroyed 2,900 houses, and affected a vast amount of land. According to the Chilean police, the Valparaiso fire catastrophe was started by two birds that were electrocuted by electric wires. [VH]


Tierra Quemada | 2015 Single-channel video | 8’30� Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Garin Nugroho

1. A Karawitan orchestra is traditional Javanese orchestra which includes many local instruments, such as gamelan, a predominantly percussive instrument.

2. Olah rasa is the study (and training) of organizing one’s thoughts and emotions to a spiritual, and almost transcendental, level of absolute focus and peace. It can be likened to Javanese traditional meditation.

Garin Nugroho was born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 1961. He is a renowned director in Indonesia. He has received numerous awards, such as the Special Jury Prize in the Tokyo International Film Festival (1998). His film, Surat untuk Bidadari (1994) won


Film at the Taormina Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.

Garin Nugroho was a prominent filmmaker of the 1990s film generation in Indonesia and one of a few who were at the forefront of the liberation from New Orderera film industry regulations. He studied cinematography at the Jakarta Institute of the Arts from 1981 to 1985 and learned a lot indirectly from the legendary Indonesian director Teguh Karya (1937-2001). His early films, such as Cinta dalam Sepotong Roti (1991), Surat untuk Bidadari (1994), and Bulan Tertusuk Ilalang (1995), secured his place as Indonesia’s first director to attract serious interest in the international film festival scene. In 1992, he earned the title of “Best Young Director” at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Seoul. His latest work, Setan Jawa—a black-and-white silent film featuring a Javanese karawitan orchestra1 —was screened at the 2017 International Gamelan Festival in London and Glasgow. Specifically for the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Garin Nugroho has created an essay film to commemorate the artist Hendrawan Riyanto (1959-2004), who is also his older brother. In the last years of his brother’s life Garin felt a stronger bond with him. Their conversations were sparked by Hendrawan’s inclination toward syncretic and archaic culture in Java. For Hendrawan, that direction would open up new avenues for his exploration of contemporary art. The inclination was observed by Garin, including behavioral changes—almost to a state of possession—that were a cause for concern for their mother. These critical conversations between the two often inspired Hendrawan to draw. Sensing a new creative energy in them, the filmmaker kept four albums of Hendrawan’s notes and drawings that are partially exhibited at the Jakarta Biennale 2017. Garin’s essay film traces the path of Hendrawan’s search from the joglo house where their family lives in Yogyakarta. For Garin, this Javanese house is the point of connection between Hendrawan’s academic thoughts and his struggle to search for “feeling” in Javanese syncretic culture. In Javanese culture, man is situated between the great universe and the small universe. The “center” is not a place of rational, logical thinking, rather, it can mean the “tali pusar” (umbilical cord) that connects each human being to their mother, simultaneously describing the “underworld” and “the upper world”. Another interest of Garin’s is Pagerjurang village in Klaten, Central Java. Hendrawan found his artistic spirit in this place where he, together with Professor Chitaru Kawasaki—a lecturer at Kyoto Sheika University, Japan—revived the tradition of pottery. For Garin, this pottery village reinstated Hendrawan as a Javanese-subject and ceramic artist who was reawakening the magical, mystical dimensions and olah rasa2 in his art practice. “The film is not a biography, but an open space to capture the figure of Hendrawan and his work. Like entering his childhood home, Bayat Village, the drawings and his ceramic installation works are a free space to connect with one’s soul, even in the cracks in his ceramic works,” Garin said. [HW]


Asal Usul | 2017 Single-channel HD video| ca 15’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Gede Mahendra Yasa

Gede Mahendra Yasa was born in Bali, Indonesia, in 1967. He has been participating in exhibitions both solo and collectively, in places such as Primo Marella, Milan (2011); Sigiarts, Jakarta (2010); and the Contemporaneity:




Indonesia showcase at MOCA, Shanghai (2010).

Gede has always been critical of the conventions of artistic practice. He questions the often-endorsed identity construction of artists in the name of, and repeatedly bordering on essentializing tradition. Images from the wealth of Balinese culture, for example, have been adopted by many local artists and since the 1970s have become a part of the visual identity of modern art practice. Identity is bound inside the cage of frozen cultural heritage. His critical stance on hegemonic art practices was expressed by a number of young artists, including himself, through the “Mendobrak Hegemoni” movement (2001). They argued that art identity claiming to be the representation of Balinese cultural and spiritual essentialism—called taksu—is another form of Balinese cultural commercialism: a construction built by the artists, galleries, and art dealers that control the art world and art institutions. These criticisms have stimulated a new development through “post-Bali” discourse. For Gede, the idea of artistic subjectivity is an objectified symptom. Subjectivism, which has been a mainstay in art practice, creating celebrated artists in the art scene, is not absolute. As long as the idea is manifested as a visual symptom, the subjective idea is a fictional symptom. Gede’s appropriations of Western paintings whose value is considered “universal” is a strategy he calls “transgenic mutation.” This term refers to conscious changes to alter or sidetrack life’s design or genetic lines, which have given birth to “universal” works. In other words, Gede’s art practice at all times is a representation of representation. The “originality” lies not in the invention of language, subject matter or new artistic practice, but the way in which “originality” itself is questioned. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Gede is exhibiting a number of his latest paintings with “original” images differing from his previous works. He has left behind the analytical, logical, and appropriative aspects that generally distinguish his works and is experimenting with a new medium, that is, encaustic painting. Encaustic is a mixture of beeswax, dammar gum, and tempera, one of the oldest painting mediums. The material has been found on coffins and mummies from wooden panels dating from 1 BC to 3 AD, during the Coptic Church era in Egypt. The use of encaustic, for Mahendra, is full of metaphor and association. The choice of this material for the paintings was determined by a political position. The expulsion of followers of the Coptic Church by fundamentalists based on absolute claims by a particular religion under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) must be rejected. This is when the choice of artistic medium becomes a form of resistance. The non-figurative forms Gede explores through the encaustic medium are a kind of personal art. However, the personal need not include universal claims as in the past. Non-figurative art is a kind of spiritual transcendence on the basis of the personal. [HW]





4 1. 2. 3. 4.

Lamotrigine | 2017 | 200 x 160 cm Amygdala | 2017 | 200 x 160 cm Lithium | 2017 | 200 x 160 cm Lamictal | 2017 | 200 x 150 cm

Encaustic on canvas Photo courtesy of the artist


Hanafi Hanafi is an artist formed within a plural art world. He is accustomed to imagining the relations between words and form, between semantic meaning and the real presence of objects. For him, words and language in poetry often sound magical. What is the exact relation between the name of a thing and the thing itself? What does the poet imagine when she builds on her diction and presents meaning in her poetry? Is there some kind of poetics or language in objects? Hanafi has been known for his abstract paintings. He covers his canvases with color using paint rollers instead of emotion-laden brushstrokes. There is no cultural identity in his work, except the “identity” of the traces of the paint rollers and the flat color on the canvas. But that does not mean a complete rejection of figuration. Although unbound by symbol, emotion, or even figuration, his flat surfaces give birth to “figure” through the presence of words. At this juncture, Hanafi subverts the words—the tools of the poet—into his artwork. Form or a specific object can be born from the poetic canon, namely as embodiment. Conversely, things obtain their “meaning” through the poetical relation of words, as abstraction. Hanafi’s project for the Jakarta Biennale 2017 is his memory’s representation concerning language. This project is called Perkenalan Pertama dengan Bahasa. Hanafi wrote, “After my mother language, numerous languages have revealed themselves to me, in forms and shapes.” Not only as sound but also in the form of images. Those languages come and inspire artistic sensibility. Hanafi said that language confronts the body with the “world”. The pencil was his earliest tool with which to write his mother language, before he was acquainted with another language, the language of form. But, what was written by the pencil did not appear only on paper, but was also engraved in the air by the other end of the pencil. The action of writing in empty space—the abstract— for Hanafi can still be taken as “language.” Language now is rewritten through a performance in which audience members are invited to wear a specially designed jacket and coat—which can act as an allusion to arrows in Bisma’s body in Baratayuda. Hanafi studied art in Yogyakarta (1976-1979) and moved to Jakarta in the early 1990s to expand his artistry. For him, artistry is a blurry bridge between “making art” and “working”. He has held various solo exhibitions since the early 1990s, in Indonesia and several foreign countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Greece, Spain, and Canada). His most recent exhibition was Pintu Belakang/Derau Jawa, at the Indonesian National Gallery, Jakarta, in 2016. [HW] Hanafi was born in Purworejo, Indonesia, in 1960. He completed his education at the Art Institute of Indonesia, Yogyakarta (19761979). He received Anugerah Kebudayaan of FIB University of Indonesia (2005) and became one of the recipients of Top 10 Philip Morris Art Award (1997).


Perkenalan Pertama dengan Bahasa | 2017 Mixed-media installation | Pencils, jackets | 10 x 9 meters Photo: Farid Burhanudin


Hito Steyerl

Hito Steyerl was born in Munich, Germany, in 1966. She has participated in numerous exhibitions such as the European Biennial of Contemporary Art (2004) and Venice Biennale (2013). She received the New: Vision Award in Copenhagen International Documentary Festival (2010) and EYE Prize of the EYE Film Institute, the Netherlands (2015).

Hito Steyerl is a filmmaker, visual artist, writer, and thinker. She is currently a professor of New Media Art at the Berlin University of the Arts, where she cofounded the Research Center for Proxy Politics. She studied film at the University of Television and Film Munich and Academy of Visual Arts in Tokyo, and philosophy at the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. Her works are devoted to the relation of truth, images, and conditions of their visibility in the era of accelerated technology. The starting point of Steyerl´s works is the video-essay November (2004), a “feminist martial art film” that she made as a teenager (1983) with her friend Andrea Wolf, who later became a revolutionary in the international PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and was assassinated in 1998 in Turkey. In Lovely Andrea (2007) the artist returned to Tokyo, where she studied in the late 1980s, to create a photograph of herself as a shibari (Japanese rope bondage) model named Andrea (after her friend). In a video installation, The Factory of Sun (2015), Steyerl creates an on-screen prototypical mediatic platform (TV news set, VR studio, operation control center) where the public imagination of the real/virtual is not only and simply reversed, but also undergoes an almost infinite loop-circuit of visual cloning and (post)production effects. Steyerl has also authored many influential essays that observe the evolution of the “military-industrial-entertainment complex”, unfolding connections of war technology, power relations, and capital within the field of contemporary art. The content of her essays can be most clearly seen in a series of video lectures: Is the Museum a Battlefield (2013), I Dreamed a Dream (2013), Duty Free Art (2015). The video-installation Liquidity Inc. (2014) featured at the Jakarta Biennale 2017 models and finally liquidates connections between trading, money investments, natural resources extraction, weather, and martial arts. The main character, Jacob Woods, a Lehman Brothers employee who loses his job during the 2008 bank failure re-orients himself and finds happiness in Mixed Martial Arts, a combat sport in which “anything goes”. The rainstorms, tropical winds, and sun media forecasts defuse the unpredictability of the weather by models and tropes that merge with simulations and descriptions of stock market behavior. Meanwhile, liquidity, as defined by the philosopher Zygmunt Bauman as a discernible phenomenon of modernity, has in the film become the omnipresent technology that allows for the invasive penetration of everything and everyone. [VH]


Liquidity Inc | 2014 Single-channel video within an architectural environment | 30’ Above, below right: installation; photo: Panji Purnama Putra Below left: Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist & Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York


Ho Rui An

Ho Rui An was born in Singapore in 1990. He has exhibited his works in the 2nd KochiMuziris Biennale, Haus de Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Hessel Museum of Art and CCS Bard



NUS Museum (Singapore), Jorge B. Vargas Museum and Filipiniana Research Center (Manila), Serpentine Galleries (London), NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore and Para Site (Hong Kong).

Ho Rui An is an artist and writer working at the intersections of contemporary art, cinema, performance, and theory. He writes, talks, and thinks around images, investigating their sites of emergence, transmission, and disappearance within contexts of globalism and governance. Ho Rui An has perfected the genre of lecture-performance, a genre in which he invokes different characters or elements as perspectives to approach a variety of themes. He has gained attention for his discursively compelling performances that sift through historical archives and contemporary visual culture to probe into the shifting relations between image and power. His recent research considers questions surrounding liberal hospitality, participatory democracy, and speculative futures. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Ho Rui An is presenting Solar: A Meltdown, a lecture-performance that takes off from the sweaty back of a mannequin of the anthropologist Charles le Roux that the artist encountered in the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. The normative look of the colonial administrator emulates immaculate whiteness, standing proud, untouched by the climate. From this strange image at the Tropenmuseum, Ho Rui An has launched a series of investigations to get to the suppressed or supposedly unspectacular stories of the colonial empire and, more crucially, the merciless sun behind it, beating down on the imperial back. Examining this “solar unconscious” behind the European colonial project, the lecture further considers the white woman and the punkawallah (manual fan operator) as figures constitutive of a “global domestic”—an all-encompassing, air-conditioned planetary interior. Spiraling into the contemporary moment of terrestrial meltdown, it finally seeks to reclaim sweat as a way of getting out of ourselves and in touch with the Solar. In this work, Ho Rui An connects different strains of thought on colonialism and globalization in a lecture-performance in which he mobilizes images from museum collections or Hollywood movies such as 1956’s The King and I. In this musical an English teacher, Anna, “educates” the family of King Mongkut in Bangkok. Ho Rui An considers one of the catchiest songs from the musical, “Getting to Know You”, as an ode to intercultural exchange. While the Thai kids imitate the clothing of their teacher, Anna waves a fan. They bow and shake hands. It all looks cute but the teacher instructs of course, and the specter of dominance emerges. [PP]



below right

Solar: A Meltdown 2 | 2014 Installation | digital print, videoprojection, and figurine (of Queen Elisabeth) | Approximately 4 x 8 m below left installation detail

Solar: A Meltdown 1 | 2014 Lecture performance

Photo: Panji Purnama Putra

Photo courtesy of the artist


I Made Djirna

I Made Djirna was born in Bali, Indonesia, in 1957. He has held his solo exhibitions at theNorthern Territory Museum of Art and Science, Darwin, Australia (1989), in Singapore (1998, 2002, 2007) and in Indonesia (2000, 2001). He has also participated in the Singapore Biennale, Atlas of Mirrors, Singapore (2016)

For Made Djirna, to create an artwork is to play with things in nature. Those things, not unlike living beings, have walked through the stages of life, just like humans: they exist, pass through the stages of life, and in the end, cease to exist. Djirna is a scavenger of the primeval soul of things in nature. He collects natural objects scattered along roads, rivers, and beaches. In Hindu-Balinese culture and spiritual cornucopias, the recognition of the primeval soul of things is the awareness of the presence of the abstract. The abstract is insensible and dwells in the mythmythological dimension, beyond the scale of finitude. Djirna’s awareness when collecting things found in nature is a pre-reflective consciousness, outside the intention to “know” and the desire to name things. Made Djirna’s project for the Jakarta Biennale 2017 continues this ritual collecting of objects. He examined pumice rocks he found along the coast of Bali. For months he traced the shoreline between Beraban Beach, Negara Regency, to Jumpai Beach in Klunkung. He also took pumice rocks from Purnama Beach, Gianyar, which is currently undergoing extensive abrasion. Carried by ocean waves and pounded by floods, after hundreds of years of formation, this solid lava is considered rubbish to be burned along with other trash. Djirna carves the volcanic rocks informed by an intuition of the universal-archaic face and ties them up together into a large-scale installation object. One piece of pumice stone for Djirna signifies a symbol of the soul. The unity of souls represents an infinite power. That is the force of life. On the individual level, life force stretches the path that each individual must tread: predestination, determined according to fate. The sensitivity of the abstract, for Djirna, can only grow out of the repeated practice of feeling. Only with feeling can humans communicate with various living beings, including things in nature we consider dead. In Djirna’s words, “the more subtle our feeling, the more extensive our communication with the universe.” In an ever-changing physical and social environment, the chance of finding archaic objects becomes more limited. Since the beginning of the 1970s, Balinese people’s physical relationship with nature have changed following tourism and modernization. Yet, the modern world, which rests upon rational logic, reduces the world behind the world into only what can be perceived. Therefore, Djirna is trying to see what is hidden behind the appearance of the world, something which necessarily holds self-givenness; something that offers itself to open up the outlook of the viewer. Balinese cultural expression in general is a sincere articulation and an offering to the Creator. That sincerity—symbolized by the pumice—is slowly eroded by the movement of time and era. [HW]


Unsung Heroes | 2017 Mixed-media installation with lime stones | Variable dimensions Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Imhathai Suwatthanasilp






Chaiyaphum, Thailand, in 1981. She received her BA in fine art from the Sipakorn University in 2004. She obtained a scholarship to study at the National Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, in 2006. She is a recipient of the Silpa Bhirasri Silver Medal Award in the 22nd Exhibition of Contemporary Art by Young Artists (2005).

Imhathai has previously received scholarship to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and undertake a master’s degree in painting, sculpture and graphic art from Silpakorn University, Bangkok. Her works have been displayed at the International Incheon Women Artists Biennale, Incheon (2009); Busan Biennale, Busan; Nichido Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2010); and Thai Transience at the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2012). She has also held two solo exhibitions—Rebirth (2014) and Ruen Sam Nam See (2017)—in Bangkok. Imhathai’s two-dimensional work consists mainly of artistic, lyrical lines. Surprisingly, the images in her paintings are a product of her own strands of hair. Her fine, soft, and thin hair is composed into specific images with tight, curved lines. What appears in her works are black and white images, immediately reminding us of the womb, natural organic images, symmetrical forms, and facial silhouettes with complicated fillings. The use of hair, both real or fake, distinguishes Imhathai’s work. This applies not only to her two-dimensional art, but to her three-dimensional art as well. Weaves of hair forming a braid, pot, crown, veil, finely woven hijab like a spider’s web, or thin brocade are combined with everyday objects, such as rocks and clothes hangers. Often using her own hair, it is as if Imhathai is trying to emphasize and place her identity in those objects. Something private and subtle reveals itself, searching for its meaning through the connection with other objects. In undisclosed territory #9 (2015) at Studio Plesungan, Karanganyar, Surakarta, she performed with white coral rocks covered with a crochet of her own hair. Those rocks were then thrown into a dark wood with the help of a slingshot. These objects came from an unknown territory, were found, and then fell into nowhere. Imhathai then wrote, “Keep it to see when I am not with you.” Private objects and memory single out the domain of women’s art. For Imhathai, hair holds a specific identity to reveal kindred relations. Hair possesses innumerable cultural meanings, especially in the ritual world. In the modern world, hair is an indivisible attribute with personal identity, for example, with femininity and gender status. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Imhathai is exhibiting several black and white images portraying figures and shapes, such as a leaf, womb, and facial silhouette. She uses a combination of materials, for instance, real hair, graphite, and acrylic, to darken an image. The use of subtle and tight lines as thin as hair that dominate her drawings creates a poetic, subtle impression of something simultaneously malleable and fragile. That visual identity marks Imhathai as one of Thailand’s important contemporary artists. [HW]


Myself-Portrait (left) | 2017 Mixed drawing techniques on canvas | 150x120 cm

Myself-Portrait (right) | 2017 Mixed drawing techniques on canvas | 150x120 cm

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

from left to right:

Life-Circulation No.1 | 2015 Life-Circulation No.5 | 2017 Mixed drawing techniques on canvas 76x56 cm Photo courtesy of the artist


Jason Lim Jason Lim’s repertoire encompasses ceramic art, photography, video, installation, and performance art. He jumps back and forth between embodying a form of representation involving repetition (as in a ritual mimicking of the growth and decay of natural phenomena) and totally invented forms. The forms of Lim’s ceramics, often the outcome of performances, are always the result of his bodily involvement with the material and are always full of potential. He shows that meaning comes and goes, and tells of the ridiculous task of trying to find and pin it down. Lim draws inspiration from themes of the material and spiritual worlds, such as those explored in the Hindu text Bhagavad Gita, as well as many other disparate sources, including natural phenomena and landscapes. However, he doesn’t necessarily emulate them: he wants to evolve alongside the natural environment, not compete with it. Teasing audiences with a cheeky use of his materials, Lim’s performances often play with risky, precarious situations. The possibility of collapse, self-destruction, or erosion are implied in their structure. His works beautifully capture the essences of organic and natural subjects, while also expressing an acute awareness of human relations. In the artist’s own words: “I change the identity of things, and make many layers of meaning. I find it important to capture visual tendencies that influence and stimulate the viewer’s perception and imagination. In this way, I want my work to provide visual questions instead of answers.” In 1995 at The Substation art space, Lim produced his seminal performance Three Tonnes of Clay with fellow ceramist Ng Siew Kuan, filling the entire gallery with unfired clay that allowed the artists and audience to mould and transform the space. After the performance, traces of his body were still present in the installation, and it imbued it with a sort of energy, something that was left behind when the audience came to visit the exhibition they knew something had happened in that space. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Lim will again use an enormous amount of clay during a durational performance, and tackle the motif of the aerial roots (also known as strangler roots) of a banyan tree. The banyan tree in particular, which grows upside down on a “host-tree”, takes center stage as the philosophical metaphor that drives Lim’s recent practice in ceramics, presenting the dual characteristics of nature, as both benevolent and malevolent. [PP]

Jason Lim was born in Singapore in 1966. He has been regarded as a future master of ceramic art of Singapore. His artworks have been exhibited, among other places in Australia, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Thailand, and the Netherlands


Under the Shadow of the Banyan Tree | 2017 Performance using 2 tons of grogged terracotta clay, water, and found objects | 6 days, 6-8 hours per day Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Karrabing Film Collective The Karrabing Film Collective are a “grassroots, indigenous-based media group”. Most members live in the Belyuen Community in the Northern Territory of Australia. Since 2008 they have made six films and several companion installations. The Karrabing Film Collective have won several awards and prizes including the Cinema Nova Award for Best Short Fiction Film (2015, Melbourne International Film Festival), the prestigious Visible Award 2015. Their videos, films, and other media-based activities showcase the complexity of everyday life in the indigenous north as they speak to global issues of cultural survivance in settler colonialism. Art writer Colin Perry has written, “Somewhat like Jean Rouch’s ethnofictions, the Collective deploys stories to tell truths about neo-colonialism; here, the focus is on the tribulations of legislation, indigenous policy, and policing in the Northern Territories. Strikingly intelligent but never burdened by overt displays of theory (it’s funny, mocking, ironic), the Collective’s work is hugely refreshing.” In line with the theme of “Jiwa”, Jakarta Biennale 2017 features the Karrabing video WUTHARR, Saltwater Dreams (2016). Based on a real event, it tells the story of a broken boat motor that obliges a crew to change their plans and try to find a way to repair it, setting off a chain of unpredictable events. The breakdown may be caused by corroded wires, or it may be a warning from the ancestors inhabiting the land where the story takes place. The different voices of the characters represent different logics and experiences. They mediate traditional indigenous ancestral voices tied to the land, which are nowadays a matter of ownership and exploitation, and speak about practical tactics of those experiencing inequality, with humor, to find some joy in collective agency. WUTHARR, as other films are for Karrabing, is a means of self-organization and analysis of their own lives—written, acted, and shot by members of the Collective. Combining elements of cinema verité with docu-fiction style, they shoot videos using simple technical means, i.e. non-professional video cameras and iPhones. The urgency of immediate survival, which is a reaction to the violence of the majority, explicitly marks the conduct of the film’s unique characters and gives direction to their story. The protagonists seem to act with an immediacy and spontaneity that blurs the predictability of a filmic plot. The viewer is left unsure at every moment and stays open to surprising casualties. [VH]

Karrabing Film Collective was founded in 2008. It has membership of more than 20 persons.


WUTHARR, Saltwater Dreams | 2016 Video | 27’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Keisuke Takahashi Keisuke Takahashi is a video and media artist who considers questions related to the rapid development of civilization and nature, and the influence of both on landscapes. He experiments with technological conditions of digital images and develops forms of interactivity between human bodies and digital images. He also collaborates and creates installations for dance performances, theatrical plays, and other public events. A member of Nibroll, a group of interdisciplinary artists founded by the choreographer Mikuni Yanaihara (1997), Takahashi created the offNibroll group, which focuses on performances exploring the relationship between the body and image. Starting from room (video, 2006), Takahashi has investigated the relationship between the multitude and singular on a social scale. In room he documented the smallest cells of the social organism, filming small rooms where singles and families live and formatting them in a cubic shape to simulate the living units of people on Earth. The video installation Town (2010) placed the viewer inside diverse mappings of a city. The work can be seen as a 3D architectural study of volumes, where the smallest particle of a house becomes a structural particle of the human body. The perspective was enlarged in the installation a world (2010), in which all the walls of the space were covered in small, schematic figures of anonymous human bodies in constant movement. In the installation Hinomaru (2015) the tone was far more political, exploring a certain Japanese colonial heritage in Asia and showing a multitude of human bodies disappearing into a red abyss, an allusion to the color of the national flag. In the installations Dry Flower (2004), public=un+public (2010), a quiet day (2012), and numerous others for dance and theater events, Takahashi through offNibroll has focused on the development of an interactive apparatus that links the movements of the bodies of viewers or dancers in relation to the “vivifying� of the image. In his installation for Jakarta Biennale 2017, Fictional Island (2016), Takahashi invites the visitor to enter a laboratory model of a computer animation studio that includes some natural elements (black sand) and creates a model of an island. It shows how a fictional 3D landscape is created within the borders of land and ocean, and situates the imagination of the visitor at the origins of the planet and the universe. It is a cosmological reminder that brings to mind the ability of humans to create and destroy the nature that they are part of and which is part of them. [VH] Keisuke Takahashi was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1972. He has received numerous awards, such as MORI Art Museum Membership Special Prize, Japan (2004), and the Outstanding Achievement Award of Graz Art Project, Austria (2005).


Fictional Island | 2016 Multi-channel video installation | 20’ Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Kiri Dalena

Kiri Dalena was born in Manila, Philippines, in 1975. Her artworks have been exhibited at various art events, such as Sunshower: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia 1980’s to Now, National Art Center, Mori Art Museum and Busan Biennale 2016: Hybridizing Earth, Discussing Multitudes.

Kiri Dalena is a visual artist, filmmaker, and human rights activist. She studied human ecology at the University of the Philippines and documentary filmmaking at the Mowelfund Film Institute, Quezon City. Her artistic work is a continuous appeal regarding political misconduct and injustice, and an exploration of traumatic memories from the history of the Philippines. Dalena´s acclaimed installation Erased Slogans (2008) was a series of manipulated archival photographs showing public protests before the closing down of newspapers during the martial law era under President Ferdinand Marcos (1972-1986). She explained the erasure seen in the installation’s photographs as an allusion to censorship and drew the attention of all viewers to the gestures, faces, and bodies of the protestors. Later, she continued to work with slogans, collecting them in books. The first of these small, handmade books was Red Book of Slogans (2008), which contains the deleted (and many additional) texts from demonstrations through the 1950s to the First Quarter Storm of 1970—a period of unrest during the country’s economic crisis—followed by Yellow (2014), Peach (2014), and Black Book of Slogans (2017) containing texts accumulated during historical protest actions under various presidential administrations, from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s to Rodrigo Duterte’s. Her subsequent installation quoted demonstration slogans from the campaign against election fraud in 2004 known as the Hello Garci scandal. Liar! Liar! Liar! (2010-2015) was an appropriation by Filipino rally participants of the similarly titled movie starring Jim Carrey (1997) about a compulsive liar who loses his capacity to lie. In White Walls (2017), Dalena and other artists from the multidisciplinary alliance RESBAK (Respond and Break the Silence Against the Killings) gathered pieces of clear, broken glass from cemeteries and junk shops. The ensuing accumulation of over 6,000 shards of glass, laid out across empty space, was a reference to the continuously growing number of people killed under the current administration’s war on drugs. Each piece stands for someone broken and rendered anonymous in the quick succession of killings in the streets. Requiem for M (2010) is a video film and memorial to the Maguindanao Massacre, during which a convoy of 58 family members, journalists, and supporters of an opposition candidate for the Maguindanao gubernatorial election were kidnapped and killed. From the Dark Depths (2017), presented for the first time in its entirety on the occasion of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, is a 25-minute film with a unique sensitivity interweaving different layers of reality and depicting the story of a dead communist who joins an underwater world of equality, freedom, and camaraderie. [VH]


From the Dark Depths | 2017 Video | 25’ 53” Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist

GIKAN SA NGITNGIT NGA KINAILADMAN (FROM THE DARK DEPTHS) Cast: Genevieve Reyes, El Ora Espano, Kalil Almonte, Bon Andrew Lentejas. Director/ Writer: Kiri Lluch Dalena. Producer: Carl Chavez, Kiri Dalena. Line Producer: Maya Quirino. Assistant Director: Petrick Franco. Production Manager: Nico Bagsic. Music: Datu Arellano. Director of Photography: Jippy Pascua. Underwater DOP: Martin Zapanta. 16mm and Analog Video: Kiri Dalena. Sound Design: Jedd Dumaguina. Editor: Charm Nogot, Jippy Pascua. Additional Editing: Kiri Dalena, Jon Olarte. Production Designer: Aldrin Olaguer. Art Director: Carlo Bernardino. Underwater Art Director: Melissa. Abuga-a Wardrobe: Clara Herrera. Sound Recordist: Gelay Tamayo Boom. Operator: Hans Gelilang. Production Assistants: Trishtan Perez, Ai Tacastacas. Camera Assistants: Aljohn Torres, Vonfrance Bicaldo. Safety Divers: Ruel Tria, Valerie Asch, Diggy Asch, Robert Kim Garcia. Poster Design: Tom Estrera III.


Luc Tuymans Luc Tuymans works with the mediation and translation of found images, which in his paintings appear reduced, blurred, whitewashed or condensed, as if viewed at several removes from their original. The artist typically reworks source images through sketches, photocopies, polaroid-photographs, or even reconstructed physical models, before setting out to paint. As a result, his pictures follow the inconsistencies of the structure of an old memory, similar to oral history, outlining a possibility of (re-)cognition and conveying a reminiscence of truth. This approach testifies to the artist’s belief that representation can only ever be partial and subjective, and that meaning must be pieced together through isolated fragments. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017 Luc Tuymans is creating a wall-painting, an animation movie, and a couple of drawings. The wall-painting, Twenty Seventeen, zooms in on a pale, mask-like face that looms from the dark with eyes wide open. A hologram based on a character from a Brazilian soap opera; it is captivated by something happening outside the borders of the image. The viewer might recall an Indonesian painting unknown to the artist: S. Sudjojono’s unfinished canvas, Perusing a Poster (1956), which shows a crowd bemused by posters—outside the image frame—for the first legislative election after the nation won its independence. It would be the only election held before Sukarno ushered the country into guided democracy. Fifty years after Sudjojono, Tuymans connects his work to an important election year with possible global consequences. Tuymans’ interest in extended cinematic techniques persists with the creation of an animated film in collaboration with Joris van Poucke, a work in progress simply called Animation (2017). In the gloom, one discerns a sliver of land next to a river. Whitish figures emerge from the darkness. The frames are based on the opening scene of A Twist of Sand (1968), in which unidentifiable individuals are seconds away from being gunned-down by an invisible source. Tuymans carefully avoids the moment of execution. Finally, Tuymans is making a couple of pencil drawings based on photographs of—presumably Dutch—folkloristic, wooden figurines in diorama-like, rural settings. The figurines call to mind both Van Gogh’s early dark mementos of the harsh life of peasants, as well as the droll rendering of the Dutch colonizer by Indonesian puppet craftsmen, on display at the Jakarta Wayang Museum. [PP]

Luc Tuymans was born in Mortsel, Belgium, in 1958. He is considered to have contributed to the rise of painting in the 1990s. His works have been displayed in numerous events and museums, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio.




Twenty Seventeen | 2017 Mural | 245 x 169 cm

Animation (in collaboration with Joris Van Poucke) | 2017 Video animation | 20�

Photo: Panji Purnama Putra

Still image from video, courtesy of the artist


Marintan Sirait

Marintan Sirait was born in Braunschweig, Germany, in 1960. She has participated in exhibitions such as Indonesian Women Artists Exhibition (2001), Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2002) and Intimate Distance: Indonesian Women Artists Exhibition (2007).

Marintan Sirait studied art at the Bandung Institute of Technology and has been involved in various international exhibitions, performances, workshops, seminars, and residencies since the 1990s. She was the initiator and facilitator of a number of performances and participatory and collaborative visual art projects. With artist Andar Manik, she assembled Jendela Ide (1995), a place for youths to undergo value transformation through the media of art-culture. Together with nine professionals from Bandung, she established Rumpun Indonesia (2015), a media outlet to promote the value of integrity through participatory art for women. In the middle of the 1990s, contemporary art development in Indonesia was haunted by a new artistic practice, that is, performance. The tendency of happening art, which involves the body of the artist, has emerged symptomatically since the 1970s. Nevertheless, it was only at the end of the 1990s that performance art gained traction. Among the small number of performance artists was Marintan Sirait. For Marintan, a personal body needs a place and meaning in contemporary art spaces. From there, paradoxes arise. The personal necessarily interacts with daily life, carrying social value and perspective. However, the same body possesses memories and dreams for the future, and reserves the right to freedom as well. The body is the home and the most fragile shelter in inter-human interaction. We know of mind and body dualism. Another point of view maintains that the body (soma) is a sign (sema) of the presence of our soul. Through the body, the human soul reveals its signs. By working in various disciplines, Marintan explores the somatic practices, meditation, and the esthetics of everyday life associated with those underlying views. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Marintan is re-examining her performance work, Membangun Rumah (1992-1997). This work refers to elements of nature such as, mountains, earth, trees, and star constellations. Her performance practice involves images, movements, sound, spans of time and space. Her new work is a combination of installation and performance, called Membangun Rumah dan Ruang Perjumpaan using materials as diverse as earth, ash, pebbles, light, bodily movements (called horizontal space) and video projections on acrylic glass (called vertical space). Her performance practice is a form of participatory, creative, explorative, non-political activism. Marintan expresses the idea of deceleration. In personal and social life, sensitivity to gesture and touch is thoroughly significant. Through the slow movement of the body, those things can be valued. Deceleration reconnects the body’s connection with space, to capture the passage of time and feel the presence of things around us. Slow movement brings to life the signifiers that “build the home” and the meeting space. The esoteric and exoteric meet in that space. Apart from her performance at the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Marintan is also speaking at the workshop “Ruang Perjumpaan”, discussing themes related to bodies, which essentially are an aggregate of force moving in unison. [HW]


Re-inventing Membangun Rumah | 2017 Installation and performance art | Earth, pebbles, ash, acrylic glass, video, lighting and sound. * Marintan Sirait - installation | Bintang Manira Manik - sound designer Above: installation; photo: Panji Purnama Putra Below: Marintan Sirait, Long Distance Call From Home. 2012. Photo: Tiarma Sirait.


Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc moved to France at the age of 15, the kind of journey from a former colony to the metropolitan center that creates a constitutive awareness of otherness, according to Franz Fanon or Aimé Césaire. Through video, photography, installations, drawings, books and exhibition projects, Abonnenc delves thoroughly into colonial histories and liberation movements. In a series of drawings titled Slave-Trade Landscapes (2004-2007), Abonnenc expunged the figures of slaves and colonists from the original engravings that illustrated the mission of the nineteenth-century colonist and explorer Jules Crevaux. In 2009 Abonnenc began to study the works of Sarah Maldoror (b. 1938, Guadeloupe), one of the first female film directors of the African continent and someone who devoted herself to liberation movements in Lusophone Africa in the 1960s and 1970s. He presented her first film, Monangambée (1969), and created Foreword to her second and missing film, Guns for Banta (1970), seized by the Algerian government in 1971. Abonnenc´s installation, Double Agents, Phlebotomus Abonnenci (2014) displays, among other things, larval specimens of the sand fly (Phlebotomus) as well as documents from the collection of African objects gathered by the artist’s grandfather during his stay in Gabon in the 1930s—leading to discussions about the colonial practice of gathering and importing natural and cultural specimens and the urgent need to reconsider their current status. The moment of colonial collecting is also present at the beginning of Abonnenc’s film Sector IX B (2015), which will be screened at the Jakarta Biennale 2017. Problematics of colonial museum collections such as happened in the case of the famous Dakar-Djibouti Mission, known thanks to the writings of French writer Michel Leiris, could find actuality in contemporary debates in Indonesia. As Abonnenc wrote about the film: “On the one hand, the film aims to subvert the homogeneity of the narratives of scientific adventures in a colonial context; on the other hand, it aims to question the place each individual occupied— in this specific case my grandfather—in the processes of cultural appropriation and of accumulation of symbolic and economic wealth.” The film’s main character is a young anthropologist who tries to redefine the boundaries of her discipline. She reconstitutes the pharmacy box and medical prescriptions given to the members of the Dakar-Djibouti Mission, then tests the effects of the drugs on herself. Falling slowly in a fantastical world, she sinks into a hallucination produced by the synthetic substances. Gradually the viewer will doubt the reality of what is happening to her. [VH] Mathieu





in French Guiana in 1977. He has been participating in many art events, such as the Venice Biennale (2015) and Berlin Biennale (2014).


Secteur IX B | 2015 Video | 42’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Nikhil Chopra Nikhil Chopra’s artistic practice ranges between live art, painting, photography, sculpture, and installations. His performances, which are to a large extent improvised, dwell on issues such as identity, the role of autobiography, posing, and self-portraiture. They reflect on the process of transformation and are often durational. Chopra combines everyday life, memory, and collective history. Daily acts such as eating, resting, washing, and dressing, but also drawing and making clothes, acquire a productive value, becoming an essential part of what is shown in exhibitions. His performances can be seen as a form of storytelling that intermingles history, personal narrative, and everyday life. The process of performing is a means to access, excavate, extract, and present them. Each performance unfolds in longdurational “happenings” done over the course of one-day or several, in slow, deliberated, ritualized movements. Everyday actions like washing, eating, shaving, sleeping, and dressing, form the script of the performances whose central and only character, is often seen creating a large drawing on canvas of the landscape or urban vistas in his immediate environment. Each action or pause is pregnant with anticipation that a transformation will take place. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Nikhil Chopra is presenting the drawing and performance project Land Water. For a period of eight hours Chopra will occupy a room in the Jakarta History Museum at Fatahillah Square. He will be embodying a persona that resembles the colonial notion of the Westernized Oriental Gentleman or wog (a derogatory epithet used by the British government for native officers in their colonies working for them). This work involves making drawings on the walls using 20 kilograms of mud, 20 kilos of rice, and 20 liters of water. The drawings represent the open sea, to create the illusion of being surrounded by water. The drawings and the materials used to make them will self-reflexively evoke their histories and politics. (Colonial) Power has almost always been disseminated in the way the land and the waters are controlled, manipulated, and exploited. The idea of being surrounded by water is palpable on the many islands of Indonesia, today more than ever, as we confront climate change, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. [PP]

Nikhil Chopra was born in Kolkata, India, in 1974. He received his BA in fine art from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Master from Ohio State, Ohio, the US. His previous exhibitions include New Exhibition, France, and After Midnight: Indian Modernism to Contemporary India 1947/1997.


Land Water | 2017 Performance and installation | 20 kg of mud, 20 kg of rice, 20 l of water/8 hrs Above: installation; below: performance documentation Photo: Angga Reksha & Panji Purnama Putra


Otty Widasari Otty Widasari is an artist and one of the founders of Forum Lenteng, a collective in Jakarta focusing on art, media, and sociocultural studies. Her solo artistic practice is nourished by her engagement with media activism, journalistic experiences dealing with social and historical actualities, and a lifelong study and connoisseurship of film. A continuous drawing practice gathers all her activities into one place: her working diary. Her works deal with everyday struggles related to the material conditions of life, such as Home (2007), in which the main subject complains about permanent workplace exploitation of low class laborers in Jakarta. Video poem Green Mountain, Heaven Mountain (2013) was inspired by a quote from an ancient Persian ruba’i about the tension between certain restrictive patriarchal habits and the need for a woman to “feel the heavenly pleasure that exists in the world”. In her video work, Diorama, the artist added a mysterious multi-voiceover to the lo-fi video recording from the dioramas at the Monumen Nasional, Jakarta. The landscape of human voices dissolves the monolithic clarity of the canonical version of Indonesia’s national story. Other investigations, Ones Who Looked at the Presence (2014) and Ones Who Are Being Controlled (2016), presented numerous drawings of human faces staring back at the viewer. All these faces of indigenous people of the Dutch East Indies, were redrawn from colonial photography and film materials produced by the Dutch East Indies Company (preserved now in the Dutch archives). The faces were captured by the colonial eye behind the camera, and its structures of power and violence. Originally serving as a report depicting the colony for viewers in the metropolis, today the images have been re-appropriated by the artist for us to watch and ask questions of. Her video performance conceived for the Jakarta Biennale 2017 titled Ones Who Looked at the Presence (2017) develops those inquiries further. Performing for a camera standing in an empty space, she lengthily prepares the supporting tools for a projection of b/w archival films. It seems that the meticulous and repetitive removal of scaffolding takes an eternity, whereas the time of the projection appears to be short. And when the performance abruptly ends, uncomfortable questions stay unanswered: Is it possible to decolonize images other than by burning them? How can the use of these images be liberated from the imprisonment of the artist in the role of a victim? Isn’t the iconoclastic gesture toward historical images a consequence of the long road toward the post-colonial identity of Indonesia? [VH] Otty Widasari was born in Balikpapan, Indonesia, in 1973. She studied at the Institute of Social and Political Sciences, Jakarta, and the Jakarta Art Institute. She is a co-founder of the art collective Forum Lenteng and the program director of akumassa.


Ones Who Looked at the Presence | 2017 Video performance | 23’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Pawel Althamer in collaboration with

Jędrzej Rogoziński, Michał Mioduszewski, Sukma Hadi, Oksa, Ayah Bagol Kedungeran, Irsad, and Dwi Penjol

Pawel Althamer was born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1967, and completed his education at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. He is a recipient of the Vincent van Gogh Biannual Award (2004).

Pawel Althamer studied sculpture at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts (19881993). He works with various media including sculpture, installation, video, and performance. Together with longtime collaborators Michał Mioduszewski and Jędrek Rogoziński, Althamer investigates how the spaces of extended human perception can be opened to the broader public and change existing social forms. In the performance Water, Time, Space (1991), he encapsulated himself in plastic foil which was slowly filled with cold water. The same year, in Self Portrait, he dressed up in a white overall like a “snowman” and sat for a few hours in a park covered by snow. He later used the figure of an explorer who observes and documents his surroundings, whether a sculpture of a man holding a camera (Observer, 1995) or a months-long performance during which he walked in a homemade spacesuit and filmed the world around him (Astronaut 2, Documenta X, 1997). In a peformance that resuscitated communal exchanges in Brodno (2000), Althamer persuaded his flat neighbors to turn the lights on/off in specific rooms, involving around 200 families. The windows of flat rooms with the lights on jointly formed the number “2000” on the facade. In Common Task, from 2008-2010 his neighbors undertook a mission to Brasilia, Brussels, and Oxford to observe these places as astronauts coming from outer space in golden spacesuits. Draftsmen’s Congress (2012) invited participants to communicate through images drawn on a wall. Not only embodying an “unlearning” activity and various channels of inter-human communication, it also inscribed itself in the line of works of Fluxus artists, such as Robert Filliou and Yoko Ono. This idea eschews the notion that artistic schooling and skills are necessary conditions for an artwork, bringing any object or phenomenon into the realm of esthetical experience. The same quality is advocated by Althamer in his more than twenty-year-long collaboration with the Nowolipie Group, a group of people suffering from multiple sclerosis. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Pawel Althamer proposed a new installation, Krasnobrodzka 13 (2017), which reconstructs a staircase of one of the socialhousing blocks in Warsaw where the artist used to live. The inhabitable structure in Jakarta is related to his 2010 project in which he renovated an abandoned room using a “spacecraft” design, which later functioned as a communal space dedicated to the arts, culture, and social integration. The space generated film screenings and discussions for the inhabitants who, despite being neighbors, did not even know each other. This “alien” setup of a diminished place turned out to be a symbol for new non-alienated human relations. [VH]


Krasnobrodzka 13 / Gotong Royong-Wspólna Sprawa | 2017 Collaborative performance | 23’ Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Pinaree Sanpitak in collaboration with

Rahung Nasution

Pinaree Sanpitak was born in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1961. Her artworks have been exhibited in Female Power in Arnhem (2013) and Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything.

Pinaree Sanpitak’s artistic practice is rooted in an idea of the female body that is not necessarily linked to gender politics. For her, what is no less significant about the existence of women is the spirituality of their lives. What is more symbolic, and at the same time material and spiritual, in a woman’s body than the body itself? Life starts from a woman’s body, through multiple biological processes that give birth to a new being. This is where nature intersects with culture. In her latest works, Sanpitak presents a female figure through a form of breast-stupa. The breast shape is reminiscent of organic forms in nature and, in a religious context, of the stupas of Buddhist temples. By exploring the meanings and abstractions of such forms, her work radiates a meditative, serene, and balanced state that she calls spirituality. Thus, Sanpitak presents herself as a mother, a woman, and an artist who works with various media (paintings, drawings, sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and performances). The starting point of her performance projects is Breast + Stupa Cookery (2005). Initially, these were expressed through tridimensional works (ceramics, sculptures, installations), but later developed into performative works. Sanpitak invited artists from various fields, especially the culinary world, as well as the public to interact and taste various foods presented in the forms of breast-stupas. Performative events featuring “breast+stupa cooking” have been put together at museums, galleries, workshops, solo exhibitions, and biennales of cities and countries across the globe (Yokohama, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Singapore, Incheon, Beijing, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cambodia, New Zealand, and Texas). Now, for the first time ever, her artistic work is being showcased in Indonesia. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Pinaree Sanpitak is working alongside a widelyknown culinary activist in Indonesia, Rahung Nasution. Born in Sayurmatinggi, South Tapanuli, Nasution founded SpiceLab in 2015 along with several activists in Bandung. For him, Nusantara (the Indonesian archipelago) is home to many immensely rich culinary traditions. Indonesia is an “archipelago of spices” beyond compare in the world. Together with chefs Jodie Adrianto and Jon Priadi from Max Havelaar SpiceLab, Nasution is using his cooking skills to respond to Sanpitak’s breaststupa objects. Each of them is presenting flavored rice from various culinary traditions in the archipelago in three large breasts-stupas. The ingredients used are all locally sourced in Jakarta. The flavorful varieties of cooked rice found throughout Indonesia, such as Nasi Lemak, Nasi Kuning, and Nasi Minyak, are an eclectic mix of Indian and Islamic traditions. These dishes are associated with celebrations of the harvest season, birth rites, and other traditional ceremonies. Through allusion to the female body and the shape of the stupa, this postperformance culinary presentation sensually reflects historical and cultural traces. Food becomes an art, a network of flavors that inspires universal human connection. [HW]


Breast+Stupa Cookery | 2005 till now Performance art | Food, breast+stupa shaped objects Courtesy of the artist


PM Toh

PM Toh was born Agus Nur Amal in Sabang, Indonesia,







performances in Berlin (2011) and has given workshops at places such as Nottingham University, UK, and Forum Scenography in Prague, Czech Republic.

Agus Nur Amal majored in theatre at the Faculty of Performing Arts, Jakarta Institute of the Arts. In 1991, he returned to Aceh and studied folklore traditions for a year in his village. Upon his return to Jakarta (1992), he proclaimed PM Toh to be his stage name. Solo theater is an effective, inexpensive, and simple theatrical form. PM Toh’s performances—no less than 600 in total—have toured around the world. In 2014, he took part in a residency program at the ASEAS-UK Conference (Association of Southeast Asian Students—UK), Brighton, UK. He is now a major instructor and expert in international object theater. Among his immensely memorable storytelling projects are his travelling performances and workshops around the post-conflict period and tsunami era in Aceh in the mid-2000s. The most impressive performance for him, however, was when he performed as part of an effort to advance reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims in Sumber Klampok, Bali, an area still haunted by the 1965 massacre. In 2015, PM Toh celebrated 25 years of his work with the solo exhibition Hidangan dari Langit (Dish from the Sky) at RURU Gallery, Jakarta. The phrase dish from heaven refers to verses in the Qur’an that mention everything found in the universe. For PM Toh, stories about the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the wind, the clouds, and humans can be retold through everyday objects (bailers, buckets, funnels, basins, caping [peasant hats], steamers, beer cans, irons, fans, plastic garbage). Effective theater, which reminds us of the ideas of ​​Arte Povera—the contemporary Italian art movement of the late 1970s—is the theater of the lives of things. Watching PM Toh may also mean celebrating oral art has not been subdued by modern culture and literary art. His show is part of the rich treasures of languages of ​​ the world of which the majority do not have scriptural traditions. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, PM Toh is presenting a fairy tale titled Jiwa Laut (Soul of the Sea). The sea, the biggest theme in the lives of Indonesians, contains life, breadth, depth, darkness, and hypnotizing serenity. Through ideas and knowledge of the sea, Indonesians can sail to the soul of their people. However, as PM Toh has said, maritime experience for the people of Indonesia is now on the brink of extinction. The solo theater performance Jiwa Laut uses such everyday objects as water basins, peasant hats, sandals, and so on. Thirty-two basins will effectively be used to depict the seven levels of ocean depth, bamboo hats as sleeping volcanoes, and other objects as incarnations of sharks in the ocean. The fairy tale show, with a running time of approximately 45 minutes, will be an interactive experience with audience members wearing white clothes as the “screen” of the performance. There will be two projections, one pointed at the stage and the other on the bodies of people in the audience. Jiwa Laut is PM Toh’s latest magical fairy tale about the emotions of the sea, which can be placid in its benevolence or turbulent in its anger. [HW]


Jiwa Laut | 2017 Solo teater | 60’ Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Ratu Rizkitasari Saraswati Ratu Rizkitasari Saraswati studied printmaking at the Art and Design Faculty, the Bandung Institute of Technology, and graduated in 2013. Her involvement with performance art started through several workshops, such as the “Videosonic” workshop in Bandung, the OK. Video: Flesh festival in Jakarta and Jendela Ide (Bandung) performance workshop with Marintan Sirait and Melati Suryodarmo. In 2015, Saraswati signed up for undisclosed territory #8, a performance festival at Studio Plesungan, Solo. Her leap from printmaking, which requires strict technical skill, to performance art, for her, means fluidity, reciprocity, and sensibility. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Ratu is presenting the performance work Meronce (Beading). This term refers to the technique of stringing small objects through a thread of yarn, mainly to make ornaments. Beading is usually introduced to children at a young age to train motor skills, patience, and diligence through the observation of form and color. In the repertoire of Indonesian literature, Multatuli and his canonical work Max Havelaar described the Indonesian archipelago as “strands of the most beautiful jewel”. The art of beading also creates strands of beauty. The interconnectivity or intimacy in the act of beading is the inspiration for Ratu’s performance. In Meronce, a communicative silence between two people beading is presented. The act of beading and a solemn appreciation for the small things are the practice that joins the two people. Over the course of the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Ratu is presenting seven three-hour performances beading 12 kilograms of white crystal glass beads (21,600 pieces) in collaboration with her own family members: her mother and little sister. These two people have a special relationship with Ratu, which she has described with the phrase: “the feeling of acceptance in my relationships with these two people, who are my caregivers, is not a feeling that comes about very easily.” For Ratu, prolonged beading on the stage is a sort of ritual to understand other people’s feelings and existence. Each extended thread encircling the performers’ bodies at some point will meet in one place and become a full 35-meter-long strand. This long strand of the giant necklace whose two ends intersect is a symbol of a long and difficult journey. For Ratu, this performance is a symbol and an effort to show human fragility and strength in relation with the people closest to her. Even though, at a glance, Ratu’s Meronce performance sounds trivial, this piece emphasizes an appreciation of time and daily practice, and contains a paradox of progress and speed in our modern time. Reflectively, this practice suggests the reality of our cold society that progresses slowly, repeating something existing, moving as usual in a given cycle. [HW]







Indonesia, in 1990. In 2013 she was a finalist of the Indonesia Art Award.


Meronce | 2017 Performance and growing size of beadwork 3 hours every Saturday & Sunday Photo: Adi Priyatna & Farid Burhanudin


Robert Zhao Renhui Robert Zhao Renhui’s practice is closely informed by science, in particular zoology. Zhao has been passionate about nature since he was young, photographing animals at the zoo and developing a style mimicking documentary and scientific photography. During his studies in London, he expanded his artistic practice, constructing layered photographic narratives, challenging the viewer to question what they see as reality or fiction. Zhao’s ongoing inquiry into perceived human objectivity led him to create and publish works with the fictional organization, “The Institute of Critical Zoologists”, which he founded in 2008 and originally aimed “to develop a critical approach to the zoological gaze, or how humans view animals.” The Institute of Critical Zoologists, the first scholarly center dedicated to zoological dialogue in the social sciences, ecology, and the arts, is a long-term project by the artist that has functioned as an umbrella organization for his individual projects ever since. One of his best-known works, A Guide to the Flora and Fauna of the World, combines digitally altered images in a documentary style of 55 animals and plants that appear natural, but are actually man-made, and thus are never included in natural history encyclopedias. The guide forces us to meditate on the ways in which humankind has altered the planet, and continues to do so. Moreover, the guide questions the ways in which we even stylistically control nature for our perception, and pays close attention to how our attitudes and opinions—also forms of fiction— shape our assumptions about the world. Most of his work focuses on the Singaporean landscape—which is another fiction altogether—and constitutes the representation of a fact, mimicking the outward appearance of a document, but interweaving the real and the fictional, sowing a seed of doubt in viewers about the objectivity of the image before them. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Zhao is showing a series of near life-sized photographs featuring a very old and large tree that collapsed near the artist’s home. In Singapore, trees are cut in sections to make their removal easier. The physical cuts by which the tree is sectioned echo but do not exactly correspond to how Zhao has edited and sequenced the images, suggesting that there might be different ways of “managing” nature, whether via park authorities or art. [VH]

Robert Zhao Renhui was born in Singapore in 1983. His artworks have been exhibited in various events, such as the Singapore Biennale 2013 and International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017). He is a recipient of the Young Artist Award (2010) in Singapore.


The World Will Surely Collapse, Trying to Remember A Tree (III) | 2017 Photography | Series of 14 lightboxes | 114 x 210 cm Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Shamow’el Rama Surya Sumatran-born photographer Shamow’el Rama Surya took up photography in 1990. He graduated from a journalism course at Dr. Soetomo Institute in Jakarta in 1995. Surya today is considered one of the most important photographers of his generation in Southeast Asia. His first photobook, Yang Kuat Yang Kalah (The Strong Ones Are the Beaten Ones), published in 1996, helped to inspire a generation of Indonesian photographers, including the likes of Ng Swan Ti and Edy Purnomo, who emerged after the fall of Suharto. Shamow’el Rama Surya now dedicates his life to deep study The Bible. One of his most compelling series of photographs, Yogyakarta: Street Mythology (1998-2000), documents the syncretism of different religious cultures such as Hiduism, Buddhism, and Islam with capitalism and indigenous beliefs practiced in Yogyakarta. These photographs feature people and situations as if they had come from another era. After the fall of Suharto, Indonesians started to re-invent their spiritual and political identities, beliefs, and ideologies. As Surya testifies: they were trying to create their own mythologies. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017 Surya will show a selection from his photo-series A Certain Grace (2014), made during a residency in Papua. His trip to Minyambaow, a village in the mountainous Arfak district of West Papua, began when he was asked to volunteer as a temporary teacher at a junior high school there. Surya wanted to avoid, however, the same old depictions of Papuan people wearing traditional garb, practicing yet another tourist-oriented ritual. Instead, he focuses on the casual daily life of his subjects, and on their spiritual practices as Christians and as Indonesians (with a certain desire for Papuan freedom under their skin) beside ceremonies. Again, syncretism and apparent contradictions are paramount. He represents, for instance, families taking part in a Christian Sunday service but also turns his camera on practices of animism operating inside the bounds of recognized religion. He photographs kids playing outside, groups praying, or ritualistically dancing during service. Dogs hanging around or pigs that are to be eaten are as much a part of the world he wants to invoke as groups of youngsters at sports events wearing the shirts of their favourite soccer clubs. He documents the curiosity and desire of the people of Minyambou in Arfak Mountain to take part in globalization, while at the same time the natural and wild environment in which they live is challenged and exploited by the spirit of this very same globalization. [PP]

Shamow’el Sumatra,





was 1970.

born He

in was

named Photographer of the Year 1997 by photoMAGAZIN, Germany (1988). He has also published many photography books, such as A Certain Grace (2015).


A Certain Grace | 2015 Photography | Series of 10 photographs, each 78 x 106 cm Photo courtesy of the artist and Afterhours Books


Siti Adiyati

Siti Adiyati was born in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in 1951. She was one the few female students involved in the Black December of 1974 and the New Art Movement of Indonesia, which played an important role in the birth of Indonesian contemporary art. In 1993 she received the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government.

In the mid-70s Indonesia’s art avant-garde was born by initiating a condition of objectivity. Unlike the tradition of lyricism, which maintains that the subject always prevails and controls external reality, in avant-gardism, objects ganti: can only be seen as a manifestation of the artist’s subjectivity. This avant-gardism offers conceptual art and factuality of ideas and was championed by Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia (GSRBI) in 1975-1979. The people behind this movement were several young artists (mostly men) from Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta. Siti Adiyati and Nanik Mirna (deceased) were two women involved in that movement. Eceng Gondok Berbunga Emas was Siti Adiyati’s first work to be exhibited in the second exhibition of GSRBI at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), Jakarta, in 1979. In the 1970s, the divide between the rich and the poor was more pronounced. The New Order had passed the 1967 Foreign Investment Law, which opened new business opportunities for the people and the military. A conflict over power and the protection of interests between political generals and technocrats was inevitable. The presence of the nouveau riche was ostensible. Glamorous lifestyles were overtly displayed and marginalized people were left behind by the march of development. Siti Adiyati presented this irony in the form of a pool. She used water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) as a sit-in for life’s parasitic, out-of-control breeding. The water hyacinth in the work displayed in 1979 was taken from Kalipasir, Central Jakarta, a place occupied by the city’s poor. However, inside the pool she spread hundreds of seemingly majestic gold-coated, plastic roses. Who or what are the real parasites in our lives? “At that time, the price for a kilogram of rice was equal to a plastic rose. Plastic roses are an imported luxury product, very popular among the upper-class of Jakarta. At the same time, the poor were struggling to even buy rice to meet their daily needs. Back then, there were no artists who were interested in working with live objects. The artists—male artists—were only interested in dead materials,” Siti Adiyati recounts. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Siti Adiyati is magnifying her hyacinth pool. The pool of Eceng Gondok Berbunga Emas covers an expanse of 20 x 8 meters with a depth of 30 cm. The water surface is covered by hundreds of water hyacinths and around 1,600 gold-coated plastic roses. The price of one of these plastic roses is equal to 3 kilograms of subsidized rice. The hyacinths were taken from a pond of a prominent real-estate company in North Jakarta. This work can be seen as a multi-interpretative document that brings togetherconflict, anxiety, and happiness in a pond. Reality changes and is in motion, but irony accompanies all those changes. [HW]


Eceng Gondok Berbunga Emas | 1979 Installation | 20 x 8 m with 30 cm of depth Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Ugo Untoro Ugo Untoro studied painting at the Indonesia Art Institute (ISI), Yogyakarta (19881994). His first solo exhibition took place in 1995, entitled Corat-coret at Bentara Budaya, Yogyakarta. His famous solo exhibition, Poem of Blood, has been displayed in Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Rome in 2007-2009. What can an artist exhibit if art is said to be an expression of the soul? Does the soul of the artist live in select objects or “authentic” scribblings on a piece of paper? Can an artist distrust herself when she has the intention to create an artwork? The idea of an artist’s soul guides Ugo Untoro’s artistic endeavor. He admires Sudjojono (1913-1986), the pioneer of modern art in Indonesia, who coined the term and artistic concept of “jiwa ketok”. Thus, Ugo is interested in discussing what is substantially present and what is only virtually imagined in artwork. For him, a work of art is marked meaningfully by an ongoing artistic process. The process must not rest as a definite substance or mathematical calculation; the process is essential through the duration of time. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Ugo presents several paintings inspired by a memory of his mother, a person who played an essential role in his life. Throughout the passage of time, the relation with the essential can change. The distance and intimacy with the essential creates a dynamic relation. This relation pushes and pulls an artist in the process of art-making and the artwork itself. At a given time, an artwork cannot be uprooted from the artist and at another time, the work can stand on its own. The aforementioned idea came through bonsai. For Ugo, bonsai trees that can be found in nature are something essential. Even though they are essentially a part of nature, the art of bonsai can also link nature and the bonsai maker: an intensive dialogue between subject and object. These dialogues occur through physical stages (planting, nurturing, watering, pruning, etc.) so something is born out of the apparent image. Nourishing natural phenomena such as rain are an astonishing mystery. However, through the process of discourse with the object, Ugo’s focus is not on the bonsai or rainfall, but his feeling throughout the process of never-ending observation. Ugo’s canvasses signify a process of dispersion between subject and object, carried out through repetitive painting of the same object from different perspectives. With the help of that method, Ugo tries to create a sequence of resemblance with non-resembling means. Bonsai is a limited portrait of nature. A personal relationship between an artist and nature has many faces. The plurality of relations is Ugo’s interpretation of the soul and its surrounding dynamic spaces. [HW] Ugo






Indonesia, in 1970. He was named Man of the Year 2007 by Tempo magazine and a finalist of the Philip Morris Award (1998).


Bonsai in the Rain (No. 1-8) | 2017 Oil on canvas | 140 x 160 cm Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Willem de Rooij Willem de Rooij engages with the processes of production, selection, interpretation, and combination of images, working with a variety of different media, from sculpture to photography, film, and text. Through the investigation and the appropriation of cultural artefacts of the most diverse kind, de Rooij examines European history and its often-fraught relationship with former colonies. He analyzes conventions of presentation and representation by constructing tension between socio-political and autonomous productions of meaning. His complex installations imply not only exhibition architecture but often art and ethnographic objects from museum collections, or artworks by other artists as well. Through the gesture of appropriation itself, he asserts those objects’ specific, artistic characteristics, brought together in exhibitions or large-scale installations—in the artist’s own words: three-dimensional collages. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, de Rooij is showing Ilullisat, a recent sound installation. Ilullisat, meaning “iceberg”, is the name of a village in Disco Bay, Greenland. Back in 1997, de Rooij was struck by the howling of the dogs at dusk, while he and artist Jeroen de Rijke were filming I’m coming home in forty days, a 16 mm film offering a slow meditation on the shifting of colors and light, while circumnavigating an iceberg. Almost twenty years later, de Rooij returned to Disco Bay to record the baying of the many dogs. For more than one thousand years local fishermen have been using dogsleds to travel across the fjord. The chorus of these Greenland dogs spreads in the darkened exhibition space through twelve loudspeakers. Starting with one dog yelping, a call and response ensues, culminating in polyphonic cacophony of squealing, yowling, wailing, and barking—a canine vesper of sorts. Detached from its origin, the sound in the installation seems strangely human. De Rooij exploits the sound recording as raw material in a semantically ambivalent work, where the relationship between the immediacy of the sound and external references is brought into play. For him, it is important that all other information is reduced to an absolute minimum, so that the public’s experience is concentrated on one element only: the sound. In the installation there is nothing else but the call of the animals. At the same time, it is hard not to associate that sound with a broader theme; the artist’s enduring interest in exoticism, cross-cultural exchanges, and (mis-)interpretations caused by notions of “the exotic”. [PP] Willem de Rooij was born in Beverwijk, the Netherlands, in 1969. He is a nominee of the Vincent van Gogh Biannual Award for Contemporary Art (2014), Hugo Boss Prize of the Guggenheim Museum (2004), and a recipient of the Prix de Rome of the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (1006).


Ilulisat | 2014 12-channel digital audio recording, speakers, benches | 14’ 30” Photo courtesy of the artist; Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Köln/New York; Galerie Chantal Croussel, Paris; Regen Projects Los Angeles; Friedrich Petzel New York. Photo: Peter Lipton


Wukir Suryadi

Wukir Suryadi was born in Malang, Indonesia, in 1977. His long performance history includes the collaboration with other renowned artists such as I Wayan Sadra, Leo Kristi, Arahmaiani, Melati Suryodarmo, Keiji Haino, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Damo Suzuki, and Rabih Beaini.

Perpetually maintaining his status as a musician from outside the academic tradition, Wukir left his hometown in 1994 and apprenticed himself for five years at Bengkel Teater in Cipayung, led by Rendra (1935-2009). Wukir also studied with the gamelan music maestro and music deconstruction figure I Wayan Sadra (1953-2001). In 2009, together with Ilham J. Baday, Wukir traveled around East Java and West Java, staging numerous performance art pieces at stations, mental hospitals, town squares, water springs, garbage dumps, and Islamic boarding schools. In 2010, he formed the group Senyawa with Rully Shabara, which is now attracting attention in the alternative music scene, both in Indonesia and internationally. A world tour including dates in America, Australia, Europe, and Asia in 2016 affirmed Senyawa as a group working outside the mainstream of music—in ​​ both premusic as well as post-music forms. In Washington and Seattle, Senyawa was featured as an opening act at the Unsound Festival (2016). In the same year, a solo concert named “Senyawa Tanah Air” was held at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta. The idea of “new ​​ music” in Indonesia has emerged since the 1960s. After growing slowly, “new music” reverberated again through performances within KIAS (Kebudayaan Indonesia di Amerika Serikat, or Indonesian Culture in the United States, 1993–1994). There, Indonesia’s “new music” was successfully represented by a number of Javanese niyaga (gamelan players) with “new gamelan” instruments (metal pipes, water pipes, broomsticks, and balloons). The soul of this “new music” is now exploding through the phenomenon that is Wukir Suryadi’s music. For Wukir, as an artist, the most important thing is the awareness of sound, which also involves the elements of sight, hearing, and feeling. Through them, musical instinct can grow as wildly as it wills. For “The Instrument Builders Project” in Melbourne and Yogyakarta (2013-2014), he created the works Akar Mahoni (2013) and Ekologi Gong (2014). The first is of musical instruments based on the roots of mahogany trees mutated into an electric guitar, theremin, and percussion instruments. The second is of musical installations inspired by gongs, hung low over a small pond to obtain new sound resonances. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Wukir Suryadi is composing an experiment on the source and object of sound from a brass-plate belt contraption. The finger-wide plates extend to dozens of meters as if they were giant strings that challenge the potential of sound. The plates are attached crisscrossing on a wide wall. The interaction between the large wall and the audience itself will determine what sound “composition” is to be produced. A big wall, for Wukir, holds great and tough secrets, creating segregation; the barriers between “us” and “you”. The sound produced from his work is a representation of something we do not know. The sound echoes of the object create rich and distinctive spectral situations and tones—like a reflection of the divisions and borders that exist within each member of his audience. Wukir named his work Kehidupan di Dinding Besar Kabarnya Keras (2017). [HW]


Kehidupan di Dinding Kabarnya Keras | 2017 Instrument/ sound installation | Brass, carbon steel, steel wire, wood, yarn, pickup, sound system | 4 x 10 m Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Ximena Cuevas Ximena Cuevas is a film and video-artist who looks at contemporary society in her hometown of Mexico City with a bittersweet and passionate eye. Cuevas’ work is primarily known for its irony in exposing the myths of the “typical, middleclass Mexican family”, of their social customs, and of their normative expectations concerning heteronormative relationships and concepts of beauty. Her videos deconstruct the hypocrisy and the half lies—as she calls them—of the collective Mexican imagination, through a parody of their traditional portrayal in popular culture. Her camerawork is “expressive and inventive, her editing style jaunty and edgy, her musical taste unerring. Whether her subject is lesbian romance or heterosexual machismo, you couldn’t ask for a better guide,” said critic B. Ruby Rich in 1998. From age 13, for a period of two years, Ximena Cuevas viewed an average of four films a day. At sixteen, she repaired old movies in the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City, and two years later, worked as an art assistant on Missing by the cineaste Costa Gavras. Eventually she studied film at both the New School for Social Research and Columbia University in New York City. In the 1980s, she took on all kinds of jobs, from script supervisor to assistant director, from art director to stand-in, for more than 20 feature films, including Under the Volcano by John Huston (script supervisor and production assistant), The Falcon and The Snowman by John Schlesinger (art assistant and stand-in), Mentiras Piadosas by Arturo Ripstein, and Encuentro Inesperado by Jaime Humberto Hermosillo (assistant director). After buying an 8mm video movie camera in 1991, she began to focus on her own work, becoming obsessed with the micro happenings of daily life. Her single-channel video vignettes assume the layers of lies and contradictions covering everyday representations of reality. Cuevas systematically explores fictions of national identity, colonization of the public imaginary, and taboos in genderrelationships, redefining the meaning of documentary film with humour. For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Cuevas created a new montage of found footage and her own frames, crossing from truth to fiction and back again, while often featuring herself in some sort of melodrama-invoking self-portrait. In a fiercely lively montage—to which the score contributes significantly—she unmasks the artifice of different kinds of “performers” presented in mediated imagery: herself, actors from telenovelas, or normal people from all sorts of backgrounds staged in the most varied genres of television entertainment. [PP]

Ximena Cuevas was born in Mexico in 1963. She is a recipient of the Certificate of Merit of the Chicago International Film Festival (1993) and the Barbara Aronofsky Latham Memorial Award (2001).


Preview 01 Jakarta Biennale | 2017 Video | 68’ Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Yola Yulfianti Yola Yulfianti started learning traditional dance when she was a third-grader in elementary school. She graduated as a dance major from the Jakarta Institute of the Arts in 2004 and cultural industry and urban art program from the same campus in 2011. For her final exam in the postgraduate program, she created Suku Yola, a film in which she attempts to create her own tribe (suku means ‘tribe’) as a response to essentializing identity claims. She received the Pearl Winner Award for the film at the 2012 Internationale Tanz Film Pool Festival. She had long felt the alienation of her profession from the society that inspired her work, so an offer to take part in a project in the Penjaringan slum, North Jakarta, back in 2012 turned out to be an eye-opener. Through this opportunity she explored the issue of clean water scarcity with the work Payau #2 Waterproof. It was a point of no return. From that point onwards, she started to examine the difficulties of life in major urban centers, such as Jakarta, through the sensitivity of the body of a dancer. Underlying her works is a perception of the big city as a stage embroiled in chaos—a space in which relations between urban space and human bodies are full of tension, even mutual negation. In the daily life of the city, bodies may even “disappear”. Motorbike riders, for example, protect their bodies with helmets, padded jackets, black sunglasses, and face masks. Those in four-wheeled vehicles close their tinted windows and keep themselves entertained with the latest audiovisual technology. As a result, the reality of life surrounding these hurried urban denizens can also unknowingly disappear; city dwellers live in the midst of the urban jungle, but avoid the reality of their surroundings. “On the streets, it’s as if there are no longer any people. The only things I see are moving statues,” she says. For the body of a dancer, the metropolis or megapolis is a miseropolis—a city filled with bodily torture. At the Jakarta Biennale 2017 Yola Yulfianti will present an installation version of Pasar Senen Kampung Melayu (2017), based on her doctoral research at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Solo. It features video-game-avatar-like characters exploring the complexities of the city. The dancers improvise dream-like scenes, allowing space for human interactions, on the streets between Kampung Melayu and Pasar Senen—two bustling areas of Jakarta. The possibilities of the body as a medium for expression meet digital media technology, free-styling an abstract narrative to reveal the visual symptoms of the city’s fatal coupling of subjects and systems in some sort of street party. [PP/HW]

Yola Yulfianti was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1981. Apart from receiving the Pearl Winner Award at the Tanz Film Pool Festival, she is also a recipient of the Hibah Cipta Perempuan Kelola (2014).


Kampung Melayu-Pasar Senen PP | 2017 Dance video with 8 layers of various-sized tulle | 7 parts | 50’ 23� Above: installation; photo: Farid Burhanudin Below: Still photo from video, courtesy of the artist


Komunitas Bissu Prior to the arrival of Islam, the ethnic Bugis referred to members of the bissu community as a permanent element of their religion. Bissu were recognized as Buginese priests, customary leaders, and shamans—people regarded as having access to both the human and spirit worlds, and possessing two genders (feminine and masculine). Bissu assumed a pivotal role then, particularly because they were the ones who prayed for good harvests. Bissu, by and large, played the role of cultural ritual practitioners. The assignment of such a role to bissu stems from mythology in which they are seen as an integral part of the sustenance of cosmic balance. Bissu have continued to take on this role to this day. The history of bissu can be dated back to as early as the 9 th century through Sure’ Galigo, an anonymous script containing epic stories. Reports written by the Portuguese in the 16th century describe bissu as transvestites who engaged in homosexual activities. Biologically, bissu can be either male or female. However, most bissu are calabai, people who are biologically male but adopt female roles and mannerisms to a certain extent. Bissu identity is formed through the combination of spirituality and understanding of the body. Bissu communities can be found in several regencies in South Sulawesi; one of which is Pangkep Regency, about 60 kilometers south of Makassar, South Sulawesi. Prior to 2011, this bissu community dwelled in bola arajang (the building used to store heirlooms) in Segeri, Pangkep, along with their leader, Puang Matoa Saidi. Under the leadership of Puang Matoa Saidi, this bissu community became known to the broader public. Puang Matoa Saidi was able to read ancient Buginese lontara (Buginese script) and the epic Sure’ Galigo. Today bissu are often invited to perform the traditional dance of Ma’ giri’ on various occasions, such as art, cultural, tourism, and political events. This dance performance showcases their power of invulnerability to all forms of physical injury, which is traditionally used to establish connection with dewa (deities). The Ma’ giri’ dance has undergone a shift in its function. It is no longer exclusively performed for ritual purposes but also treated as a tourism commodity and therefore a source of income for businesses. This shifting of function has led to rapid cultural change in the life of the community. Following the death of Puang Matoa Saidi in June 28, 2011, the bissu community has faced setbacks. The community has been split into two major groups: “pure” bissu who continue to perform Ma’ palili’ and Ma’ giri’ rituals, and “impure” bissu, or those who have been estranged from their bissu-ness, either because they violated the rules of bissu or because they failed to comply with the requirements to become one. Bissu Juleha, who has been appointed puang matoa, refused to be inaugurated. He feels unprepared to live in the bola arajang as it is not guaranteed that the government will look after his daily needs. Thus, the bola arajang continues to be uninhabited, and the community remains leaderless. [SF]


The Last Puang Matoa | 2017 Performance art | 5 - 20’ | Above: Still photo from video, courtesy by Shinta Febriany Below: performance documentation, photo: Panji Purnama Putra



A separate piece of writing is merited for art brut or outsider art, terms designating production by autodidact artists, children, and social outsiders, of whom some suffer from mental illness. Since the heyday of modern psychiatry (Charcot), doctors at mental health institutions have collected the artistic works of their patients and used them as source materials within the framework of the diagnostic process. Max Ernst, Paul Klee, André Breton, Jean Dubuffet, Dr. Walther Morgenthaler, and books by the art historian and doctor Hans Prinzhorn presented works of art that had hitherto been considered medical material or a curiosity within the context of art. Avant-garde artists from the beginning of the 20 th century understood these works as evidence that genuine artistic instinct springs from the psychological unconscious, and valued their spontaneous, precultural, and pre-linguistic roots. Prinzhorn (1921) demonstrated the formal proximity of the work of mentally ill patients to prehistoric and so-called primitive cultures, as well as the current movement of expressionism. He thereby extended the anthropological appropriation of Iberian masks and African sculptures performed by the cubists. Prinzhorn also held the view that sketches by the mentally ill, which he amassed from throughout Germany in a collection at the psychiatric hospital in Heidelberg, expressed an alienated perception of reality imposed by sickness, whereas the art of the avant-garde artists was a conscious turn away from stereotypical images of reality, and attested to a tendency of the “decay” of the Self. After the Second World War, art brut continued to enjoy interest, fervently promoted by Jean Dubuffet, who among other things amassed a large collection that he devoted to the city of Geneva. Michel Ragon (exhibition Art Brut, Naivism And Proletarian Literature, 1948) exhibited art brut works together with works of art by untrained labourers and naïve painters. The anti-psychiatry movement and the work of Michel Foucault in History of Madness altered the paradigm of mental illness and health, and as a result also of normality. In his book The Divided Self (1960), R.D. Laing, one of the pioneers of the anti-psychiatry movement, states: “A man who prefers to be dead rather than Red is normal. A man who says he has lost his soul is mad. A man who says that men are machines may be a great scientist. A man who says he is a machine is “depersonalized” in psychiatric jargon. A man who says that Negroes are an inferior race may be widely respected. A man who says his whiteness is a form of cancer is certifiable. A little girl of seventeen in a mental hospital told me she was terrified because the Atom Bomb was inside her. That is a delusion. The statesmen of the world who boast and threaten that they have Doomsday weapons are far more

Art Brut or Outsider Art


dangerous, and far more estranged from ‘reality’ than many of the people on 1. R.D. Laing, The Divided Self, An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, 2. ed., (London, Penguin Books, 1964), p. 11-12.


Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience”, in Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English, (New York, Norton, 2007), p. 75-82.

3. Author Eva Kot’átková.

whom the label ‘psychotic’ is affixed.”1

Laing’s appeal to “common reason” does not assert that the mentally ill do not exist. However, he insists that “normality” of values, the norms of post-war society promoted by the institutions of power, surveillance and control are, from the perspective of common sense, beyond the boundaries of madness. It is necessary to state that this was not an isolated opinion. Here we can present as an example the ontological background of such a consideration from Lacan’s early text The Mirror Stage as Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience (1936), tracing the alienation of the I and its image in the mirror that may take place in a baby at the age of six months: “It is thus that functions of mastery, which we incorrectly call the synthesizing functions of the ego, establish on the basis of a libidinal alienation the development that follows from it, namely, what I once called the paranoiac principle of human knowledge.”2 Lacan situates alienation at the very beginnings of human perception of the world (recognition of one’s own image in the mirror: me as the Other), and observes that this split, a “paranoid” dissociation remains an intrinsic attribute of human knowledge until death and in general. Since the middle of the 1990s, the approach of museums and art institutions in Europe and the USA has changed, as they too are beginning to take an interest in exhibiting art brut. In the display of the Portraits of Ancestors and the selection of works of Dwi Putro Mulyono, or Pak Wi, the collective of curators endorse an avant-garde tradition which rejects the disciplinary separation dictated by a normative delineation of mental health. The works of Ni Tanjung and Pak Wi should be observed in this context: as works which themselves are a manifestation of esthetic power. On the other hand, there are artists in the exhibition that relate to a perspective oppositional to that brought by the anti-psychiatry movement and similar approaches. The evolutionary line of escape from the “paranoia of normality” is a radical transformation of the human, which is proposed by the performance In the Memory of Birds (2017) 3 . Here it concerns the desire of a person to be transformed into a bird. Throughout the entire exhibition, the performers, in accordance with both their conscious and semi-unconscious motivations, fulfil this desire over time. In their clothing and other external attributes they do not differ in any way from the visitors of the exhibition, the only limitation placed upon them by the realm of birds


is the absence of speech. Within the exhibition premises a tree is adapted to their physiological requirements, a place of safety and congress. Dissociation is a psychological process in which the subject disengages from the real world with varying intensity, in its mildest manifestation it may take the form of daydreaming. This may be a first step in a viewer’s perception of Krasnobrodzka 13 (2017), 4 a naturalistic copy of a corridor and staircase inside a building, which is part of a block in a street of the same name in Warsaw. How else can we accept the fact that a part of a building interior from a Polish capital landed at Jalan Taman Fatahillah in Jakarta, Indonesia? Apparently, it’s also art that alters the reality and its norms and broadens for people the space of freedom. Vit Havranek

4. Author Paweł Althamer.


Dwi Putro Mulyono (Pak Wi)

Dwi Putro Mulyono Jati, or Pak Wi, has schizophrenia and has received many awards, among others from the Record Museum of Indonesia for painting for four days without sleep. Painting helps him cope with his mental disorder.

Pak Wi’s imagery is less one of well-identified images than a result of compulsive obsession. He does not create his representation, he borrows it, or rather he borrows images to which his primal reworking induces new intensity. If he represents an image of the Virgin Mary, for example, he doesn’t know what the Virgin Mary is supposed to symbolize. He only “knows”, intuitively, that it has a meaning, and it is this impression that his works translate, in haunted looks, simplified icons and, most of all, strikingly violent colors. What stands out are the eyes, void of any spark, yet riveted, and emanating a weirdly deep darkness. As if painting were a way to abate raw, pent-up violence. Dwi Putro Mulyono, or Pak Wi, was born in Dukuh, Gedongkiwo, Yogyakarta, in a Catholic-Javanese family. The second oldest son of 10, he was born prematurely, which has given rise to speculation on the origin of his schizophrenia. Yet, during his childhood, there was no sign of any mental illness, except that he was cleaner, more disciplined, and to a certain extent prone to making compulsive demands – having to sit in the same chair, drink from the same glass, and keep his clothes in the same drawer. Otherwise he was normal; he enjoyed drawing on paper and riding his bike. However, at the age of 10, he was unable to pass beyond grade three of elementary school. Withdrawing from life outside his house, he then suffered from impediments of hearing and speech. Transferred to a school specializing in children with disabilities, his condition worsened, especially after his love for a Sundanese girl was rejected. He had to give up schooling. By then, he would have tantrums, and withdrew more and more into himself. It was only when he reached 18 that his parents took him to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with schizophrenia. When not hanging around on his bicycle in the nearby kampongs, he stayed at home, fixated on certain images, or getting angry with his younger brother. He also took to watching wayang shows at Semail, Bangunharjo. After his parents passed away in 1996-1997, he lived on the streets of Yogyakarta, surviving off the cigarette butts he picked up on the roadside. Then his brother Nawa Tunggal, unable to see his elder brother in such a condition, intervened. He gave him, first, paper, then canvas and color. And it worked. Pak Wi has now made thousands of paintings, and churns out new ones every day. Nawa Tunggal supplies the basic photographic pictures, from which Pak Wi picks a single, or at the most two, characters. He then turns these borrowed images into simple contours of the same haunting and haunted figures. Thick, dark outlines and deep, peering eyes: always the same eyes, the iris in the same riveted position. He also makes small, square paintings. Nawa Tunggal installs them into pieces of 25 or more similarly sized small, portrait paintings. Rows after rows of similarly fixated eyes stand out from raw-colored, dark-contoured faces. In this repetition of the same type of outlines, filled with the same type of raw colors, from which stand out the same eyes, what we discern is the dramatic loneliness of the man. [JC]


Another Soul | 2014 Acrylic on canvas | 21 painting, various size Above: painting installation. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra Below: paintings detail. Photo courtesy of the artist


Ni Tanjung Thinking of Ni Tanjung, around November 2017, we cannot help but think about fate: she is not anymore in her “dirty and stinky” room, her cozy home, in the village of Budakeling. She is a refugee in Denpasar, where she has started cutting cardboard again, and using her mirror to look, again, not at herself, but at the world behind her. Indeed, the great mountain, Gunung Agung, has started rumbling again. And to Ni Tanjung and most Balinese, it is not simply a lump of stone and lava; it is the abode of the ancestors. Ancestors are those to whom one makes daily offerings in the nearby family temple; the dead to whom one talks whenever a problem arises; the parents or children one helps, upon their death, achieve ancestral status. Yes, they are ever present. And for parents, a son, a sentana, is most important to become an ancestor oneself. Ni Tanjung was still a young married woman in 1963 when Gunung Agung last erupted. Her village escaped the wrath of the mountain and she went on with her life. She gave birth to a daughter around 1950, who was still alive, but she hoped for a sentana. After another girl was born to her in 1965, who quickly died, two boys she gave birth to passed away in succession in 1967 and early 1970. It was too much for her. Having grown up in the shadow of the dwelling place of the ancestors she addressed in daily prayers, she snapped when her hope for a male child disappeared upon the death of her last child. Yet, her obsessions remained, only shifting from the offering of food, songs, and dance to the artistic materialization of these ancestors. Beginning in the late 1990s, she first made a mound of stones from the volcano. An artist, Made Budhiana, came across her “installation” and gave her color. With the passing of months and years, it grew in size, stone upon stone, from which lurked strange-looking faces: the ancestors. Ni Tanjung was building a symbol of the holy mountain. By luck, a Swiss museologist, Georges Breguet, had begun to bring Ni Tanjung to the attention of the European art brut world. He knew that brut artists “do things”. They don’t know why and don’t really know how, but they “do things”, compulsively. So he gave her cardboard and scissors and had an assistant regularly visit her to provide support and materials. Thus, while speaking in her jumble of pseudo-Balinese lingo, or singing a sort of wargasari kidung to the gods, there she was again, reconstructing her world of gods, ancestors, and even a few sharpcanine titans and mythological animals. What Ni Tanjung is indeed obsessively dealing with is not violence, not family, not the modern world out there, but the archetypal world of the Bali of yore, when the mountain and its world of ancestors still ruled the minds of all Balinese. She needed a son to take her soul, on some future day, on its journey back home to the world of her ancestors. She is still waiting, cardboard and color sticks in hand. [JC] Ni Tanjung was born in Bali around 1930. She still lives in Bali.


Dunia Leluhur (65 assemblages) | 2017 Crayon on paper | various sizes Courtesy of Georges Breguet. Photo: Jin Panji Purnama Putra


Retrospection: Revisiting History Dolorosa Sinaga Hendrawan Riyanto I Wayan Sadra Semsar Siahaan


Dolorosa Sinaga’s Studio. Photo: Adi Priyatna

Dolorosa Sinaga Dolorosa Sinaga studied arts at the Jakarta Arts Education Institute between 1971—1977; now the Jakarta Institute of the Arts. In 1980, she earned a postgraduate scholarship from the British Council to study sculpture at St. Martin’s School of Art and graduated in 1983. Then she studied quartz sand printing at the Department of Art, Sonoma State University (1985), bronze and patination at the Piero Art Foundry, Berkeley (1985), and University of Maryland (1990), and life casting at the San Francisco Art Institute (1987).

Archives, study objects, artworks


Dolorosa’s first retrospective solo exhibition, titled Have You Seen a Sculpture from the Body, was held at the National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta (2001). In 2008, she put together another solo exhibition under the same theme at the same venue. Since 1983, Dolorosa has been teaching sculpture at IKJ. Dolorosa’s life has been inextricably intertwined with a string of activist projects engaging artists and young intellectuals, particularly in Jakarta. She was one of the several artists behind the establishment of Jaringan Kerja Budaya in the mid-1990s and Diskusi Bulan Purnama, a regular gathering hosted at her work studio where issues of arts, society, and politics are discussed. Since 2015, Dolorosa has actively immersed herself in the attempts made by the International People’s Tribunal to uncover the facts and truth about the victims of the anticommunist killings of 1965. Her sculptural works, many of which are in the form of female figures, attest to Dolorosa’s unwavering commitment to social and human-rights activism. Dolorosa’s sensibilities about figure sculptures grew stronger when she studied the structural organization of the human body seen from the outside (bodily form) to the inside (muscle tissue) and vice versa. A correct understanding of the structural organization of the human body laid the foundation on which Dolorosa created detailed micro-gestures of her sculptural works. She has been a trailblazer in the development of modern sculpture in Indonesia and an artist who places great emphasis on the expressive gestures of body language as profound emotional expressions. “Figures are my inexhaustible source of inspiration,” Dolorosa once asserted. Altering figures is tantamount to bringing human expressions to life through a lump of solid material; it is comparable to digging out buried passion or pathos, which bursts out of its bone structures and lumps of flesh. * Nearly all of Dolorosa’s sculptural works take the shapes of female figures, and they portray the lives of common people. Those figures are presented in the forms of single figures as well as people in certain dramatic configurations. For Dolorosa, expressions of female body language represent human events and a condemnation of injustice. Women, through body language structured from the “inside”, serve as a symbol of social grief. While other modern sculptors show determination to create works that seemingly aspire to be impeccable, Dolorosa instead has decided to “deviate” from the tradition of normative realism. She expresses objection to modern sculptural conventions, such as smooth sculptural shapes, finished compositions, fine surfaces, and gestures that seem to be made by molding. While some artists dream about creating large-scale sculptures that consequently require a wide and spacious room—the desire to be monumental or great—Dolorosa shows us that the greatness or the gigantic size of a project should not be a main concern. Against such a backdrop, Dolorosa offers intense visions, symbolic compositions, and more grounded, everyday language. Her series of dancer statue, which invite us to contemplate meaningful content and gestures instead of celebrating an exhibition of muscles and the greatness of monumental


figures, were birthed out of such an idea. Dolorosa’s connection with everything small and evocative shows the real face of her life. Therein lies the power of Dolorosa’s sculptures. Dolorosa seems to understand the language of her sculptural works, the figures who tell us that they embody human beings who live in our midst; human beings who are immersed in everyday life. Thus, in her work we see a considerable number of small sculptures that possess power and enormous expressive force, which extend beyond their own forms. Sculptures of mothers—common people— appearing skinny, looking up, pregnant; or the sculpture of the poet Wiji Thukul with a small fist and a hunchback who seems to want to sit on the same level as the common people that he defended. Another of her sculptures depicts Gus Dur lying down and chuckling, conveying a look of freedom. In those sculptures, we see the unity and wholeness of the expressions of Dolorosa’s works; and with that, they demand and evoke our social sensibilities.

Archival materials, study objects, artworks. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


Soekarno statue series at Jakarta History Museum. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra

Without fixating on shapes and surfaces that are merely plain or realistic, Dolorosa brings the subjects of her works to “life” through rough surfaces, exhibiting intense pressure on various parts of the face, and the inhaling and exhaling of air, which remind us of daily life and modesty, as well as discomfort. The heads of her best sculptures lean to the side, portraying an image of exhaustion mixed with despair. The elasticity of their expressions reflects a strong humanly power, sometimes about lingering hope, on other occasions about the line between life and death. We find, on the faces of those erratic figures, a sort of small well, something dark and hollow. This power exists in almost all of Dolorosa’s creations. When her hands brush the faces of her statues, occasionally making them almost flat, she puts more pressure on a small niche somewhere. “I just pierce it, and that’s the mouth of my sculpture,” she says. That tiny hole suggests the condition of humanity that she wishes to convey. * At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Dolorosa is presenting human-scale sculptures of Sukarno. However, unlike other Sukarno monuments that generally depict him in calm poses, Dolorosa, with her unique approach, decided to showcase the various dynamic gestures seen throughout the political career of the proclaimer of the country’s independence. She identifies monuments in Jakarta during the Sukarno era, which may not be identical to Sukarno in appearance, but are markers of his distinctive gestures, such as the Selamat Datang Monument at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout to welcome the Asian Games IV in Jakarta (1962) and the West Irian Liberation Monument (1963). It was these typical gestures of Sukarno that triggered the spirit of “revolution”. Dolorosa did not simply create monuments; she breathed the spirit of Sukarno’s life into her work.


Studio Dolorosa Sinaga. Photo: Adi Priyatna

During his life, Sukarno always wanted to be center stage. In the eyes of historians, a number of buildings and monuments in Jakarta are examples of his showmanship tendencies. Sukarno built many “stages” for himself outside of the realm of politics and the genius of his political vision. Art and culture were also significant “stages” for him. The latter is clearly evident from his collection of thousands of art objects, which are now in the care of the State Palace of the Republic of Indonesia. Through her interest in the poses, meanings, and dynamism of Sukarno’s gestures, Dolorosa provides another stage for this figure as a social or historical memory. Sukarno’s distinctive gestures were most evident during his speeches, when he posed in front of pieces from his art collection, during religious and solemn occasions, and in the monumentality of his works. For Dolorosa, symbolically speaking, the historical gestures of Sukarno are needed to rediscover the independent spirit of this character, the timeless inspiration for his nation. As part of “Revisiting History”, which presents an artist’s traces, works, and journey retrospectively, Dolorosa’s representation in the Jakarta Biennale 2017 appears on a “stage” that shows the totality of her work process thus far. Her extensive artistic studies of the use of wax, paper, clay, and plastic materials, as well as her design for artworks in public space can be seen in her studio. This representation is exhibited through the relocation of the entire contents of Studio Somailang, where she works in Pondok Gede, East Jakarta, to the exhibition hall of the Jakarta Biennale 2017 at Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem. [HW]


Hendrawan Riyanto 1959 - 2004 Archival materials, artworks

Hendrawan Riyanto was a ceramic artist who is being given special attention at the Jakarta Biennale 2017 in the Revisiting History section. The section showcases both the works and the archives of artists who are considered to have contributed distinctively to the world of fine arts. Even after his death, the traces and echoes of his work are still present in the world of arts. Hendrawan studied ceramic arts at the Faculty of Arts and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology, and then respectively at Tajimi-Nagoya, Kyoto Sheika University (under the guidance of the Japanese ceramics expert Professor Chitaru Kawasaki), and Shigaraki, Japan.


For him, there was no medium more fundamental than clay. His art practice was a parable akin to the opening of a great book of science. He found in it the knowledge of “fire”, “air”, “water”, and “earth”. Rita Widagdo, a senior artist and sculptor from the Bandung Institute of Technology, observed that Hendrawan’s creative process was double-faced. It contained a passion for exploration at the material stage—which was clay—and enthusiasm for expressing personal ideas. These two parts of Hendrawan’s creative process were not mutually interchangeable; it could not be established which came first. His observations about the particular nature of the material were parallel to his sensitivity to the human condition around him. It was at this point that the young Hendrawan could no longer base his work on the creations of previous artists. He had no predecessors in this unique ceramic realm. For Hendrawan, a lump of clay contained a flexible capacity to change or be changed into unique forms. The material of clay has the vitality of life. It is this vitality that drives all creatures; thus clay is not just an object, but a subject. Humans should love this natural subject because one day in the future we will all return to the soil. As an art branch that is often categorized as craft, ceramic art is considered lower than fine arts or “Art”. This distinction is based on an ontological view in the long history of art. Admittedly or not, that situation is not seldom faced by artists in this field, including Hendrawan. However, Hendrawan saw the opposite: the broad spectrum and flexibility of clay make it a medium that is unparalleled in the way that it breaks down the boundaries of hierarchical categories in the realm of art. With a deeper awareness, Hendrawan attributed his ceramic art practice to a syncretic cultural heritage and premodern Indonesian spiritual values. In this culture, the knowing subject makes the reality of his consciousness an object outside of himself. The pattern of relationships with nature is not merely rational, but it also possesses an immersion of emotion. At that moment, the subject perceives itself as an object. The subject-object distance is abandoned and replaced by the concept of integration and participation. That very dimension of feeling was what was studied and lived by Hendrawan in cultural practices in the country, specifically Javanese culture. When he revived the tradition of potterymaking in Pagerjurang, Bayat, Klaten, in Central Java with Professor Chitaru Kawasaki several years ago, he felt that he had discovered the spirit of his artistic virtue in this place. Like some other vanguard artists in Indonesia, Hendrawan realized that he existed between two cultural entities at once, the culture of reason and the culture of intuition. The first gave birth to modernity with all its novelty or progressive noise, the latter being our “colder” or “old” cultural heritage. As an artist living in the present, he believed that he was at a point of equidistance between the two. The former is based entirely on the consciousness of the autonomous subject that looks forward, even the subject as the center, totality, and standard (subjectum). This modernity gave birth to the autonomy and freedom of the secular individual, but for Hendrawan the subject should also be traced to its origin, because its


1.In Javanese, it refers to a state of complete surrender to reality, fate or God; contentedness and acceptance.

position is “subjected”, i.e. under a certain sovereignty. It was at this point that Hendrawan attempted to trace back the mythical space within society—especially in Java—which he called “archaic”, the “origin space” as practiced by the cultivators and peasants. The space is, of course, not a secular space; instead, it refers to a transcendent reality that Hendrawan identified in terms of “spirit,” “God,” “ning” or “silence” (“hening”). The development of his work then focused on efforts to represent “silence” or “ning” as a discourse against the noise of the modern world in which he lived. At this meeting point, Hendrawan began to trace and recognize the reality of his surroundings, which contained traces of religiosity or sacredness. Sacredness exists in matter, the earth, plants, inanimate objects, and of course man himself. He also acted as “homo religiosus”—according to Mircea Eliade. Hendrawan saw the reality of the archaic people still present around him; a society that retained the “cosmogonist myths” and “myths of origins”. In this view, the subject becomes a silent subject, no longer acting as subjectum, but subjectus—which is more open and can be “submissive” to the object. As a subjectus, Hendrawan’s artwork practices through soil or ceramic medium and performance were particularly willing to present a “sumeleh”1 situation. To be “sumeleh” means being open to the experience of quietness, moments of silence; there is nothing but “ning” or silence. The goal is to find a “true sense”, a mystical awareness of life. This is what appears in the basic forms of his installations, not rarely using various local and “living” materials. We see the plurality of mediums presented in his works through fundamental things, namely earth, wood, bamboo, betel, stone, fire, and even cow’s blood. His performance practices that began intensively around 2002 remind us of mystical behavior in “archaic” societies. Perhaps it is similar to what Paul Stange, an anthropologist who studies the practice of Javanese spiritual culture, called sujudsumarah, the meditative openness to the spirit, not to the ego. That is the mystical behavior of the peasant and cultivator culture studied by Hendrawan. More resolute with his choice of performance practices, Hendrawan then expanded his clay art practice as a configuration of mixed-object installations. The artistic potential of clay materials—shapes, colors, patterns, and naturalness, burning process—gained new meanings and practices. Techniques and ceramic art tools in his hands spun unexpected opportunities. The manifestation of Hendrawan’s


Archive installation and artworks. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra

performances also stepped into the practice of “ceremony”; “performance” in the postmodern era. Symbolic forms such as mandala, rerajah,2 or offerings; local materials such as bamboo, earthenware, wood, soil, stone, betel, coconut, banana leaf, and cow’s blood; all became his rite-performance elements to reconnect with the old world, the culture of peasant societies and cultivators. For them, transcendent and sensory realities are harmonious pairs. For Hendrawan too, they were not oppositional, but something akin to yin and yang. His works, such as the 2001 performance Malam Bersama Sri, the 2002 installation Mandala Peteng, the 2002 performance Inisiasi, the 2003 installation Hati Batu... Hati Batu... Hati Batu... Hati Batu..., and Ning... (2004) show the direction to find the vitality of life in a realm of unique culture. Hendrawan himself wrote: Ada yang melihat/ lalu berbuat, dan baru mendengar...// Ada yang lebih dulu/ berbuat, supaya terlihat dan harus didengar...// Ada yang mendengar,/ lalu berbuat/ dan jadi terlihat// (Someone saw/ and did, and then heard... // Another did, so that they were seen and must be heard... // Some other heard,/ then did/ and became visible//)—(Exhibition brochure Naliko Ning Semeleh... In his performance practice, the “ning” or “silent” situation involved hearing sensitivity rather than vision. For him, this situation brought us closer to a more intrinsic feeling rather than an idea of form ​​ visibility. The vitality of life that he first discovered in clay now wanders toward the direction of artist’s quest for “true

2. A typical Hindu art piece in a form of a piece of cloth decorated with a drawing of a creature from Balinese culture


sense�, which is the mystical awareness that exists throughout life. Through his work and art practice breakthroughs, Hendrawan Riyanto paved the way for new articulations in Indonesian fine arts. He redirected creative outlook and drew his inspiration from sources of Javanese traditions and spiritualistic culture that hinge upon emotion. His innovations in ceramic art discourse simultaneously affirmed his place as part of the practice of contemporary art. [HW]


I Wayan Sadra 1954 - 2011 The stage of Teater Bong, located behind the Taman Budaya Surakarta (Surakarta Cultural Park) office was transformed into a besalen workshop, or gamelan factory. A blazing mound in the middle of the theater yard. Some of the gamelan artists were forging the hot, round metal plates. The fire was licking the air and sputtering. Forging the body of a metal plate using a hammer produced a constant rhythm, as well as the production of limited tones. Until, after creating something like a gong, the slab was inserted into water, producing a loud hiss as the hot metal entered the water. One artfully created gong was produced. Usually, after that, the myth—always shrouding a set of gamelan instrument—is immediately built through a series of rituals that lead to the ordination of a name that begins with the title Kyai or Nyai.

Archive materials, artworks


But this particular gong buyer did not sit idle until the peak of celebration that culminates in the naming of the said Kyai or Nyai. Instead, he again forged, grinded, and even burned it to hell and back until it becomes dilapidated. Behind the fireplace, a hundred or so people murmur choral tones. Their voices are heavy. The tones are flat, soft. Such was a piece of the show titled Gong Dekonstruksi once conceived by I Wayan Sadra. The work was never presented because Sadra died in 2011 before the process of creating the piece was finished. Nevertheless, some of the elements of the work were dispersed throughout Sadra’s earlier artistic output. For example, while living amid the passionate renewal of the Sasonomulyo era, he experimented with Gong Seret (1995), in which the Javanese gamelan gongs were not played in traditional way—a remarkable deconstructive act, because gongs are considered mystical, sacred objects by the community—but rather were dragged along the floor of the stage. Furthermore, in the work Otot Kawat Balung Besi presented at Art Summit 2004, a gong was placed on the floor, played with claps and bare-handed blows. In Kesibukan Mengamati Batu-batu dari Balik Pintu (1996) in collaboration with the poet Afrizal, a similar meaning also appeared in works that were redolent of animal instincts in humans within the religious packaging of the show. Sadra’s treatment of the gong is certainly not cheap sensationalism. Especially after conducting research in a besalen, Sadra discovered important values for ​​ the ideas behind his works. In the besalen, he said at that time, there was absolutely no aura of wingit (supernatural aura), myth, and magic as people say. In fact, complex mythology and beliefs do not develop among people who are in a tight spot and pressured, but are born when the gong has moved to the hands of powerful people: the merchants, noblepersons, brokers, and government officials or bureaucrats who double as the other. In their hands, this potent myth has become a profitable selling point. “This disparity refuses to let me be romantic. They need a defense!” said Sadra. It is this construction of thought that gives Sadra’s works an aura of Marxism. Gong Dekonstruksi is a way of demythologizing the gong into a musical device that is free from the burden of culture. This way of thinking colors the spirit of his other works, such as Beringin


Kurung, which rejected the utopianism of the poor who worship the power of the mythical banyan tree at the Surakarta royal castle. He even presented a cow with diarrhea on the stage at the concert Bunyi Bagi Suara yang Kalah (1996), for a musical idea that alluded to the stench of the Indonesian political regime leading up to the beginning of the Reformation Era in Indonesia. The intellectual moment marked by the construction of musical thought to free music from its cultural burden, made Sadra, in the words of Dieter Mack, a composer who cannot go past any object without exploring the sounds it can make first. One of Sadra’s main characteristics was a “curiosity” toward all media and anything that can produce a sound. However, Sadra not only composed sounds or media, he was well aware of the implications of each of these sources. That is, he could do anything—including guiding a cow on stage— but processing of the media was the most important aspect for him. Thus, the visual and theatrical elements often stand out in his works. For all that, Sadra had a reason: in Bali, art fully involves all the senses. The eyes are stimulated by the decoration of the janur, the nose by the smell of incense, the skin by the sprinkles of water, and the tongue by the yellow rice. The impression made here gave birth to the concept of work that tends to be multimedia. In fact, some of his works are more

Installation audio archives, videos, and objects. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra


readable from a fine art aspect rather than a musical aspect. Daily, another work from Art Summit 2004, suggests an expressive visual aspect through the splatters of chicken egg thrown onto the surface of a heated steel plate. Through this work, Sadra made something very limited and simple into something very rich and varied, according to the nature and characteristics of the material (medium) used. This son of a farmer from the outskirts of Denpasar was awarded the prestigious New Horizons Award from the International Society for Art, Sciences and Technology at Berkeley, California, in 1991. He was the first Asian to win the award. Born August 1st, 1953, in Banjar Kaliungu Kaja, Denpasar, Bali, I Wayan Sadra came to the world as a “naughty child” living in a passionate artistic environment. From a young age he was a gamelan musician for ceremonies in temples. He was also a Janger dancer when this dance was in festive season on Dewata Island. While in school at Konservatory Karawitan (Kokar) Bali, he performed in villages and many sekahas (local youth communities) around his village. After graduating from Kokar, Sadra moved to Jakarta as he wanted to become a police officer. However, he instead joined several studios, including Rasa Devani’s studio headed by I Wayan Diya and Saraswati belonging to I Gusti Kompyang Raka. Here he met Sardono W. Kusumo and was recruited as a musician for Dongeng dari Dirah (1974) for a tour in Europe. He then studied at the Jakarta Arts Education Institute (now the Jakarta Institute of the Arts), majoring in fine arts. However, due to his prowess in the art of gamelan, Sadra was instead appointed to teach Balinese gamelan for students majoring in music. In 1983 he was asked by Gendon Humardani, the Director of the Indonesian Academy of Karawitan (IAK) in Surakarta, to teach Balinese Gamelan and New Composition courses. At the campus, which is now Institut Seni Indonesia, Sadra taught while creating arts and continuing his undergraduate study. Dozens of his works were born here, though some had been conceived before he moved to Surakarta. In 1978, Sadra presented a karawitan musical composition titled Lanyad at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), Jakarta. A year later he made a composition, Lad-Lud-an, for Pekan Komponis Muda (Young Composers Week). In Sasonomulyo—IAK campus—he started to make the composition Gender with a karawitan master, Marto Pangrawit. Sadra also composed Triple X and made the music for the Byakossa theater troupe from Japan. In 1986, for six months, he served as a crew member of the karawitan group at the Vancouver Expo in Canada. Sadra also became heavily involved in world music forums, such as the Pacific Ring Music Festival at San Diego State University, USA, and the Composer to Composer project initiated by John Cage in Telluride, Colorado, USA, in 1990. Following this, his musical composition Bayu Bajra toured the United States in 1991 and he became an artist in residence at Darthmouth College, New Hampshire, USA, to study electronic music at the Bergman Electronic Studio. Here Sadra created the work Snow Have Dream and Work in Progress (1991). In 1992 Sadra made dance music for Tempest in Borobudur with the butoh dancer Katsura Kan, which was performed in Osaka, Fukuoka, Nagoya, and Kyoto. Next, he composed the music composition Tanpa Judul (1993) for the Asia Pacific Composer’s Conference in Wellington, New Zealand. He also created the dance music score Dong Feng for the Keiko Contemporary Dance Company, which was performed in Japan and Thailand on the invitation of IJsjbraker (Amsterdam Muziek Centrum) for the event Indonesie Muziek Week.


From then on, Sadra created musical works for concerts and dance performances, theater, and multimedia arts. In 1994 he created Gatra Swara for the exhibition of the statue of Hajar Satoto. He also made the musical theater piece Korupsi Suara di Meja Makan (1996); performed at the Improvisatie-Bim Huis-jazz and Improvisation Festival, Amsterdam; composed Asmarandana (1997) for choreographer Ayu Bulan Jelantik in Moscow and Leningrad, Russia; made the composition Laras Lurus with Sono Seni Ensemble as well as the music composition Gender Plus for the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and Weimar Kulturstad Festival in Germany in 1998. In the 2000s Sadra performed at the Compostella Millennium Fest in Spain; collaborated with the Japanese jazz musician Takahito Hayasi; collaborated with composer Yuji Takashi and choreographer Sardono W. Kusumo at Sumida Hall-Tokyo; made music for a performance of Hamlet in Denmark; composed Beringin Kurung, Kodok Ngorek, Sungsang; created a composition for the play Silent River in India and Japan; created the composition Wind for Vancouver New Music; performed Daily at Art Summit Indonesia 2004; wrote the musical theater Sobrat directed by WS Rendra; performed the musical compositions of Bayu dan Enerji at the 2006 Surabaya Art Festival, also collaborating with Swiss jazz group, Mazzola Duo. Sadra was often invited as a speaker and occasionally made drawings and wrote about music and culture in various prominent media outlets. [JG]


Archive photo, courtesy of Lembaga Transformasi Indonesia - Pusat Pembelajaran Semsar Siahaan

Semsar Siahaan 1952 - 2005 Archival materials, personal objects, paintings Para Pekerja Perempuan di Antara Pabrik dan Penjara | 1982 Oil on canvas | 100x100 cm Courtesy of Hariman Siregar Transfusi | 1987 Oil on canvas | 145x145 cm Courtesy of Hariman Siregar Tanpa Judul | Tanpa Tahun Oil on canvas | 130x200 cm Courtesy of Cemara 6 Galeri-Museum

Semsar Siahaan was an icon of art activism in Indonesia. He approached his art entirely as an effort to liberate people from poverty and injustice. The beauty of art naturally and precisely comes from liberation efforts undertaken by artists. Individual freedom exists for the sake of mankind’s liberation.


Semsar received his first formal art education at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), San Francisco, USA, in 1975. He studied painting with Bruce McGaw and Ursula Schneider, both American painters. In 1977 he returned to Indonesia and studied sculpture at the Faculty of Arts and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology, under several leading sculptors (Rita Widagdo, G. Sidharta, Sunaryo, and Surya Pernawa). At this time in his life, he didn’t only sculpt but also painted. In 1981, he stunned the world of Indonesian arts when he set fire a statue of his teacher, Sunaryo. The work had just returned from an international sculpture exhibition in Fukuoka, Japan. Semsar burned the sculpture, wrapped it in banana leaves, and served yellow rice. He called it the “art of the incident”, and was suspended from his campus. For Semsar, Indonesian modern art worshipped aesthetic beauty. Artists had manipulated the art tradition for the benefit of their own ego. Since the pioneering work of Raden Saleh (1811-1880), the mecca of art in Indonesia has been the West and its dream the prosperity of the developed countries. Modern aesthetics were ignorant of the social reality of the country itself, which largely consisted of poor


1. The 250 figure was obtained from the catalog of the solo exhibition and the writings of Sanento Yuliman in the Seni Rupa column of Tempo magazine, January 16, 1988 (“Pusaran Semsar”), while in Brita L. MiklouhoMaklai’s book, Exposing Society’s Wounds, Some Aspects of Contemporary Indonesian Art Since 1966 (1991, 1997), the number given is 240.

manual workers (farmers and fishermen). During the New Order period, it was these people whose basic rights were eliminated and their humanity suppressed. In 1988, he held a solo exhibition at Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), Jakarta. The exhibition was dedicated to his father, Ricardo M.J. Siahaan, and “all the people of Indonesia who are fighting for their rights and life”. It featured 250 black and white images and 12 paintings.1 Indonesian modern art researcher Brita L. Miklouho-Maklai, said that the horrific images of oppression and violence in Semsar’s works were derived from the humanist works of German artist Käthe Kollwitz and the satirist George Grosz (Miklouho-Maklai 1991, 1997: 110). His closeness to Grosz is especially evident in the image of Manubilis, the figure of Manusia-Binatang-Iblis (Man-Beast-Devil) created by Semsar. This term appeared in a short story he wrote in 1982. Manubilis’s appearance is that of a degenerate in a civilized mask (civilized clowns). The images of death, oppression, and poverty were exposed very harshly in all the pictures. Such images were contrasted with power, greed, and stubbornness. The atmosphere of to be or not to be was mixed with irony, cynicism, and sarcasm. “The virtue of aesthetics” came to an end on the road of nails and thorns of Semsar’s liberation art. The solo exhibition toured a number of cities in Java, encountering a network of activists in Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Salatiga, and Bandung. At the end of his exhibition at Gedung Yayasan Pembina Kesenian, Bandung, on Sunday night, April 10 th, 1988, Semsar announced “Seni Peristiwa Monumental Menentang Pemilikan Pribadi atas Karya Seni” (“The Art of Monumental Events Against


Private Ownership of Art”). Just as when he had not hesitated to burn the statue of his master’s work, he burned all his images that “must be returned to the fire of reformation”. In his understanding, personal ownership is a fertile ground for neofeudalism, and that culture bred rapidly during the reign of the New Order regime (1966-1998). For Semsar Siahaan, goodness can be discussed by looking through its opposition, i.e. things that are considered bad. Thus, expressing goodness can also be done through objects that are viewed negatively. That way he concluded that talk of art was not synonymous with aesthetics or beauty alone. In 1993, Semsar returned to the Galeri Lama room (Old Gallery room), TIM, his exhibition venue in 1988. He reformed a site-specific installation work in a gallery space that almost collapsed. His work was a “negative monument” in the form of a 9 x 3.5 x 2 meter excavation site that became a grave of human clay statues and a pile of dead bodies of victims. Around the wall he painted a black-and-white mural not unlike his frightening Manubilis pictures. The work Penggalian Kembali was a monument dedicated to the victims of the most recent political violence in Indonesian history. For Semsar, the debate of -isms in art did not solve the real problem of human struggle. Therefore, on the entrance wall of his work he wrote: “Anda memasuki daerah bebas gravitasi posmo” (“You have entered the posmogravity-free zone.”) Semsar was undoubtedly angry over circumstances of injustices surrounding him. He was an artist who was always ready to take to the streets. In the 1980s, he was involved in the establishment of a number of social non-government organizations, namely INFIGHT (Indonesian Front for the Defense of Human Rights) and YMB (Yayasan Maju Bersama), a non-governmental organization in Tangerang. In the activist dynamics of his time, Semsar Siahaan’s banners, posters, billboards and pictures accompanied protest marches in the streets. In 1994 he joined protestors to oppose the banning of three magazines, Tempo, Editor, and Detik, in Jakarta. Security forces beat him as he tried to protect a female protestor. Semsar’s foot, which since childhood had always been weak because of polio, was fractured into three. The political crisis and racial unrest ahead of the advent of reformation in 1998 left him feeling worried. Several university students were shot dead; a number of activists and a poet named Wiji Thukul, his best friend, were kidnapped. Semsar felt that his own life was also threatened. After a while, he decided to move to Canada (1999-2004). However, in 2004 he again presented a solo exhibition at Galeri Nasional Indonesia, Jakarta, titled The Shade of Northern Lights, featuring a number of paintings and installation works. There appeared to be a development in the themes and forms of his work such as G-8 Pizza and The Study of Falling Man. Semsar was paying close attention to the development of global geopolitics controlled by the industrialized nations. For Semsar, global politics was characterized by the presence of neocapitalism that directed its muzzle around the world through free trade under the World Trade Organization (WTO). G-8 Pizza symbolized the G8 countries in the form of a giant pizza made from an eight-piece cardboard box, under the control of Manubilis and their cronies. Faced with the giant pizza, the


Archival materials, personal objects, paintings, and videos. Photo: Panji Purnama Putra

shadow of humans like Icarus fell down into the abyss of uncertainty. Semsar’s oppositional art appeared to show contextual expansion and visual sophistication. Through his last exhibition, Semsar Siahaan also took his leave. He decided to look for a quieter place in Bali, planning a creative studio on a plot of land in Tabanan, North Bali. In the midst of his preparation for the sea change, he fell down due to a sudden heart attack. Semsar Siahaan died in the early hours of Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005, at a hospital in Tabanan. Semsar Siahaan’s figure and works were featured in Revisiting History, a special session featuring artists who had made distinctive contributions in the world of fine art. As a tribute to this iconic artist-activist, the Jakarta Biennale 2017 will be presenting some of his works, such as paintings, drawings, poster reproductions, and a number of items from his personal archives, including a diary written between October 24th, 1998, and September 13 th, 2002, when he was abroad. In addition, a book containing the writings of Semsar Siahaan, interviews, and writings on a number of his exhibitions will be published. [HW]



Performance Art & Symposium

GSE (Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem) MSJ (Museum Sejarah Jakarta/Jakarta History Museum) MSRK (Museum Seni Rupa & Keramik/Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics) IFI (Institut Français d’Indonésie)

Daily performance during exhibition period 05 November - 10 December Eva Kot’átková GSE Hall A4 | 11:00 - 19:00

Weekly performance during exhibition period 05 November - 10 December, Every Saturday and Sunday Ratu Rizkitasari Saraswati | MSJ Mural Room | 13:00 - 16:00

4 November

Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00 Bissu Community GSE Outdoor | 16:00 - 17:00 Abdi Karya GSE Stage Hall B | 17:00 - 19:00 Ali Al-Fatlawi & Wathiq Al-Ameri | GSE Hall B | 17:00 - 20:00

5 November

TALK SHOW | GSE Pelataran Hall B 10:00 - 13:00 | Open discussion with JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 artists Nikhil Chopra MSJ | 10:00 -16:00 Pawel Althamer MSRK Outdoor | 10:00 - 17:00 Ali Al-Fatlawi & Wathiq Al-Ameri GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 17:00 Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00 Alastair MacLennan MSRK Outdoor | 15:00 - 16:00 Otty Widasari GSE | 18:00 - 19:00

6 November

Ali Al-Fatlawi & Wathiq Al-Ameri GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 17:00 Alastair MacLennan GSE Area | Performance Art Workshop 13.00-19.00 Abdi Karya GSE Stage Hall B | 14:00 - 18:00 Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00

7 November

Alastair MacLennan GSE Area | Performance Art Workshop 13.00-19.00 Abdi Karya GSE Stage Hall B | 14:00 - 18:00 Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00 Gabriela Golder GSE Area I Performace 13.00-14.00, 15.00-16.00, 17.00-18.00 PM Toh GSE Stage Hall B | 20:00 - 21:00

JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017

8 November

Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00 Abdi Karya GSE Stage Hall B | 14:00 - 18:00 Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00 David Gheron Tretiakoff GSE Stage Hall B | 19:00 - 20:00 Darlane Litaay GSE Stage Hall B | 20:00 - 21:00

9 November

Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00 Abdi Karya GSE Stage Hall B | 14:00 - 18:00 Jason Lim GSE Hall B | 14:00 - 19:00 Marintan Sirait GSE Area | Workshop 14.00 - 18:00 Darlane Litaay GSE Stage Hall B | 19:00 - 20:00

10 November

Marintan Sirait GSE Area | Workshop 14.00 - 18:00 Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00

11 November

Pinaree Sanpitak GSE | 18:00 - 20:00 Marintan Sirait GSE Hall B | 20:00 - 21:00 Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00

12 November

PM Toh GSE Stage Hall B | 15:00 - 16:00 Marintan Sirait GSE Hall B | 20:00 - 21:00 Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00 Otty Widasari GSE Outdoor | 21:00 - 22:00

13 November

JIWA Symposium | IFI (Institut Français d’indonésie) 13:00 - 15:00 | On Indigenous Beliefs and Spiritual Life 15:30 - 17:30 | Previewing Oneself as Part of the Change 19:00 - 20:00 | Lecture-Performance by Ho Rui An Aliansyah Caniago GSE Hall B | 11:00 - 19:00

14 November

JIWA Symposium | IFI (Institut Français d’indonésie) 13:00 - 15:00 On Iconoclasm: Between Fascination and Fear 15:30 - 17:30 Beyond Exotic Body — The Body as a Medium in Political Statement 19:00 - 20:00 | Movie Screening & Artist Talks by Karrabing Film Collective

19 November

Book Launching | Salihara (Jl. Salihara No.16, Ps. Minggu, Jakarta Selatan) 16:00 - 18:00 Melampaui Citra dan Ingatan: Bunga Rampai

Tulisan Seni Rupa 1968 – 2017 Bambang Bujono

* For more info and updates on the symposium, please visit our website




The management team expresses their appreciation to Individuals


Adam Pushkin

Bamboo Curtain Studio

Agung Hujatnikajennong

Grafis Huru Hara

Amir Sidharta

Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem

Ashoka Siahaan

Serrum Studio

Bambang Bujono

Yayasan Mitra Museum Jakarta

Charles Esche Christian Gaujac Christian Søndergaard Krone Cokorda Istri Dewi Dewi Suciati Diana Sahidi Elsebeth Søndergaard Krone Esti Utami FX Harsono Gertrude Flentge Halim HD Heinrich Blömeke Hermawan Tanzil Inda C. Noerhadi Irawan Karseno Irma Chantily Margarida Mendes Mari Elka Pangestu Mia Maria Natasha Sidharta Natsu Tanabe Pustanto Ricky Joseph Pesik Rieko Yui Rini Darwati Sally Tallant Sonny Siahaan Sri Kusumawati Toeti Heraty Triawan Munaf Watie Murani

JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017

The artistic team


expresses their appreciation to

Muhamad Hafiz Muhammad Reza Hilmawan


Muhammad Subhan

Achri Hendratno

Nina Oeghoede

Alisa Putri

Ninus D. Andarnuswari

Andike Widyaningrum

Nissal Nur Afryansah

Ardi Yunanto

Rini DarwatiÂ

Ari Rusyadi

Saleh Husein

Arjuna Hutagalung

Sarah Monica

Arman Dewarti

Shinta Febriany

Ayah Bagol


Bambang Bujono

Taufan Akbar

Berto Tukan

Vanessa Van Obberghen

Birgit Zimmermann

Vincent Worms (Kadist)

Cecil Mariani

Yayak Yatmaka


Yoga Prasetyo

Christelle Havranek

Yovista Ahtajida

Christian Gaujac Chuong-Dai Vo


Cosmin Costinas

1335 Mabini

Dea Aprilia

Andrew Kreps Gallery

Diani Siahaan

Arts and Theatre Institute, Prague

Dirdho Adityo

Foksal Gallery Foundation

Eric Baudelaire

Historia Cafe

Filip Rutkowski

Jakarta City Tourism and Cultural Board

Galang Aldinur Masabi

Management Unit of the Jakarta History Museum

Gelar Agryano Soemantri

Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics

Georges Breguet

Security Unit of Taman Fatahillah

Halilintar Latief

Orange Troops of West Jakarta

Hariman Siregar

Security Unit of the Jakarta History Museum

Hizkia Yosie Polimpung

Sono Seni Ensemble

Indah Nurhadi

Studio Plesungan

Jean Couteau


Jepri Ristiyanto

Tim Serrum untuk Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Digel, Emji, Fahry, TegTeg, Upit)

Jessica Kristie

Tim Serrum untuk Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik (Oksa, Penjol, Sukma)

Kemalreza Gibran

Tour Guide Team of the Jakarta History Museum

Lawren Joyce


Mari Martraire (Kadist)



JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017



Committee Artistic Director Melati Suryodarmo Social Media Coordinator

Writer for Display Labels


Reza Zefanya Mulia

Anastha Eka, Natalia Oetama, Frino,

Annissa Gultom

Social Media Administrator

Alodia YD, Gesyada Siregar

Hendro Wiyanto

Dayna Fitria Ananda, Chynthia

Translator for Display Labels

Phillippe Pirotte

Anandhia Sifa Tyana

Zacharias Szumer Volunteer Coordinator Yulia Darnis

Vit Havranek Public Education Program Executive Director Ade Darmawan

Coordinator Yohanes Daris Adi Brata


Executive Vice-Director Asep Topan

Assistant Daniella Praptono,

Izmiria Azzahra, Mutiara Choiriyah, Niskala

Managing Director Farid Rakun

Gesyada Annisa Namora Siregar,

Hapsari Utami, Bella Ferina, Cadrilla

Research Assistant to Semsar Siahaan

Sonya Annasha Bonita, Wahyudi

Bareno, Adinda Putri, Juan Simbolon, Dellia

Files Andike Widyaningrum Secretary Rafika Lifi

Rizki Ananda, Gita Sumaiku, Nanda Ranti


Rachmi, Nurul Komala Khoirunnisa, Ade

Sponsorship and Partnership

Performance Documentation

Irma Fitriani, Aditya Dewi Hapsari, Agung

Ria Ekasari

Ari Rusyadi, Patar Prabowo,

Santoso, Anju Roida Maulita, Asri Putri

Data Collector Anam Khoirul

Ranggi Arohmansani,

Rahayu, Ayu Fitriani Hasibuan, Azis Arijaya,

Ahmad Barelvi, I Gusti Agung P,

Bondan Ibnu Febrian, Dara Priscilla Junico,

Vicky Alchamdani,

M. Dhisa Brahmana Putra, Ferahmi Bobby,

Editor Ninus D. Andarnuswari

Reza Chrisan “lie” Hadikusuma

Fingki Kusumawardani, Ilham Munadi, Ivania

Assistant Editor Dirdho Adityo,

Videographer Panji Purnama Putra,

Kokasih, Kukuh Anggrio, Mega Puspita,

Zacharias Szumer

Erlan Dwi Apriaji, Angga Reksha

Mirtha Khaerunnisa, Nadya Zul El-Nuha,

Translator Dirdho Adityo,

Photographer Panji Purnama Putra,

Nadifa Hasnasari, Nenny Purnamasari, Nisa

Yoga Lordason, Fitri Ratna

Farid Burhan, Adi Priyatna,

Aulia, Nobella Yocha Picesia, Paramitha

Irmalasari, Fajar Zakhri

Zainul Arifin

Puspita, Agustina Naomi Koyongian, Rachel


Editor Angga Rekhsa,

Kamilia Faradiba Nibal, Raisa Ratriananda,

Zacharias Szumer, Ining Isaiyas

Sutradani, Nico Prabowo

Reni Rufaidah, Ridho Fauzan, Riki Sugianto,


Rizki Fudholi, Rizky Noor Alif Abdurachim,

Graphic Design


Rohan Hamdani, Sari Hapsari, Sena Okto

Graphic Designer Zulfikar Arief

Exhibition Designer

Priankartino, Maya Sintha Utari, Vindalia

Assistant to Graphic Designer

Ign. Susiadi Wibowo, Aditya Suwito,

Annia, Widia Anggraini, Alisa Putri, Dewi

Garyanes Yulius, Angga Cipta

Rahimah Zulfa

Nilasari, Dwika Putra Bramantya, Elva Sagita

Exhibition Manager M. Sigit Budi S.

Cindra, George John Fredrik Ante, Hasna


Avni, Jessica Kristie, Joshua Dion Pratama,

Manager of Communications

Performance Coordinator

Luqyani Sa’adah, Muhammad Nur Rizaldi,

Indah Ariani

Mohammad Dendi Madya Utama

Sayyoidul Aqsha, Talitha Assyura, Insani

Media Armadina Azzahra,

Symposium Coordinator

Nurul Shopa, Mercy Cornelia, Marella Putri,

Cindy Ahimsa, Nastiti Dewanti,

Leonhard Bartolomeus

Wahyu Fauzi, Okta Rima Laluyan, Dwi Ilham

Pei Chu Yen Doris

Co-Coordinator Firsty Dewi

Suryaningrat, Belinda Puspa Dewi




JIWA: Jakarta Biennale 2017 Jakarta Biennale Foundation Writer: Melati Suryodarmo, Annissa Gultom, Hendro Wiyanto, Phillippe Pirotte, Vit Havranek Contributor: Jean Couteau, Joko Gombloh, Shinta Febriany Editor: Ninus D. Andarnuswari Translator: Yoga Lordason, Dirdho Adityo Assistant Editor: Zacharias Szumer Proofreader: Ining Isaiyas, Zacharias Szumer Contributing Translator: Fitri Ratna Irmalasari, Fajar Zakhri Graphic Designer: Angga Cipta Image and Photography: Artists, Panji Purnama Putra, Farid Burhanudin, Adi Priyatna, Zainul Arifin, Angga Reksha

Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem, Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 4 Jakarta Selatan 12780, Indonesia http://jakartabiennale.net info@jakartabiennale.net @jakartabiennale @jakartabiennale Jakarta Biennale

exhibition catalogue

Yayasan Jakarta Biennale

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