Sharing a page with one of my fav illustrator, Ykha Amelz. Don't forget to check out Harper's Bazaar magazine October 2013 edition. x
A recent trip to Yogyakarta came at the end of a Bandung-Jakarta-Yogya road trip with two of my colleagues from Singapore. The excursion also meant a long and in-depth series of meetings with a number of artists. We sat down at kedai kebun Forum for our first lunch meeting in Yogya, and were greeted by the ever-so-witty Agung Kurniawan, the owner of Kedai Kebun. We were thus instantly reassured that Yogya was indeed the right place to end this lengthy road trip. Yogya always seems to me to be an open and honest place, and never hostile or aggressive. the art scene here is also often refreshingly informal, and our meeting took place in a casual setting, while our cerebral musings were lightened by jokes and polite gossip.
Stephany Yaya Sungkharisma, a young artist from Jakarta, also expressed similar sentiments about Yogya to me, as we visited her in MeS 56. Yaya was putting on her first solo exhibition down at this alternative contemporary-photography space. Another difference between galleries in Yogya and Jakarta is that in the former location, one can sit on the floor without feeling out of place and indulge in a long chat, doors wide open so that we could bathe in the natural breeze.
MES56 itself is always an interesting place to visit. this artists’ initiative was first established in 1993, and MES56 has dedicated its space to the emergence of new, contemporary photographic artists during the intervening years. the exhibitions here are mostly curated by senior members of the group.
This time around, MES56 was presenting a fascinating young artist from Jakarta, one of the up-and-comers that i included in last month’s article which reflected on my fresh picks from Jakarta. Yaya had managed to transpose some of the hostility that she perceives in Jakarta to this friendly Yogyakarta setting, creating an interesting contrast, and her exhibition examined stories that she had originally unearthed on Jalan Kemenangan in Jakarta. Jalan Kemenangan, which means Victory Street, is one of the main thoroughfares in Jakarta’s chinatown area, and is also one of the areas that experienced the full horrors of the capital’s May 1998 riots. Yaya happened to grow up on this street and spent a largely happy childhood exploring and playing there.
Yaya recently returned to this street of her youth and interviewed local residents who had experienced the riots of 15 years ago and whose hearts and minds were still affected by these traumatic events. Some were reluctant to talk to her after these many years, the ordeal being jammed down into their collective unconscious.
In 1998, houses were burned here and a collective status and history went up in smoke. important papers, birth certificates, passports and photographs were all destroyed, leaving the locals with only their memories. Yaya took pictures of these survivors before then removing their skins with a little help from photoshop. She then printed these on canvas, before replacing their skins with her hand-sewn threads. these threads are meant to represent memories, which were the only thing left of the local residents’ history and status after the riots had abated. By removing the residents’ skins, Yaya is also ruminating upon issues of race, and raises the thorny issue of belonging.
Through this thought-provoking exhibition, photography is presented as a medium of thought and reflection. contemporary photography has ushered us into an era in which artistic technique (in this case, the use of the camera) is no longer an issue and is available to all. The idea of clear and lucid documentation is no longer the final aim therefore, and photography has become a medium which can be used more creatively to generate new stories. the camera can thus offer original insights instead of just reflecting reality like a mirror.
As we sat casually on the floor surrounded by Yaya’s artworks, she expressed her longing to be able to sit around and engage in similar artistic discussions back in Jakarta. Yogyakarta’s unpretentious manner may refreshingly unravel and simplify the complicated stream of thoughts that one brings from Jakarta, but I still find the pressure of life in the capital to be, ultimately, artistically inspiring, forcing us to think in new ways and patterns. individualism, community and creative insights into survival itself are all up for grabs.
JJK Magazine | April 2013
Artists Exi(s)t With Hope of Gaining More Exposure
The Indonesian art scene is thriving, but renowned Indonesian artist FX Harsono has observed that development with worry, especially when it comes to fresh artistic talent in the capital. “There is a lot of potential in this city,” he said, “but unlike in Bandung or Yogyakarta, many young artists in Jakarta have trouble finding their way into galleries to present their work. “Many of these talents have other daily jobs, mostly in the creative industries, because they lack an outlet for their art,” he added. “It’s not easy to get your work into commercial galleries because most of [the galleries] want to make a profit as well, which can be difficult if they feature the works of ‘no-name’ artists.” To nurture up-and-coming artists from Jakarta and help them develop their reputations, FX Harsono initiated the project Exi(s)t, an effort to create a platform for them to garner attention and exposure in the local art scene.
In collaboration with Dia.lo.gue Artspace in Kemang, South Jakarta, the project’s inaugural exhibition, “Maps, Re-Imagined,” opened on Saturday afternoon.
A breeze of novelty is apparent upon entering the exhibition space, which currently features the works of 12 Jakarta artists who reimagined places in the city that they visit every day.They each created art to answer a single question: How does our imagination affect how we position ourselves on the map of everyday life? Approaching that question from varying perspectives, they each arrived at different answers. Their works consider a range of topics such as ethnic background — beautifully done in Stephany Yaya Sungkharisma’s print series, “Unfamiliar Roots (Walking Banana)” — as well as marriage, family life, urban density and the politics of the creative industry. The exhibition pieces are all new, exuding a sense of curiosity that is usually only possible in pieces from artists who have been relatively untouched by the industry’s influence.
The most intriguing piece belongs to Angela Judiyanto, who contributed the installation art piece “A Little Encounter.” Neatly arranged on a long wooden shelf, the eye-catching installation consists of many small glass jars with golden lids, which she has given a new look by painting. Visually stunning, the jars have been transformed in painstaking detail into pieces of art, as Angela adorned them with words and images of faces, people, buildings, touching hands or just abstract images. Artist Adnyani Dewi has taken up the ever popular subject of Jakarta’s horrible traffic congestion in her work, though she gives it an unusual twist. In her photographs, she lets her imagination run wild to explore why we so often sit in a car or on the back of a motorcycle without moving forward. In her mind, it might as well be a dancing bear and a panda that cause the traffic jams. With this playful approach, she tries to encourage Jakartans to sit through the unavoidable gridlock without getting too frustrated or depressed. Agra Satria, better known by his moniker Ghost, is another artist who has been invited to join the exhibition. He has a reputation for his daring jewelry designs, which he creates together with his wife, but he reveals his other artistic side at Dia.lo.gue, displaying photographs and paintings that come together in collages, combining the mysterious with the glamorous and the peculiar with the stunning.
FX Harsono said the exhibition is only the beginning of a long-term project, as he is planning to hold further editions of “Exi(s)t” on a yearly basis.
“I will be constantly looking for fresh talents,” he said. “And hopefully, in five to 10 years, the artists who participated in this project will have been able to make a name for themselves in the art scene.”
Exi(s)t: Maps, Re-Imagined Until June 10 Dia.lo.gue Artspace Jl. Kemang Selatan No. 99 A South Jakarta Tel. 021 719 9671- - 'Maps Reimagined' still ongoing until June 10.