Four images and a short story

Images that could never describe what have happened and why. Beringhardjo Market, Yogyakarta, 1984. Courtesy of the artist.

Towards Moelyono’s retrospective exhibition in 2018

In December 2015, Grace interviewed Bonyong Munni Ardhi about his fight against what they call as ‘the old art of Indonesia’ in the 1970s. With a couple of his peers, he was part of the influential Indonesia New Art Movement (1975-1989) that began right after they sent a flower arrangement to the first ever Jakarta Biennale (1974) along with their condolences for the death of painting in Indonesia. Amongst other artists who were part of the movement that we interviewed, Bonyong was the only one who talked about the actual works and their artistic interest, experiments, concerns and practices at the time. The rest were more into the politics, be it in the art scene or in the country. Bonyong told Grace a pretty detailed descriptive story about a work by one of his juniors in the art school. At the time, the word (or even concept of) performance or happening was never heard before.

In 1984, Moelyono sent an invitation to his friends and lecturers to come to the Chicken Section of Beringhardjo Market, Yogyakarta, at 12AM. No explanation on what he was about to do, but many people showed up. A little after 12AM, they started wondering what was about to happen and started looking for each other. They were not speaking to each other, though, they have started identifying one another within the crowd of the market. Chicken Section is the most smelly part of the market. Bonyong thought that at least half of his friends that showed up there have started to feel nauseated. They slowly recognized some friends from the art school who seemed to be helping Moelyono in organizing this thing. They were walking around with small black rubber buckets that had liquids in plastics. The plastics were tied with colorful rubbers. The minute they started wondering what are these people planning to do is the minute they most likely have given up waiting due to the ugly, ugly smell. That was also the moment that these friends of Moelyono started pouring out their black rubber buckets. The market was pretty packed. These little plastics pretty soon got stepped by people. Pop, pop, pop, you hear the blow of each plastic amongst people’s conversation, bargain, and steps. A second after they started thinking what’s up with these plastics, they smelled perfume. Very, very strong perfume. The liquids in those plastics was indeed perfume. Wow! Bonyong thought that this was such a brilliant work of art.

When Grace met Moelyono in February 2016, she asked him about this work. He (kind of) forgot. Grace was disappointed because she thought this was such a great work. She started to think maybe she thought so because of Bonyong’s high-spirited detailed explanation. A couple days after they met, Moelyono sent her these images with a pretty brief, yet needed, explanation: I found documentations of that work. Now, I remember what I was trying to do. Market was so intense. The fact that Chicken Section is super smelly completed that intense feeling. I wonder how people there go through their life. Every single day. So I thought, I should offer a different experience within their daily life. Putting up drawings, paintings or objects would not defeat the intensity of the space. So I thought sound and smell could offer that difference. Afterwards I asked the sellers what they think about it. They thought it was entertaining. I managed to entertain them!

Recently, verbal transmissions on modes of art production in Indonesia have exponentially amplified by means of the Internet. We are looking into textual forms to a variety of physical encounters that detest ‘unholy’ intentions, discuss constellations of power and continuously aim to rectify the role of art for the imagined Indonesia. The research includes samples from intuitive (reactionary) practices to reach out to other members of the society to emphasize how artists are perceived as agents of change as opposed to the passive intellectual.

Early civilization in the archipelago acknowledge individuals who serve particular artistic functions within society. There was always a team of painters, sculptors, dramaturgs and architects in temples and in villages; and they have always been directly involved in whatever activity that society finds necessary to live up to their own standards, inheritance and expectation. Modern civilization introduced art and humanities majors through University. Scholars and artists go hand in hand developing or even opposing the idea on how art and artists could serve society. We want to explore the idea of art that have roles and functions in society is not seen as the contemporary notion of encouraging people’s participation nor liberating art from its own sake, but rather as one of man’s natural quality; a social being. Do we simply blame modernism (and formalism) for the separation between folk or traditional rites? Or do we find ways to articulate what we have happened since forever around us?




Now, Hyphen — is working towards a retrospective exhibition of Moelyono due in December 2018! The core team towards the exhibition includes:

Ratna Mufida (b. 1979, Kediri) is an arts management expert living in Yogyakarta. She is one of the co-founders of Hyphen — and the operational manager of the Equator Symposium (Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation, 2012-2022). Beforehand, she was heavily involved in a number of art events in Yogyakarta such as Biennale Jogja, ART|JOG, Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Arts Festival); and Ngayogjazz. Standing in the management side of the arts demanded her to connect to things, and people, from other fields of discipline. This has shaped has shaped her curiosity toward sociological and historical aspect of Indonesian contemporary art practice. She pursues the paths of her curiosity by doing research and archival works together with Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Hyphen — and SKRIPTA.

Riksa Afiaty (b. 1986, Bandung) is a curator that lives and work in Jakarta. She was the curator of Jakarta Biennale 2015. From 2011-2016 she’s part of ruangrupa, an artists’ initiative established in 2000, during which, she was involved in OK Video – Indonesia Media Art Festival and the artlab. In 2013, she got a research grant from Rumah Seni Cemeti (Yogyakarta) to develop her interest towards of street art and graffiti. She focused on the development aspects and the archival records, classifying patterns of understanding of how it works as art in the street or as a kind of resistance, influencing our interaction with the visual environment. With the grant from Foundation for Arts Initiatives, her current research is looking for a model and modus operandi of the “art institutions” through learning from non-Western initiatives. With Charles Esche, she is working towards the exhibition titled “Power and Other Things” to be held in Brussels, as part of the Europalia Arts Festival 2017.

Grace Samboh (b. Jakarta, Indonesia, 1984) is a curator based in Yogyakarta and Medan, Indonesia. She questions (a little bit) too many things all at the same time. With her two best friends, she co-founded Hyphen —. Her recent curatorial projects are:“SUNSHOWER – Contemporary art from Southeast Asia 1980s to now” together with The Japan Foundation Asia Center, Mori Art Museum, and the National Art Center Tokyo (2017); a medium-oriented exhibition Carte Blanche: Anxiety at Mizuma Gallery, Singapore (2017); a traveling museum that restarted a conversation on our recent democracy “Museum Tanpa Tanda Jasa (The Unsung Museum)” (2016-2018); a multiple way of exchange(s) “The Independence Project: Banyak-banyak” (Many-many) within a platform of Gertrude Contemporary Art Space (Melbourne, 2014-2015); a year of artistic research “Tahun Tanah 2015” (The Earth Year) with Jatiwangi art Factory (Majalengka, West Java).

Syafiatudina (b. Melbourne, 1988) is a researcher and curator in KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, Yogyakarta. Her interest on curatorial work as interplay between theory and practice, including thinking and doing. Related to this interest, she wants to explore the potential of artistic practices as part of knowledge inquiries, yet also contribute to social and political change. In 2015, she was a fellow of the programme “Curators in Residence – Curating Collections” of the foundation KfW Stiftung and did an exhibition at the Welkulturen Museum.

Octalyna Puspa Wardany (b. Palembang, 1979) organize, curate and write for art exhibitions since 2008. Her BA was in finance and she is in fact the consultant for management and financial system at INSIST. She took an Curatorial Studies for her master in the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI Yogyakarta). She co-founded gerimisUngu in 2011. Within 2011-2014, she implemented a collaborative art project “About the Forest” involving an anthropologist and eight young artists from Indonesia and Japan. It was done in Ngadisono Village, Wonosobo, Central Java, Indonesia. Since 2014, she started doing art researches leaning towards creative processes and artwork studies. In 2016, with INSIST press, she co-writed and publishe a memoar of Gregorius Soeharsojo titled Tiada Jalan Bertabur Bunga: Memoar Pulau Buru dalam Sketsa (No Road Paved with Flowers: Buru Island Memoar in Sketches).

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