Arahmaiani: Art, Women and Earth
Saturday 10 April 2021
10.00 - 13.00 WIB
Farid Rakun, Alia Swastika, Monchu
Arahmaiani is an important figure in the development of contemporary art as well as a pioneer of performance art in Indonesia. His work is a bridge - or even dialectic - between things that seem opposite; contemporary art and traditional culture, art and popular media, arts and environmental activism, feminism and religion, homeland and nomadism, globalization and nationalism, urban and rural. Arahmaiani not only provides critical insights into the complex intersections of nature, culture and politics but also facilitates a reinterpretation of Indonesian “women's” or “feminist” artistic ideas.
Since the 1980s, his art has drawn strong reactions from religious and political hardliners. In 1983, he criticized the New Order by drawing steel tanks and writing poetry on the streets. He was arrested, interrogated, then released on parole after a doctor stated he was mentally ill. That year he also left Indonesia and lived in Sydney, Australia. From his contact with marginalized groups such as Aboriginal people, hippies, and punk groups who opposed establishment through music and fashion, he found a reverberation of his anxieties about capitalism and globalization.
Arahmaiani's anxiety also includes issues of reproduction and control of the female body, as stated in his work: Do Not Prevent the Fertility of the Mind. An installation in the form of a 6m x 4m wall filled with sanitary napkins in almost all parts with a photo of himself holding scissors and contraceptives. In this work, he touched on the policy of the family planning program launched during the New Order government.
In 1993, his first solo exhibition took place at Studio Oncor, Jakarta, with the controversial headline: Sex, Religion and Coca Cola. One work in the exhibition, Lingga - Yoni, a symbol of balance between female and male energies is a universal value, found in many religions including animism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. This work made him face death threats due to accusations of insulting religion for painting male and female genitalia by including Arabic characters with the object.
Nomadism for Arahmaiani may not be just a fight or flight mechanism. However, he is more than just an international celebrity, isolated from Indonesian society and his art scene. Instead, she has always maintained strong ties to her homeland and, if not inspired, at least has been part of a much larger movement of creative women's activists. Arahmaiani's personalized nomadism has facilitated a reconnection with Indonesia's past, alternative interpretations of the homeland and the nation-state, and a vision of a more just and inclusive form of community. This is implemented from his environmentally sound projects with communities and communities in Java, Bali, Tibet and elsewhere, which are increasingly "practical" in nature.
In simple terms, Arahmaiani is important, because what he does is no longer producing "works of art", but integrating "art" into everyday life as an aesthetic process, not just aesthetic production. And art is an effective way for women and the earth to come back to our consciousness.