Arahmaiani: Art, Women and Earth

Saturday, April 10, 2021

10.00 - 13.00 WIB


Avianti Armand
Farid Rakun, Alia Swastika, Monchu

Arahmaiani is an important figure in the development of contemporary art as well as the pioneer of performance art in Indonesia. Her 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, her art has drawn strong reactions from religious and political hardliners. In 1983, she criticized the New Order by drawing steel tanks and writing poetry on the streets. She got arrested, interrogated, then released on parole after a doctor stated she was mentally ill. That year she also left Indonesia and lived in Sydney, Australia. From her contact with marginalized groups such as Aboriginal people, hippies, and punk groups who opposed establishment through music and fashion, she found a reverberation of her anxieties about capitalism and globalization.

Arahmaiani's anxiety also includes issues of reproduction and control of the female body, as stated in her 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 herself holding scissors and contraceptives. In that work, she critized the policy of the Family Planning Program launched during the New Order government.

In 1993, her first solo exhibition took place at Studio Oncor, Jakarta, with the controversial headline: Sex, Religion and Coca Cola. One piece of art exhibited, Lingga - Yoni, was a symbol of balance between female and male energies as a universal value, found in many religions including animism, Hinduism, Buddherm and Islam. The work made her faced death threats. She was accused for insulting religion by painting male and female genitalia including Arabic characters on the object.

Nomadism for Arahmaiani may not be just a fight or flight mechanism. However, she is more than just an international celebrity, isolated from Indonesian society and her 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 her environmentally sound projects with communities and societies in Java, Bali, Tibet and elsewhere, which are increasingly "practical" in nature.

In simple terms, Arahmaiani is important, because what she 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.

  • Unanswered questions during WEBINAR

    From Fransisca Retno

    Thank you, Arahmaiani's works is extraordinary because it has inspired us, the younger generation. regarding the project in Tibet since the pandemic status, how will it continue? Then how long does it take for people to become aware of and implement new habits rooted in the essence of traditional values ​​independently without any guidance from artists / activators, especially considering that Ms. Iani is a 'stranger' to them? Meanwhile, the question was, Rahayu.

    Answered by Arahmaiani:

    It seems that I have answered some of these questions in the website huh. The project in Tibet is still ongoing and there have even been other monasteries who have asked me to guide them. It's only because of the pandemic that I haven't been able to visit there again (since last year). Wow, if the question is how long it will take people to be aware of and implement new habits, it depends on their own abilities! But in my case my work in Tibet is going quite fast because the community system with monastic traditions is still strong can encourage awareness and action of the people in a more solid manner. And because they still have a culture of "reincarnation" I was believed to be a Tibetan in my past life. So I was not considered a "stranger" and accepted. My ideas were later accepted as well after going through discussions and debates with the monks. And my arguments were considered reasonable and they accepted. And then done together

    From Diaz Ramadhansyah

    Good morning, maybe you can tell it, how did Ms. Arahmaiani initially establish communication with the Tibetan people so that she won trust, which implies that the Tibetan people want to listen to their opinions and thoughts and carry out the program that you have initiated? thank you
    Yes, first I was believed to be a Tibetan (from my past life). And then I was accepted into a convent and given the position to lead this environmental and social movement. There is indeed a debate process for my ideas to be accepted by them (as I explained above). Because indeed in the Gluga monastery, the tradition of debating is part of their daily practice. Well, because I am also a critical person and like to argue, we are well suited!

    Are there any significant obstacles during your activities in Tibet? if so, how to deal with these obstacles with the limitations faced?
    The significant obstacle is the political condition because Tibet has been under Chinese rule since 1959, but until now the resistance from the Tibetans is still ongoing. And if I follow this pattern, I can be sure that I will not be able to work there because it will be prohibited by the Chinese government. So I have to find a right reason without having to enter into the general political discourse. And environmental issues which are meant for the benefit of all creatures on earth become alternative and creative solutions to that political condition! So I don't have to make statements in favor of one group because I will help all sentient beings (so in the political context I am a person who is not taking sides and will help both the Tibetan side and the Chinese side)


    • Mona:
    • the past has not passed...
    • Suryani:
    • Can't wait for the day!!!
    • Duta:
    • Is this Ms. Arahmaiani who went to Tibet? Great! keep on fighting what you've been doing..
      I really like the way he brings people to better things. His character is also unique. Calm, simple, not adventurous... I really like her style!!
    • Srikandi:
    • It's a shame the webinar was on Saturday, it clashed with a family event. But I've registered here, hoping to be able to participate in the next webinar. Waiting for the 2nd session.
    • Purwanto:
    • The relentless exploration of an Arahmaiani. And in the hands of the right people, art can be used as a medium to bring the world to a different realm.
    • Bintang:
    • Amazed by the many changes taking place in Tibet. An extraordinary job done by an extraordinary human being.
    • Vani:
    • I really believe that art can bring positive things to this earth. it's very clear that there are thousands of people like mba Arahmaiani, making this world more melodious and joyful (thanks to the colors produced by art)
    • Haris:
    • ini beneran free ya? wah jangan sampe gw ga ikutan
    • Wenny:
    • Ini Farid Rakun yang Ruang rupa ya? waaahhh , dasyaaatt nih yang ngumpulin orang2 ini dalam sebuah ruang diskusi.
    • Johan:
    • Habis webinar ini, akan ada kelanjutannya kan? harus banget dibikin PART 2 nya
    • Martha:
    • Webinar di selalu di nantikan. Pembahasan webinar kali ini temanya sangat menggigit. Semoga tanggal 10 , gak ada halangan dan bisa ikutan dari awal. Udah gw share juga ke temen2 untuk ikutan hadir.
    • Jonah:
    • pengen banget join, but tanggal 10 April lagi ada acara. Ini ada siaran ulangnya , gak ?
    • Peter:
    • ini mulai jam 10 tepat ya? atau bisa join before jam 10?
    • Gumilang:
    • asiiikkk! ada mba Avianti Armand.
      she's so cool!
    • Winnie:
    • Sudah jadi member dari tahun lalu, dan sering ngikutin webinarnya. Banyak banget ilmu yang sudah gue dapat. Nah, kali ini jenis ilmunya agak beda... temanya menarik, pembicara nya pun luar biasa : seorang Arahmaiani. Sosoknya sederhana banget , gw suka. tipe nya gak neko neko dan ngomong nya langsung ke titik sasaran. tanggal 10 april , gw mesti dateng.
    • Lidya:
    • Webinarnya gak dibikin 2-3 hari berturut2 aja nih ? tiga jam mah bahas beginian kurang banget..
      Saran : harus di bikin next webinar lanjutannya dan jaraknya jangan terlalu lama dari yang seri awal
    • Tanzil:
    • Topik pembahasannya tentang 3 point yang sangat menggugah selera. Pengen banget ikutan dalam sesi diskusi dan sesi tanya jawabnya kalau di perkenankan.
    • Dewi:
    • before jam 10, bisa masuk duluan ke ruang webinar nya ? Boleh nanya- nanya secara live ke mba Arahmanianinya ?
    • Leon:
    • This will be an interesting Webinar! I hope one day, i can have the chance to meet her face to face. She's really a patriotic woman.
    • Maya:
    • mau nanya : ini kita dapat e-certificate juga gak? kuota webinarnya terbatas?
    • Ratu:
    • Gak sabaaaar tanggal 10 April ,gaeeess
    • Sijabat:
    • Sosok Arahamaiani, sangat unik, berbeda, karismatik, kreatif ,pintar, sangat memperhatikan tentang lingkungan& perempuan, punya intuisi yang kuat, out of the box, not only showing what she's capable of ..
      she's really one of a kind.
      GO! GO! GO!
    • Nindy:
    • Yang gue suka dari Mba Arahmaiani itu banyaaaaaak.. she is one of the most inspired woman in my life.
    • David:
    • waaaaahhh... webinar kali ini dengan mba Arahamaiani . bakal seru banget nih ! harus ikutan


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