A DIVERSE SHOW OF FOUR ARTISTS, Deden Hendan Durahman (Bandung), Jabbar Muhammad (Bandung), Kelvin Atmadibrata (Jakarta), Theresia Agustina Sitompul (Jogjakarta), Curated by Roy Voragen
July 14, 2017 - August 13, 2017
Jalan Suryo #49
I TOO AM UNTRANSLATABLE
she never spoke of herself, she never represented her emotions, presence, or history. He spoke for and represented her. – Edward Said
Today, I believe in the possibility of love; that is why I endeavor to trace its imperfections, its perversions. – Frantz Fanon
viewing gender shorn of social, political and economic context makes it an issue of identity, a battle of props and costumes. – Arundhati Roy
Where can we locate the body? To describe it. To inscribe it. To name it. To map it. To trace it. To travel it. Is to invent it. Is to locate it. To locate it as and within a labyrinth. A labyrinth of other spaces. A labyrinth of other bodies. A labyrinth of other voices…
We’re so habituated with the geography of our body and the spaces it inhibits, writes Georges Perec, that we do not question our body. And it doesn’t question us. However, what if we attempt to pose the body as a problem?
How am I? How do I sleep? What does my body do to wake me? How do I get up? How do I get my trousers on? How do I brush my teeth? What do I see when I see a re ection in the mirror? In the extraordinary-ordinary everyday minute minutiae we can locate and interrogate the body and its discursive representations.
Language – and its syntax – can play tricks on our senses. For example, to paraphrase Nietzsche, we use a singular ‘I’ so that the predicate ‘to speak’ has a subject. But the ‘I’ as a subject in a sentence is not to be confused with the ‘I’ as a marker of agency. Agency doesn’t come prior to speech acts. The multiplicity of the self is performed through and as a result of speech acts. Moreover,
each speech act performs many acts at once. In other words, the subject is constituted through actions – done by and done to – and experiences within a network of discursive strategies.
Language is public, i.e. it’s an open source collection of signs exchanged between bodies: an academic proposition, a bossy yell, a hungry yawn, a questioning eyebrow, a irtatious wink, a passionate whisper, a misplaced punctuation mark, a malicious middle nger…
We can modify and re-distribute (parts of) language. But we don’t have equal access. Yet, language is always already open to be hacked.
Language is a social space, albeit an unstable space: we speak in deliciously delirious tongues. And the language of the body – gestures as a somaesthetic forms of everyday translation – lls up the gaps between the words we utter.
Like any social space, language is human-made and, nonetheless, constraints us. Language is more than syntax. Socio-cultural codes are embedded within language and, thus, emotions, thought and speech. The master language represents the body in ways that is heteronormative, racialized and gendered. However, while power, through discursive strategies, creates realities, power is not univocal.
The hegemonic discourse can muddle other voices. Subaltern spaces of difference, Spivak’s term, are needed to allow for other voices to develop. If equality could only mean sameness then the bar remains to be set by the hegemonic voice of white protestant heterosexual middle-aged men and no meaningful alternative differences are possible. Marginality, writes black feminist bell hooks, is a site of resistance as well as a site of possibilities from which alternatives could be imagined by de-colonizing eyes and tongues.
This exhibition, then, doesn’t espouse a self-marginalizing solipsism: no one is an island unto her- or himself. I too am untranslatable re ects a refusal to allow a master to speak in the name of the other. It re ects a refusal to have our voices absorbed. And this exhibition brings different voices together within one space.
Creating art in, on & about the margins is a way to both see from the outside in as well as from the inside out. The practice of incessantly shifting perspectives, by the artists in this exhibition, could potentially lead to increasingly louder and rounder voices on the body, its representations and our everyday embodied experiences.
Each of the artists – Theresia Agustina Sitompul, Kelvin Atmadibrata, Jabbar Muhammad and Deden Durahman – brings her and his own artistic strategies and sensibilities to this exhibition. All four of their works deal with the body. Each artist places different accents based on different everyday experiences and concepts. Placed in one space, the four bodies of work form a biotope to form dialogs and confrontations laced with permutations and punctuation marks unfolding for all our senses.
The Jogjakarta based artist Theresia Agustina Sitompul works deal with issues of personal memory, gender identity, body shaming and a reinterpretation of histories from an intimate perspective in order to offer a re-reading of everyday life. Everyday space and time are gendered, which means that at different times the same space can place different demands, and at other times multiple tasks need to be performed at once in one space (time and space distribution are gendered).
For the show I too am unstranslatable at Ruci Art Space, Jakarta, 2017, Tere shows two series: decrease-increase and Moment.
The work decrease-increase utilizes a DIY printmaking technique: carbon tracing, in which the copy becomes, in terms of the printmaking medium, the only existing original, as the works are
obviously in an edition of one. Carbon tracing was a technique used by secretaries and seamstresses. For these new originals, Tere copied clothes – clothing forms the outer skin of our private bodies. Apart from carbon tracing, the three panels in this work are eloquently embossed.
The second series, Moment, is made out of silicone and steel. Among many other purposes, silicone is used as an implant in breast augmentation surgery. However, note that despite the common view on ‘boob jobs’ not all breast augmentation procedures are elective cosmetic surgeries to change the aesthetics – size, shape and texture – of healthy breasts. For Tere, Moment signi es the many changes a woman goes through throughout her life, from puberty to marriage, from childbirth to menopause, to name a few markers of socially coded bodily changes in relationship to space and time.
For the Jakarta-based artist Kelvin Atmadibrata fan ctions, folklores, myths and historical narratives inform his practice; particularly Shōnen characters and macho ero-kawaii signi cantly in uence his work. By using these sources, Kelvin often argues against the heteronormative voice of the father/Father in Southeast Asia. His inspiration also derives from RPGs (role-playing video games) to re-tell narratives and to turn characters into new fan- fantasies of rejects, outlaws and antiheroes. He frequently uses performance as his artistic medium; his performances are recurrently accompanied by drawings, mixed media collages and objects compiled as intricate, poetic installations.
For this current exhibition, Kelvin shows a large-scale site-speci c installation-performance titled Benched. This work celebrates the perennial (missed) opportunity to become a real man: a player. And this work appropriates the artist’s rst crush: a water polo player/classmate, who later in life became a baker. And for the performance Kelvin borrows solitary bodies as stand-ins for and to re ect on his long lost adolescent crush. This results in an erotic echo of a long lost longing. A longing he did not address nor confess at the time. This distant object of longing became idealized and
frozen in time. The idyllic player didn’t age and remained athletic. While remaining idle at the time, the artist’s bittersweet memory of his rst infatuation does ignite changes: failure isn’t failure when failure’s ipside is an opportunity to reboot and re-write one’s autobiography to create a second life in which the self blossoms as never before. To celebrate this desire, one candle is lit every day for the duration of the exhibition, and after a month the cake will be covered in commemorative candle wax.
Bandung based artist Jabbar Muhamad has been working on the ongoing series Eve since 2015. For this series he interviews and photographs models, based on which he creates works on canvas and paper using, respectively, acrylic and watercolor paint. The project was borne out of his anxiety concerning identity. In his everyday life and his practice as an artist, Jabbar became aware of a disconnection between his social life and his artistic career.
The series Eve is based on his interactions with strangers and his reading of Carl Jung – especially this dual concept: ‘anima’, the archetype of a feminine inner personality expressed in the unconscious mind of a man, and ‘animus’, the archetype of a masculine inner personality expressed in the unconscious mind of a woman. Eve exempli es a way of perceiving: we internalize the gaze of the other/Other, however, never in a straightforward sense. The artist adapts his experiences and concepts by painting layer over layer, which results in a parallax: the effect whereby the understanding of a person alters when perceived from different positions, which, in turn, leads to the conclusion that we might have to postpone judgment of the other – and ourselves: we are multitudes, we are contradictions.
For this current exhibition, Jabbar continues his series on canvas and paper. However, the artist no longer solely portrays women. This exhibition includes portraits of men as a way of showing that Jabbar isn’t only interested in portraying the (psychology) of (young) women but that he aims to explore both sides of Jung’s concept of duality.
Bandung-based artist Deden Durahman’s relevant series for the current show is Corpus. As part of this series, Deden created the solo exhibition Amorphous Amours, Singapore, 2014. For this exhibition, Deden explored the geography of bodies. And he considers the body as an unstable category: gestural permutations can allow for changes to occur. Our bodies are the primary sites of the expanded eld of knowing (ontology of the esh) and remembering (kinetic memory). Memories leave imprints in and on our bodies. One body remembers and reminds another; memories move from body to body, re-touching us sensually, re-touching the unfathomable geography of our bodies. In short: the morphing of bodies, memories and representations of bodies in Deden’s work can instill an aesthetic sense of tremor as well as awe.
For the current exhibition, Deden created two new series: Peerless and Peers, which are not part of but can be considered a continuation of Corpus. The two new series interrogate self- representation. A longstanding anxiety going back to the myth of Narcissus: what’s mine and what’s thine in myself, my body? We wish to shine in the best of lights when we enter the world stage and to showcase an unparalleled self. Each of the three works that make up the series Peerless seem to be straightforward yet sliced-up portraits of each one individual. The slicing-up hints at barcodes, which is a reference to logarithms used by social media to categorize and distribute images. On closer inspection, it’s revealed that each sliced-up portrait consists out of many portraits. The two large works in the Peers series, on the other hand, are portraits of a group morphed into one sculptural composition. And the self is seemingly lost in these seamless con gurations.
Roy Voragen is a Bandung-based poet & curator (issuu.com/royvoragen). The exhibition title is a line from a Walt Whitman poem.
I too am Untranslatable
A refusal to allow a master to speak in the name of the other
Reflects a refusal to have our voice absorbs
Jakarta, 12 July 2017
RUCI Art Space presents a curated show by Roy Voragen, titled I too am untranslatable; it is a diverse show of four artists
from Jakarta, Bandung and Jogjakarta, each with different artistic practices. Deden Durahman (photography), Jabbar
Muhammad (painting), Kelvin Atmadibrata (performance art) & Theresia Agustina Sitompul (installation). I too am
untranslatable exposes a journey whereby the artists explore the boundaries and freedom of the body without assimilating
the influence of others. The exhibition will be open to the public on 14th July 2017, from 7 pm – 11 pm. And will be open
daily from 11 am – 7 pm until 13th August 2017.
Deden Durahman will be showing two new series that interrogate self-representation: Peerless and Peers. Peerless and
Peers showcases the notion of the body in crises in the modern day society. “Each of the three works that make up the series
Peerless seem to be straightforward yet sliced-up portraits of each one individual”, states Roy Voragen. One loses his
individuality in the realm of virtual reality, which is represented in Peerless by the slicing up of portraits of individuals that
resembles barcodes. And Peers series, on the other hand, are portraits of a group morphed into one sculptural composition.
And the self is seemingly lost in these seamless configurations.
Jabbar Muhammad for this exhibition will continue to explore from the Eve series, which has been his ongoing focus since
2015. Jabbar’s paper works and paintings touches on the theme of identity and the significance of human interactions. Eve,
focuses on the concept of duality in which the archetype of masculinity and the archetype of femininity can be possibly
occupied by the unconscious mind of both men and women. This exhibition includes portraits of men as a way of showing
that Jabbar isn’t only interested in portraying the (psychology) of (young) women but that he aims to explore both sides of
Jung’s concept of duality.
Kelvin Atmadibrata will be performing his piece titled Benched. He uses a combination of performance, paper collages and
photography to narrate the story of his long lost adolescent crush, to whom he had not a chance to confess his infatuation, yet
sees the loss of opportunity as a room to grow and evolve into a better version of himself. Benched exhibits the notion of
missed opportunity, not as a remorse, but as a new opportunity to reboot and re-write one’s autobiography to create a second
life in which the body blossoms as never before.
Theresia Agustina Sitompul will be showing two series: Decrease-Increase, carbon tracing on paper, and Moment, silicone
and steel installation. The series Decrease-Increase and Moment are her take on the gendered society and the socially coded
representation of the female body.
The exhibition echoes the sentiment of being an authority of oneself but does not, “espouse a self-marginalizing solipsism:
no one is an island unto her- or himself”. The various representation of the body is brought to life with different artistic
strategies and sensibilities.
The participation of RUCI Art Space in the art community is to cultivate the rising awareness of art in Indonesia’s evolving
culture. RUCI’s aim is to create a platform between artists and the public by providing a space to experiment, develop, and
transform ideas into representative symbols and objects. Together, RUCI can contribute to our cultural identity that best
reflects today’s generation.
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