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Contemporary Indonesian art at Govett-Brewster

Media Release

9 December 2004

Contemporary Indonesian art unveiled at the Govett-Brewster

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery presents Transindonesia: scoping culture in contemporary Indonesian art, New Zealand’s first comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Indonesian art developed by Gallery Director Gregory Burke in collaboration with Indonesian Curator Rifky Effendy, opening 18 December 2004.

“Transindonesia focuses on the diversity of art making in Indonesia and provides insights into contemporary Indonesian culture at a time when the focus of international media coverage of Indonesia has been on geo-politics and not culture,” says Govett-Brewster Director and Co-curator Gregory Burke.

The artists address topics related to cultural diversity, colonial legacies, national identity, the combination of traditional and contemporary art forms and the challenges facing artists in Indonesia.

“To an extent the artists in Transindonesia are tackling issues prevalent not only for Indonesia but for New Zealand,” says Mr Burke.

Senior Indonesian artist Heri Dono has been exhibiting his work which combines traditional Javanese motif with new technology for the past two decades. Dono’s work Bedmen 1992-2004 combines traditional Javanese wayang (puppet performance) with electronic circuitry. The resulting cartoon-like figures blend the traditional and the modern in a way that illustrates his belief that art should be based on cultural references.

The group of artists working under the name EAT will branch out of the Gallery to take over the neighbouring retail building. The installation includes merchandise made by the group as a source of supplementary income. As artists are unable to earn a reasonable income in Indonesia, EAT have found it necessary to display and sell their work in an entrepreneurial way while not ‘selling out’ artistically. Works by the collective will be available for sale during the exhibition at the Gallery’s Art and Design Shop.

Like New Zealand, Indonesia has had a colonial history affecting the collective psyche of its people. Moreover, New Zealand became home to a large number of Dutch-Indonesian immigrants in the 1940s and 1950s as a result of the War of Independence and secession of sovereignty including the artist Theo Schoon who became an important figure of New Zealand modernism. The work of Valentijn Gabriel van Dijk, or Tino Djumini as he was first named, presents a series of photographs depicting families whose members are divided between Indonesia and the Netherlands as a result of adoption, commonplace in Indonesia between 1973 and 1983.

Artist Iswanto Hartono’s installation begins on opening night with the experience for visitors to the Gallery of being photographed and fingerprinted in the manner of the US Immigration Department. As citizens of a predominantly Muslim country, Indonesians are now considered high risk foreigners when entering the United States and they are recorded as they enter.

The exhibition includes ceramic sculptures, sculptural installations, photography, video and design by artists Titarubi, Heri Dono, EAT, Iswanto G Hartono, Mohamad Iqbal, Angki Purbandono, Agus Suwage and Valentijn van Dijk (Tino Djumini).

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director and Co-curator Gregory Burke has most recently curated Mediarena, the largest exhibition of contemporary Japanese art staged in Australasia. He is also the New Zealand Commissioner for the 2005 Venice Biennale.

Co-curator Rifky Effendy was born in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1968. He has curated exhibitions in Indonesia and abroad since 1997 and written for Indonesian and international publications. In July 2004 Effendy presented a paper at the 2004 biennial Apexart curatorial conference in Honolulu. He has held curatorial residencies in Australia and Japan and in early 2004 he was in New York as a Fellow of the Asian Cultural Council and as a resident of the International Studio and Curatorial Programme (ISCP). Effendy is currently the Curator at Cemara 6 Galeri in Jakarta.

Transindonesia has been made possible with the support of the Nadi Gallery and the Cemara 6 Galeri in Jakarta.

Transindonesia is on show until 27 February 2005. An exhibition catalogue will also be available at the Gallery’s Art and Design shop.

As part of the Govett-Brewster’s dynamic summer programme of contemporary art, the Gallery is also pleased to present BREAK SHIFT: the 2004 Govett-Brewster Art Gallery biennial review of contemporary New Zealand art and an exciting new project by leading New Zealand artist Ann Shelton. Ann Shelton: a kind of sleep features photographs of locations associated with urban myth and superstition. The exhibition has been developed through the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s New Zealand artist in residence programme in partnership with the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki and supported by Creative New Zealand.

Opening weekend events: Sunday 19 December
11.00am - 4.00pm: EAT installation
Visit the Gallery’s offsite space to explore the installation by Transindonesia artist group EAT.

12.00 noon: Curatorial talk
Co-curator of Transindonesia Rifky Effendy discusses contemporary Indonesian art.

1.00pm: Balinese musical performance
Wayan Yudane, Michael Norris, Emma Sayers and Rachel McLaren will perform contemporary Balinese music using traditional Balinese and modern electronic instruments composed by Norris and Yudane. The performance includes works arranged in collaboration with leading contemporary New Zealand composer Jack Body.

2.00pm: Transindonesia exhibition tour
Join Gallery Director and Co-curator of Transindonesia Gregory Burke and visiting artists for a tour of the exhibition.

ENDS

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