Tina Wahono – Recasting Shoes For the Discerning Consumer

Tina Wahono

Tina Wahono and her husband Aji, who was inspired to produce footwear after a visit to Milan in the early 2000s. (Photo courtesy of Tina Wahono)

The rows of shoes in the factory captured one’s attention immediately, not least because of their bold colors and variety of designs.

The shoes are made by Tina Wahono, whose eponymous startup shoe company is also the name to its women’s shoe line. The men’s shoes are known as “Massimo” — Italian for maximum.

“[We chose the name] to reflect the efforts we put in to them. The shoes are hand made from the finest leather,” says company director Triasto Wahono Aji Effendy, Tina’s husband.

Starting out with a personalized touch

“Tina Wahono has been specializing in custom-made footwear since its inception. We wish to introduce the feel of high- quality leather and the craftsmanship that comes into making the finest shoes to the Indonesian public,” Aji says.

“I got the inspiration to start out making custom shoes when I saw their manufacture firsthand in Milan when I lived in Europe in the early 2000s. I was taken by the craftsmanship and meticulousness of their work, which truly raised shoemaking to an art. Another characteristic that I found with the shoemakers is that they’re family businesses, so that’s as good a start as any.”

From then on, Aji says he was determined to attain similar heights in footwear.

“I asked the shoemakers about their know-how, the sort of materials that they work with, as well as the items they use for manufacturing shoes,” Aji says.

“Among the elements that influenced me are the wide range of styles, colors and materials that I saw there, some of which are custom made and hard to find here, rendering them unfamiliar to many Indonesians.

“Among the techniques that would make the shoes one of a kind was embossing the leather with metal plates to make exquisite, one-of-a-kind patterns. Other elements include using leathers that are known for their longevity, like nubuck and suede, but are otherwise little known to the Indonesian public.”

While full-grained, high-quality nubuck and suede either whole or two-toned comprise much of Massimo’s footwear, they are not the only material Aji works with. He also uses exotic materials like ostrich leather, which is one of the most expensive materials in the world, and local snakeskins dyed with natural colors.

Stepping up from utilitarian roots

While Tina Wahono has made a name for itself in the custom shoes market, it started off with mass-produced items nearly a decade ago.

“We manufactured shoes under the name Shoe or ‘Sus’ Factory in 2005, before we took on the name Tina Wahono two years ago. The shoes, which are manufactured in our factories in Bogor and Bekasi, were made for employees of companies like Unilever, XL and Garuda, as well as footwear for patients of places like the Orchard Clinique and Ellen Kwan,” Aji says.

“We also manufacture shoes for retailers like Sogo and Takashimaya. The mass production of shoes in the factories still make up most of the business.”

He adds that he trained his workers in shoemaking techniques himself.

“The shoemakers who make the custom shoes were picked from the best workers in our factories at Bogor and Bekasi. There are five of them, each of whom work on the upper and lower parts of the shoes, the lining and soles,” he says. “I manufacture 150 pairs of custom shoes each month, while the factories can produce thousands of shoes each month.”

Aji points out that Tina Wahono’s shoes sell for Rp 500,000 to Rp 3.75 million ($44 to $330), making the shoes a tall order for many prospective customers.

“I admit that my prices are a bit steep for a local producer,” he says. “But then again it’s worth it because the high-quality materials and good craftsmanship in the shoes are good value. After all, it’s better to have a Rp 1 million rupiah pair of shoes that lasts five years than a Rp 200,000 or Rp 300,000 pair that won’t last out the year.

“Besides our custom shoes take about two weeks to make, whereas elsewhere they take about three weeks,” Aji adds.

Spreading the word

“The Indonesian market is a tough sell. Most people focus on low prices rather than craftsmanship, while more affluent buyers are more fixated on imported big-name brands. The malls aren’t much different, as they hold the conventional wisdom that local manufacturers should cost less than their foreign counterparts. But some people are slowly coming round,” Aji says.

Tina agrees. “We have managed to get some regular customers, some of which come all the way from Singapore. Some of the men have made the journey about three or four times, some women have come 10 times,” she says.

She also points out that special occasions are good for business. According to Tina one client ordered 40 pairs of shoes for a wedding party.

Like many a local startup, Tina Wahono spread the word about its wares by opening up outlets in malls, namely Grand Indonesia, Kelapa Gading and Blok M Plaza.

“Of the three stores that we used to have, only the outlet at Blok M Plaza remains open. The store is a way to acquaint our wares to the public,” Tina says. “Many of our customers also got wind of us at fashion events like the Indonesia Fashion Week and the Jakarta Fashion Week. But regardless of how our customers heard of us, they have the chance to go to our workshop and choose their options from there.”

She says that customers are able to choose shapes, sizes and colors and negotiate the price. Tina also attributes her company’s fame to social media, particularly on Instagram.

Aji adds that Tina Wahono plans to extend its line to other items.

“We started making planners and cellphone holders last January as they feature leather printed with various designs from company logos to cartoon characters. Initially they grew out of the printed shoes that we make,” he says, pointing to a printed leather children’s shoe featuring the Japanese cartoon character Doraemon.

“The shoes aren’t very well known, as they are more in demand from Singaporean and Japanese clients instead of those in Indonesia. Since we announced production of planners and cellphone covers, which cost about Rp 175,000, we’ve received orders for over 5,000 of them.”

Aji adds that the items also use white leather, which is not in very high demand in the Indonesian market. Regardless of whether the leather goods that Tina Wahono makes will be toted in one’s hand or worn on one’s feet, Tina and Aji say you can be sure that they are made to last for a very long time.

For more info, visit tinawahono.com

 

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on April 14, 2014

Click here to read the original article

For Yanuar Ernawati, A Puzzle of Perception in Paintings

Yanuar Ernawati Work

Yanuar Ernawati’s solo exhibition at Taman Ismail Marzuki in Jakarta offers a cerebral and visual treat. (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

The disembodied hand makes its way to the colorful surface, as if trying to make its way up from the depths of the psyche to the conscious state of mind. Called “Menghimbau Suara Hatimu” (“Calling On Your Conscience”), the work by artist Yanuar Ernawati seems to portray the conscience’s role as a reminder to oneself to face uncomfortable or unavoidable truths. This is made all the more obvious by the deathly blue shade of the hand, which starkly contrasts with the bright orange and yellow hues of its surroundings, as well as the light blue of the lower half of the panel.

The painting is one of dozens by Yanuar in her solo exhibition “Kejujuran Dalam Kebebasan ” (“Honesty in Freedom”) that is currently held at the Taman Ismail Marzuki cultural center in Jakarta.

“The exhibition reflects our efforts to reconcile the truths and realities of various phenomena around us, and how they shape our outlook,” Yanuar says. “Our artistic expressions are one of the best ways to figure out those phenomena’s tangible or intangible characteristics.”

Perhaps this is best reflected in “Implikasi Pada Bayangan” (“Implication on Shadows”). The slumping figure in the work seems to dissolve, leaving a puddle that is its shadow on the ground.

The picture also reveals another aspect of the Indonesian Institute of Fine Arts alumnus’s artistic vision.

“Yanuar is different from most artists, as she doesn’t derive her inspiration on a whim or subjective impulses, as if to assert her distinctiveness from other people or keep a distance from them,” says art critic Agus Dermawan.

“Instead she tries to disseminate their thoughts, and how those thoughts were shaped by their experiences. Yanuar also differs from other artists because she chooses to take sides. In her case, she seeks to find light, even if she chooses a more abstract, circumspect method of conveying it.”

But Yanuar doesn’t merely meddle in the abstract or metaphysical, as she proves in her 2008 painting “ Teguran ” (“Reprimand”). True to its subject of people overwhelmed by natural disasters, the terror and panic in their body language reminds the viewer of Pablo Picasso’s great work “Guernica.” The figures painted by the 56-year-old manage to give a realistic, naive feel reminiscent of the famed collages of Mexico City, as doom and gloom is the last thing on her mind.

“I want to convey that disasters, regardless of their form or scale, don’t have to be seen as grim and foreboding. Disasters are a reprimand from God, and so can be seen as his gift to humanity.” Yanuar says. “Perhaps it also shows that God is watching us, hence the tagline ‘what wasn’t seen, will be seen.’”

Agus says “Teguran” is typical of Yanuar’s work in that it is expressive yet tranquil, despite the existentialism.

“In that sense, she reminds me of a hermit, as her works seems to spring from a deeper source,” he says.

That hermetic vision is also obvious in “Clearance Cannon.” Featuring a pair of eyes looking into a dark room through the blinds, the work aptly shows how the conscious self looks inward into the subconscious. “ Dunia di Kepala ,” or “World of the Mind,” touches on the same subject matter, but the abstract lines of its main figure seem to describe how their humanity can be broken down into its barest forms. On the other hand, the convoluted heads looking in on themselves in “ Metamorfosa Para Kepala ” (“Metamorphosis of the Heads”) are rife with a sense of change.

If anything, the works perhaps reflect Yanuar’s efforts to get into the heads of the people around her and interpret the signs of the times through them.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on April 13, 2014

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In Search of Small-Scale Thrills With A Remote Control Car Club

Captain Grand Prix

The Captain Grand Prix club aims to bring Jakarta’s remote-controlled car aficionados together and draw attention to raising the hobby to a competition in Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

Jakarta. The cars surged their way down the asphalt track, filling the air with the shrill screams of their engines. The vehicles deftly negotiated the corners on their way to finish yet another lap around the racecourse. From time to time, a car would make its way to a pitstop, where mechanics were already on hand to refill the vehicle’s gas tank or change its tires.

Watching the cars come and go, the first thing that comes to mind is either the Formula One or Nascar circuits.

But this race wasn’t held at the Monaco Grand Prix or Silverstone circuit, and neither was it the Nascar Sprint Cup Series. Instead, the cars burning rubber on the track were remote-controlled vehicles from the Captain Grand Prix remote-control car club.

One of a myriad of remote-control car communities in Jakarta, the club has been meeting regularly every weekend at an asphalt race track at the Senayan sports complex, since its founding in 2005.

“The Captain Grand Prix remote-control car club is perhaps one of the most thriving in Jakarta, as it has about 30 members. It’s a far cry from other communities of its kind, which have about five to 10 members,” said Billy Atan, a Captain Grand Prix member since 2010. “I was drawn to Captain Grand Prix because it’s a mover in ‘on road’ remote control car racing on an asphalt track, as opposed to off-road remote control racing on a dirt track. The precision and speed of on road racing were what drew me to the sport, as they’re more challenging than the rough and tumble world of off road racing.”

More than just toys

At first glance, the cars seemed to be mere toys. But a closer look showed they were made for the big boys.

“The kit of the car, which includes the servos for the engine and the muffler, costs about Rp 6 million [$528]. The two-stroke, 12 cubic centiliter engine costs about the same, as it has to be imported from Italy. If it includes the wheels, muffler and other parts, like the suspension and tracks as well as the remote control, I’d spend about Rp 20 million,” said Billy, a security contractor, of his 1/10 scale model car. It didn’t take long to see it was nearly as intricate as the real thing. But Billy was quick to point out that it’s not the ultimate in its class.

“The 1/10 scale car is still in the touring class, as far as remote-controlled vehicles go, as its more leisurely and more geared for fun. On the other hand, the 1/8 scale car is used in racing,” he explained. “So the 1/10 class is used mostly for fun, while the 1/8 scale is like the F1 of remote-control racing.”

However, the 1/10 scale cars still mean business. While their 80 cc fuel tanks are dwarfed by the 42 liter tanks of their full-scale counterparts, their agility and speed of over 40,000 rpm are still mind-boggling for their size.

Much of this is due to the fuel mixture of methanol, alcohol methyl, engine oil and nitroglycerin. The first three components keep the car well balanced, while the nitroglycerin makes it run at a mind-boggling speed of 40,000 rpm, enabling the car to go 15 to 18 laps in five minutes. The setup of the remote control car’s engine, and the tricky characteristics of remote control racing, requires a mechanic with knowledge of the field.

“As the head mechanic and head of Captain Grand Prix’s racing development team, I train other mechanics and advise Billy and the other Captain Grand Prix members about their driving strategies on the track. Among the things that I do are coordinating things like pit stops or when to change the tires before they get worn out,” said Uun, a remote-control vehicle mechanic since 1994.

“I also give advice on improving their technique. These include tips to keep their cool as well as advice to try their luck in races outside of Jakarta and other parts of Indonesia, such as in Singapore or Thailand, which is a regional center for remote-control racing.

“Racing overseas does wonders in honing the drivers’ skills, as well as expanding their comfort zone.”

Uun also pointed out the significant differences between remote-control cars and their real equivalents.

“Remote-control cars derive their speed and agility from their light weight. That’s why I only fill the tank with enough fuel to last five minutes, as it will burn quicker and make the car faster.”

He added that getting behind the wheel of remote-control vehicles can be just as tricky as driving real cars.

“Like driving real cars, driving remote-control cars have to be adjusted to the person’s driving skills. A novice should start off with more basic remote control cars instead of high-performance 1/8 or 1/10 vehicles, just as novice drivers would start off with slower Kijangs instead of Ferraris,” Uun said.

Billy agreed, noting that he owes much of his skill to Uun’s sound advice.

“Among the insights that Uun showed me is that the fastest racer is the most consistent one, as they can react accordingly with timing and precision, particularly on the trickiest curves,” he said. “On the other hand, edgier racers who rely on speed alone are most likely to lose control of their cars, making them finish last.”

Challenges ahead

Billy explained that while Captain Grand Prix continues to draw prospective members, the club still has some hurdles to overcome.

“The costs of maintaining remote-control racing cars restrict [Captain Grand Prix’s] membership to more affluent people, such as corporate executives in booming sectors like banking and mining. For us, the hobby might bring us together and be a stress reliever, but for many people it still remains daunting,” he said. “For instance, the price of a single tire made of foam is about Rp 400,000. They only last for about 20 minutes, so depending on how intensively you race, it can be used up quickly.”

Billy also pointed out that remote-control racing still has a long road ahead of it, despite the efforts of Uun and other fellow mechanics in stepping up their game.

“Unlike in Thailand or other Southeast Asian countries, where remote-control racing is done by professionals, Indonesia is still lagging behind, because of the cavalier attitudes of Captain Grand Prix’s members,” he said. “The high costs of powering and maintaining remote-control cars make them accessible to a small number of people, many of whom, including myself, can’t quit their day jobs to go into remote control car racing full time. This would have been remedied if Indonesia has a remote-control car association like those of other Southeast Asian countries. But since we don’t, I don’t think remote-control car racing would be a viable profession in Indonesia for the time being.”

Fellow Captain Grand Prix member Dimas agreed. “One reason Indonesian on-road remote-control racing didn’t take off was because we’re too dependent on race marshals to pick up the cars if they fly off the track.

“In other countries, the drivers have to pick their own cars up, so they have an incentive to improve their skills” he said.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on April 7, 2014

Modifying An American Icon

Mudinnest Harley

Mudinnest, a chop shop located in Pondok Pinang, South Jakarta, has been a safe haven for Harley Davidson motorcycles and their owners since 2003. (Photo courtesy of Ardiansyah Pratama)

South Jakarta. The unassuming garage in Pondok Pinang reveals little of the surprises behind its walls. All too often overlooked by motorists on the Jakarta Outer Ring Road or the city roads running parallel to it, the place looks like one of the countless workshops in the capital where one can patch up a motorcycle or car tire and change a vehicle’s oil.

Suddenly, the stillness of the enervating, hot afternoon air was shattered, as dozens of Harley-Davidson motorcycles revved up their engines. The sounds of the 100-horsepower engines grumbling, then roaring to life initially startled passersby whose curiosities were piqued by the source of the commotion. They soon found themselves drawn to the appeal of the motorbikes’ sheer power and vintage, timeless aesthetics.

The making of a veritable chop shop

The cruisers are among the hundreds of motorcycles modified by Mudinnest, a chop shop specializing in modifying or chopping the Harley-Davidsons that make up most of its clientele, as well as other motorbikes, since 2003.

“The focus on Harley-Davidsons comes naturally for me. As far as I’m concerned, chopping Harleys is not a job, it’s a way to keep a legend alive,” said Mudin, who geared the workshop toward its work on Harleys. “The workshop is also a culmination of three generations of work. My grandfather and father started the garage to work on cars after one of our neighbors decided to transfer his knowledge of cars to them, since his own children didn’t have quite the same penchant for engines.”

Growing up in a world of spare car parts, engine oil and the constant din of machinery carrying out repairs, Mudin was geared to continue the family business, as reflected through his education in vocational schools. However, his deft touch with motorcycles proved to be a turning point in his life.

“A family friend noticed that I had a knack for working with motorbikes in 1999, so he and the then Indonesian ambassador to Washington, D.C, Dorodjatun Kuntjoro Jakti, arranged for me to further my studies in this field in the United States. I did so by taking courses in wiring, machines and electricity in California, as well as training in a Harley-Davidson dealership in Colorado.

“I spent about four years learning all I could and gaining as much experience as possible before coming back to Jakarta.

“Once I came back, I acquired an old Harley which I managed to restore, frame, engine and all. Apparently word got around to Harley-Davidson buffs as they came to me to repair or modify their motorcycles, until I gained a following of more than 500 clients today.”

Mudin noted that his customers are as aware of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles as he is.

“Many of my clients start off by acquiring old Harleys, which they would give to me to overhaul and give the spare parts at my discretion. Most of them [motorcycles] were geared toward joining one of the many Harley-Davidson communities in Jakarta, as their owners knew that a more vintage, distinctive look would make their rides stand out.”

His approach was as methodical as their needs were imaginative.

“I started off by acquiring the spare parts on eBay, or finding them in salvage yards or the wrecks of old Harleys. The cost of each piece varies according to their source, shipping and handling, as well as the fluctuating rate of the rupiah against the dollar,” Mudin says. “Over the years, however, I managed to build up dependable sources. I would e-mail my needs to them each month and they would provide the parts in bulk, so as to save costs in shipping and handling for me and the clients alike.”

Knowing the ins and outs of Harley-Davidsons

Mudin’s extensive experience with Harley-Davidsons enabled him to understand the motorcycles inside and out.

“The oldest Harley motorcycle I’ve ever worked on was a WL motorcycle that dates back to 1945. I had to buy most of its parts on eBay, as they were very hard to find in Jakarta and the rest of Indonesia,” he said. “But the motorcycle, as well as the second oldest model [I’ve worked on] that was made in 1994, wasn’t strikingly different because Harley-Davidson motorcycles, from their inception to 1996, have used a carburetor system for their fuel. From 1996 onward, especially those made between 2001 and 2013 that make up the bulk of the motorbikes I work on, work on a fuel injection system that represented a major leap for the brand.”

He added that Mudinnest also services motorbikes at rates of Rp 700,000 to Rp 1 million ($62 to $88), to be done every three months, much like a car.

Mudin explains that the fuel injection made significant changes for many Harleys, a fact covered by their facade of tradition.

“As with many vehicles today, the engines of fuel-injected Harleys, as well as some late-model carburetor fuel systems, like the EVO or Evolution systems, can be checked with a digital technique method. The diagnostics of the later models can even be checked with smartphones, which is very useful when on tour to places like Sumatra or Bali,” said Mudin, who also pointed out that the former was a sought-after destination due to good-quality roads with a myriad number of curves.

Mudin says he hopes the latest advances will draw the Harleys and their riders closer together.

“One reason for the larger number of Harley-Davidson authorized dealers than service centers is that the motorcycles are designed to be repaired by the riders themselves. The ultimate Harley rider is one who has the self-sufficiency to fix his bike himself while going on a solo tour,” he says. “The bikes can also tackle any conditions thrown at them, including the large number of bad roads in Jakarta.

“The bikes are also powerful enough to get themselves out of holes, an ability not shared by Japanese bikes, if the drivers are skilled enough to do so.”

Adding a personalized touch

Mudin is quick to point out that Harley-Davidson motorcycles are made distinctive by their accessories.

“Harley-Davidson owners often spend more on the bike’s accessories than they do on spare parts. It is not uncommon to see the riders spend over Rp 100 million on them,” he says. “The accessories also give the motors their distinctive character, as no two motorbikes are similar, even if they are the same model. It’s not too much to say that the ego or personality of the rider is reflected by the accessories on their bikes.”

It didn’t take long to see what he was getting at. On one bike, a chrome skull on its engine asserted the owner’s presence. On another bike, a pair of exceptionally large saddlebags indicated its rider’s anxiety to hit the road.

The riders’ personalities seem to be mirrored in their Harleys, and vice versa. Brought together by a wish to flaunt their bikes and go on yet another touring adventure, the motorcyclists’ attachment to their vehicles reminds one of reality programs like “Born to Ride” and “American Chopper.”

However, their lighthearted banter was a far cry from the angst and father-son tensions between Paul Teutul Senior and Junior that marks the latter show. They also readily acknowledged Mudin’s ability and how it brought them together.

“Mudin heeds to our wishes as owners of the motorcycles, as he is aware of how the bikes reflect our personalities. In comparison, other shops treat us like customers and don’t allow us our say on the assumption that they know best,” said Donny, who runs an air freight company. “The other workshops misuse their prerogative to carry out unnecessary repairs and overcharge us. Mudin, on the other hand, has a balanced approach that does wonders for the machine and rider alike.”

One of Mudin’s first clients, entrepreneur Aji Effendy agreed.

“Mudin sells a wide range of spare parts and accessories at reasonable prices. He’s also very efficient because of his understanding of touring needs, particularly with pre-tour and post-tour inspections,” said Aji, owner of a modified 2007 Harley-Davidson Softail, who’s been touring with Mudin since 1996.

Mudin hopes that he can move to a bigger workshop in the South Jakarta district of Rempoa to accommodate more Harley-Davidsons and their unique owners. He hasn’t finalized the plans to move shop yet, but wherever he goes, Harley-Davidson buffs won’t be far behind.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on April 3, 2014

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Shedding Light On the Shadier Aspects of Indonesia

 

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Hanafi, “Migrasi Kolong Meja #3” (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

A trail of blackness seems to make its way down the walls, pushed as much by the creator’s will as by gravity. The black acrylic paint on the canvas mural, and its sheer overwhelming effect, seems to blot out the lights, illuminating the spaces in the gallery, as well as the mood it sets on the minds and emotions of its viewers.

The piece’s near total immersion in the dark made the work live up to its title, “Migrasi Kolong Meja #3-1.”

“The work conveys the nefarious dealings that go under the table. The term ‘under the table’ indicates underhandedness, corruption, collusion and other negative activities that are carried out of sight,” the work’s creator, contemporary artist Hanafi said. “Much of the behavior is often hard to trace. This is because its participants go about it in a ‘coded’ way that people who aren’t part of the deal would be oblivious to.”

The installation work is part of “Migrasi Kolong Meja #3” (“Migration Under the Table #3”), Hanafi’s latest exhibition. Held at the Salihara cultural institute in South Jakarta, the event perhaps alludes to the 53-year-old’s take on the corruption, embezzlement and other wrongdoing that debilitate Indonesian politics and make up the daily fare of the country’s newspapers.

“Much of the corruption in Indonesia occurs because there’s no transparency; because there’s no awareness or light to shed on what’s going on, we tend to be permissive to corruption or other immoral practices,” he said.

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Hanafi, “Untitled” (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

But the Yogyakarta Fine Arts school alumnus isn’t overwhelmed by doom and gloom, as he pointed out to a swing in the room flooded by an overhead light. The item did wonders in drawing visitors, as many of them took turns on the swing.

“The light illuminating the swing symbolizes the liberating effect of the truth. When we have nothing to hide and everything is revealed, we can let ourselves go figuratively, or like those in the swing, literally.”

The pieces accompanying the installation, “Migrasi Kolong Meja #3-2,” covers the same ground on a smaller scale and without light to pierce the gloom.

“I opted to show ‘Migrasi Kolong Meja #3-2’ in stark black and white. I feel the black and white shades is what the world will come down to after its colors fade away,” Hanafi said, with the exhibition curator, Nirwan Dewanto, agreeing.

“[‘Migrasi Kolong Meja #3-2’ shows that] abstract paintings are actually the most concrete paintings. They don’t speak about anything other than themselves,” Nirwan wrote in the exhibition catalogue. “Abstract paintings are their own world. They are concrete in the way that they don’t pretend to convey truths other than their own. On the other hand, representational or figurative paintings such as those of natural landscapes are an optical illusion, as they represent a reality the artist or viewer wants to reach.”

This is no less the case with Hanafi’s work “Untitled.” Made of mixed paint on canvas, the artist retained a gray circle that is surrounded by the wave of black.

“The gray shades represents the ambiguities we have to live with in the world around us. And just as gray is the mixture of black and white in the spectrum of colors, so it goes for real life,” he explained. “Like ‘Migrasi Kolong Meja #3-1 and #3-2,’ the shades of ‘Untitled’ are also a projection of my subconscious. However, the colors’ shapes and lines are influenced by my experiences and observations.”

The spontaneous, dynamic lines in Hanafi’s work show the influence of action artists like Jackson Pollock. However, fellow artist Sekartadji Supanto insisted that’s not the case.

“The vision behind Hanafi’s work is very much his own and the canvas is his way of conveying his world view,” he said.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 25, 2014

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Hello Kitty Leads Japan Character Crush in Jakarta Exhibit

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“Japan Kingdom of Characters” exhibition (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

Indonesian fans bent on interacting with Hello Kitty, Doraemon and Pokemon and other favorite Japanese characters have much to look forward to as the characters are currently enlivening Jakarta’s National Gallery in an exhibition titled “Japan: Kingdom of Characters.” Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, the event is keen to go where no weekend morning cartoons have gone before; by shedding light on their character’s popularity with the Japanese public.

“A 2004 survey by the Bandai Character Research Institute on 1210 people in Japan noted that 69 percent of the respondents kept an action figure of their favorite characters,” says Character Research Institute president Hiroyuki Aihara.

“Over 90 percent of them said they have a favorite character. This phenomenon is particularly noted in Japan, more so than any other country in the world.”

Aihara explained that the appeal of Hello Kitty and Doraemon and other characters like Digimon as well as Candy-Candy with their over-the-top antics and superpowers is the latest manifestation of Japanese storytelling traditions.

“The closeness of Japanese people with their characters of choice has much to do with traditional Japanese aesthetics,” he said.

Japanese cartoonist Takashi Murakami pointed out that the two-dimensional features of anime characters was derived from the traditional ukiyo-e style of painting.

“These characteristics, combined with each characters’ unique traits and symbols, make them relatable to the public,” Aihara said.

Cartoonist Kaichiro Morikawa pointed out that the characters’ moe , or cuteness, along with their waba-sabi , or traditional aesthetics, gave them appeal. Their fans derived a sense of calm from the characters. Their expressionless faces, a trait known as muhyo chara , make their fans project their feelings or emotions onto their favorite characters.

Going around the gallery, its an eye-opener to realize how long some of the characters have been around. Some, like Astro Boy, Ninja Hattori or Hattori-kun and Ultraman, were made when the popularity of anime and manga rose due to the rise of television in Japan in the 1950s and ’60s. Others, like the Power Rangers and the Masked Rider, better known in Indonesia as Ksatria Baja Hitam, are the well known characters created in the 1970s. But their popularity paled after Hello Kitty, an iconic character, won a following in more than 110 countries.

“I like Hello Kitty because she’s simply cute. I particularly like her merchandise,” said 9-year-old Ariqa Rahma, who shared a love of the white mouthless feline along with her 6-year-old sister Naila.

“I also like Doraemon, particularly his antics,” said the latter of the blue robot cat whose penchant for time travel and love of dorayaki octopus balls won him millions of fans worldwide since his creation by Fujiko Fukio in the 1980s.

“Doraemon’s magic pocket is also funny, because you never know what he’ll bring out from it,” Naila added.

Seventh-grader Tama Rahal is into action characters. “I like characters like Digimon, Mobile Suit Gundam and Naruto,” he said.

But no Japanese character exhibit would be complete without Pikachu, the main character from Pokemon. The cuddly yellow creature continues to steal hearts since he was launched in 1996. Pikachu is noted to be among the first characters to rely on his fame from video games, following the decline of manga in the 1990s. The “Japan: Kingdom of Characters” exhibit runs through the weekend. So get your anime fix while it lasts.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 23, 2014

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Art of Titarubi, On Exhibit in Kota Tua

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‘Unbearable Darkness’ alludes to the souls lost, and reborn, in the country’s violent past. (Photo courtesy of Titarubi)

Jakarta. The hooded figure silently beckons, commanding one’s attention. Seemingly made out of marbles, the first impression of the installation work is of a rather whimsical cross between the Grim Reaper and the hooded robes worn by boxers.

Titled “Unbearable Darkness,” a closer look reveals that it is not what it seems. “The orbs are made of fiberglass, while the red things in their center are effigies of fetuses. The fetuses were inserted one by one into the orbs, which total about 35,000 to make the robe,” said its creator, Indonesian artist Titarubi. “It takes about four to five months to string together more than 10,000 of them. So ‘Unbearable Darkness,’ from inception to making the beads individually to putting them together, took up to four years.”

The installation art is one of a number of works displayed in the “Art For Cancer” exhibit being held at the Ceramics Museum in Jakarta’s Kota Tua (Old Town) until the end of the month. The event shows the works of Tita and fellow artists Albert Setiawan Yonathan, Eko Nugroho, Entang Wiharso and Sri Astari, months after they made an impact at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Made under the theme of “Sakti” or mystic power, the works set out to uplift and inspire cancer sufferers as well as the general public.

Looking history in the eye

“The fiberglass fetuses in the orbs are meant to symbolize rebirth. Its also a metaphor for the responsibility of young Indonesians today, as well as the country’s future generations, to face up to the nation’s dark past, much of which is still unclear. However, the sheer weight of the orbs can be a metaphor for how our inability to face up to the past weighs us down,” says the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Faculty of Fine Arts alumnus.

“Many people are still unwilling to face their past because they’re afraid of what they’ll find, for example, those who lived through the purge of suspected communists in 1965. There is also a culture of collective self denial that merely focuses on the glorious aspects of Indonesian history, such as the Majapahit Empire and other ancient kingdoms. My works are critiques of such stances.”

Looking at “No Surrender,” it didn’t take long to see the 44-year-old’s train of thought. The dark figure under the robe aptly symbolizes the unpleasant surprises that lurk for those who dig into the past. The work is also a study in contrasts. The rotting wooden canoe is perhaps a sharp warning against dwelling too much in the past, as doing so would leave one drowning instead of stepping on into the future.

Titarubi explained that she developed her stance before she made her name in the art world.

“I saw the dark side of Indonesian history firsthand when I helped out political prisoners, among them those students kidnapped by the Suharto regime, during the 1998 riots that preceded his downfall. Among the activities I did was to give them food and other humanitarian aid to their jail cells,” she says. “Unfortunately, a number of them was never seen again.”

While the 1965 purges and the unrest in 1998 looms large in Titarubi’s psyche, they are by no means her only glimpses at the heart of darkness in Indonesian history.

The Yogyakarta based artist’s musings resulted in “Hallucinogen,” one of the most dramatic works that she produced. The work touches on one of the darkest chapters in Indonesia’s history, namely the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of the Banda Islands by the Dutch East Company (VOC) in 1621, and their replacement by laborers from Batavia [Jakarta]. The event, which saw the island’s population fall from 15,000 to about a thousand people, was part of their efforts to monopolize nutmeg and other spices,” Titarubi explains.

First unveiled at the “Suspended Histories” exhibition in Amsterdam’s Van Loon Museum from October to January, “Hallucinogen” comprises of a large robe made entirely out of metal and gold-plated nutmeg. The gold plating on the spices adds to their allure for VOC governor general Jan Pieterszoon Coen, mastermind behind the subjugation of Banda Islands.

“In the 16th and 17th centuries, nutmeg was the most desired luxury good in Europe — more valuable than gold. The English and the Dutch engaged in prolonged battles to gain control of nutmeg” said Titarubi’s website. “A precious commodity with a torturous history, the nutmeg lies suspended in the robe, laying bare the suspended histories at the Museum Van Loon.”

The work’s shape and the painstaking craftsmanship behind it, makes “Hallucinogen” similar to “Unbearable Darkness.” The dazzling gold plating indicates Coen’s greed as well as the temptation that fabulous wealth has on anyone. However, the lack of a figure to fill out the robe seem to show that the quest for great wealth can also be a hallucination. The motif of dead wood to symbolize the dregs of the past also occurs here, just as it did in “Unbearable Darkness.”

Indonesian art lovers can see the piece and judge for themselves. The installation art work is currently on display under the theme “Discourse of the Past,” a solo exhibit of Titarubi’s works that is taking place at the Philo Artspace gallery in Kemang, South Jakarta.

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“Very Small Shadows” by Titarubi (Photo courtesy of Titarubi

Taking on social issues

While Titarubi might be currently known for taking on unresolved issues in Indonesia’s history, she first made waves in 2003 with “Very Small Shadows,” a solo exhibit in the Cemara 6 Gallery in Menteng, Central Jakarta. Featuring statues modeled after her daughters Charkul and Gendis, the pieces were adorned by Arabic prayers from the Koran.

“Titarubi was born into a Muslim family in Bandung. She grew up within the strictures characteristic of many Muslim communities in Indonesia, where religious practices are part and parcel of daily life,” art curator Rifky Effendy noted.

However, he noted that the gestures of refusal in the statues might also be a gesture of protest.

“The turned hands could also be seen as a rejection against the pressure on Indonesian children to learn Arabic prayers by heart without truly understanding their meaning. The installation not only criticizes the social construction of religion in Indonesia but also indirectly questions the educational system of Suharto’s New Order Regime.”

The piece struck a chord, as it came after she made an artwork taking on the issue of test-tube babies.

Titarubi also examined the role and stereotypes of men and women in society with a quirky eye in “Surrounding David.” Inspired by Michelangelo’s larger than life statue of the same name, she sought to turn this precept on it’s head by making the statue in silks and brocades of the kebaya or traditional Javanese women’s wear. The work is displayed at Singapore’s National Gallery along with “The Shadows of Surrender,” another installation piece dealing with Indonesia’s efforts to come to grips with its checkered past.

While Titarubi’s artistic feats might cement her reputation in contemporary arts both in Indonesia and overseas, she has no plans to rest on her laurels.

“I’m currently working on an underwater installation art piece off Bali’s Benoa district. The work is scheduled to be completed later this year,” she says. “I also plan to go back to basics and hone the crafts I learned at ITB, namely ceramic and glasswork.”

Titarubi’s work may take any direction in the future, but is bound to be interesting.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 21, 2014

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A Whimsical Look At Javanese Traditions

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“Harapan Untuk Buah Hatiku” by Lakshmi Shitaresmi (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

The aluminum and polyurethane red sow laying on her stomach looks like the epitome of domestic content. Her piglets play and bounce on her back, happy to have her near while thriving from the warmth and maternal love that she brings.

“As with traditional beliefs in other parts of Asia, the pig symbolizes luck, prosperity and childbirth in Javanese folklore. However, the rather dumpy figure of the sow represents my own figure, warts and all, after childbirth” said artist Laksmi Shitaresmi of her work, which she calls “Together Forever.”

“On the other hand, I have to look appealing for my husband. That’s where the panties on the sow come in.”

Laksmi’s take on Javanese values in domestic life continues in her work “Monggo Pakne… Ayo Bune… Sumuruping Semangat” (“Go Ahead Mister… Come On Ma’am… Put Your Heart Into It”). The white, cartoon-like sculpture might seem whimsical at first glance, but the rats, symbolizing earnestness and thrift in traditional Javanese beliefs, denotes otherwise.

“The statue addresses the give-and-take in a Javanese marriage. As a Javanese woman, I revere my husband as the man of the house and head of the household, while I do all that I can to keep the household running.”

The interaction can be seen in the assembly line between the two figures. Instead of cars, electronic appliances and other industrial products, the line features children, baby carriages, and other household items.

The pieces are part of “Lakon 3,” an exhibition of 20 sculptures and paintings made by Laksmi between 2005 and 2014, and on display at the Erasmus Huis cultural center in Jakarta. Named after the Javanese word for acting, the works of art balance Laksmi’s embrace of her Javanese roots and her determination to live life to the fullest.

“No matter how difficult [life is], we should live life with acceptance, introspection, patience and inner peace. We only live once, so be sure to be the actor, not merely a part of the audience,” said Laksmi, adding that she derives her artistic inspiration from those who are nearest and dearest to her.

“My work ‘Harapan Untuk Buah Hatiku’ [‘Hopes for My Children’] reflects the hopes and dreams that I have for my children. I depicted the baby resting on a leaf of the teakwood tree, because I hope that he or she will derive their strength from it,” she said. “Like my other work, I chose to use solid colors, in this case a deep red for ‘Harapan Untuk Buah Hatiku.’ The shades convey my message in a striking manner, which is different from the subtle and circumspect Javanese traditions.”

Children also take center stage in such works as the installation piece “Little Nakhoda” (“Little Pilot”), which chronicles a child’s passage through life to adulthood. Set among a bed of clouds, the work perhaps indicates the child will find their way upward as they move in serene waterways.

Laksmi’s more fanciful works also address Javanese animal symbolism with colorful twists and turns. One installation piece, “Lihatlah,” (“Come and See”) depicts a traditional Javanese symbol of strength, the buffalo, with an anthropomorphic approach. Standing on its hind legs, the animal carries a goddess figure on its back with a mandala in her hands. Meanwhile, “Tarianku, Irama Alamku” (“My Dance, the Rhythms of My Nature”) depicts an elephant somersaulting in midair. The statue almost seems to defy gravity as much as the imagination, which perhaps reflects Laksmi’s stance of having one foot in her Javanese traditions and another in the future.

One work that jibes at Indonesia today is “Presiden Anjing” or “Dog President,” which perhaps addresses Indonesia’s upcoming presidential elections. The sense of bombast is palpable in the figure’s upraised left hand, while the slightly skewered mandala lends a sense of broken promises.

Aside from adding to her portfolio, Laksmi also explained her work traces her growth as an artist, wife and mother.

“I made strides in the technical aspects of my work, especially when it comes to my technique, eye for detail, and aesthetic sensibilities. This is particularly the case with sculpture” says Laksmi. “The medium is particularly challenging because of its three dimensional nature. As a form of art that has to be viewed from up front, the sides and back as well as above, sculpture demands a combination of all three. So I’m glad I can be on top of the art form.”

Laksmi explains that she’ll be carrying out further exhibitions in such places as Hong Kong and Amsterdam.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 14, 2014

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Paper Cinema’s Modern Spin On An Ancient Tale

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British Paper Cinema performing the “Odyssey” at the Salihara Cultural Center (Photo courtesy of Salihara)

The ship struggled against insurmountable odds, as its captain, Odysseus, king of Ithaca, faced high seas and the wrath of the sea god Poseidon in his quest to reach home a decade after the Trojan War. Danger lurks at every turn, from the seductive yet dangerous tune of the Sirens to the unpredictable currents and rocks that make up the sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis. The flashing of Poseidon’s trident amid a clap of thunder and lightning gave a tangible sign of his challenges, but Odysseus’ woes didn’t end with his return, as he faced a multitude of enemies keen to claim his kingdom, his wife Penelope, and his throne.

This retelling of Homer’s timeless classic “The Odyssey” on the stage managed to capture its audience’s imagination, just as its previous adaptations did in ancient and modern theaters and films alike. But what sets this adaptation apart is that the action, characters and settings, are done on paper. Performed by the British Paper Cinema troupe, the production deftly portrays Odysseus — literally and figuratively — before a spellbound audience at the Salihara cultural center in South Jakarta.

The group literally unfolded the tale before their viewer’s eyes, as puppeteer and artistic director Nicholas Rawlings started off the story by drawing the character and his world. The Kent Institute of Art and Design managed to capture Odysseus’ anxiety, loneliness and desperation, as well as the steely determination that brought him home after a decade of wandering and adventure.

“The inspiration [for Paper Cinema] came from the puppet shows that I and the rest of the cast used to see when we were growing up. However, the Odyssey derives much of its power from a tradition of non-narrative tales, as well as big, over the top fight scenes that we saw in comics like Asterix,” said Rawlings, who founded the Paper Cinema in 2004 along with puppeteer Imogen Charleston and musician Christopher Reed.

“We also stretched the boundaries of our paper props. This took a bit of effort, because the medium isn’t as flexible as the more plastic arts.”

The Paper Cinema surprisingly got its point across, as it used the paper props to illustrate waves, meandering roads and the clash of weapons.

“The use of the paper props are indispensable for the Picture Cinema. Imogen and I have up to 400 props each, which we have to use in accordance with the plot lines,” said Rawlings. “We also use lighting, special effects and music to convey moods and to drive the story along.”

Reed agreed with Rawlings: “We used a variety of music for the production, including a combination of jazz, bluegrass and other genres. The music is a good way [to make the Odyssey] relatable to Indonesian audiences. And besides we don’t have anyone who can play Ancient Greek music.”

The display of texts and the melodramatic music by musical saw player and violinist Katherine Mann, as well as the slightly moody piano solos of pianist Hazel Mills gave the production the look and feel of a silent movie.

Elements that stood out include Mill’s amplified shuffling of feet to convey Odysseus’ laborious trudging through the sand, and Mann’s vibrating of the saw to portray thunderclaps and lightning.

The group’s use of symbolism can only be described as shrewd. Odysseus’ suitors were portrayed as wolves to reflect their shameless, predatory and rapacious nature, while the hovering figure of an owl, an emblem of the Greek goddess Athena, symbolizes her constant guard over Odysseus. But most of all, Paper Cinema’s take on “Odyssey’s” main characters also reflect the story’s power and its relevance for contemporary audiences.

“In the ‘Odyssey’ we analyzed the symbiotic relationship between Odysseus and his son Telemachus. While the former is on a journey home to find his roots, Telemachus is on a journey to find himself, as is typical of many teenagers,” said Rawlings. “It’s also in line with the themes we want to bring up, of family, loyalty and being a good host.”

Rawlings added that the character of Telemachus is geared to the evening’s more youthful audience, as it entailed the use of modern day vehicles. Some of the props depicted him riding a bus as he goes in search of his father, as well as hitching rides on trucks.

Rawlings explained that Paper Cinema is working on creating productions of their own tales, instead of adaptations like the Odyssey or Edgar Allan Poe’s “The King of Pests.” He added that these original performances will be complete and ready to take the stage in a few years from now. While the look and plot of their productions have yet to be seen, Paper Cinema’s deft touch and instinct for putting on quite a spectacle indicate they are worth looking forward to.

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 13, 2014

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The Therapeutic Effect of Art

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“Penghasut Badai-Badai” by Eko Nugroho (Photo courtesy of Tunggul Wirajuda)

Jakarta. The stupas neatly intersect in elliptical rotations with one another, leaving a neat circle around which they will revolve, just as planets orbit around the sun. Made by ceramic artist Albert Yonathan Setiawan, the spirituality and meditative nature of his work “Mandala Study #2: Stupas and Sand” is enhanced by their materials’ organic make.

“Albert molds the objects manually, as the touch of clay in his bare hands inspire him as form of communication with the earth. It also imbued him with sensations leading to a sense of the transcendental,” notes art curator Carla Bianpoen. “Albert is also attracted by the nature of ceramics, which requires extreme care in handling. He added that others may find it bothersome, but it is precisely the frailty of the medium that draws him in.”

The serenity of “Mandala Study #2: Stupas and Sand,” as well as the similar, more inward looking “Cosmic Labyrinth” with its theme of growth and destruction, struck a chord with art lovers when it was exhibited at the 2013 Venice Art Biennale.

Now, Albert and his fellow artists at the Biennale, Eko Nugroho, Entang Wiharso, Sri Astari and Rahayu Supanggah are out to dazzle Indonesian art buffs, as they are set to showcase their work in the “Art for Cancer” exhibit.

Held at the Ceramics Museum in Jakarta’s Old Town (Kota Tua) from March 17 to 30, the event is part of Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo’s efforts to revitalize the district and make Jakarta a viable center of the arts.

Organized by the Indonesian Cancer Foundation and the Bumi Purnati cultural organization, the event is set out to raise public support and awareness for cancer research and treatment in Jakarta.

“ ‘Art for Cancer’ is geared towards the founding of a more advanced palliative treatment center in Jakarta. We hope to build the center over the next five years,” says Veronica Tan, the wife of Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and chairperson of the Foundation’s branch in Jakarta. “Currently, the public’s conventional view connect palliative centers with terminally ill cancer patients. We hope to create a center geared towards people in the early stages of cancer so we may be able to control the spread of the disease by improving the patient’s conditions and treatment, among other things.”

Indonesian Cancer Foundation spokesperson Inda Noerhadi agrees with Veronica. She also highlighted art’s power to heal.

“Art has a therapeutic effect on patients of cancer and other serious diseases. It has a way of relaxing the patients and releases their mind or imagination,” she says. “Art is also conducive in treating the seriously ill, because it eases the fear factor they might experience in hospital facilities, or the impersonal character that they might get from a more scientific approach. Art also has entertainment, educational and multidimensional values, making its appeal universal to the patients and their loved ones as well as the public at large.”

Keeping with the theme of Sakti

Highlighting the work of Indonesian artists at the Venice Biennale for the therapeutic purposes of “Art for Cancer” is in line with their theme of “Sakti.”

“In Sanskrit, sakti refers to primordial energy and the personification of divine, feminine creative energy; it also indicates change and liberation. Of Indian origin, this Hindu concept was quickly integrated by Indonesians into their local cosmology,” Carla said. “In modern-day Indonesia, sakti means strong creative energy, divine and indestructible that contains the capacity for achievement beyond mere human abilities.”

“Sakti [was chosen] as the theme of the Indonesian pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale because the exhibition explores the inner, alternative power that is present in the creative struggle in Indonesian art and life,” she added.

Artist Entang Wiharso poignantly captures this theme with his larger-than-life installation art piece “The Indonesian: No Time to Hide,” as Carla notes is an exploration of perception and reality. Based on portraits of Indonesian presidents and national heroes, the piece takes on their contributions to the country. But the 46-year-old Entang’s work is by no means a homage. Carla pointed out that the lone standing figure of a woman alludes to the issue of gender disparity that continues to plague Indonesian life until today. The piece is accompanied by “Temple of Hope: Forest of Eyes,” a 14-meter-wide structure featuring reliefs resembling those of the Borobudur and other temples in Central Java. But a closer look shows a different story.

“Entang details episodes of love and deceit as well as contemporary issues, juxtaposing elements from [Javanese] culture with those of Asian and Western cultures. Entang also explores the complex and sometimes turbulent intermixing of East and West,” Carla explained.

Entang’s fellow artist Eko Nugroho took a different track to his art, as seen through his installation piece “Penghasut Badai-Badai” (“The Instigator of Storms”).

“ ‘Penghasut Badai-Badai’ considers the state of Indonesia, but in a manner that is playful, ironic and critical. Cartoon-like statues stand and sit on a raft of bamboo and old oil barrels. He explains that the raft is a metaphor for Indonesia, which is supported by its wealth in oil and other natural resources,” Carla said. “Eko also pointed out that the success of the Indonesian people, who have managed to grow and prosper while weathering financial, political and social storms, as well as natural disasters, is a feat of Sakti.”

On the other hand, curator Rifky Effendy has a different take to Eko’s art. “The masks and headgear worn by the passengers are symbols of protection and concealment and are metaphors for detachment, isolation and indifference,” he said.

But Eko, whose designs won the attention of Louis Vuitton, insists that the inspiration behind his art is more modest.

“I do not deliberately choose to be political or adopt political messages in my work. My everyday life in Indonesia is dominated by issues such as poverty, social injustice, religious fanatics and corruption,” he says. ”Its difficult to turn away from such issues.”

Jakarta-based artist Sri Astari Rasjid opts to approach the idea of Sakti by revisiting the Javanese values she was raised with. The outcome of her soul searching process was the sculpture “Pendopo: Dancing the Wild Seas.” For Astari, the stately traditional Javanese architectural structure and the graceful, life-size wayang figures around them is replete with Sakti.

“The pendopo i s a metaphor for the space within my psyche, a meeting place where influences may evoke disputes and arguments which have to be solved wisely. The seven Bedoyo dancers symbolize the Queen of the South Seas and the sacredness [of the pendopo],” Carla said. “The space is like the deep where the intangible power of the queen, or sakti, resides. We will find sakti by going deep into the self.”

The work is the culmination of Astari’s lifelong examination of the Javanese values that she was raised in and their subtle and ambiguous meanings. She also analyzes realities like gender inequality, injustice against women and repressed emotions, issues that Astari encountered firsthand and highlighted in her previous works.

Carla is certain that the showing of the artwork will go a long way.

“Most of the Indonesian public have yet to see the works in the Venice Biennale’s Indonesian Pavilion,” she said. “I’m certain that it will be a more dynamic experience, because the crowd and the more open forum compared to the Venice Biennale will bring out untapped energies from the artwork.”

Originally published in The Jakarta Globe on March 12, 2014

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