Gaining a place at the Asia Pacific Triennial (APT) at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) has been a significant milestone in the careers of many Indonesian artists. Although they were already well known in art circles, the first exhibition in 1993 helped launch the international careers of several artists including Heri Dono, FX Harsono and Dadang Christanto. Christanto’s mesmerising performance at the original APT opening is still widely remembered as a significant high point in contemporary art. Globally recognised artists like Arahmaiani, Mella Jaarsma, Eko Nugroho, Hahan and Tintin Wulia have all exhibited in the APT at different times. Even as the APT has gradually expanded its geographical scope to include South Asia and the Middle East, Indonesia retains an important place in the hearts of curators and the art-going public.
At the 9th APT, Indonesia is ably represented by five artists: Zico Albaiquni, Aditya Novali, Elia Nurvista, Handiwirman Saputra and Boedi Widjaja. This relatively modest selection covers a lot of artistic ground. At a time when women are arguably under-represented in Indonesian art’s international forays, it includes one female artist. It also stretches from Bandung to Solo by way of Singapore and West Sumatra and includes artists of varied ethnic heritages working in vastly different styles. The APT curators have clearly tried to capture the pluralism of Indonesia’s contemporary art. Their selection successfully reflects the breadth, dynamism and novelty of the Indonesian art scene.
However, given the proliferation of contemporary art in Indonesia, the APT curators have unfortunately had to leave a lot of significant artists and ideas unrecognised. One hopes that the upcoming Indonesian exhibition, Contemporary Worlds: Indonesia (21 June–27 October 2019) at the National Gallery of Australia will go some way to remedying this for Australian audiences. In the meantime, despite the obvious quality of the exhibition, it seems appropriate that the APT does not claim to have judged the best the region has to offer. Rather, it sensibly presents itself as a profoundly eclectic affair that encourages visitors to think hard about the possibilities of art outside of national frameworks.
Read the complete article by Greg Doyle on New Mandala.
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