First Sight September
09 - 10 September 2017
The works this weekend consider time – the past and an imagined future, labor and transaction, and the critical role that the audience plays to complete the encounter. They include Justin Shoulder’s Carrion: Episode 1 (2016), a spectacular creature of the imagination brought to life through choreography, and Xu Zhen’s In the Blink of an Eye (2005) which freezes time and defies gravity. The re-presentation of Arahmaiani’s 1996 work Handle without Care (1996 – 2017), which is considered extremely important to the development of contemporary art in Indonesia. Duto Hardono’s Variation & Improvisation for ‘In Harmonia Progressio’ (2017) which activates the Museum’s spaces with loops of sound created by volunteers voices. Mella Jaarsma’s Dogwalk (2016) features humans pretending to be animals, and asks us to consider issues of control and our relationship with animals. Heman Chong’s A Short Story, Somewhere, Out There (2017), presented in an enclosed room isolated from the general public comprises a simple task – an exchange of a short story between the writer, translator, instructor and participant.
b. 1985, Jakarta, Indonesia. Lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia
Variation & Improvisation for ‘In Harmonia Progressio’
Variation & Improvisation for ‘In Harmonia Progressio’ (2017) is part of a series of sound works and music compositions titled ‘Variation & Improvisation’ that Duto Hardono developed during a residency at Nanyang Technological University Center of Contemporary Art, Singapore in 2016. This body of work focuses on sound loops as a fundamental element of his performance. Unlike other works, where he generates sound using analog magnetic tape, in this performance he uses the human voice. Actors are asked to vocalize ‘In’, ‘Harmonia’, and ‘Progressio’ – words that make up a Latin phrase which means ‘progress inside harmony’. Each voice is modified for intonation, pitch, and amplitude in a minimal musical composition. This performance transforms voice and language with the sound of the improvised composition filling the museum’s spaces. It is a process of action and reaction that the artist describes as resembling basic and primordial forms of human communication.
Duto Hardono studied at Bandung Institute of Technology. He is a conceptual artist who works primarily with sound that often takes reference from popular culture in a humorous way. His work has been shown in major exhibition including Saitama Triennale (2016); Biennale Jogja XII (2013); and the 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012). He also teaches in Faculty of Art and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology.
b. 1977, Shanghai, China. Lives and works in Shanghai, China
In the Blink of an Eye
In the Blink of an Eye (2005) is both a performance and sculpture, that takes the form of a person that appears suspended in motion seemingly defying time and gravity. The clothes worn by the performers are typical Chinese workers’ clothes. This work was developed by the artist to reflect on the reality of labor and migrant workers in China - whose social and economic agency are similarly unsettled. Will these people fall? Will they find their stance? The momentary anxiety and confusion is central to the work. Whilst produced in China, this work has resonances in many parts of the world, including Indonesia, with respect to global supply chains, labor, and economic development in globalized networks.
Xu Zhen is a conceptual artist whose work responds to the urban situation of China through theatrical humor and social critique. His work has been exhibited in major exhibitions including the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial (2012); and the 1st Guangzhou Triennial (2012); and the 49th Venice Biennale (2001). In 2009,
he established an art company named MadeIn that incorporate his personal artistic practice, and in 2013 the company launched its brand called Xu Zhen, where he made himself into a product of his own enterprise.
b. 1961, Bandung, Indonesia. Lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia
Handle without Care
Handle without Care (1996 – 2017) is considered to be one of Arahmaiani’s most important works from the 1990s which reflects many of the social and cultural changes that resulted from political, economic and religious shifts in perspectives that were occurring in Indonesian society at the time.
This performance, which incorporates a number of elements – traditional music, religious chants and prayers, traditional dance and gaudy consumer items points to a confluence of cultures – Animist, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic and Western. The effects of globalization, experiences of assimilation, responses to pluralism and a search for the universal – which are all inherent in this performance - are as relevant now, as they were when this work was first performed 20 years ago
Arahmaiani is renowned for her experimental approach and strong political underpinnings. Her works include a vast array of media such as painting, drawing, installation, and video. She studied at Institut Teknologi Bandung in 1983, and continues at the College of Fine Art, Sydney then Academie voor Beeldende Kunst, the Netherland. Her works have been included in major international exhibitions including the 50th Venice Biennale (2003); 25th Sao Paulo Biennale (2002); and 2nd Asia Pacific Triennial (1996).
b. 1960, Emmeloord, Netherland. Lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia since 1984
Dogwalk (2016) looks at the relationship between humans and animals in a satirical interpretation of a fashion catwalk. In this performance, twelve models wear cow, goat and sheep skin costumes and walk each other using leashes. The work is both humorous and absurd, raising questions of how a fast-paced urban lifestyle has diminished our ability to have deeper relationships with the environment and the natural world.
She moved to Indonesia from The Netherlands in 1984 to study at Jakarta Arts Institute and Indonesia Institute of Art Yogyakarta. She works with a wide array of media including painting, drawing, photography, video, installation, and performance. Her works have been exhibited extensively in international exhibition including SUNSHOWER: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia from 1980 to Now at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2017), the 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); Jakarta Biennale (2013); Biennale Jogja X (2009); Together with Nindityo Adipurnomo, she founded Cemeti Art House in 1988.
b. 1985, Sydney Australia. Lives and works in Sydney, Australia
Carrion: Episode 1
Justin Shoulder presents Carrion: Episode 1 (2016), which is part of his ongoing project ‘Fantastic Creatures’. Carrion is an imaginary figure made of handcrafted costumes and prostheses which are animated through the artist’s own gestures. The figure is an embodiment of the artist’s queered interpretation of his ancestral Filipino culture as well as its imagined future presented in theatrical setup.
Justin Shoulder works predominantly with performance, video, and sculpture to raise the issues of queer, migrant, and intercultural experience. Shoulder, who is not a stranger to Australia’s underground scene, also actively produces various nightlife events to engage with his LGBTQIA+ diasporic community. His works have been shown in international exhibitions including the Artists’ Film Biennial (2016); 8th Asia Pacific Triennial (2015); and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2016).
b. 1977, Muar, Malaysia. Lives and works in Singapore
A Short Story, Somewhere, Out There
A Short Story, Somewhere, Out There (2017) is a work that Heman Chong describes as a transaction of time and words. In this work, a 500 word short story written by the artist (and translated into Bahasa Indonesia by Grace Samboh) is exchanged between two people. The work consists of an instructor who holds the copy and a participant who has to learn the story. The exchange will happen in an enclosed room, isolated from the outside world. The participant is only allowed to leave after he or she is able to repeat the story back to the instructor, word for word. In return for their time, the participant will keep the short story inside their mind (for as long as he or she can remember it) and an intimate bond with the instructor. The only audience for the work is the instructor, the translator of the story, the individuals who memorize the story and of course, the writer himself. Chong challenges the notion of conventional transaction by trading something invaluable and immaterial while humanizing the process of transmitting one of his short stories.
Heman Chong is an artist whose work is located at the intersection between image, performance, situations and writing. He has recently produced a series of interconnected exhibitions located in Art Sonje Center in Seoul (Never, A Dull Moment, 2015), South London Gallery in London (An Arm, A Leg and Other Stories, 2015) and Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai (Ifs, Ands, Or Buts, 2016). He is the co-director and founder (with Renée Staal) of ‘The Library of Unread Books’ which is currently installed in MCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design) Manila. He is currently working on a novel ‘The Book of Drafts’ which will be published by Polyparenthesis in 2019.