Culture / Art Republik

Art fair in Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Highlights and must-sees of ART JOG 2017

ART JOG 2017 celebrates young, emerging artists in its tenth anniversary edition, to mixed results

Jun 22, 2017 | By Art Republik

Agan Harahap, ‘Bounty Hunter’, 2016

ART JOG, the artists’ fair that started a decade ago, has fast grown into a boutique fair whose quality is acknowledged beyond Yogya, and Indonesia for that matter. Increasingly popular with foreign art aficionados, it has also organised the Jogja Art Weeks, a month-long festival of openings and events around the Yogyakarta Special Regency, which has been a major boost to Yogyakarta tourism.

Arriving at the critical age of a decade, ART JOG wanted to change perspectives. The focus of the tenth anniversary edition, which ran from 19 May to 19 June 2017, was on ‘Changing Perspective’. Unlike the previous edition which had more works by established artists, this edition had more young, emerging artists. About fifty percent of the artists were relatively unknown, and there were just 14 foreign artists.

On the surface, this edition of ART JOG was not particularly different. The mandatory commissioned work featured in the façade of the Jogja National Museum was seven metres high, showing Wedhar Riyadi’s creation, which consisted of bulging eyeballs that seemed to overlook the entire scene. In the entry, Ichwan Noor’s sculpture, featuring a skull made of machine components, was not extraordinary either.

Wedhar Riyadi, ‘Floating Eyes’, 2017. Image courtesy ARTJOG

But changes were visible. Angki Purbandono, for instance, who is known for his creative scanography images, this time with filmmaker Nicholas Saputra dealt with the conservation of tigers on the island of Sumatra. There were also other familiar names who tried to come out of their comfort zone and present works that differed from their usual practice, with more or less success. There was Syagini Ratna Wulan with her psychedelic colour schemes, Bagus Pandega with his light work ‘Random and Constant (oblique)’, Syaiful A. Garibaldi, Agan Harahap, Mulyana Mogus with pristine white instead of coloured crocheted corals, Uji ‘Hahan’ Handoko, and many more.

But it was Jim Allen Abel’s installation, ’Season in the Abyss’, that stood out. Jim, Jimbo or Jimmyboy, as he is nicknamed, is a photographer whose socially induced images have reached many countries. To create this installation, he chose to do something different. Moved by the fatal flight of Adam Air heading from Surabaya to Manado, he created the installation in honour of the 108 passengers who were in the aircraft.  Emotive and fascinating, the installation consisted of seven plates hanging from the ceiling featuring the different phases of the accident projecting onto the various tins down below, while the storyline unfolded on a video imagining of the sea or the sky.

Jim Allen Abel, ‘Season in the Abyss’, 2017. Image courtesy ARTJOG

Also notable was a video installation by film director Kamila Andini, who collaborated with her colleague and husband Ifa Isfansyah in the work ‘The Seen and Unseen’. It was an adaptation of their film ‘Sekala Niskala (The Tangible and Intangible)’, a mystical tale about the night when children, unlike grown-ups, imagine the moon in different ways, engendering the magical. Their installation at ART JOG invited  visitors to crawl down a black hole to arrive before a scenic paddy field, which, with the full moon at night, gave a sense of van Gogh’s Starry Night. HONF founder Venzha Christ’s work, focused on new media art, was utterly intriguing, although equally puzzling.

The star of the exhibition, however, was a video by Beijing-based sculptor and mixed media artist Geng Xue, whose rarely-used porcelain characters proved to be a surprising phenomenon in the video.  Interpreting a classic supernatural tale of the Qing Dynasty,  she brought her porcelain characters to life with a stop-motion video, ‘Mr. Sea’. The importance of this work lies in the use of porcelain as a language in new- and multi-media.

Geng Xue, ‘Mr. Sea’, 2014

It seems that this time, ART JOG has more than one interesting work from abroad. The tangled work ‘Healing Chromosomes’  by Japanese-Australian artist Hiromi Tango is amongst such works. While one would initially walk past the work without paying much attention, a closer look at the accompanying text explains how the tangled cables are metaphors for our brain and dependency on devices in our daily life and the phenomenon of how our lives seem to almost fall apart when we’re disconnected from the Internet.

Visually similar is the work ‘Flight Risk’ by Thai-born artist, Linda Sormin, which appears to be a mesh of tangled components. It is not easy to understand this work, which is said to be ‘of this moment’. An explanatory text reads: “the work explores issues of fragility, aggression, mobility and survival.” Although such a work would be incomprehensible to the novice, it is intriguing, and one would wonder at the complexity of an artist’s mind. An artist-educator who has been teaching ceramics since 2003, Linda Sormin currently teaches at New York State College at Alfred University, where she is associate professor of Ceramic Art.

Linda Sormin, ‘Flight Risk’, 2017. Image courtesy Carla Bianpoen

The inclusion of these three works is telling of the aspirations that ART JOG has been steering towards. It has, of course, always been the desire of ART JOG founder and CEO Heri Pemad and his team to foster and facilitate younger artists, and this may be one of their strategies. An artist himself, Heri Pemad has been and still is the major passionate force behind the event, which continues to be a source to tap into for the development and evolution of Indonesian art and artists.

This article was written by Carla Bianpoen for Art Republik. 

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