Indonesian Women at the Forefront in #Perempuan

10 emerging artists explore local female issues
By Toby Wu

#Perempuan logo. Image courtesy of Project 11.

#Perempuan logo. Image courtesy of Project 11.

In collaboration with Project 11 and curated by Santy Saptari, #Perempuan, which means “woman” in Bahasa Indonesia, is a group exhibition that explores current issues affecting women in Indonesia, particularly their visibility, role, and participation in the Indonesian society.

Part of the 6th annual ‘Mapping Melbourne’ festival, #Perempuan will run from 6 to 14 December 2018 at Space 28 VCA Performing Arts. Featuring works by emerging Indonesian artists such as Octora, Patricia Untario and Ruth Marbun, the exhibition provides a special look into the contemporary Indonesian art scene. It complements the festivals range of insights into the contemporary Asian art scene, exemplifying the convergence of artistic influences within the Asia-Pacfic region.  

#Perempuan is Saptari’s first curatorial project since founding her Melbourne-based art consultancy in October 2017. Saptari has curated numerous modern and contemporary Indonesian art exhibitions internationally, including a solo Seabad S. Sudjojono show in Jakarta in December 2013, and a group show entitled ‘“Shout” Indonesian Contemporary Art’ in Rome in September 2014.

Saptari’s choice of artists to feature in #Perempuan is not bound by medium, but rather their consistent focus on female identities within Indonesian culture. Octora’s Ambrotype prints in the photograph installation ‘Take my heart in sweet surrender and tenderly say that I’m the one you love and live until the end of time’ subverts colonial depictions of Indonesian women, the artist’s self portraits refuting exoticised representations through her empowered female gaze. Untario conversely employs the phallic form in her sculptural work ‘Silence’, the unassuming work providing an indexical commentary on the absence of communication between mothers and daughters on sex education in Indonesia.

Other artists participating in the exhibition are Meliantha Muliawan, Arum Dayu, Erwin Windu Pranata, Puri Fidhini, Etza Meisyara, Tandia Bambang Permadi and Yaya Sung.