As the 12th edition of the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) opened on 19 October at Grand Kemang Jakarta hotel, we are reminded of how this platform has witnessed the ever-changing tide in the arts ecosystem since it began in 2009. The current edition encompasses the zeitgeist in which new imaginations have emerged from the wide horizons of art, design and other branches to intertwine into previously unimaginable forms of creation. Here are some highlights of the exhibition which ran until 27 November 2022.
Written by Carla Bianpoen
Photos by ICAD
Spanning timeframes of history to interact in a wide horizon of diverse imageries this edition of ICAD was brought together by young curators Amanda Ariawan, an honors graduate from the University of Lille in France and Prananda L. Malasan, PhD in Human and Socio Environmental Studies from Kanazawa University and lecturer at the Industrial Design Department, Institute of Technology Bandung . Encompassing 59 multidisciplinary creative actors including communities and collectives, this exhibition, situated throughout the hotel lobby, reflected a sense of calm with exciting eye-opening moments in a well-designed and thoughtful placement of artworks.
The works of senior artists are prominently included. Heri Dono, an artist of international acclaim, features with two works, Smiling Angels, and Genetic Manipulation (2018) familiar to many. These installations reflected the exhibition theme with the angels symbolising a discourse where fantasy and dreams can inspire a civilization, the other drawing similarities to our culture dependent on technology.
Another senior artist Eddie Hara collaborated with young artists and designers Rebellionik and ONX Idea Studio. The installation is titled Nthe Power of Juragan (2022), which takes the hotel luggage trolley as the basis for a playful sculptural installation adorned with colours and graphics.
Mella Jaarsma’s I Owe You II (2017), an interactive installation of costumes made of bark cloth made a powerful statement. Bark was originally the material used in dressmaking in Nusantara until colonial and other foreign powers labeled it pagan. Mella Jaarsma is also known for her contributions to the Yogyakarta art scene where she has been the driving force behind Cemeti Gallery (now Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society) since it opened in 1988. It was the only space exhibiting experimenting artists like Heri Dono and Eddie Hara at the time.
Titarubi’s History is Written by the Victors (2022), references the history of the colonial spice trade. The work presents a stirring charcoal depiction of a forest in a gold frame, against which a wooden model of a ship hangs. The artist was interested in finding out the role of local ships in the bloody wars to obtain monopoly of nutmeg, valued as highly as gold at the time. Elephant Ark Mina, (2022) was inspired by a relief of a ship (probably a merchant ship) at the Borobudur Temple which is linked with Hindu folklore. The image of a creature with a fish body and elephant head symbolises strength, power and good fortune.
History is an ongoing process, and today it is marked by works using advanced technology infused with an ever-expanding range of imagination, often based on real situations, that exist side-by-side with works made with simple techniques and natural materials.
The multimedia design studio Arafura offered an interactive work popular with visitors, which exposes human behaviour today – simultaneously connected to technology but also isolated. Titled Connected Isolated Isolated Connected, (2022), the immersive work employs video mapping, augmented reality and interactive systems.
Using natural materials can be exciting and sophisticated. Architect Trianzani Sulshi’s aesthetic creation Bio–Tensed (2022) explores how modern materials such as steel pipes and plastic membranes can be swapped for natural materials like rattan and mycelium. Dian Hardiansyah’s sculptural representation Living on the Unsteady (2022) made using modules of fired clay from different sites in Indonesia are stacked in a seemingly precarious, undulating manner to express the frailty of humanity.
Henri Affandi, a multi-disciplinary artist living between London and Jakarta, covered a mannequin with an assemblage of batik fabrics sewn together to denote the personification of the Indonesian Motherland. Titled Ibu Pertiwi (2021) the work alludes to corporate exploitation as well as issues of imperialism, indigenous empowerment and post colonialism
Not to be missed is The Universal Tactile Pictogram Design for the Visually Impaired in Public Spaces (2022). This tactile pictogram is an existing universal system of sensitive shapes for the visually impaired to assist them find their way in public spaces. Fariz Fadhlillah, researcher cum designer, introduces it in a personally re-designed and adjusted form with a stick for the ICAD visitor to try.
Natasha Tontey’s futuristic videos Almanac – Speculating Futures (2018) and The Manifesto of Tactile and Fanciful Tactics on How to Build a Speculative Future (both 2018) use pseudo-science fiction narratives, inspired by xeno feminism (which aims to abolish gender through technology) which explore the possibility of alternative futures through cosmic solutions.
In keeping with the multidisciplinary festival and the thematic of looking towards the future, another section, titled Collaboration, brought artists, designers and institutions – both local and international – together for eight projects. Erasmus Huis, for example, collaborated with PLAYO and New Company Heroes, presenting models of Indonesian style homes with components made from sustainable materials such as banana skin bubble plastic. Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) collaborated with Studio Woork, a Jakarta-based design studio and Bjhomemade a business that uses woodwaste to make eyeglass frames. The project, SEE, (2022), invited visitors to play with their perspectives. Accompanying these exhibitions was an interesting programme of talk shows and workshops. These events make ICAD a must-see attraction in Jakarta’s art scene.