Arahmaiani, Alfiah Rahdini, and Gesyada Siregar elaborated Beuys' social sculpture idea in various contexts and eras.
Social sculpture is a theory developed by Joseph Beuys in the 1970s based on the concept that everything is art, that every aspect of life could be approached creatively and, as a result, everyone has the potential to be an artist. This concept united Joseph Beuys’s idealistic ideas of a utopian society together with his aesthetic practice. He believed that life is a social sculpture that everyone helps to shape.1 The concept of social sculpture is alive today in many artists around the globe. This program is looking at how these ideas are reflected in Indonesian artists’ works.
Two artists separated by a generation, Arahmaiani (b. 1961) and Alfiah Rahdini (b. 1990), will speak about their works titled I Love You
(After Joseph Beuys Social Sculpture
) (2009) and The Appropriation of Basuki Abdullah's Nyai Roro Kidul
Both artworks are shaped by the idea of sculpture as a form of expression while challenging viewer perception. Arahmaiani’s I Love You plays with the Arabic lettering to contest public paranoia of Islamic culture after 9/11 in the USA; Alfiah Rahdini’s sculpture critically engages the public discussion about censorship and misogyny by borrowing the iconic figures of Nyai Roro Kidul, the Queen of the Southern Sea in Sundanese and Javanese mythology. By presenting these two specific figures, this event seeks to elaborate on the idea of social sculpture in different contexts and times.
Arahmaiani (b. Bandung, 1961)
A highly-respected seminal Indonesian contemporary artist, she has long been internationally recognized for her powerful and provocative commentaries on social, political, cultural and environmental issues. Arahmaiani works with different media, including performance, painting, drawing, installation, video, poetry, dance and music.
She was among the Indonesian artists in the Indonesia National Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003). Her work grapples with contemporary politics, violence, the critique of capital, the female body and in recent years her own identity as a Muslim who still meditates between Islamic, Hindu, Buddhistic, and animistic beliefs. She has participated in numerous global art events, including the 2nd Asia Pacific Triennial (1996), Havana Biennale (1997), Sao Paulo Biennale (2002), Lyon Biennale (2000), Werklietz Biennale (2000), Gwangju Biennale (2002), Biennale of Moving Image (Geneva 2003), Venice Biennale (2003), World Social Forum (Mumbai 2004), Global Feminism (Brooklyn Museum 2007), and Kunming Biennale (2017) among others.
Alfiah Rahdini (b. Bandung, 1990)
completed her bachelor’s degree in the Faculty of Art and Design at the Institute of Technology Bandung in 2014. Alfiah’s art works concern sculpture in public space and explore how art encounters gender, democracy, and cultural discourses in society. Her work is Indonesia centric while being mindful of the global context. Sculpture is at the heart of her art-making process and often expands to installation, performance and site-specific forms.
Alfiah’s works have been exhibited in galleries and museums that include the Resipro(vo)kasi exhibition at the National Gallery (2017), Art Jakarta (2019), Decent Rights to Life in the Jakarta National Library, Omah Munir Malang, and Re-Mitologization at the Basoeki Museum Abdullah Jakarta (2019), Virtue
, Abdurrahman Wahid Center for Peace and Humanity (AWCPH UI), Jakarta University of Indonesia, Corporeal/Material in ISA Art and Design (Jakarta), and Artists and Communities
, Koganecho Bazaar (Yokohama, 2020). Her projects include Cabaret Chairil
(Alfi’s Hair Carving Project
) at Teater Garasi (Yogyakarta, 2019), The Last Ideal Paradise
with Claudia Bosse and theatercombinat (Goethe-Institut, at PFN Jakarta), and Sailormoonah
(2020). She was also the runner-up in the Omah Munir Public Art Competition 2019, and had one of the Best Artworks in the Basuki Abdullah Art Award 2019.
Gesyada Siregar (b. Medan, 1994)
is a curator, writer and art organizer. She works as the Subject Coordinator for Articulation & Curation at GUDSKUL: Contemporary Art Collectives and Ecosystem Studies, an art educational platform founded by Grafis Huru Hara, Serrum and ruangrupa. She is the co-coordinator of the GUDsel in the BAK (basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht) Fellowship for Situated Practice, and co-organizes Kelas Bareng, joint class program between GUDSKUL, Städelschule, Germany, blaxTARLINES KUMASI, Ghana, and Nordland kunst- og filmhøgskole, Norway. She has interests in supporting young artists rereading the Indonesia art writings from 1940 to the 1990s and how she can intertwine them.
She likes exploring archives, astrology, experiential storytelling, games, media, popular culture and public programming as a pedagogical art module. Selected exhibitions, publications and projects include GUDSKUL’s Articulating FIXER 2021: An Appraisal of Indonesian Art Collectives in the Last Decade (2021); Within Square, Ruang Dini, Bandung, 2021;; GUDSKUL's Collective as School Workbook for Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2020); Instrumenta – International Media Arts Festival: Machine/Magic & Sandbox, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, 2018-2019.