Curious how a significant and increasingly trending topic such as feminism would be portrayed in a conservative society, I headed down to WANITA: Female Artivism – Jakarta Exhibition Opening in Melbourne on 1st October at Footscray Community Arts Centre.
Translating to women in Indonesian, WANITA stands for Women’s Arts Network Indonesia To Australia – an organisation launched by Empat Lima band that serves as a platform for female Indonesian and Australian artists to connect, collaborate and grow. After its event launch earlier this year – where the band performed along with Indonesia’s renown act, White Shoes and The Couples Company, organised a market and fashion show, and released mixed tapes with Indonesian artists they had met in 2014; WANITA’s second project explores the transverse roles of Indonesian women in the post Suharto period through the modern artwork by Indonesian female artists.
Featuring Indonesia’s most celebrated young female artists from Jakarta namely Nastasha Abigail, Diela Maharanie, Monica Hapsari, Nengiren, Ruth Marbun, Sanchia Hamidjaja, Aprilia Apsari, Sarita Ibnoe, Yaya Sung, Keke Tumbuan, Ayu Dila Martina, Ika Vantiani and Marishka Soekarna; the artwork ranges from music video clips, collages and crafts to zines, prints and illustrations. Running till 8 November, the contemporary arts exhibition in Melbourne is co-curated by Indonesia’s leading arts collective organisation, Ruangrupa.
The contemporary exhibition highly focus on feminism itself than the concepts, techniques and skills utilised. It is unexpectedly open, light and cute – no in depth knowledge required to interpret and appreciate the artwork as most are humbly honest and unpretentious.
The space is more intimate and personal than what I had expected. Though little explanation is needed for most artwork, I feel that the use of texts and explanation would allow visitors to better appreciate them, especially when Indonesian language and word play are utilised – such as Diam Itu Gemas and Cinta Setelah Dicolok.
It’s hard to choose a favourite, but I must say Marishka Soekarna’s Self-portrait (2015) and Ayu Dila Martina’s Creature With Two Lip (2015) are really impressive. I adore Marishka’s Vakansi (2015) for its cutesy yet accurate illustration as well as the use of word play of emas (gold) and gemas, which translates to a mixed feeling of intense love and hate. I find the piece liberating as it encourages visitors to question the impacts of their silence, both to themselves and the society.
I must admit seeing Indonesian artists opening up to gender equality as well as embracing and exploring female roles, identity and sexuality through creative expressions is not something I had expected. Witnessing a topic that is very close to heart comes to life in Indonesia bringing positive change and rapid growth of the DIY arts and crafts community in Jakarta makes me really proud! I look forward to seeing more Indonesian talents in Australia!
Scroll down for photos, and find out more about the exhibition on Footscray Community Arts Centre official website here.