Actually my wife is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and specialized in printmaking. She introduced it to me. As a medium of expression, I find it challenging because it is not my normal practice. However, the incredibly competent team at STPI, especially Eitaro the master Print Maker, has given critical support in developing this area of my oeuvre. I have really enjoyed working with the solid and professional team, and the facility is the best in this region. This collaborative environment requires a high degree of focus and I have enjoyed the experimentation that has occurred. I find a challenging situation is often the most beneficial; it holds my attention and keeps me “awake.”
A review of my work, particularly my painting, shows that this combination of materials and the incorporation of non-traditional or non-typical objects has been a part of my creative process in the past. I have been interested in the themes I am exploring at STPI for some time. However, the unique environment has given me a different awareness and fostered a new intensity. The work reflects the entire environment, the STPI team and the studio conditions. The situation is very special and I am able to express something unique to the time and place. I think it is impossible to create the same art work in different environments.
The work does build on certain areas of interest to me, but I think people will see a new direction in the work. The conditions in the studio have provided the impetus to some new imagery and different aesthetic vocabulary.
We all know that our experiences shape us. Although I can’t define today what that will be, I am confident that this experience will have an impact.
It started when I discovered a miss-spelling in a painting I had made and realized that this mistake embodied the sensation of always being not quite right, not quite able to fit in. I understood I could use this as a tool to communicate these experiences and states of being that are so important in my work. I was already actively collecting texts and slogans, but began to really develop the use of language and phrases in my work and they have become an important component.
I am Indonesian and I embrace my heritage and my culture, but I am not looking to promote it as a product. I am open to becoming an internationalist by absorbing and modifying who I am and how I think. I have had the benefit of travel and exposure to other cultures. At this point in my life, I am able to compare the commonality between people and their differences. As I developed my career, first in Indonesia and then internationally, I was not part of a group nor did I have privileged connections. I was often on the outside, and not embraced, and this helped me to develop a strong critique of social norms. One by-product of this exploration in my work was the creation of my “Black Goat” identity, which channels both the position of outsider (black sheep) and scapegoat. This feeling of being autonomous and misunderstood was channeled into work about identity and art politic.
Indonesia as a country has become more recognized around the world and people are paying more attention to the art, politics and economic opportunities. With this new recognition a “party like” feeling has emerged in the art scene. I don’t like big parties. I prefer a more intimate coffee klatch. I like one-on-one. In fact the strongest part of the Indonesian art world infrastructure is the studio practice of artists. Also, most developments are artist-driven with artists creating their own organizations and institutions, residency programs and exhibition centers. Of course, sometimes these efforts do not always create consistent, stable organizations, but I think sometimes we don’t need to create permanent organizations or institutions. I hope in the future the Indonesian art world continues to create excellent projects and artists continue their leadership role.
I will be exhibiting work at Prospect3, the New Orleans Biennale opening this month and a solo show opening at Marc Straus Gallery, New York in January 2015.—[O]