Graffiti art created during the roadshow event of Jakarta Biennale 2015 at Kampung Guji Baru, Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta on Aug. 30, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Biennale 2015)

Jakarta Biennale 2015 to Paint the Town Starting This Weekend


NOVEMBER 11, 2015

Jakarta. Jakarta Biennale, a major highlight of Indonesia's contemporary art calendar, will open this Saturday at Gudang Sarinah, a warehouse compound in Pancoran, South Jakarta.

Themed "Maju Kena, Mundur Kena: Bertindak Sekarang" ("Neither Forward Nor Back: Acting in the Present"), the event features a main exhibition showcasing works by 70 artists from Indonesia and abroad, alongside supporting programs such as seminars, workshops and performances.

"Since 2009, Jakarta Biennale has been transformed by involving public and city spaces as part of its practices as well as artistic strategy, with the aim to put the Biennale as a platform to support art practices that are critical toward the public and its city spaces," explained the Biennale executive director and artist Ade Darmawan, as quoted by

Established names in Indonesia's art world, such as Agung Kurniawan and the collective Tromarama, headline the exhibition. Their creations will be juxtaposed with international artists coming from countries as varied as Mexico and China.

The exhibition's main theme this time guides the participating artists to "concentrate on the present while refusing to indulge in nostalgia or escape into dreams of a future utopia," as explained in a statement issued by the Biennale organizers. "This perspective prioritizes works that focus on the economic, social and emotional conditions in the here and now that portray how people in different cities and environments live with and take responsibility for the present through their actions."

As such, three subject matters emerge as the connecting thread between the exhibited works: water, history and gender roles.

Scottish curator and writer Charles Esche takes on the role of curator at the 2015 Biennale — the first time an international curator is ever involved in the occasion. He is known for his curatorial work at South Korea's Gwangju Biennale 2002 and the Istanbul Biennale 2009 in Turkey, among other events.

Esche also becomes a mentor of sorts for the Biennale's "Curators Lab," in which he collaborates with six emerging curators from various Indonesian cities selected for the residency program.

Another educational program for talented high school students in Jakarta is also organized by the Biennale under the name "Duta Seni" ("Art Ambassadors").

Throughout the Biennale, visitors can also enjoy an array of symposiums — where artists will discuss issues like cosmopolitanism and equality — and intriguing collaborations held in a variety of venues. Polish artist Marianna, for instance, will reveal her collaboration with the Jatiwangi Art Factory, a non-profit organization in Jatiwangi, West Java, which focuses on developing discourses of rural life through arts and cultural activities.

Jakarta Biennale was initiated in the 1960s under the name "Grand Exhibition of Indonesia" before turning into a must-attend occasion for art aficionados in the city. For the first time ever, the event is organized by Jakarta Biennale Foundation after previously being held by the Jakarta Arts Council.

Jakarta Biennale 2015 will debut on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 4 p.m. The exhibition is open daily from Nov. 15, 2015 to Jan. 17, 2016 at Gudang Sarinah, Jl. Pancoran Timur II No. 4, Pancoran, South Jakarta

For more information on the artists lineup and program schedule, visit