Annisa Rizkiana's 'Mak Orangutan' mural at the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) 2018 exhibition in Grandkemang Hotel, South Jakarta. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

Storytelling Dominates Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design Exhibition

BY :DHANIA SARAHTIKA

OCTOBER 25, 2018

Jakarta. The annual Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design, or ICAD, exhibition has returned for its ninth edition at Grandkemang Hotel in Kemang, South Jakarta, from Oct. 18 to Nov. 30.

The exhibition is the brainchild of Yayasan Design+Art Indonesia and showcases visual art, design and furniture products by 50 renowned Indonesian artists and craftsmen.

Some of the artists represented in the exhibition are storyteller PM Toh, visual artist Tatang Ramadhan Bouqie, publisher and comic expert Hikmat Darmawan and indie band White Shoes and The Couples Company.

The theme of this year's exhibition is "Kisah" ("Stories"), as many of the works highlight the personal stories of their creators.

Curator Hafiz Rancajale said during a press conference on Thursday (18/10) that the exhibition tries to "see stories as a method of creating art. Some artists create art according to the constraints of form, but others find stories that touch them and go from there."

Hafiz said as an artist himself he finds art and storytelling are inseparable.

All of the artists in the exhibition have produced site-specific works, placed in the hotel's lobby, corridors and once empty spaces between the hotel rooms.

One of the artists, Annisa Rizkiana, has drawn a mural in the lobby, titled "Mak Orangutan," a heartbreaking story of a family of orangutans trying to exact revenge on humans who have destroyed their habitat.

Annisa also shows a series of illustrations and zines in glass boxes.

She said making zines has been a huge part of her life.

"I found my life's mission with zines, I want to turn this subculture into contemporary art," she said.

Annisa said she always begins by choosing her materials "very carefully," so that the end products show "beauty and vulnerability through [their] shapes, colors and narratives."

Indie band White Shoes and the Couples Company, famous for their ye olde Indopop sounds and the period-correct vintage outfits worn by the members of the band, display CDs, merchandises, outfits and other memorabilia that allow us a glimpse into 16 years in the music business.

Ricky Virgana, the bass player, said the band "is not just a musical group but a collective platform."

Indeed, some of the band members are established visual artists, such as singer Aprilia Apsari, who is part of a graphic art collective called Refreshink Printmaking.

Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) marketing deputy Joshua Simanjuntak also happens to be one of the exhibiting artists.

His art work is called "Dipan" ("Divan"), a circular seat made of woven rattan with a small round plate to place snacks and drinks in the middle.

Joshua said the work was inspired by the old siskamling (neighborhood watch) system that used to be the feature of Indonesian kampungs.

People from different walks of life used to keep watch together in a pos ronda (guard house) before gated communities started to employ security officers.

"Siskamling was democracy in miniature. Doesn't matter if you're a military general or a becak driver, you've still got to contribute. I imagine them sitting together in this divan. It's a space where people from all walks of life sit side-by-side and communicate as equals," Joshua said.

Painter Tatang Ramadhan Bouqie also chose to show a piece of furniture, "Kisah Sebutir Telur" ("Story of an Egg"), a dining table painted in psychedelic colors with a picture of a sunny-side-up egg on top.

The artist said the vibrant colors belie his experience of growing up in a poor family who often had to share one egg between six family members.

Tatang Ramadhan Bouqie's comical but also heart-wrenching dining table. (JG Photo/Dhania Sarahtika)

Other works shown in the exhibition include comic archives belonging to Hikmat Darmawan, a collection of stage props that storyteller Agus "PM Toh" Nur Amal has made himself and more furnitures made of unused plastic toys by Belgian label EcoBirdy.

As usual, the exhibition also includes workshops and discussions on various topics, mostly design, architecture and film.

The next one is "The Visual Language of Comic Books in Asia and Europe," a design convention organized in collaboration with the British Council.

It will feature London-based journalist, curator and academic Paul Gravett, art curator Iwan Gunawan and comic artist Sheila Rooswitha.

Joshua said ICAD 2018 is unique for featuring different types of artists who work in different styles. It also connects the artists not just with art lovers, but also to collectors.

He said Bekraf hopes ICAD will develop to be an international event in the near future.

"When that happens, we'll change the name into Indonesian International Contemporary Art and Design exhibition," he said.

Co-curator Harry Purwanto echoed Joshua’s sentiment, saying that Indonesian artists don't always have to go overseas to take part in international events to make their name. "We can invite people here, because it's the world who needs to see our artists," Harry said.

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