Indonesian painter Nasirun's works at Jogja Biennale in the Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, on Friday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Reflecting Marginality at Jogja Biennale


NOVEMBER 05, 2019

"Do we live in the same PLAYGROUND?" is the question this year's Jogja Biennale, taking place in several galleries in Yogyakarta from Oct. 20 to Nov. 30, is trying to get us to grapple with. 

The largest art exhibition in Southeast Asia invited 52 artists to respond to issues of "pinggiran" (marginality) and the experiences of peoples and regions marginalized both socially and geographically.

Their works are displayed at the Jogja National Museum, Jogoyudan Village, Koesnadi Hardjoseomantri Cultural Center, Ketandan 17 and Yogyakarta Cultural Park. 

One of the highlights of the biennale is the work of Nasirun, a master painter from Cilacap, Central Java, who has taken it upon himself to promote kitsch paintings by often nameless artists from Sokaraja by buying them up and adding his own touches to the canvas. 

Nasirun said he felt it was his responsibility to carve out a space for the Sokaraja painters in the Indonesian art scene that has long dismissed their presence. 

The biennale also featured a previously banned work called "The Marsinah Monument" by Moelyono, an artist from Tulungagung, Central Java. 

The work is a memorial to Marsinah, a woman worker who was tortured and murdered – her body found in a shallow grave – after leading a demonstration to demand higher pay in a watch factory in Porong, East Java, in 1993.

The original installation was created in 1999 in Surabaya but the local administration refused to issue a permit for its exhibition. Twenty years later, Moelyono's tribute to oppressed workers and women – and a symbol of resistance to the New Order – continues to hold us in awe of Marsinah. 

The Jogja Biennale also featured artists from neighboring countries Timor Leste, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines.

Visitors take some photos inside of Christina Quisumbing Ramilo
Christina Quisumbing Ramilo's "Forest for the Trees: Peri-Peri Library," a fake library made of wood where visitors are free to write their own titles on the books (also made of wood). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Lust by Pytt Saisangthong from Thailand exhibited at 2019 Biennale Jogja XV at Kentandan 17, Yogyakarta on Friday (01/11). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
"Lust" by Pytt Saisangthong from Thailand at Kentandan 17. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Visitor responses an artwork at 2019 Biennale Jogja XV in Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta on Friday (01/11).(JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
An interactive work at the Jogja National Museum. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A photographer passes in front of Citra Sasmita
Denpasar-based Citra Sasmita's "Timur Merah Project" uncovers the masculine narrative of the Balinese kakawin scrolls. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A few women visitors gather in front of Marsinah Monument, an artwork from Moelyono, Indonesian based artist. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
The Marsinah Monument by Moelyono. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Chiang Mai based artist, Sutthirat Som Supaparinya made an artwork instalation from unlimited number of JIM or Japanese Invasion Money, banknotes that used during Dutch East Indies era in 1942-1945. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Chiang Mai-based artist Sutthirat Som Supaparinya's installation is made from JIM or Japanese Invasion Money, banknotes used during Japan's occupation of Indonesia from 1942 to 1945. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A visitors turn on a flashlight under an artwork at 2019 Biennale Jogja XV in Ketandan 17, Yogyakarta on Friday (01/11). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Contemporary shadow play at Ketandan 17. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A visitor observes an artwork from Balinese, Made Bayak
Balinese artist Made Bayak's "Plastiliticum (Celebrating Homo Ludens Foot Print)," a somewhat literal commentary on plastic pollution. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A family try clipping paper artwork from Ika Vantiani, tittled Satu Kata untuk Perempuan. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
A family tried their hand at Ika Vantiani's interactive collage "Satu Kata Untuk Perempuan" ("One Word for Women"). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Two visitors sit on an artwork by Arisan Tenggara - Commons Credit Cooperative in Yogyakarta Cultural Park (Taman Budaya Yogyakarta) on Friday (01/11). (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)
Arisan Tenggara's "Commons Credit Cooperative" at Yogyakarta Cultural Park. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)