Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2
16. Nov. 2013 – 6. Jan. 2014
Curator: Agung Hujatnikajennong (Indonesia)
Co Curator : Sarah Rifky (Mesir)
Farah Wardani (Indonesia)
Why Arab countries?
Interactions between Indonesia and the Arab countries have occurred since the 7th century, when there were crowded links of international trades through the Malacca Strait that connected various cultures (such as China, Sriwijaya Kingdom and the Banni Ummayah). The spread of Arab cultures and Islam occurred through trading relations. The acculturation of Islam in the archipelago happened when merchants and royalties converted to Islam. The construction of Indonesia as the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world today is inseparable from the historical fact of the interaction between the locals and the Arab culture at that time.
Today, the issues of relations between Indonesia and the Arab countries become more significant for discussion. It is not only due to the historical link and religious connections in the past, but as parts of global contemporary society that have undergone rapid modernity, both Indonesia and the Arab regions are now bound by social, political and economic relations, bilaterally and multilaterally, at least since Indonesian independence in 1945, where several Arab countries – such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia – participated in the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung 1955.
In the context of global culture, the dynamic contemporary art development in the Arab countries and South East Asia have become prominent factors to motivate building a stronger bond between Indonesia and the Arab countries. The two regions are not regarded as the mainstream of modern art that is centered in Europe and US. Following up current economic and political changes in the world, there has been a new awareness among art practitioners in the peripheral areas, including the ones from Asia-Pacific and the Arab regions, to initiate international-scale exhibitions, art fairs and artists? residency programs that eventually construct a new topography on the international art map. Contemporary art practices in Indonesia and Arab countries have potential as a new category that challenges existing stereotypes – such as the category of ?art from the Islamic world? – that has so far resulted from the dominant system of representation in the global art scene.
Since early 2000s, the organizing of international-scale exhibitions, whether in Indonesia and the Arab countries, have not only been individual efforts to build new infrastructure for local art development. The exhibitions should be seen as a collective strategy to negotiate identity among the dynamics and complexities of the global art scene.
Biennale Jogja in Indonesia, and a number of big events that have occurred in the Arab regions like Egypt, UAE, Dubai and Qatar – such as Art Dubai and Sharjah Biennale – have become important hubs to define the localities of the regions, apart from so many international events in Europe and America. Such initiatives must be understood as a strong assets at the local level, and should be developed further to become more concrete programs, which could serve to encounter the art practices from the two regions more intensively and deeply. BJXII – Equator#2 is a way to achieve that goal.
The Arab countries that are designated to be the partner countries of BJXII-Equator#2 are those within the geographical and geo-cultural areas that include 5 countries in the equatorial scope: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Amman, Yemen and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Curatorial Concept: Conveyance
In this global era, contemporary art has become a part of cultural practice that also contributes to define the patterns of society?s lives in this new millenium, particularly in the urban environment. Urban societies in several parts of the world are now connected greatly by economic and political systems, and also by the global cultural systems that make it possible for two or more cultures to juxtapose, encounter and blend with each other. Globalization is characterized by the birth of unpredictable relations between the flows of capital, media technology, ideas and migrations of the agents. It involves dynamic movements of cultural collectives, information exchange through technology, economic transactions, etc, which do not depend on one great ideal or harmonious master plan. In this context, the metaphors of uncertainty, contingency and chaos are in fact relevant to describe the process of globalization that strays from the principles of social stability.
As the curatorial concept of BJ XII, ?Conveyance? starts from the perspective that sees the contemporary art practice as a manifestation of modes of productions – distributions – consumptions that apply in the global art scene. Globalization offers new routes of ?conveyance? for the process of migration, exchange and crossings of the agents, in terms of both ideas and esthetics. As a result, the art world has gone through a siginificant expansion. The life cycles of art – as ideas or objects – becomes more complex. For artists, this can make things easier, as well provide new challenges. On one hand, new possibilities experiment esthetically through interactions with new social fields are opened up. But on the other hand, artists also face the new mechanism of unpredictable global multiplication, expansion, intensification and acceleration, which has potential to reduce their cultural autonomy as an individual.
To prevent the risks of rigid practice in linking this process of globalization and the art scene today, the concept of ?Conveyance? will be manifested in activities with two main targets:
1) To understand and map the patterns of creation and production of art that have occurred through the migration of Indonesian and Arab artists.
2) To create new channels that offer new potential for migration/exchanges between artists from Indonesia and the Arab countries, which means to encourage more esthetic experimentation as well as new artistic creations and productions.
The implementation of the concept will try to avoid the stereotypical assumptions attached to the cultures, demography and social/political/economic lives of the societies in the two regions. As a whole, this exhibition will present selected works of artists in two main criteria:
1) Artists (regardless of citizenship) who in the last 3 – 5 years have been migrating, crossing borders, staying and living in Indonesia and the Arab Countries.
2) Artists who are nationalities of Indonesia and the Arab countries who live and work as well as doing exchanges in and outside their countries.
However strong globalization has come to bring forth uniformity as an impact, in reality art practices in different societies and different cultural areas cannot be made uniform. Through ?Conveyance?, artists deal with the urgency to rethink the function and position of art in the society.