Biennale Jogja XVI Equator #6 2021

Biennale Jogja XVI

To close the first round of equator series, that had been our theme since 2010, Biennale Jogja proudly announce our collaboration with OCEANIA and NUSANTARA (focus more to eastern part of Indonesia), as our geopolitical frame work for the 16th edition of the Biennale, the sixth of Equator series in 2021. The Biennale will be held October 6th to November 14th 2021 with some pre-events prior to opening.

Exploring the theme of Nusantara and Pacificscape, Biennale Jogja Equator Series 2021 will largely focus on practices to investigate how contemporary art and culture are intertwined with the local art in the region. In many literature, local art is often referred to as indigenous art. Recently, some Pacific countries even have developed cultural strategies, which give main priority to art created by local community. However, following the development of the discourse, the terms ‘indigenous’ or ‘non-indigenous’ should be re-examined and redefined because they are closely related to the power relation, which has been socio-historically shifting in a long period of time. Biennale Jogja will largely focus on how local art can always be so dynamic and open that it can last and adapt to new situations or coexist with and embrace the incoming new cultures. The nusantara in this context will explore more three areas: Timor Islands, Mollucas Islands and West Papua.

The intersection of cultural history between some regions of Indonesia and the Oceania region can actually be traced back to thousands of years ago, namely from the early migration of the explorers of Melanesia, the sailing routes of Austronesian sailors, the traces of cave paintings in North Australia, the arrival of European traders, the cracking of long colonialism, various scientific expeditions and religious missions, the World War II, to various contemporary geopolitical issues that occurred in the last half-century.

We began to question the term ‘Pacific’ and prefer to use ‘Oceania’ instead. Ocean, for the people of archipelago, is not a dividing border, but a connecting bridge instead. Ocean is an entity that shapes the culture and identity of humans living within. Epeli Hau’ofa, a scholar focused on Oceania culture, added that the Oceania identity refers to the idea of an interconnected and borderless community, whose all cultural aspects are the product of the continuous interaction between humans and the surrounding ocean. This perspective will also open up the possibility of a progressive expansion of the Oceania identity that it might cover much wider regions and more communities than what had been covered by the term ‘Pacific’.

Perhaps the so-called oceanic identity has a meaning that is almost similar to the term “maritime culture” that is known but forgotten in Indonesia. It is a culture embracing openness and equality, allowing the imagination of a fluid territory and shared resources that is driven by a common understanding that no one can partition and own the oceans.

Directed by Gintani Nur Apresia Swastika for this edition, with curatorial team consists of Elia Nurvista and Ayos Purwoaji, BJ XVI Equator #6 2021 offers a different perspective of this territorial discourse, and yet exciting to include more activists, researchers, as well as artists.

As this year also will celebrating the end of the first round, we will also hold ARCHIVE EXHIBITION that will involve curators from previous editions and some artists as well to reflect and to think together the next steps and directions to bring the spirit of solidarity of global south in this very particular moment when we experience new vision of social changes and intensified politics of identity.

There will be also collaborations with other institutions such as ASEAN Foundation for the program KONNECT ASEAN that brings together some women artists from Indonesia, South Korea and Southeast Asia to reflect some historical events that connect between those three areas. This will be part of the BILIK Program that translates idea of national pavilions in the context of Biennale Jogja.


Elia Nurvista is an interdisciplinary artist who is interested in exploring various art media with an interdisciplinary approach and focus on food discourse. Apart from the food medium itself, Elia is also active in working with installations, videos, performances, and other performative forms.In 2015, together with a colleague, Elia initiated the Bakudapan Food Study Group. She has participated in several residencies including Koganecho Bazaar Artist in Residence, Yokohama (2012), “Politics of Food” at Delfina Foundation, London (2014), Taipei Artist Village, Taipei (2014), Choreographer’s LAB at Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt am Main (2016) and one year long residency program at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2018 – 2019) among others.

Ayos Purwoaji is a writer and curator working at the intersection of history, architecture and fine arts. Since 2015, he has worked on a number of exhibitions and curatorial projects, among others, Almost There (2017) at Vargas Museum, Manila; Lecture on Cities (2017) at Bozar Center for Fine Arts, Brussels; Némor / Southeast Monsoon (2019) at Cemeti Institute for Art and Society, Yogyakarta; and Segar Bugar (2019) at the Bank Indonesia Museum, Jakarta. Part of them represents his special interest in the practice of vernacular archiving and collective memory. Together with several friends, he founded the Surabaya Contemporary Heritage Council (SCHC), a multidisciplinary group that explores critical discourses on cultural heritage, especially in Southeast Asia. Now he teaches cultural studies at Ciputra University, Surabaya.

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