Crossroads / Titik Temu, Bianca Winataputri(Download PDF)
Crossroads/Titik Temu is an experimental and collaborative curatorial series that brings together contemporary visual artists from Indonesia and Australia. This project aims to create an on-going dialogue between the two countries, focusing on developing room for artists to research, collaborate and develop their practice beyond the thematic demands of cultural institutions.
For the first of its series, Crossroads/Titik Temu brings together the cross-art forms and performative practices of Melbourne-based artist Eugenia Lim and Jakarta-based artist Yaya Sung. Together their works reflect on the complexities of individual, collective and national identities, and the spaces in between. Each artist explores notions of the self in a globalised society, both facing different challenges and conditions in their local contexts and communities.
This exhibition acknowledges these cross-overs in their practices but focuses particularly on their process as artists. The works displayed are carefully selected to reveal and reflect on the often overlooked position of process in an artist’s practice. There is perhaps a rather obvious progression across Eugenia’s works that may not be as apparent compared to Yaya’s. But both artists’ practice lives through the idea that process is a never-ending cycle of questions and answers and more questions. Each work starts with a question which opens out into a conversation with the audience; lines of enquiry extend out for years, into future artworks.
From Peter Weir’s ‘Picnic at hanging rock’ to Robin Boyd’s ‘The Australian Ugliness’, from the bush and suburbs to monuments and high-rise buildings, Eugenia’s ‘Australian Landscapes’ (2010) and ‘Australian Ugliness’ (2018) illustrate her ongoing exploration of sense of place and belonging. Performing as the white-haired ‘Miranda’ in Australian Landscapes, Lim later morphs into the shiny-gold persona (with reference to Tseng Kwong Chi) of ‘The Ambassador’ by The Australian Ugliness. In both works we are invited to follow the landscapes yet can’t help but focus on the displaced artis. These evident similarities between the two works demonstrate the artist’s immersion in research, site-responsive and performance-driven practice, following the changes in her thought-process, technology, and the world more broadly. Eugenia shares that her artistic process is quite cyclical: ‘‘I often have more questions through the making of a work than before.”1 By the time the artist starts creating Australian Ugliness her questions expand: Who holds the right to design our spaces and who are they designed for? Who shapes our built environment and in turn, how do these forces shape us?2 It’s been a 15-year history of the artist pursuing questions of identity and displacement, unpacking cultural stereotypes and understanding what belonging and in turn alienation means in a globalised world. This long process of research, collaboration and featuring herself in most of her works has helped Eugenia “work through a lot about my own identity and the history of Chinese and Asian presence in Australia from my perspective.”3
For Yaya, process is her way of making connections: to the world, to the people around her, and to herself. Her questions, similar to Eugenia, revolve around her identity and belonging against Jakarta’s contrasting cultural landscape. As Chinese-Indonesian, Yaya struggled to understand why it was difficult for her to be accepted or considered as equal. After many explorations into historical books, archives and numerous interviews with friends, family members and local communities, she found herself continuing to make connections to the stories and people around her, but most of all herself. In ‘Study of sanity: Flexuous (2015 & 2019)’ the artist explores her body through a series of yoga poses. Captured through the malleable texture of fabric, pulled across sideways and under, we can almost feel the invigorating stretch and sense of balance that the artist experiences. Yaya recalled “Never have I imagined that this process of familiarising myself with my own body [through yoga], opening joints and stretching muscles, would rejuvenate my soul. I felt a process that is very personal … there is a similarity between the process of making art and this process of exercising.”4 The artist draws this connection from the tendency of assessing process by its end result: a work of art displayed in the gallery and a good-looking body. But it is feelings of uncertainty, fear, disappointment or happiness that is central to the process of making art, just like the pain, weary and often fatigue feelings during an exercise.
One experience that was significant to Yaya’s artistic process was during her residency at Treasure Hill Artist Village, Taipei, in 2016. She recalled struggling to connect with the local community in the area particularly with language barriers and the history of the area almost being demolished and recently turned into an Artist Village. With this tension in the background and seeking connection with the community, Yaya sensed a feeling of being ‘unwanted’ that was somewhat familiar to her as she often felt the same at home. She explored this ‘unwanted’ feeling and in response wrote a letter to members of the community, introducing herself and sharing her intentions as an artist in residence. From her research and limited conversations with the community, she painted a series of banners that captures her thoughts, struggles and experience during her residency, which was displayed around every inch and corner of her studio/space at the Artist Village. These banners illustrate Yaya’s connection and response to the Artist Village, combining her personal experience as an artist in residence as well as her research on Taipei’s artistic/visual cues that use flowers, elements of nature and big bold texts. This endurance and often conflicting journey of Yaya’s process is best captured in a scribble she shared from one of her notebooks: “Which one is more important, the audience to understand the thought process [of the artist] or understanding the final outcome?”
Thank you for reading. As Bus Projects greets a new space, this exhibition can also be read as an introduction to Crossroads/Titik Temu as we continue our conversation.
(Bianca Winataputri, 2020)
Eugenia Lim in conversation with Bianca Winataputri, March 2020 ↩
Eugenia Lim ‘The Australian Ugliness’ statement, https://www.eugenialim.com/portfolio/the-australian-ugliness-2/ ↩
Eugenia Lim in conversation with Bianca Winataputri, March 2020 ↩
Yaya Sung ‘Study of sanity: Flexuous (2015 & 2019)’ statement ↩