“Merayakan Murni” – Celebrating Indonesia’s Most Important Woman Artist

I GAK MURNIASIH - SEDANG ACTION - AOC - 100 x 100cm - 2003                                                 “Sedang Action” – Murni

Promising to be the most important exhibition of the 2016 Bali art calendar “Merayakan Murni” (Celebrating Murni) opened 16 July at Sudakara Art Space, Sanur. Contextualizing the relevance, and celebrating the legacy of female Balinese artist I GAK Murniasih (1966-2006) who this July would have turned 50; the exhibition brings together the work of Murni along with 15 other local and international artists.

I GAK MURNIASIH- BENDERA KEMENANGAN- AOC-71 X 71 cm - 2003                                           “Bendera Kemenangan” – Murni

An enormous project that from the conceptualization to the inception of a series of pre event “gatherings” late in 2015 consumed the passage of 2 years, Merayakan Murni’s has been successful due to community engagement. Organized by Ketemu Project Space – a new art facility in Bali under the special advisory committee of regional art maverick Valentine Willie, historian and art critic Jean Couteau and Murni’s life partner, Italian artist Mondo Zanolini – the exhibition is supported by a series of discussions and workshops, and closes 18th September.

"Pure Passion" (For Murni) Mella Jaarsma, mixed media & Mondo Zannolini , Murni's life partner. Image Richard Horstman                            “Pure Passion” (For Murni) – Mella Jaarsma

For collectors this exhibition offers opportunities to purchase some outstanding contemporary artworks by the invited artists in the genres of painting, installations, video and photography. Including “outsider” artworks by Murni’s contemporaries Putu Dewa Mokoh (1934-2010) and Oototol (1942-?), along with 50 works by Murni, the sale of Murni’s works being a 70-30 split, 70% going into the conserving and building of Murni’s archives.

IMHATTHAI SUWWATHANASILP - "MURNI'S TEMPLE" - MIXED MEDIA (human hair, thread, wood, glue) - 31 X 18 X 10 CM Image courtesy of Ketemu Project Space                          “Murni’s Temple” –  Imhathai Suwatthanaslip

Speaking” on local and global issues, gender politics, and the language of the sub conscious mind; Murni’s outsider art is confrontational and daring, yet electrifying as well. “Murni’s artworks have the power to start conversations on topics critical to our society,” said co-founder of Ketemu Samantha Tio. “Our goal is to enable artists in the local and international community to give a voice to these subjects, so that they in turn can generate diverse perspectives and inspire their own social circles.”

Punia Atmaja Installation. 2016                                   “Satelit Purba” –  Punia Atamaja

Explicit and naïve, even violent Murni’s visual language evolved through her search for identity and reconciliation with her traumatic past. Suffering from the recollection of being raped by her own father, as well as other experiences of womanhood her compositions are an exploration into her sexuality and biographic fantasies.

“For Murni art as a therapy, art as a diary, art as a retelling of a personal history, not in a narrative but picking very strong symbols; scissors, high heels, the penis, she discovered this as a way of expressing herself,” said Valentine Willie.

“I paint to feel that I exist”, Murni was quoted as saying.

MARIEKE WARMELINK - Marieke Warmelink, Acting tough - being strong, Interventions in daily - video - 2016 (2)                        “Acting Tough : Being Strong”  –  Mareike Warmelink

Singaporean performance artist Ila presented “Ruang”, the most potent work of the exhibition. Enclosed within a confined two meter square, dark space one at a time audience members entered while she performed in a traditional Balinese costume owned by Murni, slowly adding decorative pieces to her attire. A pulsating strobe light assaults the senses, while the atmosphere is dank and claustrophobic. Dripping in sweat Ila stoically performed her routine for four hours, bringing to “life” the emotional anguish of life within a harsh patriarchal society.

Citra Sasmita "Mea Vulva Maxima Vulva" 2016 Ceramic & mixed media Image richard Horstman                           “Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva” – Citra Sasmita

“”Pure Passion” challenges the viewer to ‘experience’ and ‘feel’ the cruel, the scary, the funny, the erotic, the taboo, the real, the fake,” said renowned Dutch born “Indonesian” artist Mella Jaarsma of her 2016 work inspired by Murni’s 1997 painting “I am Longing for a Couple of Kids”. Materials utilized in Jaarsma’s include goat’s leather, stuffed crocodiles, and plastic plants.

Macabre? Unusual at least. Thai artist Imhathai Suwatthanaslip exhibits 4 works, in both two and 3 dimensional format, created by weaving and crocheting human hair, utilizing some of Murni’s hair, to reflect on the nature of family ties and domestic life, the female body and feminine identity. Other works of note are by Dutch artist Mareike Warmelink, Indonesian artists Natasha Lubis, Punia Atmaja and Ngakan Putu Agus Arta Wijaya (NPAW). Included in the exhibition is an “archival like” presentation of Murni’s sketches and relics, and the 15 minute documentary “Lost Murni”, a heart rending, yet beautiful insight into the final days of her passage of life.

13669344_1135530413136721_5070896626457661361_o                                                            “Ruang” – Ila

For the astute collector wishing to purchase a work of unique imagination by today’s most prominent female Balinese artist, Citra Sasmita’s, her installation “Mea Vulva, Maxima Vulva” features ceramic vagina’s within a set of scales and comments upon social class distinctions.

“Murni is an “outsider” artist of a different genre. Raised in poverty in the Celebes, she bumped by accident, back in Bali, into the post-traditional painting world of the island to unwittingly become a foremost exponent of the women’s condition,” said Jean Couteau. “Feminist in a twisty raw way: not as discourse or protest, but as a partaking of the multifarious forms of the psychic experience.”

OOTOTOL - UNTITLED #1 - AOC - 50 x 79 cm - year not stated                                                  “Untitled” – Ootolol

Preceded by a rare buzz of anticipation, emphasized by the aura of an icon – Indonesia’s most important female artist, it is hoped that the event will continue into 2017 as roving exhibition to Yogyakarta, Jakarta and Singapore.

Words & Images: Richard Horstman

“Merayakan Murni”

16 July – 18 September 2016

Open Daily 10am – 7pm

Sudakara Art Space, Sudamala Suites and Villas

Jalan Sudamala #20, Sanur, Bali

20160715_170105                                                Photos of Murni & Dolls by Murni

 

 

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