The international contemporary art exhibition Jakarta Biennale
is back with the title "Maju Kena, Mundur Kena: Acting in The Present". This is the 16th biannual art exhibition since its inception in 1974 under the name Indonesian Paintings Exhibition.
Jakarta Biennale will be held on 15 November 2015 - 17 January 2016. The main event will take place in the Sarinah Warehouse, Jalan Pancoran Timur II/4, South Jakarta. In addition, the Jakarta Biennale will also fill various public spaces in the city through collaborative works with various communities.
With the theme "Maju Kena, Mundur Kena" (Neither Forward nor Back) this year, Jakarta Biennale aims to consider what it means to act as artists and cultural communities in the present, without getting caught up in either nostalgia of the past or dreams of futures utopia. All of the works curated focus on responses to the todays society, thinking about its economic, political and emotional conditions. Jakarta Biennale 2015 wants to explore the present through looking at how artists reflect on and record what is happening around and how they can act in their society.
There are three major issues that link the whole art exhibitions and projects in Jakarta Biennale. The first is the use and abuse of water, which is a source of life as well as disaster. The second focus is on history today, and how the past affects the present through the contemporary interpretation of memories and traditions. The third focus is on gender roles in society and how each one of us negotiates, even confronts, identities that are being imposed on us a struggle that can lead to violence and also social transformation. Through its exhibition and art projects, Jakarta Biennale 2015 wants to highlight the achievements of citizens in the present our everyday small victories in the middle of sometimes tortuous living conditions.
Along with the exhibitions and art projects, Jakarta Biennale has prepared a number of supporting programmes in the form of seminars, workshops, public education and performances. There will be a two-day public symposium after the opening and, from 17-29 November, the Biennale will open the temporary MKMK Academy where Indonesian and international artists, philosophers and activists will be invited to focus on the themes of this Biennale the present, water, history and gender. This academy will involve an open call for Indonesian participants as well as students from art schools in Europe. There will also be parallel events organised In Aceh, Surabaya and Makassar.
As a platform to sharpen up observations on socio-cultural phenomena, this current showcase of Jakarta Biennale is different from the previous ones. For the first time, Jakarta Biennale is collaborating with an international curator, Charles Esche, a curator and writer from Scotland who is currently working as director of the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands. Charles is experienced as a curator of international art biennales such as those in Gwangju, Istanbul, and Sao Paulo. Charles Esche will collaborate closely with a team of young curators from five cities in Indonesia: Anwar Jimpe Rachman (Makassar), Asep Topan (Jakarta), Benny Wicaksono (Surabaya), Irma Chantily (Jakarta), Putra Hidayatullah (Banda Aceh) and Riksa Afiaty (Bandung). This curatorial work is designed to offer a process of exchange among curators in which local and international knowledge and experience can be shared. This system of collaboration is planned to become a sustainable method for the implementation of the next Jakarta Biennale.
"Since 2009, Jakarta Biennale has been transformed by involving public and city spaces as part of its practices as well as artistic strategy, with the aim to put the Biennale as a platform to support art practices that are critical toward the public and its city spaces," said Ade Darmawan, Executive Director of Jakarta Biennale. "Specified and quite complex curatorial works are going to be needed to work on such method and this method of team building and sharing experience is very important to strengthen the sustainability of the Biennale.
Charles Esche comes as the right curator for this because of his experience,as well as his artistic, social, and political visions. One of our visions and missions is to establish Jakarta Biennale as a platform which has an educational role both generally, that is for public, and specifically in the area of the practice of art knowledge. This is in line with the interest and contribution of Charles who will collaborate with young Indonesian curators as a process of knowledge transformation," added Ade Darmawan.
"Jakarta Biennale 2015 will involve forty Indonesian artists and thirty international artists. Many of the works will be shown for the first time in the Biennale and will relate directly to Jakarta and Indonesia. We will also bring artists from elsewhere in Asia, South America and Europe whose work reflects on the themes of the exhibitions. The design of the Sarinah Warehouse will also be a unique and exciting experience for all visitors and will bring more established artists together with young ones in the same space," said Charles. "Programmes will be held in public spaces and artists and curators will collaborate with communities nearby the Ciliwung River running through Jakarta, who are often faced with flooding."
For the first time, the Jakarta Biennale event is organized by Jakarta Biennale Foundation, after previously being held by the Jakarta Arts Council (JAC). Jakarta Biennale Foundation was established on October 2014. "Jakarta Biennale is one of the leading programs of JAC and the Government of DKI Jakarta, therefore it is time for a consistent and sustainable management, so we formed Jakarta Biennale Foundation which functions to execute Jakarta Biennale beginning this year onwards. JAC will continue to be involved and collaborate to determine contents of Jakarta Biennales programmes," said Irawan Karseno, Chairman of JAC.