LIVE TRACES

How do you feel when the death is closer to you and just a step ahead?

Daily routine makes us ‘absence’, comfort zone creates complacent, and those become a ‘live trap’, unconsciously death just right  in front of us. Then, what have you done, is there anything postpone to reveal, anything  delay and un-done? What memories left when we are leaving this world and meet The Devine? 

We need a moment to contemplate for all those oblivious questions. What will you leave behind?

What a unique experienced I had when  I bare-foot walking on the 120,000 tiny skulls made from 5 tons of unglazed white porcelain, covered up the whole 180 sqm. gallery’s floor and not a single corner left uncovered.  The touch between the foot palm and the porcelain skulls was  just like a foot stone therapy. But after enjoying it for awhile, I felt unusual feeling, like contemplating. Visitors were invited to contemplate about thDSC_0229e meaning of life, a reminder that any action could be their last.

It was my special visit to Ardel’s Third Place Gallery, Bangkok , Thailand, to witness the interactive installation art, titled ‘WHAT WILL YOU LEAVE BIHIND’ (24 January- 3 March 2013), the fifth solo by a conceptual Thai born artist, Nino Suwanee Sarabutra, who gained her Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) in Ceramic Art, at Sipakorn University, Thailand (1992). The gallery space laid out nicely, conjured up like a contemplation space, all artworks laid out in unity with the gallery space, so visitors didn’t feel like visiting an exhibition but more to a ‘contemplating house’.

That is one of the artist’s artwork identity. Nino loves to invite the audiences to dialogue and interact.  Her previous exhibition ‘TO LIVE OR TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE’ (2011), involved 380 participants to answer 12 questions about ‘how happy they are with their life’. But this fifth show, is her first time which involving about 50 people participated in the 3 month process of making the work and sharing  ideas. Three months before the show, she opened an online forum regarding her question and many people from near and far were aware of this question. She wants her show live longer than 40 days laid out inside the gallery and reach wider audiences than just those who visited the show.

Nino SarabutraAll the people’s statement then projected to one of the gallery’s wall during the show, where we can enjoy the text by sitting on the artwork Bean Bags (2012), made from canvas material filled up by million foam beads, and the bag’s surface is scattered by white porcelain skulls with colored glass eyes.  The answers are abstract and personal, there are no right or wrong answers, as people merely sharing their heartfelt thoughts, and some of them don’t know the answer.Bean Bags

In this exhibition, she also shows abstract painting series, using wood as canvas with text in stencil technique, background by acrylic paint mixed with cooked earth crumbs.  My curiosity came to the text ‘Choices-Destiny’, each text opposite (mirrored vertically) to each other; the decision to believe in destiny or to believe that people has the power in making choices.

DSC_0228It was nice to have a conversation with Nino. To the point and inspiring, that is my impression about  her. Warm chat accompanied by delicious warm coffee, we sat on the chair faced to the artwork Dining Table (2012), made from oak wood, covered by 2000 tiny skulls made from red clay, symbolizing daily  life and death just in front of us.  “Table and chair are big part of our daily life, not only for eat and drink, but we work, rest, read, write, have conversation, have argument, make  big or small decision of your life …any action could be your last”, Nino explained.

DSC_0197It was around 5 pm, our chat teased  by the warm sunlight that penetrated through the transparent glass wall of the gallery, the  beautiful light and shadow created  natural life painting that changes every afternoon. It seems a part of the show, as the artist has planned that it will happen.

Exploring Nino’s exhibition, we can see a specific line in her creativity: HEARTS. The heart shape textured, glazed, cracked, colored , patterned cut and wording applied on the heart surface. Most of the wording is about relation and human emotion: love, optimism, motivation. “My works talk about human emotion and existence, so heart makes sense”, said Nino. She loves to play with words. Probably besides as an artist, she also a well known  creative director and senior writer who has 17 years experience in advertising industry both in Southeast Asia and Europe.DSC_0206

Being among a plentiful  of skulls, the impression is not haunted by death. In contrary make us aware of the meaning of life. Death is the natural mandatory. When we are still alive, make the most of it, embrace the opportunity, do not delay or postpone anything positive for yourself and everybody. Physically we may disappear without time compromise, but when the time is come, at least we are ready to leave this world and traced memories, the good one hopefully, let the contribution be immortal. ‘WHAT WILL YOU LEAVE BEHIND?’

Nia Gautama

February 2013

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Keramik Dunia Berkumpul di China

(Published in Dewi Magazine, October 2012, by title: Menilik Keramik di Tanah Sang Moyang)

Perangkat makan dan minum dari keramik? Itu biasa. Pernahkah melihat rompi, selop, bantal, terbuat dari keramik? Semua itu bisa dilihat di Museum Kontemporer Fule International Ceramic Art Museum (FLICAM)  berlokasi di Fuping Pottery Art Village (FPAV), Xi’an, Shaanxi, China.

Saya mendapat kesempatan berkunjung ke FLICAM adalah dalam rangka residensi selama satu bulan, yaitu mulai 5 Mei sampai 4 Juni 2012, untuk program The Second Southeast Asia Ceramic Conference, dengan tema Clay Unity: Celebrating the Diversity of Southeast Asia, bersama dengan 21 keramikus Asia Tenggara lainnya. Negara yang berpartisipasi adalah Philipina (5 seniman), Thailand (6 seniman), Malaysia (3 seniman), Singapura (5 seniman), Vietnam (1 seniman), dan Indonesia (2 seniman, diwakili oleh Ahadijat Joedawinata dan Kurniawati Gautama). Seniman terundang berkarya sesuai kreatifitas masing-masing, dan karya-karyanya menjadi koleksi permanen di Museum Asia Tenggara yang sedang dibangun.

Kegiatan konferensi keramik ini  adalah atas gagasan keramikus Philipina, Hadrian Mendoza, yang  sebelumnya pada tahun 2009 telah berhasil dengan konferensi yang pertama: The First South East Asia Ceramic Conference, dengan tema Ring of Fire, di Museum Ayala, Philipina. Konferensi ini bersifat berkelanjutan dan bertujuan untuk merayakan keragaman budaya Asia Tenggara dan untuk membangun komunitas diantara Keramikus Asia Tenggara dalam rangka mempromosikan seniman yang kelak memberikan dampak besar kepada dunia senirupa.

Tungku Keramik sebagai Museum

FLICAM digagas oleh  Dr. I Chi Hsu, kurator, dan pemilik Hsu Art Promotion di Beijing, yang disambut baik oleh Mr. Xu Daou Feng, Chairman FUTO Industries Group, dan mulai dibangun di FPAV tahun 2001. FPAV sendiri merupakan perkebunan buah, pabrik pembuat bata dan genteng, rumah makan, dan hotel bintang tiga.

Bangunan yang telah selesai ada tujuh buah yaitu Museum Utama (Main Museum of FLICAM), Pusat Dokumentasi Keramik Internasional, dan lima kompleks bangunan yang memuat 21 negara diantaranya Museum USA, Museum Perancis, Museum Australasia (Australia dan New Zealand), Museum Eropa Barat (Holland, Jerman, Italy), Museum Skandinavia (Denmark, Swedia, Norwegia, Finlandia).  Selanjutnya museum yang sedang dibangun adalah Museum Irlandia (mulai dibangun 2011) dan di tahun 2012 direncanakan selesai Museum Asia dan Museum Rusia.

Museum FLICAM merupakan bangunan kontemporer dengan sentuhan tradisonal. Bentuknya sangat unik yaitu seperti tungku keramik tradisional yang biasa disebut Tungku Naga (longitudinal Dragon Kiln). Seluruh dinding terbuat dari bata merah, dan langit-langitnya melengkung dengan beberapa lubang sebagai pencahayaan alami. Bangunan ini adalah hasil rancangan arsitek lokal yang terkenal yaitu Mr. Liu Kecheng, Dekan Universitas Arsitektur dan Teknologi XI’an (Xi’an Architectural and Technology University).

Bangunan Museum Utama (Main Museum of FLICAM) adalah salah satunya yang paling unik, dimana berbentuk tungku tradisional dengan dua buah sumur keramik yang tertutup kaca bening dibagian lantai. Bentuk bangunan yang menyerupai kubah besar dengan lubang besar yang dibiarkan terbuka dibagian atas  yang berfungsi menerima cahaya matahari masuk, dan sewaktu hujan, air hujan dibiarkan masuk kedalam gedung, yang kemudian akan ditampung oleh sumur dilantai. Sekilas sumur bertutup kaca tersebut, tampak seperti lingkaran kaca di lantai, tetapi disekeliling kaca ternyata terdapat lubang-lubang penyerap air hujan, dan lubang-lubang ini tidak tampak oleh mata karena ditutupi oleh potongan-potongan keramik sebesar jari telunjuk orang dewasa. Bagian atas (atap) yang terbuka, disekelilingnya diberi lampu khusus, sehingga malam hari, saat lampu tersebut dinyalakan, dari luar gedung akan nampak seperti lidah-lidah api keluar dari tungku pembakaran.

Museum Utama memuat karya seniman lokal, diantaranya Huang Lizheng dengan karya Clay Waistcoat, berupa jalinan keping-keping keramik, terbuat dari tanah bakaran rendah (earthenware, terracotta),  yang seperti dijahit sehingga membentuk rompi. Seniman lokal lainnya yaitu, Luo Xiaoping, dengan karyanya Gift Basket,  membuat instalasi keranjang buah, yang disebar berbaris dilantai,  berisi teko dan cangkir dari keramik, dengan pita-pita merah bergantungan diatasnya.

Memasuki Museum USA, terdapat karya-karya seniman dari Amerika, Kanada, Argentina, dan Inggris. Karya-karyanya beragam dengan sentuhan oriental yang khas. Salah satunya yang sangat menarik adalah karya Suzan Wolfe (USA), berjudul Pillow Ghost Woman, berupa bantal keramik, dengan dekorasi bunga oriental dan lukisan wajah ditengahnya.

Karya Seniman Asia Tenggara

Selama satu bulan penuh, seniman Asia Tenggara, berkarya penuh semangat dan dengan suasana gembira. Mereka bebas menggunakan seluruh fasilitas yang disediakan mulai dari akomodasi, konsumsi, dan juga kelengkapan studio mulai dari materi berkarya sampai tungku pembakaran.

Hasilnya adalah karya-karya yang mengagumkan, yang menunjukan pengetahuan materi dan ketrampilan tangan pembuatnya.

James Seet (Malaysia), menciptakan instalasi gasing, berjudul TOPsy-Turvy, berupa beberapa buah gasing berglasur dan dekorasi yang manis, diletakan diatas lingkaran pasir.

Karya yang mengandung pesan sosial, ditampilkan oleh Smith Takroodkew (Thailand), dengan seri Eat, Ate Eaten,  berupa instalasi perangkat makan non fungsi dletakan diatas benda temuan berupa kotak kayu dan laci bekas, menyampaikan pesan hilangnya budaya China yang telah termakan konsumerisme seperti halnya negara-negara lainnya.

Karya detil dengan sentuhan feminin yang terisnpirasi dari seni merangkai bunga Thailand ditampilkan oleh Krisaya Luenganantakul, berjudul A Gift of Honor, berupa satu set perangkat minum teh khas China.

Melihat karya-karya seniman Asia Tenggara tersebut, tentunya menambah wawasan pengetahuan, ketrampilan dan kreatifitas baru, yang bisa menjadi sarana belajar bagi seniman keramik Indonesia. Selain itu ajang bergengsi berskala Internasional ini diharapkan menjadi pemicu bagi pelaku seni keramik Indonesia untuk giat mengadakan kegiatan-kegiatan berupa pameran-pameran baik berskala Nasional maupun Internasional.

-Nia Gautama, Juni 2012-

Tungku Keramik Dingzhou Menguak Sejarah Baru

(Published in Visual Arts, September-October 2012)

Pecahan keramik berupa beberapa perangkat minum teh, mangkuk dan pot yang tertimbun di  pematang sawah di sebelah timur desa keramik Fuping, sesekali nampak di permukaan tanah . Para petani yang jeli matanya seringkali menemukan pecahan kecil keramik tersebut untuk sebagian dikoleksi bahkan dijual untuk tambahan penghasilan.  Hal ini dianggap biasa karena menemukan serpihan keramik hijau celadon hasil bakaran tungku Yao-zhou  di daerah Yao Xian adalah biasa. Tetapi tidak ada yang berpikir, untuk apa potongan-potongan keramik tersebut ditimbun di luar  Yao Xian yang jaraknya sekitar 50 km dari lokasi temuan yaitu Fuping. Kualitas keramik temuan adalah lebih baik yaitu dilihat dari beragam bentuk bejana, warna glasir yang baik, ketipisan keramik, ukiran yang sangat indah, dan jumlah yang lebih banyak dari keramik Yao-zhou, sehingga dipastikan bahwa   hal ini merupakan temuan penting sejarah baru China yang akan mengungkapkan penggalan sejarah yang masih belum terpecahkan yaitu adanya suatu situs tungku pembakaran Ding-zhou.

Melalui beberapa literasi sejarah China, terutama kitab teh China, The Cha Jing (Tea Bible) yang ditulis ahli minum teh Lu Yu (733-844 AD), menyebutkan kualitas keramik Dingzou adalah nomor dua setelah Yuezhou, yang ketiga adalah Wuzhou dan seterusnya. Beberapa literasi sejarah China juga menyebutkan bahwa tungku  Dingzou terkenal di jaman Dinasti Tang dan berglasir celadon, terdapat di Jing Yang dekat XI’an sekitar 20 km dari Fuping. Tetapi setelah diselidiki oleh pemerintahan setempat, tungku tersebut tidak pernah ditemukan. Lalu dimanakah lokasi tungku Dingzhou?

Kemudian Chairman Dufeng Xu dari Fuping Poterry Art Village (FPAV), melalui penelitian Topography, menemukan fakta Fuping sempat berganti nama beberpa kali, yaitu Yi-county ( tahun Tang Kaiyuan:713-741 SM), kemudian menjadi Chi – county(tahun keempat Zhenyuan: 788 SM), lalu meningkat menjadi Zhou. Menjadi Dingzhou yaitu sejak tahun kedua Tianyou (905 SM) yang merupakan akhir Dinasti Tang. Catatan lain menunjukan bahwa 300 tahun sebelum akhir Dinasti Tang, Fuping telah bernama Dingzhou.

Fakta tipography tersebut memastikan bahwa Dingzhou adalah di Fuping, tepatnya sekitar satu sampai dua kilometer sebelah timur Fuping Pottery Art Village.

Kunjungan ke Situs Tungku Dingzhou

Selama residensi, seniman-seniman keramik diajak mengunjungi situs tungku Dingzhou, sekitar sepuluh menit (dengan mobil) dari FPAV. Situs tersebut berada di lahan gandum yang subur. Kami para seniman terkagum-kagum akan banyaknya pecahan keramik Dinasti Tang dengan kualitas yang sangat baik,  berserakan disepanjang galian situs. Terlihat beberapa centimeter dari permukaan tanah, ada lubang menganga di dinding tanah, ternyata itu adalah tungku pembakaran Dingzhou. Pecahan-pecahan keramik nampak tertimbun di dinding-dinding tanah. Kami bebas memilih beberapa keping untuk dibawa pulang sebagai kenang-kenangan. Kandungan tanah di situs tersebut, banyak mengandung mineral-mineral yang baik sebagai bahan glasir. Oleh karena itulah, Fuping dijadikan semacam pusat penelitian dan penyelamatan keramik kuno China.

Kunjungan ke Pusat Penelitian Tungku Dingzhou di FLICAM

Fuping Pottery Art Village dibangun sekitar 10 tahun lalu oleh Mr. Dufeng Xu, Chairman FUTO Industrial Group, pabrik pembuat genteng dan bata. Sejak tahun 2008, keping-keping keramik yang ditemukan di situs tungku Dingzhou, dibawa ke FPAV. Keping-keping tersebut dikumpulkan dan diklasifikasi menurut usia, jenis produk, dan warna glasir. Hasilnya adalah ribuan keping keramik kuno peninggalan Dinasti Tang itu bisa dinikmati di Research Center of Dingzhou Kiln yang berada di dalam FPAV.

Bahagianya kami bisa menyentuh bahkan menggenggam kepingan-kepingan keramik kuno sejak ribuan tahun lalu, dimana pengalaman ini tidak bisa kami rasakan di museum sejarah manapun.  Di pusat penelitian tersebut, terdapat beragam keramik kuno dari 8000 tahun lalu sampai yang 2000 tahun lalu, mulai dari jenis terakota (earthenware) sampai porselin, dengan kualitas yang sangat mengagumkan, baik bentuk, glasir, teknik pembakaran, dan dekorasi yang luar biasa indah.

Masih satu gedung dengan gedung pusat penelitian, terdapat juga pusat penyelamatan keramik kuno China,  Redemption and Rescue Center for The Ceramics of Ancient Chin. Hal ini dikarenakan ada beberapa catatan sejarah yang keliru setelah ditemukannya situs tungku Dingzhou.

Dr. I Chi Hsu, kurator FLICAM dan Chairman Dafeng Xu, pada tahun 2009, pernah mengunjungi Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona, USA, dalam rangka konferensi  National  Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). Mereka terkejut saat menemui bejana kuno dari tanah liat putih asal China terpajang di museum.  Bejana tersebut teridentifikasi berasal dari Dinasti Song. Setelah dipelajari dengan teliti oleh Dr. I Chi dan Mr. Xu, ternyata adalah sama dengan pecahan yang ditemukan di Fuping, yang berati catatan identifikasi tersebut keliru.

Oleh karena itu, Dr. I Chi menghimbau kepada para pakar keramik, mengunjungi situs tungku Dingzhou,  untuk mempelajari dan meneliti keramik temuan di situs tersebut, untuk kemudian menuliskan sejarah baru.

-Nia Gautama, Juni 2012-

Sumber:

  • Kunjungan langsung ke situs penemuan Dingzhou
  • Kunjungan langsung ke Pusat Penelitian Keramik Kuno China, Fuping Pottery Art Village.
  • Dr. I Chi Hsu & Dufeng Xu, Discovery of the Ancient Din-zhou Kiln, The Meaning of the discovery of Shards near Fuping Pottery Art Village, Fuping, Shaanxi, China, artikel.
  • Revelation (I): Questions and Discussions about the Dingzhou Kiln Discovery, Symposium on Shards Observation, study and discussion of Fupign Finding, October 2010, artikel on Dao Clay Form Magazine, penulis tak tercantum.
  • Origin of Dingzhou Kiln, artikel on Dao Clay Form Magazine, penulis tak tercantum.

When CLAY CONNECTING PEOPLE…

Arts connecting people. And so does clay. In this global era when geography distance is not a problem as virtual communication makes everything easier, this is how the Southeast Asia Ceramic Artists’ link created then united.

It was such precious and wonderful experience I had with another 21 ceramic artists from Southeast Asia (SeA) countries, to meet and did a month residency at Fuping Pottery Art Village, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China, from May 5 to June 4, 2012, invited by Fule International Ceramic Art Museum (FLICAM), Xi’an, Shaanxi, China.

Inspired by the success of The First Southeast Asia Ceramic Festival, raised Ring of Fire as the theme, which was held in 2009 at Ayala Museum, Philippine, initiated by Hadrian Mendoza, then he continues with this second one. On the first event, artist didn’t do a residency but they brought their artworks, then  shared two days lecture and demonstration. According to Mr. Mendoza, the purpose to organize such continuity conference is to celebrate the diversity of Southeast Asia and to build a community among Southeast Asia Ceramic Artist in order  to expose the Artist  that can  give impact to the art world.

Artists invited not based on age or seniority but based on their good technical skill, material knowledge, and activity in the ceramic world. The participant artists are: couple Jon Pettyjon and Teresita Pettyjon, Hadrian Mendoza, Pablo Luis K. Capati III, Mark Valenzuela from Philippine; Bathma Kaew-Ngok, Nino Sarabutra, Naidee Changmoh, Krisaya Leunkangatakul, Smith Takroodkaew, Amornthep Mahamart from Thailand; Jason Lim, Nelson Lim, Steven Low Thia Kwang, Tok Yu Xiang, Teck Heng Tan from Singapore; Bao Toan Nguyen from Vietnam; James Seet, Yeow Seng Cheah, Tan Vooi Yam from Malaysia, and Ahadiat Joedawinata, Kurniawati Gautama from Indonesia. Unfortunately we missed Laos, Brunei and Myanmar

Clay Unity

This residency is a part of the Second South East Asia Ceramic Conference program, which raised the Clay Unity: Celebrating the Diversity of Southeast Asia, as its theme. For almost a month, artists energetically and enthusiastic working independently creating their wonderful work, and they also work in team to help each other when transporting various size of artworks from small-scale to large-scale to the kiln for firing. The huge studio space is open for 24 hours, so artists are free to work from morning  till late and morning again, specially those who did the wood firing. We are artists who enjoy working and having fun. Almost every night we have a barbecue party with beer and wine. Some friends will play music using instruments made from ceramics and any found objects that can make sound.

We learn a lot of things: sharing knowledge, skills, techniques, materials, also cultural exchange and team work. We are free to use local clays, glazes and various kind of kilns. There is special classic glaze, which is very interesting, the glaze is from Tang Dinasty, they call it as Three Color Glazed (san chai). The glaze will running gently during the firing process, later it will show the beautiful effect glaze color like the running liquid.

After four weeks working hard, then artworks are ready for display at the exhibition hall. The huge studio space then  prepared for displaying  the artists’ artworks, which will show from June to November 2012. This is a temporary show until the SeA  Museum is ready, then the artworks will be move to the museum as the permanent collection. The opening exhibition was held in  June 2, 2012. , which accompanied by two days conference and demonstration before and after the opening ( June 1st and 3rd).  Chairman of FUTO Industries Group, Mr. Xu Dou Feng and the FLICAM curator, Dr I Chi Hsu, also Mr. Hadrian Mendoza as the artists’ leader, shared their speech. Fireworks and wine cheered up to close the ceremony. I missed this warm and friendly moment as I have to prepare myself for simple and short performance regarding my artwork.

In the purpose to support this residency program, some artworks were display at Dao Artspace, Contemporary Art Area, in Tang Paradise,  Xi’an, China, for art lovers to collect.

SEA Artists’ Amazing Artworks

Artists’ artworks are vary from modern pottery, sculptures, and installations. They do not present functional works but individual expression both conceptual and non-conceptual. All artworks using almost all kinds of kiln, from gas, electric, wood and pit firing. Firing temperature also vary from 1080 to 1280 degree Celsius, both oxidation and reduction.

Male artists mostly created  sculpture artworks with various size between 1 to 1,3 meter height, as they understand for museum needs.

Steven Low Thia Kwang presents a range of amorphous  earthenware and stoneware cone like sculptures, and some details look like coral reefs, installed aesthetically like a  mountain landscape.  The Buddha sculptor expert,  Naidee Changmoh presents smiling Buddha with little monk sit on His lap. Mark Valenzuela presents half-body male sculpture with birds inside out around the body. Jason Lim artworks are vary from large, medium and  small-scale. He shows earthenware coiled sculpture with horses legs at the top of the coil, look like dancing on the hill. He also presents a range of standing slab showing China landscape and the most attractive works are his replica of ceramic old wooden stools.

Works with social messages presented by Smith Takroodkaew with Eat, Ate, Eaten, showing ceramic bowls, bone like chopsticks, tofu (Chinese traditional food),  and installed on the wooden box and drawer, that he found around the studio, reflecting Chinese culture, that being swallowed by consumerism, as happens in the world around us. Another  Thai potter, Bathma Kaew Ngok, who spent 1,5 years as an apprentice student to   a master potter in Mie-Ken, Japan, presents a social message about peace. He shows mini terracotta warrior sculptures playing music and the lazy horse: “Music not War” the warriors now dedicated their life to the orchestra. Bathma’s work mostly fired in a wood kiln, that he built with another SEA resident artists.  This anagama kiln (arch like), later they call it SEAgama, built only in four hours, and can be use everyday to fire ceramics.

An advertising practitioner also a writer, who decided to become a full-time ceramist, and this is her fourth year as a ceramist, Nino Sarabutra presents very interesting heart shape installation. Each heart is differently decorated, textured, glazed, and texted.

Feminine touch and detailed artwork showed by Krissaya Luenganantakul whose works influenced by Thailand flower garland, this time creates non functional  Chinese Tea Set, where she applied patiently leave and flower petals one by one to the whole surface of the tea set.

Ahadijat Joedawinata, try to present different work. He is famous with his thin coiled and pinched vessels, this time he presents fish series.

Future Plan

This second SEA conference, gives positive energy and support to all artists, so they will have room to unite and work together.  The event will be continue to the third, the fourth and so on, and will be travel to other country not only Southeast Asia and Asia but will be outside Asia.

Indonesia is planning their turn to be the facilitator of this wonderful international scale event, so appropriate infrastructure, solid team and professional management are needed to pursue this event.

Even though the appreciation to the ceramic art in Indonesia is weak, but there is always light for Indonesia Ceramic. A ceramic art exhibition, Indonesia Contemporary Ceramic Art: A Progress Report,  just held on May 19 to June 3, 2012,  at Ceramic Museum, Jakarta, curated by Asmudjo Irianto, participated by 32 Indonesian ceramists and non ceramists This exhibition is a report of present situation of ceramic art in Indonesia.

Continuing the success of The First Jakarta Contemporary Ceramic Biennale in 2009, the curator, Rifky Effendy and Asmudjo Irianto, plan to expand  the  exhibition, which will involved more international artists and more exchange program .

So, friends, see you soon in Indonesia!!!!

-Nia Gautama, June 2012-

INDONESIA CERAMIC-The Light Still On

I am preparing this article to complete my residency at FLICAM, Fuping, China. This article is about the past, the present, and the future prediction about ceramic art in Indonesia. We have to admit that Indonesia’s ceramic was influenced by the West, who separated the craft and art into low art and high art. Due to time limitation, I will not discuss the detail about such dichotomy, as this article merely to describe the development of Ceramic Art in Indonesia. Please apologize for the limited vocabulary used and any grammatical mistakes, as my English is not excellent.

A Brief History

Indonesia’s ceramic was noted to begin when the Hakka Chinese immigrants from the Kwantung and Fukien provinces migrated to Indonesia around the first half of 18th century. They came as a gold and tin miners. As the immigrants who used ceramics for their table ware needs, then they built the long tunnel, the dragon kiln (tungku naga) for high fired ceramics. Later they were presume  as the pioneer builder for  the high fired kiln site in Singkawang (San Keuw Jong, 山口洋, West Kalimantan), Indonesia. During that period, it was believed that such kiln was only found in Singkawang, until the Dutch colony instigation, about early 20th century, then high fired ceramics were introduced to another part of Indonesia.

Indonesia modern ceramic art, was began to start when in 1963, the art school of Bandung Institute of Technology (Institut Teknologi Bandung, ITB), opened its ceramic studio, under the supervision of two painters, Edie Kartasubarna and Angkama Setjadipradja, who then took ceramic training for about one year in Alfred University, United States. Later a female arts student, Hildawati Soemantri (1945-2003), who graduated from ITB in 1971, continued her ceramic study to United States in 1973. After gain her MFA from Pratt Institute, then in 1976, she come back to Indonesia and held her first solo exhibition at IKJ (Institut Kesenian Jakarta-Jakarta Arts Institute)showing installation objects which are shocking to Indonesia’s art world at that time. She was then well known as the Pioneer of Contemporary Ceramics in Indonesia.

Indonesia’s Ceramic Today

Indonesia’s Ceramic Art is ‘in between’ the contemporary art and contemporary craft.Ceramic Art in Indonesia has its own heritage, whose influence came from the West. This is because the pioneers of its ceramic arts, gained their knowledge from the West. The West influence which separated the hierarchy of art into high art (painting, sculptures, installation, video, multimedia) and low art (handicraft, decorative objects, functional art) also affect the situation of ceramic art in Indonesia. No wonder in art universities ceramic is under the craft department, and (generally)  the artists are categorized as individual ceramic artists who developed their own studio, who create both functional and non-functional objects, and some of them work in a commercial ceramic company at the design and production department. When the students took fine art as their academic major, and have interest in ceramic, later they will be leaded as contemporary (ceramic) artist, whose artworks show conceptual thinking.

The development of ceramic art in Indonesia in present time is become better, but not the ‘hot’ issue, it moves so slowly. If I flash back from this millennium year, in 2004, we held The first INDONESIA YOUNG CERAMIC ARTIST EXHIBITION, held in National Gallery of Indonesia, curated by Asmudjo Irianto (lecturer, artist, arts curator) and Nurdian Ichsan (artist, lecturer, arts writer), they both are from ITB. This exhibition invites all ceramicist from all over part of Indonesia, displaying non-functional modern ceramic such as sculptures, modern vessels, and installation art. Then, we have to wait about five years to held another ceramic art exhibition (long period right?),  whereas another media such as painting, photography, installation art, video art, multimedia art, are almost every year, and in a year, such exhibitions are a lot.  This time the exhibition broaden to an international scale: THE FIRST JAKARTA CONTEMPORARY CERAMIC BIENNALE EXHIBITION (JCCB#1-2009), curated by Asmudjo Irianto and Rifky Effendy, including international artists from Southeast Asia, USA, Europe. The artworks were vary from pottery, sculpture, installation, video, performance. What became interesting was, artist from non-ceramic background were invited. They are painter, video artist, multimedia artist, and performance artist. The curators, challenged them to create artworks from ceramic, the medium they are not familiar with. Surprisingly the result was very interesting, as a non ceramicist who made artworks from ceramic as their new media, we can see a different perspective from them. Let see TROMARAMA, a group of three artists who usually works on video art (animation). They present a range of commercial (industry) tablewares, partially arrange on the cupboard shelves and the other spread on the floor. A glance we can only see untidy  tablewares, but when we watch their video, these tablewares are moving like animation art.  Handiwirman Saputra, a quite prominent Indonesian artist, who mostly works on installation and painting, this time he used porcelain showing the inverted skin (leather), the same object that he made from resin. Another non-ceramicist was Wiyoga Muhardanto, who never tied to one medium, but in this exhibition he presents the  food and drink made from ceramic, the medium that entirely new for him. whilst, the Singaporean leading ceramic artist, Jason Lim, who also an  internationally acclaimed performance artist, combines the pottery (craft), installation, and performance art in “Still/Life2”. He presents the range of uniform thin vessels (cylinder like) made from raw clay, arranged aesthetically in a glass tank (aquarium) and audiences’ eyes spoiled by the harmony appeared from the color combination between the lighter color from stoneware and darker from terracotta. At the opening night, he gently poured water into the glass tank. The raw clay interacted with water, then slowly cracking and decomposing. We can see a dramatic and touchy process of decaying every minute until the end of the exhibition (about one month), then the vessels become clay again; ephemeral tells. He is smart in manipulating the craft into the conceptual work. It is easy to recognize the vessels as the craft work, but when it intertwined with a strong concept, then it will tickle audience’s interpretation. As a ceramicist, he against the clay tradition which has to be fired to become ceramic art.

The first Indonesia’s ceramic Biennale was in 2009. The second Biennale is supposed to be in 2011, as a biennale is an every two year event. Unfortunately, according to the organizer, North Arts Space, the lack of fund is the problem. The organizer plans to expand the  artists which also involving international artist, so they postpone this event until 2012, and this coming December is scheduled for the 2nd Ceramic Biennale. This is a good news.

The development of ceramics art in Indonesia is not supported by magazines, journals, special galleries, and events such as ceramic competition or festivals  and ceramic communities. Besides books about ceramics published in Indonesia are very rare. Discussions and seminars about ceramics also very rare. We have a ceramic art museum, but the condition is bad, unlike the  ceramic museum in another Asia countries such as Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan. Those weakness  is a blessing in disguise. Because we do not have exclusive treatment for ceramic art, then it will be easier for Indonesian ceramic artist to be well accepted in the Indonesia’s Contemporary Art world.  We can see in some art exhibitions, such as biennials held in Indonesia, involved ceramic artists  to perform their work, mostly installation art. The artists use ceramic merely as a medium to express their idea in order to deliver the message. Some artists who are not a ceramic artists, nowadays use ceramic as part of their work.

The recent Biennale was Jakarta Biennale XIV (December 15, 2011 – January 15, 2012), curated by two journalist, Seno Joko Suyono and Ilham Khoiri, and an art writer, Bambang Asrini Widjanarko, including Donna Prawita Arisuta, Jenny Lee, and myself Nia Gautama. Another one was  Jogja (Central Java) Biennale XI (November 26, 2011-January 8, 2012), curated by Alia Swastika (Indonesia) and co-curator, Suman Gopinath (India), including Albert Yonathan and Nurdian Ichsan.  The Jakarta Biennale XIV theme is Jakarta Maximum City, so the artists were challenged to response the urban life in the hectic city. Donna presents paper bag made from stoneware clay attached with branded items to show consumptive urban life style. Jenny Lee, presents faceless fat figurines made from stoneware clay, with fancy colors titled ‘Show Off’. I myself, shows mixed media installation art, showing architectural form (floor display) made from ceramic, hanging object house like made from coconut leaves,  and floor display made from aluminium. Artwork title is “One Way Ticket”, displayed in a room which separated into two by natural screen made from arranged jackfruit leaves installed in threads hanging from the ceiling.

In Jogja Biennale (‘The Equator’ as its theme), Albert Yonathan presents mixed media and performance art, Cosmic Labyrinth series: The Stupas (Ceramics, Metronome, Video channel, Installation and performance, variable dimension) and The Bells (Terracotta, wooden beads, engraved acrylic sheets, bells, video channel, installation and performance, variable dimension). These mould objects repetitively arranged orderly following certain patterns,  to convey meditation visual impression (aura), but the artwork process mostly in meditative way.

Another established artist and lecturer,  Nurdian Ichsan,  presents a life-size clay sculpture, representing himself as the model. The legs’ of the clay sculpture were planted and blended to the lump of the raw clay that covering the floor, showing a metamorphose process from clay to human and vise versa. Probably he wants to deliver the spiritual and religious message : “…………… till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.” (Genesis:3:19)(King James 2000 Bible @2003).

Future Prediction

As  I mentioned above, that Indonesia’s Ceramic Art is not ‘a hot’ issue and do not supported by appropriate infrastructure, but we have some universities which produce emerging and established ceramic artists who gain the international reputation. Those are ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung-West Java), ISI Jogja (Instiut Seni Indonesia-Central Java), and IKJ (Institut Kesenian Jakarta-Jakarta)7. Some of those artists are loyal to use ceramic as their main medium, but some of them decided to free themselves to explore another material for their creative expression.

Indonesia doesn’t have ceramic art community. There is a HKI (Himpunan Keramik Indonesia-The Ceramic Society of Indonesia), but their main focus is for research and excavation of ancient ceramics. Another one is ASAKI (Asosiasi Aneka Keramik Indonesia-The Various Ceramic association of Indonesia) focusing on ceramic industry. In Bali, there is Gaya Ceramic Arts Center, but unfortunately it belongs to Italian and American. So I can not say that this ceramic art center is Indonesia’s.

Books about ceramic arts produced in Indonesia are very limited. There are some books published by The Ceramic Society of Indonesia, aiming to increase knowledge of ancient ceramics and precious heritage,  unfortunately supporting contemporary ceramic is not their interest yet. It will be easier to find books about painting and contemporary art of Indonesia (limited though) but not for ceramic.

Above limitation caused the development of contemporary ceramic in Indonesia (out of contemporary art) runs so slow. Ironically the creativity of Indonesian ceramic artist may compete to international artist. It is the JCCB#1, who lights up the spirit of Indonesia’s ceramic arts soul.** We are not ‘searching for the light’ again (as stated in my previous article in 2009), but we finally find  the light, little light still, flaming softly but strong, and The Light Still On. For sure…

Nia Gautama-April 2012

FLICAM Residency Program 2012

 

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Source of reference:

  • Hilda Soemantri, Majapahit: Terracotta Art, Ceramic Society of Indonesia, 1997
  • Hilda Soemantri, catalogue:  “Modern Indonesian Ceramic Art”, Pameran Restropeksi, Hildawati untuk Senirupa Modern ndonesia, 2002
  • Carla Bianpoen, article: In Memoriam: Pioneer of Modern Art Dies, The Jakarta Post, 20 January 2003
  • Asmudjo J Irianto, thesis: Seni Keramik Modern, FSRD, ITB, 1990
  • Asmudjo J Irianto, Ceramic Art: In Between the Contemporary Art and Contemporary Craft, curatorial text, JCCB#1, North Arts Space Jakarta, 2009
  • Amudjo J Irianto, Cosmic Mantra by Albert Yonathan, curatorial text, Sigiarts Gallery, Jakarta, 2010
  • The First Indonesia Contemporary Ceramic Biennale (JCCB#1), exhibition catalog, North Arts Space Jakarta, 2009
  • Interview with the artists
  • Internet site
  • Contemporary Ceramic of Indonesia: Searching for the Light, article, Nia Gautama, 2009

 

A Day with Ibu Kartika Affandi

What a wonderful  experience I have on Kartini Day, an Indonesian heroin for woman’s emancipation, which celebrates every April 21st yearly. I have a warm chat with Ibu Kartika Affandi, whom usually called as Mami (mommy), the first daughter of an Indonesian Maestro of painting Mr. Affandi.  It was an honor for me to teach her, as she is a famous painter, a maestro, but she let me teaches her about ceramic.  A junior teaches senior? Wow…a very rare experience.

My first impression of her, is she is a humble and friendly person.  She has a warm personality as it is easy for everybody to become her friends. Her simple and casual appearance,  doesn’t show that she is a famous person. Her  daily appearance more to ‘a mother’, ‘a grandma’, nothing special in her. But when she talks, we can recognize that she is an intellect and a persistent person.  Another thing that really impressed me of her, that she is very productive in her age, 77th.

Born in Jakarta on November 1934, from a couple Mr. H. Affandi and Hj. Maryati (first wife). She married  twice: RM. Sapto Hoedojo (first husband-divorce), then Gerhard Koberi (divorce).  From those marriage she has 8 children, 19 grandchildren, and 8 great grandchildren. She resides in Yogyakarta, Central Java. Came to Jakarta with her family to held a family exhibition at North Art Space, Pasar Seni, Jakarta, from April 20th-May 25th, 2012. The exhibition, Affandi’s Legacy, is a painting exhibition by Affandi’s family member. They are Affandi, Kartika Affandi (Affandi’s first daughter), Rukmini Affandi (Affandi’s daughter from Rubiyem, his second wife), and Didit (Kartika’s son from her first husband).

I was wondering why she wants to learn the clay forming.  She wants to make clay sculpture pure her handmade. Clay is a material that needs to be fire to become ceramic, that is why needs special technique to form the clay. The artist (or artisan) needs to get a basic knowledge of clay forming, to avoid the failure when firing the clay.   That is why she is curious in clay forming.

It takes only a simple step for me to teach Mami, who has a strong background in sculpture. It is enough for her to know how to avoid cracking and exploding when the clay is in firing process.  I only showed her the basic technique then she continued to make the head of a sculpture.  I lost my confidence at that time, because I knew that she is an expert sculptor. And yes she is. She is too skillful to be taught by a junior like me.  What impressed me, that she is very humble, friendly, and low profile.  She has a very good memory.  I only taught her once about the basic step, then she can remember all the steps I taught.  That is an advantage to teach someone who has the basic.

She really enjoyed to form the sculpture, and I didn’t want to disturb her. Then I asked her permission to meet Affriani, a painter who has a studio at Pasar Seni. She thanked me friendly. I thanked her many many thanks as I have a wonderful day with her.

-Nia Gautama, May 1, 2012-

 

Me Time-2

Today is my ‘Me Time’.  For about 8 months I stayed in Ubud, this is the 2nd time for ‘me time’. I think I’m too stupid to be able to appreciate myself, to have a rest a bit, and give myself a ‘free time’. Hmm…at least I did it again today.

Went out from my home at Baung, Sayan Village, about 10am, walking through the( harvested) rice field (already cut so I miss the green), my favorite. Ate my very late breakfast, the tahu tipat (tofu and steamed rice served with peanut sauce and beansprout topping, yummy). What a very big portion, I can’t finish it up.

Then walked trough Penestanan area to reach the Ubud Center. I don’t know why I love walking everywhere. Probably by walking I can enjoy my surrounding and capture anything that tickle my eyes.  Sometimes I ride my bike, but to reach the Ubud Center, biking is not comfortable for me. Poor my camera’s battery is exhausted, I missed my shot. Walked again to minimarket then I bought the new battery. But ..hmmm..the camera didn’t work properly, I regret to missed lots of shot.

Walked again, then I reached Pasar Ubud (Ubud Market). I love this market so much, so lovely and lively. I want to buy a new bag but couldn’t find the best one, then I bought new cotton pants, red in color. I love the style, and I think I have a collection of this style. Every time I go to pasar ubud, I always buy the same style in different colors.

It’s a really me time today. Wearing tanktop and short pants, walking around like a tourist. The local Balinese always communicate with me in English, because they always think that I’m a Japanese, Philipines, Taiwanese, Thai, haha, poor me, this is not good. They always surprise when I speak Indonesian fluently.

From Ubud Market then I walked again. This time I stopped at the bookstore which is also a library, ‘Rendevouz’.  This library will be one of my favorite place for ‘me time’. We can watch the documentary film about Bali in 1930s for free. Just order coffee and snack then you can enjoy yourself to read, to chat, to write, etc.  I wrote this journal in this library.

In 1930s, Balinese women were topless. Balinese really close to nature. They were topless everywhere and do activities, also topless when dancing. They took a bath naked freely in the river, sometimes enjoyed the mini waterfall that runs through the reservoir. I compared my  breast to theirs, waa…mine is too small, no wonder no conglomerate propose me, haha.  I’m thinking one day I’d love to try to become a Balinese Woman in the past. Topless everywhere and bathing naked in the clean river. This is the way to unite with this nature and praise the universe. When will it be… time will tell….

-Nia, Ubud 23 october 2011-

Sparkling Padi Fields

Fireflies spoiled my eyes comfort my heart

Fireflies tiptoed on my fingers with blush

Stars and moon charmingly lead my path

Sparkling stars spoiled my eyes comfort my heart

Moon shyly shares its light showing lovers kissing

My heart is blossom

My face is smiling

My faith is praising God

-Nia, Sayan, Ubud, 9 July 2011-

I presented this poem for the fireflies who always entertain me when walking through the padi field at night. They are sparkling beautifully decorating the dark. My camera can not catch their sparks at night. But I present you the the sunset view that I captured today, 22 Oct 2011 trough the leave’s hole.

LIFE TRANSFORMATION

Me at Ubud-Bali

Dear readers….

This Rabbit year is a transformation of my life. I made a big decision for my future, wish for brighter life.

Let me flash back my past life.

I am someone who has passion in art, even though my formal academic background was Marketing Management. I worked for some advertising agencies previous years ago. Love my job actually because I interacted with lots of people.

In 1998, I was introduced by ceramic art, but then  decided to be serious in arts since 2000, specializing in ceramic art. My curiosity leaded me to read a lot about arts and explored lots of arts exhibitions in order to gain arts knowledge. I did several ceramic art exhibitions both National and International.

Previous years (2000-2009), the first time when I was started my ceramic studio, I produced various ceramic products such as tableware, candle holders, aromatherapy, flower vase, and sometimes souvenirs. I also open ceramic course at my studio and did some ceramic workshop both for kids and adults.

Experience taught a lot and my life journey taught me to understand myself deeper. I am  typical of woman who is good in a professional career instead of doing home industry business.

Intuition helps me to choose the wise decision. I stop producing ceramic products mention above, but I focused on ceramic jewelry designer. This is to minimize my workspace and to broaden my activities as an artist and to give more time to write. I realize that I love to write, and yes I can write. Starting 2009, I wrote an article about ceramic art and published in a catalog for ceramic exhibition in Taiwan, later for some magazine too, and I also produced my first book in 2011, titled: KERAMIK, untuk Hobi dan Karir (CERAMIC, for Hobby and Carrier), published by PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, one of the best publisher in my country, Indonesia.

I was born and grown up in Jakarta. All of my activities are based in Jakarta. I believe that people need to leave the ‘same zone’ in order to increase their life quality and to find self fulfillment. When people stuck at the same zone, then they will never step forward as they never meet the different challenge and difficulties that will give self-enrichment.

It is about time for me to leave Jakarta, and I decided to reside and work in Bali. Why Bali? Because my intuition whispered. TRUST YOUR HEART!! This is one of my biggest decision. I have to sacrifice my ego from a full time independent (starving) artist and ready to work under an institution which is company will then must be my priority. I work for a ceramic art center and ceramic & design studio. My life journey taught me a lot about sincerity and the power of sacrificing. Now, I am taking a little bit rest rushing for self-existence as I learned that one’s existence is timeless as long as he/she keeps on moving. Never quit your unlimited creativity !!! One of my favorite quote : “It is not about winning once, but it is about the constancy of winning. Sometimes as a runner, we have to step back a few steps to run faster and jump higher”.

It will be good if one has purpose in life. My life resolution for 2011 is processing myself to become WINE IMMORTAL for the future. Means?I learned form wine philosophy: higher value and higher quality as you are getting older. Like wine, it will be more delicious and the price will be higher and higher when it is older. People ever thought, that getting older means weaker and become nothing. Not for me. Growing older means: maximizing brain potential, minimizing muscle works, then your life will be easier.  Trust this philosophy, then your inner beauty will be brighter. Whereas immortal means can not die. I mean though  you died physically (everybody will die, right?), but your  positive contribution will live forever, hopefully inspiring lots of people.  WINE IMMORTAL.