A cultural event initiated by the Jakarta Art Movement (JAM) conveys themes of spiritualism in an urban community
Text by Bambang Asrini Widjanarko
This February, the Jakarta Art Movement (JAM), an art community initiated by groups of artists and curators in Jakarta, is cooperating with the Indonesian National Gallery to present an art exhibit entitled “The Second God”, which will also feature a seminar and workshop.
The JAM community, which comprises 15 groups and over a hundred individuals, consists of painters, sculptors, architects, illustrators, installation artists, graphic artists, photographers, film makers, video artists, fashion designers, interior designers, and digital graphic artists from Jakarta, Bogor and Tangerang.
Some of the members also work in the formal sector as executives, accountants, secretaries, or in other jobs not directly associated with art. Through group dynamics and interaction with the curators who presented the exhibition topic, they discussed and responded to the topic. The final output was produced by the artist groups, in a wide variety of forms.
The topics in this exhibition depart from issues in urban society - idols in the urban world and the quest for God, categorized into three zones, each packaged in a major theme - “The Second God”; “Art Today”; and “Technology, Human Identity and Spirituality.”
The artists in JAM uphold the credo that art is open and liberating, multidisciplinary, and diverse. Art works should be produced through an aesthetic built from interaction and dynamics within the group. In creating their works, they respond to, and collaborate with, one another.
For example, consider the artist and architect Ario and the Ario group from Tarumanagara University, and their work entitled “Cyborg Worship”. They chose to enter the first category/ zone in the exhibition, dealing with technology. Ario built a female robot using the approach of creating a sculpture, while robot builders in the group from the Tarumanagara University Robot Laboratory helped with the technical aspect.
They comment cynically through this work by creating a mystical altar for worship of machines and robots as a symbol of humankind’s domination of nature – or is it the machines that are dominating both nature and humankind? This is a very elegantly constructed collaboration.
We also see the Ancol Plus group, consisting of Kadi, Arifin, Aung and Sapon, who also chose to place their group’s expression in the technology zone, with the title “Welcome To The Abyss”. They painted - on the floor of the National Gallery – images of cliffs and gullies, full of technological instruments such as computer machinery and complex chips.
These artists are seeking to convey the criticism that humans nowadays no longer believe that anything is created by nature, but rather that everything is created by humans themselves. This work is unique, because the painting is enormous, 13 meters by 8 meters, and when seen from certain angles it appears to be entirely real. In the West, this type of work is referred to as 3D illusionist painting.
Another group, Keiza and Friends, which comprises a fashion designer, a photographer, a video artist, a model, a choreographer and a graphic designer, criticizes human behavior and humanity’s creations in zone B: human identity. They produce clothing designs made from eletronic waste and the trash generated by human consumption, especially plastic and metal, as a special carnival and performance art that raises the issues of humankind and its ambiguity.
In another group we see Tiga De Studio, a collaboration between graphic artist Nanda and Hery, an installation artist, with a work entitled “In God We Trust”. They chose zone C, the search for spirituality in this century. These artists have built giant letters and life-sized dolls, which will be placed in the front courtyard and terrace of the National Gallery.
Meanwhile, the group Tato and Agus present a work entitled “Man and The Racing”, which combines painting, digital photography, video art and sculpture. They believe that humankind has already met its fate of competing with the machines that it has created, and that human civilization is built upon servitude to technology. This work, 12 meters by 5 meters, will be placed in Hall A of the Indonesian National Gallery in the first zone/ category.
This exhibition aims to present new ideas, especially about group expression and the diversity of art. The show is also a cultural statement and reflection on society in Jakarta, with plans to include a seminar featuring experts from diverse fields such as doctors of information technology, experts on art in urban zones, doctors of sociology and philosophy, practitioners of spiritual paths and students of religious practices in urban society.