Everything is not always what it seems.
That’s one message you’ll take away from Indo Pop, opening at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery this Friday Night.
Indo Pop: Indonesian Art from APT7 forms a small part of what was the seventh Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art showcased at Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in 2012-13, and highlights a tumultuous time for Indonesian artists and citizens throughout the time of the Suharto government.
Henri van Noordenburg, QAGOMA’s Regional Services Coordinator, described how the artworks on exhibit not only emphasised the struggle felt by the arts industry in being able to express themselves, but the violence and hardship faced by regular families.
“Looking at the work of Wedhar Riyadi behind us (Noise from the fertile land no. 3, 2012), it’s a classic family portrait of the time, or even of many generations. It’s trying to show through the portrait the violence these people may have gone through, or even how the photograph survived that period. That’s why the artist covered the figures with alien objects around them, to disguise the figures but to emphasise the violence they faced,” Mr Noordenburg said.
“The artists selected for this exhibition are artists looking at the change that happened in Indonesia – these were all artists brought up in the time of the Suharto regime, a period when they weren’t allowed to do or say anything. There were no protests, because any protests would most likely result in murder or prison. A lot of artists started standing up by forming groups and this art is a reflection of the pain and suffering that happened during that time.
“When the Suharto government fell, there was no distinct art scene, it was very small. The artists began standing up and really working the art markets through that, and Hahan’s work makes a comment about how cut throat the arts industry is. The sculpture in the middle of the exhibition is a two-faced arts dealer: on one side the dealer is eating his own money, the other side the dealer is eating the art book he has written. It’s this idea of looking at the arts and showing what the artists have to go through to make it in the industry. There’s a beautiful video piece by Tromarama, talking about the uprise and the change of government and policies in Indonesia with their piece Happy Hour. In the video, Indonesian banknotes are animated, with the figures on the banknotes singing a song about money always being dirty or for the rich. It highlights the good and bad aspects of money through those extremes, so the idea of Happy Hour is to give money a break. Here in Happy Hour they can really get loose, have a good time and sing this song. It’s quite funny and a beautiful and playful way of expressing what the artists went through.”
Noordenburg also reflected on the relevance this exhibition has on arts in Australia.
“The thing to remember about the arts industry is it’s not just the commercial aspect of it, but it’s a cultural necessity that we have to have. Without art, how can we tell people’s stories, or express the hardship we or people in other countries have gone through?
It’s a very important medium to have: we must tell our stories and put in history what’s happened, and that happens through the arts. It’s one of the most important parts of our culture.”
Gallery Services’ Education & Programs Coordinator, Louise Cummins, said the range of exhibitions made available to Perc Tucker Regional Gallery is incredible, and is a great opportunity to immerse locals in art of all types.
“We try to get as many diverse things to show our local audiences as possible. Showing art from both Townsville and Queensland, as well as more broadly from Australia and internationally is such an exciting and important thing to do. We really want to show people what the world of art is about and what exciting things we have available,” Ms Cummins said.
“We have a fantastic art collection here in the city of Townsville but we also have fantastic artwork coming to us from right across Australia and internationally, like Indo Pop. It’s not something we would have been able to put together here due to the size, but we’re able to take it as a touring venue to give local audiences the ability to see art from right around the world at their doorstep.
“Indo Pop came to us at Perc Tucker in November so it didn’t get caught up in the wet season road closures. We’ve had it in our off-site storage since then – it’s quite a large exhibition, so getting it on-site is quite a challenge. We’re in this beautiful heritage building and we have small doorways and entrances, so we’ve got to compete with those challenges. A lot of exhibition installations involve late night road closures and constant weather radar checking to make sure nothing gets damaged.”
Indo Pop: Indonesian Art from APT7 launches at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery this Friday, 3 February, with a talk from QAGOMA Head of Learning, Terry Deen, at 6:30pm. The exhibition will run from 3 February until 19 March, and offers something exciting for all ages.