Titarubi is working on a history! She reveals a chain of period that is the initial and considered most important in the discourse of Indonesia’s history, which a lot of people are so fond of calling it as a part of a major program of ‘becoming Indonesia’.
Events of the past are now turning and become significant because of the thirst coming from different perspectives. Interestingly, to give meaning to history seems to be reserved for those who are involved in it through a specific, scientific method, and it would surprise us when there is someone who is giving meaning to history in a less common ways, especially the ways done by artists.
What drew Titarubi into history in her solo exhibition in Philo Art Space? Anything can be an object of interest for an artist. An event in history if of course just one of those objects, and there must be a certain, more specific object in that history that an artist wants to present. Spices are the object that is given Titarubi’s focus – how the peculiarity of that object emerges in different dimensions or concepts which are important to put forward.
An artist is also a person that works with a particular method of research, and that in their seriousness in doing so, they are not so different from other researchers going through theirs. The difference in presenting the result of the research as written documents or books and in a visual representation is an interpretation phenomenon that each has its own attractiveness.
There are at least two serious matters that Titarubi has to face in her endeavor to produce ‘the history of spices’: the availability of data relevant to the representation of the visual dimension of the objects she is working with, and how to create an iconistic visual aesthetic as a result of her ‘reading’ of the data.
It needed a tremendous spartan discipline or pure recklessness in working with such historic reality! It is the impression of Titarubi’s initial spirit to ensure that the theme comes true. It was fully understood that it would not be easy to prepare the materials needed to ensure the atmosphere of such historic event would be represented satisfactorily in both the affective and cognitive aspects. To collect thousands of nutmegs needed, for instance, Tita had to directly go to areas that produce them and had to accurately and diligently calculate the timing to work with them. Tita’s spirit reached its peak to fulfill the ‘technical-aesthetic demand’ of making those thousands of nutmegs into golden balls to be strung as cloak to be worn by a figure that is considered as the source of inspiration for the historic event.
To work with history is to read into the formation of the inter-woven events that in one part is explicitly shown while in other part only vaguely so, and even in other part is hidden; and therefore challenge oneself to be absorbed into their interpretation. Here is when the events of history become a ‘story’ which is open to be retold from various perspectives.
Titarubi intention is to make a narration of her focus on the history of spices. As we understand it, a narration is a way to connect one aspect into the others and create a relevance that turns those aspects into a flowing and complete story.
Different pieces combined into a complete element of the spices story that Tita wove are transport, episteme represented by written language or books, expression of faces expressed, and symbolical figure from which the spirit for mission and exploration emerges. For Tita, it is the inter-woven of these elements that has drained her of her creative process stamina, that her effort was like banging here head on something extremely hard and tangible, but yet unclear. But for whatever reason, it needs to be liquefied.
Transport represents the creation of the map and also the conquest of certain areas, or if it’s not too difficult to admit, the conquest of all territories on the face of the earth. Authority, knowledge, and civilization may only be spread if they are supported by adequate transport technology. Titarubi is boldly pointing to the ship bringing the fleet in to the conquest. In this context, transport also tells us the era’s creativity on how technology was created by brilliant designer putting the functions of spaces along with their aesthetic accessories.
Creativity depends on knowledge and all of its aesthetic representations. Knowledge gives the fundamental for legitimation of the practical condition for the establishment of certain position for those who control it. Knowledge and authority (or power), as we can see in the history of civilization, are two very different things but yet are supporting each other regardless of where they are utilized or whom are utilizing them. It is generally understood that knowledge and power are expressing metaphysic slogans such as ‘justice’, ‘equality’, ‘freedom’, and the likes.
Titarubi points out that knowledge, power and transport-technology have become choice of perspective that is explicitly shown in the history that she works with. In short, it is these concepts that propel Titarubi to express her aesthetic map into a daring visual narration of the spices history. And eventually, that narration can always be brought back to its major player, human, as the subject, witness and mainly as its victim: those human faces!
May the understanding of history through visual representation as Tita offers in her solo exhibition becomes a knowledge adequate enough to fulfill the basic curiosity that we have, though this may only be a piece of a vast stories of the past with the same theme. The review by DR. A. Setyo Wibowo would help us in understanding and to delve into the base concept of Titarubi aesthetic. Truly and impressive writing!
Happy exhibiting – and enjoy!
Discourse of the Past
Titarubi born in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1968. Studied ceramic from the Department of Fine Art, Faculty of Art and Design, Bandung Institute of Technology. Her career as an artist started since 1988. She is now lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Titarubi worked with various mediums and her works takes in many forms – sculpture, installation, performance art, happening art, painting, graphics, etc. She also collaborated several times with musician, theater artist, dancer and filmmaker. The issues that attracted her attentions are about body, identity, gender, memory and colonialism.
Her works has been collected and exhibited in Asia and Europe, including Singapore Biennale, ZKM Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe, Germany), Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (Darwin, Australia), Busan Biennale Sculpture Project, MACRO (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rome), and Singapore Art Museum.
Outside her art activities, Titarubi was also active in the movement of releasing and improving the welfare of political prisoners in New Order Indonesia, as well as disaster response activities in Indonesia by setting up the Studio Biru in 2006, when Yogyakarta suffered the earthquake, and the anti-censorship movement. She became the founding member and actively involve inIndonesian Contemporary Art Network (iCAN) – an organization that promote public education and multi-disciplinary work in art and, recently, Forum Rempah – a forum focusing on the history of spice and its culture in Indonesian archipelago.
• “Discourse of the Past”. Philo Art Space, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Burning Boundaries”. Galerie Micahel Janssen, Berlin, Germany
• “Surrounding David”. a commission work of the National Museum of Singapore, Singapore
• “Herstory”. Bentara Budaya Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Kisah Tanpa Narasi”. Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Benih”. Via-Via Cafe, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Bayang-bayang Maha Kecil”. Kedai Kebun Forum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Bayang-bayang Maha Kecil Puri”. Art Gallery, Malang, Indonesia
• “Bayang-bayang Maha Kecil”. Cemara 6 Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Se[Tubuh] Benda”. Art Space, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Yang Kelak Retak” (Will be Going Crack). Infant-Shelter Promotion for Tangerang, West Java, Manufacturing’s Labors Exhibition], Senandika Perempuan Women NGO, Pondok Indah Mall, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Yang Kelak Retak”. Stage Cafe, Ratu Plaza, Jakarta, Indonesia
Selected Group Exhibitions
• “Suspended Histories”, Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
• Indonesia National Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy
• “Welcome to the Jungle: Contemporary Art in Southeast Asia from the Collection of Singapore Art Museum”, Yokohama Museum of Art, Yokohama, Japan
• “Pharmacide Arts: Fake medicine: The Disease of Greed”. Langgeng Art Foundation, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “FLOW-Indonesian Contemporary Art”. Galerie Michael Janssen, Berlin, Germany
• “Faux médicaments”. Espace et université de pharmacie de Hanoi, Hanoi, Vietnam
• “Faux médicaments”. Idecaf, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
• “Faux médicaments”. Université de pharmacie de Vientiane, Laos, Vietnam
• “Re.Claim”. National Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Beyond the East: A Gaze on Indonesian Contemporary Art”. International cultural biennale Vie della seta (Silk Roads), Rome, Italy
• “Biennale Jogja XI”. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Negotiating Home, History and Nation”. Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
• “1001 Doors: Re-inventing Traditions”. Ciputra Marketing Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Rainbow Asia”. Hangaram Art Museum, Seoul Art Center, Seoul, South Korea • “Faith by Chen Hui-Chiao & Titarubi”, Sakshi Gallery Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
• “The Anniversary of ARTI Magazine”. Podomoro Park, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Space & Images”. Ciputra World. Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Oasis To Be”. Maha Art Gallery. Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
• “Masih Ada Gus Dur”. Langgeng Gallery, Magelang, Indonesia
• “Jakarta Contemporary Ceramic Biennale #1”. North Art Space, Ancol, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Deer Andry”. Mess 56, Jogjakarta, Indonesia
• “My Body”. Grand Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “China International Gallery Exposition (CIGE) Art Fair”. Vanessa Art Link, 798 District Beijing, China
• “Busan Biennale 2008 Sculpture Project”. APEC Naru Park, Busan, South Korea
• “Manifesto. Pameran Besar Seni Rupa Indonesia”. Galeri Nasional, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “The Arafura Craft Exchange : Trajectory of Memories Tradition and Modernity in Ceramics”. Museum and Art Gallery of The Nortern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin, Australia
• “Biennale Jogja IX 2007: Neo-Nation”. Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Asian International Art Exhibition 22nd: Imagining Asia. Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung, Indonesia
• “Indonesian Women Artists: The Curtain Opens”. National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves”. ZKM, Kalsruhe, Germany
• “China International Gallery Exposition”. Vanessa Art Link, Beijing, China
• “World Social Forum” Kasarani, MOI International Sport Center, Nairobi, Kenya
• “Common Link”. Vanessa Art Link, Chao Yang District Beijing, China
• “Singapore Biennale 2006”. Singapore
• “Masa dan Tanda-Tanda”. Vanessa Art Link, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Biennale Jogja VIII: Di Sini & Kini”. Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Summit Event Bali Biennale: Space and Scape”. Bali, Indonesia
• “Urban/Culture: CP International Biennale 2005”. Museum Bank Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Transindonesia: Scoping Culture in Contemporary Indonesia Art”. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zeland
• “Barcode”. Gedung Societet Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Good Morning Meneer!” Pekan Budaya Hindie Kedai Kebun Forum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Objecthood”. Gedung Societet, Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “Pameran Seni Keramik Muda Indonesia”. National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta
• “Menimbang ‘Dunia’ Perempuan”. Gedung Societet, Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• “All You Need is Love”. Nadi Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Girl Talk” Edwin’s Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Modernization & Urbanization Maronnier”. Art Center, Seoul, South Korea
• “Fusion Strength” Langgeng Gallery, Magelang, Indonesia
• “Women Exhibition”. Jakarta Art Festival, Bentara Budaya Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Jejak Tanah dan Api: The 3000th Years Terracotta in Indonesia”. National Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Flying Trough the Wall: Palu Art Forum”. Palu, Sulawesi, Indonesia
• “Media dalam Media”. National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “A Million Bodies”. Makassar Art Forum, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia
• “Plastic (& Other Waste)”. Chulangkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
• “Missing and Silent”. Lontar Art Gallery, Indonesia Alliance for Better Earth and Human Life Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Ceramic Exhibition”. Times Gallery, Bandung, Indonesia
• “Seni Keramik dan Grafis”. Gedung YPK, Bandung, Indonesia
• “Ceramic c\Craft Exhibition”. Bandung, Indonesia
• Plaza Education and Culture Departement Building, Jakarta, Indonesia
• “Ekspresi”. The Japan Foundation, Jakarta, Indonesia
• Nikko Art Gallery, Bandung, Indonesia
Selected Other Art Projects
• Collaborator and installation works for “Selamat Datang dari Bawah”, a dance performance coreographed by Fitri Setyaningsih. iCAN Art Space, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
• Artistic director of “The History of Chidren Movement”, an exhibition on the 30th years of children movement in Indonesia. Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• Installation works for “Shakuntala”, a theater directed by Naomi Srikandi. French Cultural Center of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
• “A Million Bodies”, a performance. Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
• Installation works and assistant artistic director for Garin Nugroho’s film “Opera Java”
• “A Million Bodies”, a performance. Makassar Art Forum, Makassar, Indonesia