12-HOUR PERFORMANCE 11 am - 11 pm
Buddhism, the Environment and the release of Self
A long-format 12-hour piece by internationally reknowned artist Arahmaiani, whose solo show opened Thursday, September 15 at Tyler Rollins Fine Art in Chelsea, NYC
ARAHMAIANI is one of a leading figure in the contemporary art scene in Indonesia, working in performance, painting, drawing, installation, video, poetry, dance and music. She was one of the artists in the Indonesia National Pavilion at the 50th Venice Biennale. Her work has grappled with contemporary politics, violence, critique of capital, the female body and in recent years, her own identity, which although Muslim, still mediates between Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and animist beliefs. She often uses her public presence in order to attract attention to violence against women in general and to female discrimination in Indonesia’s Islamic society, in particular. Since September 11, she was combined her critical attitude toward Islam with a fight against its general stigmatization. And since 2010 she has been working with Tibetan monks in Tibet Plateau dealing with environmental issues.
Shadow of The Past
My latest works in the form of paintings, videos, installations, and performance, are influenced by my research into the past cultures of Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism in Indonesia, which left behind many temples – even the largest Buddhist temple in the world, Borobudur, which was buried for 800 years and was rediscovered around 200 years ago. Also there are very ancient books of Buddhist teaching, such as Sanghyang Kamahayanikan, which was discovered in the kingdom of Lombok when it was defeated by the Dutch military in the year 1900. Furthermore, there is the relationship in ancient times between Tibetan Buddhism and local Buddhism in what is now Indonesia (which in the past was of the Mahayana/Tantrayana sect).
A monk known by the name Lama Atisha, who became a reformer of the Buddhist religion in Tibet and who founded Kadampa school, once studied for twelve years in the Buddhist university in Sriwijaya (the ancient kingdom in Indonesia), where he received the guidance of a local master by the name of Dharmakirti, who in Tibet is known as Lama Serlingpa.
Besides this, my activity with the monks and the laypeople in Lab village, in the Kham region of Tibet, over the past six years, with the goal of solving environmental problems, is also of course another source of fresh inspiration which has a relation to the past of Java, my place of birth. The Tibetan Plateau – which is also known as the Third Pole and Asia’s Water Tower because it is the source of seven large rivers on which the livelihood of more that two billion people depends – is under the threat of draught. Climate change, also known as global warming, has caused the glaciers and even the permafrost to melt. There have been many disasters at the upstream areas of the rivers, such as floods and mudslides. Efforts must be undertaken to prevent larger disasters, particularly to answer the issue of the drying up of all the springs there.
Another aspect, which is no less important and is very influential in the formation of my ideas and thoughts, is my collaboration with academics in Passau University in Germany. This has given input concerning the development of science with all its challenges, issues and limitations. Also, there is my collaboration with spiritualist leaders from various faiths (Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, and Hinduism), which of course offers much input as well as understanding of diverse religions, cultures, and “spiritual traditions.” Thus my new works might be more of a contemplation on the present condition of life, which is full of issues and challenges. Which is under the threat of ecological destruction. Or which is awash with the suffering of those who are poor and marginalized in this less than just economic system that tends to be profit oriented. I try to imagine a brighter future for life and try to change the direction of thinking that causes destruction and inhuman conditions.
Yogyakarta, August 2016
ABOUT GRACE EXHIBITION SPACE
Opened in 2006, Grace Exhibition Space is devoted exclusively to Performance Art. We offer an opportunity to experience visceral and challenging works by the current generation of international performance artists whether emerging, mid career or established.
Being a Brooklyn loft, our events are presented on the floor, not on a stage, dissolving the boundary between artist and viewer. This is how performance art is meant to be experienced and our mission is the glorification of performance art.
Grace Exhibition Space is run by Jill McDermid & Erik Hokanson with Quinn Dukes.