Biennale Jogja


16 Nov 2013 - 06 Jan 2014

Equator #2
16 November 2013 – 6 January 2014

Curator: Agung Hujatnikajennong (Indonesia)
Co Curator : Sarah Rifky (Mesir)

Artistic Director:
Farah Wardani (Indonesia)

Since 2011, BJ has shown a great change in its vision, mission and mechanism of organizing the event. In 2010, the Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation (Yayasan Biennale Yogyakarta/YBY) designed and launched the new project of BJ as a long-term program plan that will be held until the next decade, the year 2022. It came out with the goal of developing new perspectives in contemporary art discourse, as well as opening itself and revising the conventions of programs of its kind. YBY intends to make Yogyakarta and Indonesia more known broadly as a significant site in the constellation of international art scene. Among the dynamics of a global art scene that appears to be inclusive and egalitarian, the hierarchies of centers and peripheries in fact still strongly exist. Therefore, the need to intervene is urgent. YBY imagines a common platform that can support, intervene and provoke the dominance of the centers, as well as offering alternatives through the diversity of contemporary art practice from the Indonesian perspective.
Within the next 10 years, YBY will organize BJ as a series of exhibition and art activities that adheres to one great theme, EQUATOR. This Biennale series sets the equatorial locations as its main premise and working area, i.e. the particular geographical areas of earth ranged between the latitudes 23.27° NL and 23.27° SL. In every event, BJ will choose to work with one or more countries/regions as its partner, by inviting the artists and art communities from the chosen partnering countries within the equatorial areas to collaborate, create, exhibit, encounter and dialog with Indonesian artists, collectives, organizations and cultural communities, in Yogyakarta.
The countries/regions within the equatorial areas that have been planned to partner with BJ for the next 10 years are:
1. India (Biennale Jogja XI 2011) – already held
2. Arab countries (Biennale Jogja XII 2013)
3. African countries (Biennale Jogja XIII 2015)
4. Latin American countries (Biennale Jogja XIV 2017)
5. Countries in the Pacific Ocean and Australia, including Indonesia as an archipelago (Biennale Jogja XV 2019) – for the particularity of this regional scope, BJ XV could be known as ‘Ocean Biennale’.
6. Southeast Asian countries (Biennale Jogja XVI 2021)
7. The conclusion of the equatorial series will be summed up with the Equator Conference in 2022.

Why Equator?
The ‘equator’ as a concept is not only imagined as merely a frame to accommodate uniformity but also as a point of entry to explore and interpret the diversities of the current global contemporary societies. ‘Equator’ becomes a common platform to review the world. As a geographical landmark, the equator comprises a set of regions that have their own ecological characteristics. As a socio-cultural area, the regions also have many historical and ethnographic similarities, for instance in terms of their political ‘destiny’ as ‘postcolonial countries’. This area promises many interesting aspects to be explored, for its diversities reflect the cultural richness of the societies, as well as endless resources of life. The equator – the earth zone that runs at a relatively higher rotation speed, stretches around 40,000 kilometers, comprises a plethora of islands and continental regions bound by great oceans – will be an arena of explorations, analysis, encounters, and exchanges of cultures that together raise the values of humanity.
The artistic encounters in the BJ Equator series are done with the spirit of making sustainable networks, so the dialogues, partnerships and collaborations can give birth to new, broader and continuous partnerships among art practitioners in the equatorial regions. This way, BJ hopes to contribute to making a new topography of global art scene, with new formulas and perspectives. The effort has been pioneered by the organization of the Biennale Jogja 2011 last year, with the meeting of two countries, Indonesia and India as two regions in the equator that have great potential and resources in Asia. India was chosen as the first since it is regarded to have a direct political-historical relation with Indonesia, with the history of the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, 1955, as well as strong cultural historical relations in the ancient times, with the great interactions between the two regions through spice trade and the distribution of Hinduism and Buddhism.

In 2013, Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2 (The 2nd Equator Biennale) will cooperate with several countries within the Arab region (along the equatorial line), mainly Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The exhibition curated by Agung Hujatnikajennong (Indonesia) and Sarah Rifky (Egypt). Agung Hujatnikajennong has offered the theme of ‘mobility’ as a curatorial concept for the 2nd Equator Biennale.

Indonesian Encounter with the Arab Region
Why Arab region? Interactions between Indonesia and the Arab region have occurred since the 7th century, when there were crowded links of international trades through the Malacca Strait that connected various cultures (such as China, Sriwijaya Kingdom and the Banni Ummayah). The spread of Arab cultures and Islam occurred through trading relations. The acculturation of Islam in the archipelago happened when merchants and royalties converted to Islam. The construction of Indonesia as the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world today is inseparable from the historical fact of the interaction between the locals and the Arab culture at that time.
Today, the issues of relations between Indonesia and the Arab cregion become more significant for discussion. It is not only due to the historical link and religious connections in the past, but as parts of global contemporary society that have undergone rapid modernity, both Indonesia and the Arab regions are now bound by social, political and economic relations, bilaterally and multilaterally, at least since Indonesian independence in 1945, where several countries within the Arab region – such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia – participated in the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung 1955.
In the context of global culture, the dynamic contemporary art development in the Arab region and South East Asia have become prominent factors to motivate building a stronger bond between Indonesia and the Arab region. The two regions are not regarded as the mainstream of modern art that is centered in Europe and US. Following up current economic and political changes in the world, there has been a new awareness among art practitioners in the peripheral areas, including the ones from Asia-Pacific and the Arab regions, to initiate international-scale exhibitions, art fairs and artists residency programs that eventually construct a new topography on the international art map. Contemporary art practices in Indonesia and the Arab region have potential as a new category that challenges existing stereotypes – such as the category of ‘art from the Islamic world’ – that has so far resulted from the dominant system of representation in the global art scene.
Since early 2000s, the organizing of international-scale exhibitions, whether in Indonesia and the Arab region, have not only been individual efforts to build new infrastructure for local art development. The exhibitions should be seen as a collective strategy to negotiate identity among the dynamics and complexities of the global art scene. Biennale Jogja in Indonesia, and a number of big events that have occurred in the Arab regions like Egypt, UAE, Dubai and Qatar – such as Art Dubai and Sharjah Biennale – have become important hubs to define the localities of the regions, apart from so many international events in Europe and America. Such initiatives must be understood as a strong assets at the local level, and should be developed further to become more concrete programs, which could serve to encounter the art practices from the two regions more intensively and deeply. The 2nd Equator Biennale is a way to achieve that goal.

Geographical Scope
The countries of the Arab region that are designated to be the partner countries of the 2nd Equator Biennale are those within the geographical and geo-cultural areas that include 5 countries in the equatorial scope: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Amman, Yemen and United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Curatorial Concept: Mobility
In this global era, contemporary art has become a part of cultural practice that also contributes to define the patterns of society’s lives in this new millenium, particularly in the urban environment. Urban societies in several parts of the world are now connected greatly by economic and political systems, and also by the global cultural systems that make it possible for two or more cultures to juxtapose, encounter and blend with each other. Globalization is characterized by the birth of unpredictable relations between the flows of capital, media technology, ideas and migrations of the agents. It involves dynamic movements of cultural collectives, information exchange through technology, economic transactions, etc, which do not depend on one great ideal or harmonious master plan. In this context, the metaphors of uncertainty, contingency and chaos are in fact relevant to describe the process of globalization that strays from the principles of social stability.
As the curatorial concept of the 2nd Equator Biennale , ‘Mobility’ starts from the perspective that sees the contemporary art practice as a manifestation of modes of productions – distributions – consumptions that apply in the global art scene. Globalization offers new routes of ‘mobility’ for the process of migration, exchange and crossings of the agents, in terms of both ideas and esthetics. As a result, the art world has gone through a siginificant expansion. The life cycles of art – as ideas or objects – becomes more complex. For artists, this can make things easier, as well provide new challenges. On one hand, new possibilities experiment esthetically through interactions with new social fields are opened up. But on the other hand, artists also face the new mechanism of unpredictable global multiplication, expansion, intensification and acceleration, which has potential to reduce their cultural autonomy as an individual.
To prevent the risks of rigid practice in linking this process of globalization and the art scene today, the concept of ‘Mobility’ will be manifested in activities with two main targets:
1) To understand and map the patterns of creation and production of art that have occurred through the migration of Indonesian and the Arab region artists.
2) To create new channels that offer new potential for migration/exchanges between artists from Indonesia and the Arab region, which means to encourage more esthetic experimentation as well as new artistic creations and productions.
The implementation of the concept will try to avoid the stereotypical assumptions attached to the cultures, demography and social/political/economic lives of the societies in the two regions. As a whole, this exhibition will present selected works of artists in two main criteria:
1) Artists (regardless of citizenship) who in the last 3 – 5 years have been migrating, crossing borders, staying and living in Indonesia and Countries of the Arab region.
2) Artists who are nationalities of Indonesia and countries of the Arab region who live and work as well as doing exchanges in and outside their countries.
However strong globalization has come to bring forth uniformity as an impact, in reality art practices in different societies and different cultural areas cannot be made uniform. Through ‘Mobility’, artists deal with the urgency to rethink the function and position of art in the society.

Curators of the Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2

Agung Hujatnika a.k.a Agung Hujatnikajennong is a lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the Institute of Technology in Indonesia. He attained his doctorate from the Institute of Technology, Bandung, with a dissertation on curatorial practice in Indonesia. Since 1999 he has written articles about art in various kinds of mass media and presented seminars nationally and internationally. Agung has undertaken curatorial residencies in Australia (Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, 2002) and in Japan (Nanjo and Associates, Tokyo, 2004; Arts Initiative Tokyo, 2011). He was curator at Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (2001 – 2012) and has curated many exhibitions in Indonesia and abroad, among these are OK Video – Jakarta Video Festival (2003; SUB/VERSION, 2005; FLESH, 2011); Bandung New Emergence (2006, 2008, 2010); and a number of solo shows by Indonesian contemporary artists, such as Agus Suwage, Handiwirman Saputra, Jompet Kuswidananto, Mella Jaarsma, Heri Dono and Dadang Christanto. In 2009, he was the curator of “Fluid Zones”, the main exhibition in the Jakarta Biennale program: ARENA.

Sarah Rifky is co-founder and director of Beirut a space in Cairo dedicated to art and thinking about institution building as a curatorial act, together with Jens Maier-Rothe. She obtained her MFA in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy, Lund University in Sweden in 2009. Rifky was curator of The Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art (2009-2011); Adjunct Professor of Art Theory & History at the American University in Cairo (2010); curatorial agent of dOCUMENTA(13) (2011-2012). Since 2010 she manages MASS Alexandria, a school for artists in Miami (Alexandria), together with Wael Shawky. She is the author of The Going Insurrection (2012) and Delusions of Reference: In Defense of Art (2013), co-editor of the artist book Damascus: Tourists, Artists and Secret Agents. Her writings appear in newspaper and art periodicals including Alphabet Prime, art agenda, Bidoun, Egypt Independentand The Exhibitionist amongst others. Her projects include Invisible Publics (Cairo, 2010), The Popular Show (Cairo, 2011), an accord is first and foremost a proposition (New York, 2011) and The Bergen Accords (Bergen, 2011). She is the founding director of CIRCA(Cairo International Resource Center for Arts). Sarah Rifky lives and works in Cairo, Egypt.

Artistic Director Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2
Farah Wardani attained a Master’s degree in Art History (20th Century) from the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies,Goldsmiths College, London, UK, in 2001. Since 2007, Farah has been the director of the Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) in Yogyakarta. Apart from this she has worked on collaborative projects which have involved various arts institution, among others Cemeti Art House, ruangrupa, Edwin’s Gallery, Nadi Gallery, Valentine Willie Fine Arts (Kuala Lumpur), Element Art Space (Singapore), Asia Art Archive, and Melbourne International Fine Art (MIFA). In 2007, along with Carla Bianpoen and Wulan Dirgantoro, she wrote the book Indonesian Women Artists: The Curtain Opens. In 2011, she was a curatorial consultant for the exhibition “Indonesian Eye: Fantasies and Realities” at Saatchi Gallery, London. One of her recent projects is being a curator for Google Chrome Open Spaces 2012.

Tags: Heri Dono, Jompet Kuswidananto, Jens Maier-Rothe, Sarah Rifky, Ruangrupa, Handiwirman Saputra, Wael Shawky, Agus Suwage