“KISAH” in 2018 Indonesian Contemporary Art & Design: A Journey of Discovery

Story By
Stephanie Mamonto

Returning for its ninth year in October 2018, the Indonesian Contemporary Art & Design (ICAD) was nothing short of remarkable.

Photo by Ralmond F. Karundeng

Carrying the theme, “KISAH” (Story), this annual exhibition centred on a journey that contained the meaning of ICAD itself. It could have talked about a variety of possibilities, but could also have been about certainty. It could have been poured into thoughts or illuminated the track records of the artists’ and designers’ experiences in their work process.

Taking place at the Grandkemang Hotel, Jakarta for its ninth year in a row, ICAD ran from October 18 to November 30, 2018. This also marked the third time Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf)’s have supported the event.

The consistency of ICAD has attracted the attention of contemporary art lovers from around the world. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this exhibition has touched everyone on a personal level.

"The works of art are displayed as a way to express the thoughts, moments, emotional fluctuations, and interactions between artists and their work, which have been built into 'new realities' that are relevant to the present and future," said Harry Purwanto, Art Curator & Chair of the Design + Art Indonesia Foundation.

More than 50 artists and designers had their works presented throughout the  Grandkemang Hotel. Right in front of the door entrance, Eko Prawoto's architecture provided a warm greeting. It consisted of three objects made of bamboo, telling us about a warmer relationship between humans and nature, about people who live comfortably and harmoniously in a natural environment.

Stepping inside the hotel, guests were welcomed with Indonesian comics in various forms, from mural to archives. They were provided by Hikmat Darmawan, a comic expert and observer of pop culture. His works displayed the history of Indonesian comics from the 1920s to 2018, and contained random genres and styles.

In its ninth year of collaboration, this was the first time ICAD brought comics in the form of artworks or even discussions. ICAD was joined by the British Council and Dewan Kesenian Jakarta in arranging a Design Convention, where a talkshow explored “The Visual Language of Comics Books in Asia and Europe” with speakers like Paul Gravett (London-based Journalist, Curator, Lecturer) and Iwan Gunawan (Curator, Lecturer), with Moderator Sheila Rooswitha Putri (Comic Artist of Sheila’s Playground & Lay Lay Cat). Iwan Gunawan also exhibited his work, Istana Balekambang, which was his interpretation of a piece of the story from Serat Purwa Kandha with the transition of Kala Brawa to Kala Tirta, describing how the archipelago underwent a tremendous natural change in the world following the big flood.

Moving forward, ecoBirdy’s designs utilized recycled materials to redefine the position of the furniture industry by putting forward the idea of industrial movement that can also take part in contributing to environmental activism and children’s education. Alternatively, Faisal Habibi’s works, This Thing and Modular Minimalism series displayed many familiar forms found in everyday things. These series opened up the possibility of many different perceptions, experiences, and interpretations.

Similar to Faisal Habibi, storyteller Agus Nur Amal (also known as PM TOH) transformed found objects, turning them into new definitions. He used everyday objects as a basis for the construction of highly communicative stories. PM TOH displayed the installation of found objects that he has been using for performances of his ‘theatre of objects’; he even performed on the opening night. The objects were arranged into several story frames, which wanted to ignite the audience’s imagination in exploring simple and intricate stories.

White Shoes and the Couples Company (WSATCC) made a welcome return after their musical performance and visual art collaboration at the 2011 ICAD “ESCAPOLOGY”. As one of the leading bands in Indonesia, WSATCC represents the spirit of the times from a phase of development of creative collective movements, both in the industrial sphere and in the realm of cultural activism. Thus, their archives were presented for us to look back on how the band’s story has contributed to the development of art and design discourses in Indonesia.

"KISAH" (Story) exposed the meaning of ICAD. Those who have come and gone have brought their own stories. They don't have to be the same because there is freedom for taste and sensitivity. This is the reason why the stories will always be remembered.