Naima Morelli

November, 2014 Monthly archive

Here’s the second part of my photostory from the research for my book about contemporary art in Indonesia. If you miss the first part you can find it here

Rome, Berlin, Sorrento, Melbourne, Naples, Venice. Since I came back from Indonesia I tried to look for Indonesian art, artists and exhibitions wherever I went – and I met wonderful people in the process. At the same time I faced the challenge to organize all the material from my research and integrate it with new information. For months the arts pages of the Jakarta Post, the Jakarta Globe and Asia Art Pacific became my morning reading. I didn’t know much about how to write a research-based book when I started and I learned so much in the process – in the photo above you can see me experimenting with post-its.
In a few weeks the book will finally be published (want to be updated? Drop a mail to contact[at] with the subject line Indonesia Book and I’ll keep you posted). In the meantime here are some pictures from the European and Australian part of my research:

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On Friday I had the honour to be invited by Professor Vito Di Bernardi to a conference on Indonesian art at Università di Roma La Sapienza entitled: “New research on Indonesian traditional and contemporary arts (music, dance, theatre, visual arts): an exchange between Indonesian and Italian perspectives”. It was the second time for me to speak about my research in an institutional setting (the first time was when I introduced the Melbournian art scene at an artists’ talk at Rome’s Art Academy) and I found out I really enjoy speaking!

In my paper entitled: “Indonesian Contemporary Visual Art: Origins and Recent Developments” I gave an overview of how contemporary art has developed in Indonesia, from Raden Saleh to Jompet Kuswidananto. Moving from painting in the colonial times I explored the role of art during the independence struggle (how could I have not shown the beautiful paintings of S. Sudjojono, Hendra Gunawan and Affandi?) I then focused on art under the Suharto regime and pointed out the importance of art movements like Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru and PIPA. I described the flourishing of independent art spaces at the beginning of the Reformasi period and evaluated the influence of the market on young artists.

The other speakers at the conference (here’s the complete program) looked at different aspects of the arts in Indonesia. While Prof. Vito di Bernardi analyzed the Javanese and Balinese theater of the twentieth century, Prof. Widyo Harsanto Prayanto explored the concept of Ethnophotography in West Timor. On the other hand, Davide Grosso, Lorenzo Chiarofonte and  Ilaria Meloni concentrated on different aspects of music and traditions in Indonesia. I have found particularly interesting Prof. Francesca Gallo’s paper, who delved into the concept of Orientalism in Italian Contemporary Art. Through the work of artists like Matteo Basilè and Luigi Ontani, she showed how the concept of exoticism has to be reconsidered in the postmodern era.

I’ve to say that the audience was just amazing, being composed by people whose interest in Indonesian art was not merely academic. Aside from the professors from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts of Yogyakarta, there were many young people who had traveled to Indonesia many times, researching different cultural aspect and mingling with the local community. It was great to get to know them and exchange contacts and information! Below some images from my presentation and the conference:

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A quick update! On the 21st I will partecipate to a conference at Sapienza Università di Roma called: “New research on Indonesian traditional and contemporary arts (music, dance, theatre, visual arts): an exchange between Indonesian and Italian perspectives”. I will give an overview of the origins and developments of Indonesian contemporary visual art.
The conference will be in two different dates, the 20th e 21st of November at the Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale ‘Giuseppe Tucci’ and at the Facoltà di Lettere di Sapienza Università di Roma and has been organized by the Sapienza and the Isi – Institut Seni Indonesia di Yogyakarta. At the end of the conference there will be also a concert by “Gamelan Gong Wisnu Wara” at the Indonesian Embassy at the Holy See.

My talk will be on Friday 21 novembre 2014, 1pm – sala Odeion – edificio di Lettere piazzale Aldo Moro 5, Roma, see you there!

Here’s the complete program

Here’s the link on the Sapienza website

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Here are some of my highlights from the Artissima art fair in Turin which I attended last week with my colleague Roberto D’Onorio (here’s his take)!
My article focuses on Artissima’s Per4m section and  has just been published on the Australian and UK version of the web-magazine ArtsHub with the title: “Art Fair gives space to the anti-market”.

Here’s the link to the article on ArtsHub website

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The summer of 2012 is not a long time ago , but from my perspective and for all I have experienced in this two years it feels like decades ago. Back then I just graduated from the Art Academy with a thesis on the “Popolo” in the arts and, at the beginning of the year I started to became intrigued by Indonesian art thanks to the exhibition “Beyond the Est” at MACRO, curated by Dominique Lora. I began researching about contemporary art in Indonesia and in a few weeks I was a regular visitor of the Castro Pretorio library in Rome. I would go there every week sourcing and memorizing everything I could find related to art in Indonesia and South East Asia. I would fill notebooks on notebooks and start planning to go to Indonesia. At that time my partner in crime Lucas Catalano was eager to go back to Bali to work on a photoessay and he offered me his help with the project.
I mailed Barbara from Art a Part of Cult(ure), the magazine I was writing for from three years, asking if she would be interested in a reportage of the art scene in Indonesia. She said yes, of course! I started sending emails around to the artists and fix interviews. Once in Indonesia, everyone was super nice, open and welcoming. Every interview gave me not only fundamental insights into the art practice of the artist and his context, but it was also really good fun! Here some pictures that give you some glimpses of the field-research that I did for my upcoming book “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia”. There are no captions; let the images do the talk! Then of course, if you are already accustomed to the arts in Indonesia you will certainly recognize all the faces. (And of course, don’t miss the updates for the release “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia”)

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The one thing I have in common with Hans-Ulrich Obrist is that we have both interviewed Indonesian artist Heri Dono. Well, that interview (mine, not Hans’!) has just been published on Trouble Magazine with the title “Heri Dono: Making Fun of The King, The Gods and The People”. The interview, accompanied with my pics from Heri’s studio, is part of my reportage about contemporary art in Indonesia that… guess what? Is going to have the shape of a book pretty soon!

Here’s the link to the interview

Here’s the link to the online version of the magazine

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I don’t now if your grandmother ever had a garden, and in that garden she used to keep palms, bamboos and other tropical plants. Imagine yourself sitting in a corner of the porch after a good grandma-style lunch. The November sun behind the vegetation transforms the leaves into mysterious green neon lights and makes the bark of threes shine like silver. You may call it a Sunday afternoon enchantment, you may call it Refulgenzia. In that moment you can even expect a tiger jumping out from behind a terracotta pot – which of course, now looks like a column from some Bengalese temple. It’s the exact same feeling that Paolo Conte – the Italian musician – so well depicted in his song Azzurro: “Cerco un pò d’Africa in giardino, tra l’oleandro e il baobab” (“I’m looking for a bit of Africa in my garden, between the oleander and the baobab”). It’s about looking for the exotic in the familiar and the familiar in the exotic. In contemporary art not many artists are able to convey that. Oreste Zevola does it.

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They say you don’t have to judge a book by its cover but, as people working in the arts, we all know how powerful an image can be. Ever since I had seen this artwork entitled “Masihkah Garudaku ber’Nada’ Pancasila dan Bhinneka Tunggal Ika…??” at ART/JOG12, I knew it was the perfect image for my book. I jotted the name of the artist who made it on my notebook:  Karyadi. It was not easy to find his contact, but thanks to Aditya Chandra and Abdul Fattah I finally got his email address. Karyadi was super-nice and he allowed me to use a photo of his work for the book cover.

I worked together with graphic designer Lucas Leo Catalano for a beautiful and striking cover. As you can see we tried many different solutions – there are actually many more than the proofs above. Some of them were interesting, but I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that something was missing. What I did then was to open my Photoshop and experiment a little by myself. After an hour I got it. Of course! Why didn’t I think of that before? I called Lucas who was waiting for me to decide: “Bub, I made up my mind of the cover! It must be red!”

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