Naima Morelli

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TimesMaltaElizabethPisani
As I’m running around Singapore collecting interviews, attending vernissages and getting lost in shopping malls, Escape – the Sunday magazine of the Times of Malta – has just published my interview with Elizabeth Pisani author of the travelogue “Indonesia etc.” (the Italian version was published here).

Here is the link for the interview

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EN: Il Ramo D’Oro is a special place in Naples for artistic reflection which is truly grassroots, and for the gathering of an international art community. Upon request of Il Ramo D’Oro’s director, Vincenzo Montella, I have written an essay called “Flow and rigidity in challenging the borders” reflecting on the experience of the series of international shows Oltreconfine. This included Attualità Indonesiane which I co-curated.

The Oltreconfine book – where you can find my essay alongside the ones of authors such as Made Bayak e Judicael Ouango – is now available on Amazon.

Here the English version: Beyond-Borders: Art and Resilience in the Internet Era

ITA: Il Ramo D’Oro è un posto unico a Napoli dove sviluppare riflessioni artistiche genuine e dove coltivare una comunità artistica internazionale. Su richiesta del fondatore del Ramo D’Oro, Vincenzo Montella, ho scritto un breve saggio chiamato “Fludità e rigidità nel mettere in discussione i confini”, il quale riflette sull’esperienza della rassegna internazionale Oltreconfine. Questa ha incluso Attualità Indonesiane che ho co-curato.

Il libro di Oltreconfine, nel quale si trova il mio saggio insieme a quello di altri autori, tra cui Made Bayak e Judicael Ouango, è ora disponibile su Amazon.

Ecco la versione italiana: Oltreconfine: Arte e resilienza nell’era di internet

Qui sotto un estratto dal mio testo:

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book
I’m a big fan of reading how writers organize their research and how they put their books together. I figured it would be interesting to detail the way I’m working at my new book on young artists in Singapore. In this post I’ll walk you through the first few stages from the preliminary research to the first draft.

First phase: preliminary research.  I read articles about Singapore art scene and books on Singapore urbanism, political and economical situation. I interviewed Lee Wen when he was in Rome, I met up with Italian artists who went to Singapore on a residency, and talked to a couple of Singaporean curators visiting Italy, included Paul Khoo. I stayed two weeks in Paris for the Singapour en France event, composed by the Paris Art Fair and the exhibition “Secret Archipelago”. In both case I interviewed artists, curators and gallery owners. Back home, I talked with via skype to other Singaporean artists, mainly for magazine articles. Finally, I went to Milan to visit the exhibition “Bright S’pore” at Primo Marella gallery and saw some works in person.

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This is a public service announcement (with guitar! As the Clash would say); I’m working on a new book. It will revolve around my research on contemporary art in Singapore and will explore some concepts I started looking at in my previous book, Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia, un’introduzione.

Of course, having a second “baby” might look easier if you already had that kind of experience. But a second book comes with its new challenges. On top of that, I also had an aborted book which still is very much a looming presence. (Should we stop once and for all with these stupid baby metaphors when talking about book projects?)

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Twenty-fifteen has been an intense year full of cheerfulness, discovery and adventure – I feel I learned so much! For starters I reconquered Rome, which I re-elected as my base (I keep on saying “for the time being”, but truth is, I’m in love with this city). Since I installed in my bedroom in San Lorenzo – the left-leaning, working-class neighborhood of Rome – I felt a new chapter of my life had started.

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baltyra
“Exoticism is an endlessly fascinating topic and an ongoing subject of exploration for me. On one hand exoticism is a necessary tool for curiosity. It has something of the infatuation in a way. When you fall in love with someone, you project your fantasies on them – which of course have nothing to do with the actual person and everything to with those damn adventures of Wolverine, Psylocke and Jubilee in Madripoor – which totally screwed up your brain as a teenager. Anyway, that confused exotic approach is necessary in order to take the next step to get closer to your subject and learn. Exoticism becomes dangerous when it’s taken at face value. When it is not the starting point for further explorations, but it becomes a stereotype to pigeonhole people and cultures. Not surprisingly many Indonesian artists and artists with a non-western background play a lot around this concept. They reverse roles, make fun of stereotypes and show potential dangers connected to them.”

I have recently been interviewed  by photojournalist Stefano Romano for the Indonesian webmagazine Baltyra. In the interview we chat a bit about my book “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia, un’introduzione“, discuss the developments of art in Indonesia and talk tradition, censorship and exoticism.

Here’s the link to the interview

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Thursday, June 25 at 5pm the Library of Oriental Studies at Sapienza University of Rome  will host the presentation of the book  “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia, un’introduzione” by Naima Morelli. The presentation will be introduced by Filippo Salviati, professor of Eastern Asia archeology, art history and philosophies, with the partecipation of Michela Becchis, art critic and art historian, Francesca Gallo, professor of contemporary art, and Claudio Cozzolino, Press Office at Embassy of Indonesia to the Holy See.

The book is an introduction to Indonesian contemporary art, which now occupies a prominent place in the international art scene, from both a market and cultural standpoint. Placing itself in the dialectic between the global and the local, the book analyzes how in Indonesia the cultural, artistic, political and social context have influenced four generations of artists. The author guides the reader in the contemporary art places in Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Bandung and Bali, looking for the answer to the question: is there really something called Indonesian contemporary art?

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“In a constant relating western and eastern art, Naima dissects and offers interesting models that make legible the ‘new’ culture even to those who aren’t introduced to it”

Arts writer and curator Maila Buglioni has written a very interesting review about my book “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia, un’introduzione” for the webmagazine Artnoise. Check it out here (in Italian).

Picture above: Pinkswing Park, Collaboration work for CP Biennale by Agus Suwage and Davy Linggar, 2006. Courtesy of Tyler Rollins Fine Art.

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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]naimamorelli.com 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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photostory
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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cover2
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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I have been talking about my so-called “Indonesian book” for such a long time. My profile description at Trouble magazine reads: “she’s currently working on a book about contemporary art in Indonesia that will be published in Italy the near future”. Well, the near future is finally here. My book “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia – un’introduzione” will finally be published and presented in Rome during a series of exhibition focused on South-East Asia and Australia called “AU.SIAN”, that I will curated with my collegue Roberto D’Onorio at the gallery Parioli Fotografia.

I look at this book as a step in the process of connecting different cultures via contemporary art and people’s stories around contemporary art. Thus the decision to link this book to the wider program of AU.SIAN. I’ll give you guys all the details of the November/December release pretty soon!

“Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia ” is an introduction to contemporary art in Indonesia and looks at how the cultural, social and political conditions in Indonesia have influenced four generations of artists. Through this book I didn’t just learn about art in Indonesia, but I also reconsidered my idea of contemporary art. I started became more and more aware of the context that surrounds contemporary art. I went around asking questions, rather then just see a show, come home and write my thoughts about it. I still consider myself an art critic, but I don’t want to criticize anymore. I want to understand and let people understand what’s behind every human expression. I’m convinced that by giving background coordinates, readers could see beyond the pretty picture. One of the aim of this book is also challenging the outdated western hegemony on contemporary art, a point of view that is still prevalent in Italy.

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