Naima Morelli

Announcing the release of “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia”

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 One of the aim of this book is also challenging the outdated western hegemony on contemporary art, a point of view that is still prevalent in Italy.

I really can say that the reportage on contemporary art in Indonesia, which was the base for this book, has been one of the most incredible adventures of my life so far. In the process I connected with a number of amazing artists, curators, collectors and with a culture which was completely new to me just a few years ago. In the last three years I have been a nomad, sitting at so many different desks. This book has been written travelling between many places, my old house in Piazza Mancini, my tiny room in North Melbourne, my parents’ house in Sorrento, my boyfriend’s place in Rome and in many different cafes.

One time artist Bindi Cole told me that there is only one thing you can really talk about, and that’s is your own experience. This book has obviously a very different perspective compared to the ones written by Indonesian writers and academics. My position is the one of a reporter, of someone that challenges her Italian (and in a wider sense European) point of view and learns through the contact with a different art system and culture. That’s why my point with “Arte Contemporanea in Indonesia” was to make it personal and to give as much room as possible to the artists and the people I spoke with. The reader learns as I learn. It’s a dialogue, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Here’s a special section (in Italian) for the book, check it out for updates!


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