Naima Morelli

Tag "social art"



As I’m gearing up to leave for a reportage on contemporary art in Thailand in February, I’m gathering all the preliminary research in these pieces for Cobo. These encapsulate my core areas of interest (you might have read already 5 Thai Artists that Connect Us to Spirituality)

I really love to make those articles that gather artists by topic. I see them as so much more than simple listicles. I have the chance to research the practice of an artist in depth, and then distill the essence of their practice in a few paragraphs. In this way I’m also able to see how artists from the same country have different approaches to the same topic. By spotting similarities and differences, I can start grasping some sort of whole and overarching narrative.

Here is the link to the piece

Read More

Thanks to the amazing CoBo, little by little I’m getting to interview all my favorite contemporary artists! This time I chatted with Arahmaiani, a legend and a model of badassery in contemporary art and in life. The piece is called: “The Superheroine of Indonesian Contemporary Art”.

I have interviewed her for her new show at Tyler Rollins in New York, from September 15 to October 29. We talked about many different subjects, but the aspect I decided to focus on for the piece was her shift from criticism to activism in her work.

Since I first started researching Indonesian art, the political and social aspect of the art was the one that struck me the most. Over time I have asked artists if it is really possible to have an impact on society with contemporary art alone. Overall, Indonesian artists seemed to me much less romantic and much more hands-on compared to some of their European counterparts.

Here’s the link to the piece



Read More

Almost exactly one year ago in Paris, a dancer friend who had lived in Indonesia, told me of a great Indonesian artist who I should absolutely meet and interview. The artist was Ivan Sagita, a painter based in Yogyakarta whose work is charming and mysterious.

Ivan Sagita is one of the initiators of what has been called “Jogja surrealism”, a style that emerged in the 1980s in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta. His painting and sculptures combine a strong social element to the spiritual realm – what the artist calls “the unreal”.

I finally met with the artists a few weeks ago and sat with him to discussed this concept, his background and the idea of spirituality in art. The interview has just been published on the webmagazine/platform Cobo.

Here’s the link to the interview



Read More

On the 6th of January the art centre Il Ramo D’Oro in Naples will host the exhibition of Indonesian artists Made Bayak, Gede Suanda and Setyo Mardiyantoro. I was invited by gallerist Vincenzo Montella to write the curatorial text. The show – with a patronage by the General Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia in Naples – will be open to the public from the 6th to the 14th of February. During the vernissage Prof. Antonia Soriente will present the book “The dance of the earth” by Indonesian writer Oka Rusmini.

Below my curatorial text for “Attualità Indonesiane” in English and Italian:

“If art had a message, I’d be a postman,” said Nabokov. If we talk about contemporary art at the time of the open work, the idea of the message belongs more to the white walls of Sunday school, rather than to the immaculate walls of the contemporary art’s “white cubes”.

Read More


The web magazine Global Comment has just published my article “Is contemporary art effective in spreading awareness of climate change?”. It is my first collaboration with this magazine.

Here the link to the article

Read More


When you visit a museum in Australia, you have to consider the snake danger.
According to the Australian mentality, which is close to Hinduism in this sense, you shouldn’t kill any snake – after all a snake is still part of the wildlife and you have to respect it.
Anyways, being aware of the snake danger, I decided to go to the Heide Museum equipped with my Crocodile Dundee hat.
I hoped that my Indonesian boyfriend Lucas would have bring with him a kris and my Japanese friend Minako a katana but, alas, they didn’t.
“What about you? Didn’t you bring a mandolino with you?” Lucas asked me referring to my Neapolitan origins.
“How you supposed to kill a snake with a mandolino, genius?”
“Unless…” I mumbled making my way through the lianas separating us from the museum “you charm the snake playing  Torna a Surriento or something like that.”
Walking carefully, we finally arrived at the door of the Heide Museum without being bitten, which was good.
The current show was titled “Fiona Hall: Big game hunting”
Coming into the exhibition I took off my hat and I rapidly switched my attitude from adventurer to art critic.

Read More


Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.
Non fatevi ingannare dalla bellezza del posto; dietro la luce che rende smeraldina l’erba, dietro le ranocchie spiaccicate sull’asfalto da jeep di passaggio e dietro le palme che sbadigliano sornione, c’è ancora tanto da fare, tanto da combattere.
Gede lo sa. Gede è nato qui e sua scelta di vita è stata quella di tornare a vivere ad Ubud, nelle risaie, dopo i suoi studi alla prestigiosa accademia d’arte nella capitale culturale dell’Indonesia, Yogyakarta.
Quello che rende la storia e l’arte di Gede così interessante è che, a differenza di molti artisti balinesi in fuga dell’isola o piegati al commerciale, lui ha deciso di rimanere e di condurre la sua battaglia sociale attraverso dipinti dalla satira feroce e plateali installazioni.
L’appuntamento è alla “Luden House”, un Warung/studio artistico inerpicato in una splendida zona di Ubud piena di ville in costruzione.
Se ancora avevo qualche dubbio su come trovare il posto, una grande scritta immacolata in mezzo alla risaia “NOT FOR SALE”, mi segnala di essere arrivata.
Gede, un ragazzo dal sorriso amichevole, si gode il sole ad uno dei tavoli fatto di copertoni verniciati di bianco – in Europa tale arredamento sarebbe già oggetto di design – mentre bambini allegri disegnano tutto intorno e ragazzine si fanno le foto davanti alla risaia.
Cominciamo a parlare in inglese, poi al momento di mostrarmi i suoi quadri, sceglie l’indonesiano.
Mi mostra questa serie di dipinti dove i protagonisti sono una rana avida, e un doberman.

– Di che si tratta questo lavoro?

Questa qui è una serie di cento quadri, non ancora terminata, concepiti come un fumetto. La storia parla di questa rana, rappresentante un po’ tutti i balinesi, che viene convinta da questo cane a vendere il proprio campo di riso.

Read More

Most of Agung Kurniawan’s artworks are based on memory. In his famous charcoal work “Very Very Happy Victims” , part of Singapore Art Museum’s collection, he uses a raw irony to depict the situation under Suharto regime, from ’67 to ’98.

He explained me the genesis of this work during my visit to Kedai Kebun Forum:

“I made Very Very Happy Victims in 1995.  I was still a young an angry artist. It was a portrait of  myself and the society at that time because at that time Indonesia economy was one of the best in Asia. At the same time we lived in a kind of fascist regime. Everything was controlled by the government. Indonesia was the copycat of Orwell’s book 1984.
I asked my friends if they feel ok and they reply “Yes, I feel happy, I can eat at McDonalds, school is not expensive, I can have very cheap prize” . So I portrait my generation that felt very happy even though was oppressed by the government. This is the reason why I called it “Very Very happy Victims”. We were happy because we didn’t realize we were victims. If we realize it we can fight, that’s the idea. ”

More about Agung activities on:

Read More