Almost 1000 international visitors became part of “Biotiful Art and Food,” an event held on the weekend of 15th to 16th of October 2016, in a charming two-storey building called “Atelier de la Miroiterie,” situated in one of the busy passageways of Bastille, Paris. Initiated by young Parisian curator Paul Le Cacheux, in collaboration with “Le Murmure,” this concept brings together the experience of food tasting and contemporary art exhibition, designed by three selected artists from Asia; Amanda Ariawan (Indonesia), Tao Zuo (China), and Yurina Niihara (Japan). Each given their own space, visitors were invited to explore three artistic yet savoury universes.
Taking the stairs to the second floor, guests were guided by the soft sound of gamelan to enter a room in which two of my installations were displayed, each one centralizing a local Indonesian food as a way to talk about its society. The first one, entitled “Mie Blueprint” consists of ten experimental prints displayed in frames placed on wooden chairs of different forms, arranged evenly across the space. Formerly a chair factory, the venue still keeps its treasures; these chairs, imperfect yet beautiful to my eyes, became a way to relate my work with the venue. The process chosen to produce these prints was simple yet solid, inspired by the “stamping” technique in the making of “Batik,” the classic symbol of an Indonesian heritage. A packet of instant noodles, which in contrast is a mass culture product, was dipped in Chinese ink before being pressed repeatedly on paper. Flowers were added as details for the display, its forms corresponding to the drops of blue paint added as accents to finish the prints. Matters that grew from the earth contrast the artificial nature of the main material: “Mie.”
Promoting health benefits of each ingredient contained in a portion of “Gado-Gado,” the work “Nine powers in one plate” is my form of collaboration with several professionals in the media industry; photographers, make up artist, models, video artists, musicians, and myself as the visual artist and director. We challenged ourselves to create a series of images and a short clip that would adopt the characteristics of magazine and TV commercials, in the idea of promoting healthy lifestyle through local dish. We wanted to trick viewers with something that looks banal from the outside, but actually provides critics concerning the mass media-based society. Looking deeper we might notice a certain irony regarding the recent trend notably in Jakarta, of the projection of “healthy” images by social media users. While watching the video, customers may sit at the café, and enjoy chef-prepared “Nasi Uduk,” an all-time Indonesian favourite, in tin boxes that I specially designed myself. Some guests also enjoyed shopping hand-painted tote bags with the chance of bringing home a free sample of some Indonesian organic food products.
This event has given me more than the chance to be discovered by others, but also allowed myself to explore my true identities. Yes, “identities” instead of “identity.” Living five years in France has made me realized that my way of comprehending and voicing my thoughts through my profession as student-researcher, curator, and artist, is no longer based on a single point of view, but considers two contexts at once; local as Indonesian and global as citizen of the world. Without forgetting to keep one feet on the ground of my origin, I wish to step forward, in Europe and anywhere else in the world, through the path of contemporary art; to keep on providing instrument of contemplation for a wide range of public, regardless their identities. To me, the question has never been about taking sides but how to live in parallel, in balance, in favour of each other, between my local self and global self.
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Images courtesy of: Thomas, Benoit, Alviano.