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Indonesian contemporary art

Contemporary art from Indonesia: previous >

The House of Natural Fiber (HONF)

The House of Natural Fiber: Micronation/Macronation - Indonesian art now

An 'art laboratory' and collective established in 1999, The House of Natural Fiber is currently something of an art world darling - its work was featured in the New Museum's 2011 'The Ungovernables' and has received numerous recent awards and accolades.

If (as HONF themselves point out on their website) "other fine arts practices involving elements of social activism ... have hitherto been tested and conducted by a number of artists in Indonesia", HONF's agenda is remarkably different, a boundary-blurring fusion of arts, science, technology and activism that sets new milestones not only for Indonesian art, but global practices besides.

An overview of two recent projects should serve as an indication of the scale and scope of HONF's remit.

Micronation/Macronation (2012) sets out to tackle steep rises in fossil fuel prices - an issue which, due to fuel subsidy cuts, provoked recent riots in Indonesia - through a threefold process: the installation of a fermentation/distillation machine to process ethanol from hay; a satellite-data grabber to obtain climate information related to agricultural production; and a 'super-computer' to process all operational data and predict "... when Indonesia can reach energy and food independence if this MICRONATION/MACRONATION sustainable project design were to be implemented".

The 2010 work Intelligent Bacteria - Saccharomyces cerevisiae addresses the issue of alcohol consumption in Indonesia: a cultural conundrum given that its use is un-Islamic andimported alcohol heavily taxed, yet alcohol production has long been a tradition amongst ethnic communities and is still undertaken by large swathes of society.

DIY fermentation is, however, directly responsible for high numbers of poisonings and even deaths due to unsterilised processing and toxic by-products.

Taking the form of a installative combination of art and biotechnology, 'Intelligent Bacteria' seeks to increase public awareness of such dangers, while distributing information on safe and affordable ways to produce alcohol using Indonesian tropical fruit.

The House of Natural Fiber: Micronation/Macronation - Indonesian art now
The House of Natural Fiber: Micronation/Macronation
The House of Natural Fiber: Intelligent Bacteria - Indonesian contemporary art
The House of Natural Fiber (Intelligent Bacteria)

Farhan Siki

Farhan Siki

(Yet) another Indonesian art whose work plumbs the modish territories of grafitti and stencil art, Farhan Siki also appropriates the codes and signifiers of consumer and popular culture - including the work of other artists such as Banksy and Damien Hirst - to reemploy them within satirical contexts.

Although, realistically, Siki's meditations amount to little more than a reiteration of overly-worn tropes, there's still a presence to the best of his works, and as part of a new wave of questioning, globally engaged Indonesian contemporary art, he's increasingly popular with the region's collectors.

Farhan Siki
Farhan Siki
Farhan Siki

Nyoman Masriadi

Nyoman Masriadi

Nyoman Masriadi's paintings veer from jokey, cartoon-like compositions complete with speech bubbles to intricate, heavily stylised tableaux often depicting sportsmen.

Despite the near-ubiquity of trademark, hulking figures, Masriadi's genre-bending proximity to both fine art and popular illustration seems somewhat inconsistent to the western eye.

That said, Masriadi's work is hugely popular in Indonesia (and increasingly, beyond it), and what we'd consider the best of his painting is certainly worthy of accolade; superbly fusing tradition-rich, almost sculptural definition of form with quirky comment on contemporary Indonesian lifestyles.

Nyoman Masriadi
Nyoman Masriadi
Nyoman Masriadi
Nyoman Masriadi

Wiyoga Muhardanto

Wiyoga Muhardanto

Wiyoga Muhardanto's practice exists simultaneously as an interrogation, subversion and slyly comic commentary on mass-produced consumer goods.

Many of his works consist of a physical fusion of objects with close associations in function or form, such as his iType (2005), which conflates the redundant technology of a manual typewriter with the branding and sleek design of an Apple Mac computer.

In the LV Violence Series (2006), replicas of military-style weapons are created from imitation Louis Vuitton handbag leather, suggesting that luxury goods are themselves a concerted assault on our desires.

Although Muhardanto's works always reference (and resemble) the flawless, mass produced object, they are resolutely hand-made, providing a further twist to the artist's commentary on technological development, commerce and covetousness.

Wiyoga Muhardanto
Wiyoga Muhardanto
Wiyoga Muhardanto

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