During the military regime of General Suharto (1967-98), artists in the country made use of the street, their bodies and experiments to express their political opinions. Performance art became the artistic-activist activity par excellence because it could happen anywhere, required little in the way of resources, and wasn’t bound to any particular medium or time. After democratization, artists continued to develop performances to show how contemporary art can break through colonial power structures and explore new social and artistic realities. Today, Indonesia still has a very lively performance scene that – highly conscious of its own culture and traditions – engages contemporary life with its global political problems, technological growth and economic vulnerability.
Under the title Performance Klub, which refers to the first joint initiative of Indonesian performers in 2003, S.M.A.K. presents different generations of the country’s artists together. The museum invites pioneers such as Arahmaiani and Iwan Wijono, internationally recognized performers such as Melati Suyrodarmo and connects them with young, upcoming artists such as 69 Performance Club and Padiak, who use performance as an experimental research platform. The program includes both new and existing performances. They will be shown in a space that will bear the traces of the successive performances through time.
Within this framework, visual artist Setu Legi will create a mural that embraces the contributions of the performers as an accolade.
Europalia Indonesia has been organizing art biennials focused on different host countries since 1969. This year’s focus is on the rich heritage of Indonesia, a country that has experienced an important political, cultural and economic evolution over the past twenty years.