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It’s Simply Biasa Being a Fool for Indieguerillas’ Fool’s Lore

by Susi, 29 January 2009

OK here we go, a bit late. The best gallery opening of the winter holiday high season in Bali was just before Christmas at Biasa Artspace. Indieguerillas were the artists, a husband and wife team out of Central Java, who hail from the worlds of interior and graphic design and from the burgeoning galaxy of Indonesian global geekdom. And what a show it was. These two (Bung Otom, pictured above right, and Santi Ariestyowanti), go boldly where no Indie couple has gone before, orbiting the separate suns of Javanese sacred iconography and global-techno-sound-data-culture. Swinging from the gravitational field of both of these in a twisted Moebius loop, and fueled by the spirit of post-punk alt culture, this binary star system of partnered artists explodes across our visual and perceptual fields with a pow that punches at least as good as Lichtenstein’s did for his own milieu.


What we have here is an irreverant bundling of the software of pop and global culture now, with ancient iconography, into a critical cartoonish package, and the artist-couple takes great pains to present it to us as it should be presented. The impeccable quality of painting is here, matched by meticulous competence in other media and means, as well. Laser-etched plexi meets epic-scale canvasses meets sound+vision on the outdoor terrace of Biasa Artspace into all hours of the night. (That’s Bung and Santi standing up to the scrutiny of renowned Bali-anthropologist-at-large Jean Couteau, above.)

I doubt many of the free-drink scavenging masses of Seminyak society knew why the vibe was so real and so alive that night. It was the art that did it, augmented by the spirit of generosity and inclusiveness that characterises Biasa Artspace.

This multimedia evening was an ecstatic celebration of generous talent and generous patronage on the part of Susanna Perini (above), proprietress of the whole Biasa biosphere. Who wasn’t there? Indo and mondo and molto and pseudo and slinky all gathered in the charged energy of an indoor-outdoor Indiguerillas moment.

Indie = Independent/Indonesian. Guerillas = operatives on a mission using the means available in a creative and subversive manner. That’s what we got with this exhibition, and it surprised everyone who was paying even the slightest bit of attention.

The title of the show, Fool’s Lore, was apt. There we had the Punch and Judy poignant criticism of iconic Javanese wayang kulit, mixed with ironically deployed imagery from animé, China-pop, gaming and the whole gamut of pop culture icons.  Masterfully mixed it was – iconoclastic icon revival in the disco-ball light of now. (Even international tribal art dealers Michael Palmieri and Antonio Casanovas, pictured above, made the scene.)

To the title, Fool’s Lore, all I can say is “Lord what fools these mortals be,” and count myself willing or no among the foolish band of mortals. Thanks, Indieguerillas (Bung above left, Santi above right), for this moment of self-awareness which startled me like seeing myself in the security cameras of an office-block elevator, looking like the earnest little fool fixed in the Indo-mix that I am. That’s me silhouetted like a shadow puppet in front of the digi-video screen, below right.

I bought one piece from this show, and it wasn’t the free beer that made me do it. I had them slap a red sticker on the first work you could see on entering the gallery, almost the minute I arrived. It’s a laser-etched perspex panel on stainless steel mounts, representing a “gunungan,” the Javanese phalliform shadow puppet which begins and ends every story. The “gunungan” traditionally depicts within it all the contents of the known world, and my Indieguerillas “gunungan” has etched into it PSX-worthy icons of sounds and speakers and DJs and a hi-tech Hanoman (the monkey-god from the Ramayana) all woven into a unified visual groove as if they were parts of a single circuitboard. I could not resist this encapsulated statement of the schizo-Indo zeitgeist, in which the complexity and contradiction and raw humour of the moment is rendered eternally in plastic.

I had a fine evening, to boot, in addition to scoring a fantastic work of art. There’s Susanna of Biasa Artspace again, above. She clearly enjoyed the celebration, and I know it was a pandemonium of effort to get it all together, so bravissima Susanna.

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