Artists with disabilities, both from Indonesia and abroad, displayed their work at the National Gallery in an exhibit titled, “Pokok di Ambang Batas”. Held from 12 to 29 October, the exhibit—“Principal on the Threshold”— was part of the British Council’s Bebas Batas (Borderless) Festival.
35 creative minds showcased their extraordinary skills in creating artwork ranging from two- dimensional paintings to photos. It also included mixed media and interactive audio visual works.
The exhibit was a collective initiative which included works from the Borderless Art Museum No-Ma in Japan, the results of a workshop conducted by the Spanish Embassy in Indonesia, an art project supported by Institut Français d'Indonésie and British Council, and selected works from five psychiatric hospitals in Indonesia.
The work collectively displayed their feelings of having limitations and served as a call for inclusion in the mainstream. The exhibit was a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Culture, UK/ID, and Art Brut by artist Hana Madness, which aimed to construct an honest appreciation for the artistic works by individuals with disabilities.
Sudjud Dartanto and Hendromasto Prasetyo chose the artworks and curated the collection. Dartanto, in his curatorial text, illustrates the exhibit as a critique of normality.
“Here, we don’t take “Principals on the Threshold” in its literal meaning. This defies labels and involves progressive thought. These artists showcase their statements boldly, spontaneously, and directly,” Dartanto said.
The works of Indonesian artist Sabar Subadri and Subroto SM or the documentary by Budi Rinoso and his team were indeed excellent. The acrylic on canvas painting “Chaos” by Vindy Ariella depicts a struggle within the self, which can happen to anyone.
Ari Irawan’s work showing the head of a cat and an orangutan, is an example of a creative choice using an unusual medium - oil paints and rocks.
Artists with disabilities haven’t had a major exhibit in Indonesia. Clearly we need more artists like Hanna Madness— who has been dealing with mental health issues— to take her work mainstream, thus defying labels.
“At this point, is it still important that we label them as a disabled in realm of art? This exhibit should inspire reflection and is a critique of the discourse of normality, stigma, and prejudice,” Dartanto noted.