Arts |

Understanding "Nomadic Travelers" in an Uncertain World through Art

Arts | 14 October 2017

Is the world shifting towards isolationism or does it continue to further open up in the face of globalization? The exhibition “Nomadic Travelers” strongly suggests the latter, as it presented the works of eight Indonesian and Korean artists at Edwin’s Gallery in September.

The 5th Korea-Indonesia Media Installation Art Exhibition was organized by ARCOLABS and curated by Jakarta-based Korean curator Jeong-ok Jeonis and Indonesian curator and lecturer Evelyn Huang. Presented by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea as well as the Korean Cultural Center Indonesia, “Nomadic Travelers” took its visitors on a journey to explore the ideas of travel within the realm of contemporary art.

The word “travel” in this context was taken both literally and metaphorically, as the artists not only focused on traveling from one place to another and discovering new places and cultures in their works, but also approached the topic by extending it to the mobility of material, reason and information.

Lee Wan, an award-winning artist from Seoul, created an insightful visual journey of his time in Jakarta: his work covered one of the outside walls of the gallery. Here, he presented snippets of his impressions in neatly written texts, intertwined with objects that caught his interest, from wooden figures to Pop Mie cartons, giving visitors the opportunity to take a rare and intimate peek into his mind.

Renowned Indonesian artist FX Harsono contributed two pieces to the exhibiton, “Light in the Suitcase” and “Journey to the Past/ Migration”, that both focus on the history of Chinese people migrating to Indonesia –arriving by boat on the Indonesian shore, with a suitcase full of dreams, hopes and expectations.

Julia Sarisetiati’s photography and video installation “Indo K-Work” also puts a spotlight on human migration, whereas Lee Hansu’s series of photographs “c++swingby no. 201102” juxtaposes humans and aliens and raises questions about religion and human identity.

“A Scholar in Hanyang a Tiger at Mt. Inwang” by Lee Sang Hyun is a 6-minute animation about the myth of the Inwangsan Tiger, while Korean artist Moon Hyungmin presented 10 figurines carved from wood in his artwork “Love Me Two Times: Indonesia”. These figurines are a reinterpretation of Korean icons by the artist, based on his own experience, that were later crafted by Indonesian artisans and therefore underwent a dual transformation, conveying both a Korean and Indonesian touch.

Zico Albaiquni’s painting “Bezoek Bandung! All Land For Sale!” tackles the concern of local communities that they will lose valuable land to investors who want to use it for their own interest like building new hotels - one of the downsides of travel and tourism. Scrutinizing today’s capitalist society, the artist’s work invites comparisons to the Tower of Babel.

“The Unknown: Received – Transmitted”, the lone artwork on the second floor of the gallery and created by Venzha Christ addresses the relationship between humans, space and the universe, raising questions about our identity and our role and function. The artist invites guests to use the transmitter, saying Hi to the aliens on the neighboring planet (if there are any!) or simply give a shout-out to the universe. Venzha Christ’s work reminds us that in the end, we are but alone, and therefore, we should all be inspired to come closer together.

And this is what this exhibition is mainly about: in a world where calls for closing borders and some countries’ tendencies towards a “Me first”-attitude have become louder and stronger, it is more essential than ever to keep an open mind, to engage in exchange and – as these “Nomadic Travelers” have shown, to continue to create and inspire.

Photos courtesy of Haviz Maha