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Indonesian Artists Offer Extensive Meanings of Current Global Pandemic Through MANIFESTO VII

Entertainment | 3 September 2020
The National Gallery of Indonesia (the Galnas) invites the Indonesian community to discover its initial virtual presentation of its biannual exhibit ‘MANIFESTO’ that manifests the experience of ones in going through the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of the National Gallery of Indonesia/NOW!JAKARTA

The global pandemic has affected many people in different degrees of struggle which challenge global citizens around the world including Indonesians to run through this struggle in ensemble resonating the message that ”We are in this Together”. A total of 204 participants ranging from artists and the general public participate in the initial virtual exhibition of Galnas’ major biannual exhibit MANIFESTO VII: PANDEMI that captures a diverse range of video-based artworks that manifest one-lifetime experience in going through the pandemic. 

Inaugurated in 2008, MANIFESTO became the most awaited exhibition presented by the National Gallery of Indonesia to commemorate its 100th anniversary of National Awakening. Through the open submission, the biennial exhibit aims to discover the progress of Indonesian arts that allows artists from different regions to participate in a national-scale event. Since the public venue is restricted during the pandemic, the team at Galnas responded to the current situation by shifting the live exhibit to the virtual platform, marked by the launching of the new website that will showcase artwork in more enticing experience on galnasonline.id.

Led by Zamrud Setya Negara who worked with the team of five curators including Bayu Genia Krishbie, RIzki, A, Zaelani, Sudjud Dartanto, Teguh Margono, and Citra Simara Dewi, MANIFESTO VII: PANDEMI selected a total of 217 works from 204 participants for the final presentation after gone through selection from total submission of 333 video arts from 267 registrants. 

Pustanto, The Head of the National Gallery of Indonesia said that pandemic has changed the way of life including the work for art and cultural activities. According to him, the current situation forced Indonesian creative minds to establish a new strategy for the future of homegrown fine arts. “Our life and the way we do artistic works has changed immensely. MANIFESTO VII: PANDEMI turned out to be our pilot project to explore the new world in fine arts,” Pustanto said.

The curator of the exhibit, Rizki A Zaelani stated that video arts are a possible form of contemporary artwork that has a unique ability to attract the audience through the power of motion pictures. Besides its strategic format that opens easy access to digital proposals in spite of the social distancing, video art is assumed to be the most representative format that captures emotive expression from the artists about the current experience that may resonate with one’s feelings.

“MANIFESTO VII: PANDEMI breaks the boundaries between professional artists and the public, in general, to redefine who is doing arts. This exhibit is projected as a turning point to look ahead at the development of arts after the global pandemic, not only in Indonesia but also around the world,” Zaelani expressed. 

Zaelani also added that the non-artist participants from different professions and jobs also have their slot to this particular exhibit as he believes that many people, not only artist, have been doing arts to render their feelings on a daily basis and to cope with their struggle and discomfort, especially in the current pandemic. 

Extensive Meaning: Respond to Struggle, Hope for the Future

Most of the artworks address the response coming from the general public about what they feel during the Covid-19 experience with an extensive meaning that echoes the big picture, from the social economy to politics. 

The variety of issues presented by the participants are classified into five categories. Based on their personal experience, the exhibit could encapsulate the manifestation of one’s expression into (1) feedback/response, (2) assimilation and dissimilation, (3) juxtaposition to life experience, (4) fantasy, (5) and the repercussion/echo of the current event to radical value. 

For example, Bandung-based artist Radhinal Indra presents the work titled ASMR Mars, a 3 minutes 27 seconds video produced with seismic sound and wind to give a background 3D surface-atmosphere of planet Mars adapted by NASA Insight Lander (2018). Indra offers the narrative about Anthropocene, the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Indra’s work echoes the counterproductive mission of leaving Earth as humans knew that their planet is not adaptable anymore. 

Nabila Shafa’s Biowar Daring Mahasiswi records documentary through the footage of college students in East Java who experience distance lecturing due to the Covid-19 pandemic where the inclusion of education in Indonesia face the challenge as many kids in the archipelago nation have been struggling to go to school every day. Inspired by the local dark magic figure of Jailangkung, Yogyakarta-based artist Nasirun juxtaposes the invisible threat in the figure of dark spirit through his video named Jailangkung Tak Mengenal Corona

More works are on display in the virtual exhibition that run until 6 December 2020. Discover biennale MANIFESTO VII: PANDEMI on Galnas official website galnasonline.id