Author Archive

This Is A Review: Art

June 13, 2011
That three-letter word can be a real irk. If there is ever a competition held on art, it would most probably be one of the very few fields that we would unlikely win. The vagueness and endless possibilities of art as an idea are, fortunately (and unfortunately), downright simple. The possibilities of the said vague idea is endless.
Luckily, there isn’t any competition. This freedom is what Art Beyond the Year Two Thousand codifies. The “communication power” of the mass media, explains art critic Achille Bonito Oliva (Salerno 1939) to me during the launching of the book, a decade after the year two thousand (and about five days ago last year), “influences and hits the imaginary of many people in the world.”
The essay recognizes what happens after art takes advantage of its comfortable position that is described as being in harmony with the experimentation of “new languages.” Art has embraced globalisation and has undergone its own globalisation…but that is not even the horror yet.
With the steady rise of acknowledgement of popular arts in both the United States and Europe, where “traditional craftsmanship ‘charm’ and the bond with more reassuring and controllable times ‘rhymes’”, its commercialization becomes the “ideological proof” or art’s assimilation. It appears the term “avant-garde” (minus the kitsch) has been successfully neutralized.
But not without the many relationships between art and other fields of study. Citing a handful of artists from a variety of places around the globe, including the United States, Europe and South Africa, Art Beyond the Year Two Thousand acknowledges the role of art in advertising (not excluding copywriting), art and the invasion of hyper technology, and the artists.
The “sporadic” characteristic of art post-second world war period has its audience witnessing its own metamorphosis as a consumer of artworks. Specific terminologies within the established context of art, of course, is already a handful for the public audience. Art, the essay goes on, is neither local nor global, but somewhere in between. This is what is introduced as glocal.
In a section on the public’s death, the essay inserts a quote that sums up the position of the public as “I, the brave costumer who sways between videos, installations, bars and restaurants, toilettes and computers, handphones and cloakrooms, shopping malls and nice people, is a magnificent and profuse (being who will) eventually, gently castaway within the daily inactivity, which is so very dear to me.”
As if the first volume of the Seni Kontemporer series was written and printed on a cruise ship, the essay positions the public as being conscious of the changes happening with themselves as they cruise on their daily interactions with many artsy things. It explains that there is “no international conscience” of the irking three-letter word that is art.
So yes, there is a new artistic movement in progress, and this movement has the ability to “trigger visual literacy” between populations of faraway places. The essay recognizes that this movement follows the law of continental drift in its strategy, making it a movement worthy of its contradictory positioning within the concept of time and worthy of its name.
Spilled by the art critic as “art against and beyond the year two thousand”, the artistic movement’s soulful presence could as well have been traced within the affirmation of Ernst Jünger and the explanation from Norbert Elias, who are both writers and thinkers like us. There is bound to be a contamination of “art’s prevalent character” that goes against the year two thousand which is most likely caused by “the rapid circulation of different visual codes between different continents.”
Recognizing the symbolic death of both the public audience and that of art, Achille Bonito Oliva’s essay identifies the many positioning of art and presents a contemporary artistic movement’s map in the art system (from environmental art to the many art’s tribes). This map is best described as a summary of the portfolio of the many branches of art since the 20th century globalisation.
[Imagine an illustrated visual map of the contemporary art system here…and you’re good to go.]
As someone whose political stand is as advanced as opening up to the possibility of getting over the minimal pair of body/bloody politics (thank you so much, phonology), my own investigations have brought me yet to another clue to understand (a sympathetic gesture) whether the mocking way Indonesians speak is an intentional experimentation or one of those too-cool-for-fools’, rocket scientist gizmos.
Art Beyond the Year Two Thousand agrees that language “is always” what it is all about. So let’s take for granted that globalisation is on our side, and everyone’s an artist in their own field (an empathetic understanding), and find out how Indonesia fits into this whole system…

There’s something about stories

June 8, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I like fairy tales. I still do. Even after all these years. And no, not just because of the pretty, pretty dresses worn by the princes and the princesses, the grandiose castles—almost always looking as if they needed redecorating—or the heavenly creatures that roam the vast land endlessly.

And they make quite a bedtime story, too.

When it was still the ‘80s or the ‘90s, it was not too difficult to find “real” bedtime stories. There was that Sanggar Cerita cassette series in its thick, bulgy, white plastic casings that set it apart from other tapes. An older version of the series also came with the ordinary see-through plastic cassette casings used for the packaging of music albums and are, apparently, less likely to swell oversize to the brink of no clicking upon closing like the white plastic ones in the heat.

Another thing is that the bedtime stories didn’t usually come with a transcript of the story, and this sometimes (and only sometimes) has made it a witty bit frustrating for the curious sleepyheads who didn’t quite catch the difficult words inside the tale. There were quite a few “Apa?” instead of the glorious A-ha moments, as a result to that.

The collection includes an assortment of stories with a lineup of bizarre, if not freaky, characters. There was Si Kancil, a tiny deer in his attempts to find juicy, tasty cucumbers to legendary characters that are either turned to national treasures (Malinkundang was turned to stone), forced to marry (Siti Nurbaya) or just plain legendary, like the want-it-all Roro Jongrang.

These and other given characters with names the like of Putri Angsa Putih, Putri Kecapi, superhero names (there was one, at least, that included Superman’s kicks) and even pets, like Ular Sang Pangeran, have helped children all over the country get some quality sleep. These characters are usually flaunted on the two-fold cassette covers that looked really dandy, as if they were hand painted, each and every one of them, for that specific story.

Each side of the tape contains, usually, one story for the A-side and another one for the B-side. When you’re lucky, however, you’ll find a story that continues to the other side. When that happens, regardless of having made to endure the opening jingle twice, it sure feels more than good.

But that was before the illustrated children’s story books came along, before being “properly” introduced to Rapunzel, the Tweedle brothers from “Alice in Wonderland” or Jiminy the cricket. And before I realized that when you leave the tapes in the open and don’t play them quite often, they’re bound to grow fungus. And when that happens you just need to be kind, and rewind.

Thinking of a resolution

January 6, 2010

I’ve made enough New Year’s resolutions to understand that my resolutions are almost always far-fetched.

At least ten years ago one of my resolutions was to stop eating meat. The timing couldn’t have been more right, as it was then that the great economy crisis hit the country right where it hurts the most: the colon.

When the clock stroke at midnight this New Year, I was wide awake on my over possessive bed, focusing on my handwriting, which had gotten pretty “tidier” by the year.

Tossing and turning in a semi-deprived state of consciousness, flashes of my striving to achieve my resolutions came to mind—in montages. Fiddling with my might; not a pretty sight.

I once vowed to avoid speaking in slangs, for fear of contributing to the “destruction” of Indonesian language. And then there was the time when I set out on a quest to understand the true meaning of the concept of love, which brought me to my semi-deprived state of consciousness. And then there was also that time when I vowed to keeping my hair forever green.

It becomes clear that I am not to make any new resolutions this year, but to continue with my quest. Only this time, in a better way.

So here's a photograph of me thinking of a resolution,

The Calendar

June 28, 2009

I wanted to put up a post for Annisa, thinking that it would be really fun to write something about the origin of birthday cakes. But then sudden changes of wind made me think of this little vignette, a short story that has been running amok in my mind for some time now.


One of the things that she found really difficult to do is ripping off the pages of the calendar. She was sentimental like that.

If only she wasn’t five years of age, it wouldn’t have been a problem. But she was, indeed, that young when she told her mother in a tone that was almost apologetic about how she couldn’t sleep because of that.

“I just can’t do it,” she cried.

The first time she told her mother, she was too busy cooking to listen. There were lots of things to be done in the house, and the mother herself hadn’t been able to make enough time to cater her own needs. There was, of course, no maid in the house.

She had decided early in marriage that she would not allow anyone else to take care of her babies. Outside influences were, for her, exactly the way they sounded to her.




April 12, 2009

And so,

crackles of laughters all sound louder.

And so,

water runs down the dishes in the kitchen and

leftover food into the sink


like old nightmares






To Eat or Not to Eat, that Is the Question

January 18, 2009
A sign saying <i>jangan makan</i> or <i>don't eat</i> that can be found in the smoking lounge of 'Menara Batavia'

A sign saying "jangan makan" or don't eat that can be found inside the smoking lounge of 'Menara Batavia'

One Dinner Conversation

November 30, 2008

This rare finding from an Indonesian language text book in

“Dear, what’s with all the food?” asked a mother to a daughter during dinner.

“Well, I read in a magazine that the key to a healthy diet is to get yourself thinking that you can eat anything, anytime and anywhere,” answered the daughter, preparing to go into the details of why the slight shift in view point can make the largest difference.

The father glanced at the amount of food the young lady had fixed up for herself and muttered, “Why don’t you just eat the magazine?”


October 19, 2008

come, child, sit in front of me

come, child, listen to my story

of scintilla

and the mirror –

hiding in your glimmering reflection.

living without voice or soul,

laughing right there. in front of you –

staring through




September 28, 2008


A 2006 illustration for my poem of the same title, I Do Not Love Thee.

A 2006 illustration of my poem of the same title, I Do Not Love Thee.

I am not my words am not my clothes am not my hair am not my friends am not my affiliations am not my parents am not my lovers am not my body am not my gods am not my demons am not the books I read am not the movies I watch am not my money am not my investments am not my country am not my sex partners am not my orgasms am not the drugs I take am not the literary movement am not the public service announcements am not the television shows am not my thoughts am not the images in the mirror am not my roles in the society am not in denial am not what you’d like me to think I am. (more…)

Don’t be sorry. Just be

September 21, 2008
Freddie died of AIDS in 1991, at the age of 45 and at the top of his career as a bombastic singer of the group band Queen. This was taken from

Freddie died of AIDS in 1991, at the age of 45 and at the top of his career as a bombastic singer of the group band Queen. This was taken from

It happened in 2003. That was when I met the one person that would change the course of my life forever. Attempts have been made to recollect memories of what happened during that crucial period, and they have all been fruitless. The emotional attachment I have with the topic has made it quite impossible to position myself as an objective observer. Perhaps, this time it would be different.