Deni Ramdani, Cynthia Delaney Suwito and Etza Meisyara are named the three best artists of the 5th edition of the Bandung Contemporary Art Awards 2017.
The three artists were awarded the top three prizes after the BaCAA #5 accepted more than 400 applications.
The current ecological issues facing Indonesia appeared to take precedence, as both Deni Ramdani and Cynthia Delaney Suwito both created works that addressed the various crises that affect the environment at large. Etza Meisyara chose to engage with the refugee crisis, shining the spotlight on her encounters with refugees in Germany. The three artists were awarded on 5 October 2017, during the Awarding Night.
With the open call announced on 20 February 2017, the prize accepted more than 400 participants, and the three winners were chosen after two selections round juried by independent art curator Agung Hujatnikajennong, art journalist Carla Bianpoen, art collector Wiyu Wahono, Los Angeles-based gallerist Susan Baik and Kuala Lumpur-based gallerist Valentine Willie.
Deni Ramdani’s work, 0° (2017) comprises a suspended plastic bag, supported by overhead beams and left to dangle in mid-air. Filled with water and fishes over a soil heap meant to resemble the topology of his home village, Ramdani’s plastic bag is punctured by tiny holes, allowing the water to drip out of the bag, wetting the soil. Over the course of the installation, the soil heap changes its shape, whilst the water level increasingly dips lower. Ramdani’s work is also imbued with a layer of symbolism: the fishes, according to Ramdani, are meant to represent him and the people living in the village. Suspended in mid-air, the fishes remain oblivious to the changing conditions around them.
In the same vein, Cynthia Delaney Suwito‘s artwork invites participants to think of particular solutions to the ecological crisis. In her work Holding Breath (2016-2017), Suwito makes use of the theory that the suspension of oxygen intake equates the donation of oxygen to someone else. Asking the audience to hold their breath as long as they can, Suwito measures the length of time taken, and then divides it by the number of the approximate human population on the face of the earth (7.500.000). Inviting participants to think about the consequences of their action, no matter how small, the participatory artwork takes the form of a large-scale installation that notes the total amount of donated oxygen.
Etza Meisyara contemplates the current refugee crisis faced by Europe, with her work How Does It Feel? (To be a refugee) (2017). Her sound installation comprises a large, stainless steel musical composition, with dining cutlery used to make out the musical notes of the score. Meisyara’s work was born out of a residency programme in Centre Intermondes, La Rochelle, France. Travelling around Europe, Meisyara encountered refugees, particularly at a train station in Munich. Recording their voices in the course of long conversations with them, Meisyara’s work evokes the foremost concern of the refugees: the home. The cutlery is an evocation of the domestic setting, circling around notions of hospitality, familiarity and family. An accompanying book with the installation explores the artist’s own impression of her journey through Europe, placing the spotlight on her own discoveries and revelations.
Confronting political and social issues, Ricky Janitra’s work World Wide Web Waste (2017) is a seven-channel video installation. Forming jarring, ghostly, and sometimes even haunting images, Janitra’s work portrays the over-saturated media environment, with its excessive information bombardment. Commenting on what is termed “ICT waste victims”, Janitra’s work looks at the increasing numbers of people who cannot keep up with technology, and the impact that ICTs have on social culture itself.
The four artists were chosen out of fifteen finalists. Noting that this year’s edition was accompanied by an “increase in variety of method, theme and medium”, the announcement of the winners was also accompanied with the opening of the main exhibition, which features the works of the artists alongside other finalists, including Abshar Platisza, Mohamad Sabil H and Kelvin Atmadibrata, amongst others. The exhibition is located at the Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung, and will run until 5 November 2017.
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