A Midnight Moment: FX Harsono’s ‘Writing in the Rain’ at Times Square, New York

Coinciding with the final weeks of “After Darkness” at Asia Society Museum, FX Harsono’s Writing in the Rain gets its Midnight Moment throughout the month of January 2018.

The exhibition highlighting Southeast Asian contemporary art at Asia Society Museum runs until 21 January 2018. Concurrently, Times Square’s giant screens light up at midnight with FX Harsono’s video performance.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, 'Writing in the Rain', 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, ‘Writing in the Rain’, 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

From 11:57 pm until midnight every day since 2012, the giant screens on New York City’s Times Square light up an international contemporary artist’s project. Midnight Moment is the world’s largest, longest-running digital art exhibition, synchronised on electronic billboards throughout Times Square nightly. Presented by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and curated by Times Square Arts since 2012, it has an estimated annual viewership of 2.5 million.

Since its inception, the project has presented the work of 70 artists and art collectives, including Seoungho Cho, Yoko Ono, Naoko Tosa, Ryoji Ikeda, Takeshi Murata, Tracey Emin, Isaac Julien, Alfredo Jaar, Shahzia Sikander and Sun Xun, among others.

Click here to watch “Writing in the Rain” by FX Harsono on YouTube

The first Midnight Moment of 2018 is FX Harsono’s Writing in the Rain, featured in conjuction with the final weeks of “After Darkness: Southeast Asian Art in the Wake of History” at Asia Society Museum.

Jakarta-based FX Harsono (b. 1949, Blitar, East Java, Indonesia) is a seminal figure in the Indonesian contemporary art scene. His work engages with socio-political issues, including the role of the artist in the recovery of repressed histories, cultures and identities. In 2015 he received the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art in 2015, presented by the US embassy in Singapore in recognition of his “commitment to art and to freedom of expression in art”, and in 2014 he won the Prince Claus Award in honour of his “crucial role in Indonesia’s contemporary art scene for forty years”. Since his student days at the Jakarta Art Institute, Jakarta, and the Sekolah Tinggi Seni Rupa Indonesi (STSRI “ASRI”), Yogyakarta, Harsono has been an active critic of Indonesia’s politics, society and culture.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, 'Writing in the Rain', 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, ‘Writing in the Rain’, 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

Often, his personal life and family history have been the basis of his art projects. His work points at the situation of minorities, and the socially underprivileged against the backdrop of Indonesia’s own history and political development. The intersection of the personal and the political is particularly evident in his most recent works. In his portraiture, he deconstructs the concept of self-portrait, by deliberately obscuring the main component of a portrait – the face. His oeuvre constantly questions and reflects on the position of an artist within society, and therefore of himself within Indonesia’s socio-political environment.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, 'Writing in the Rain', 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

Midnight Moment: FX Harsono, ‘Writing in the Rain’, 1-31 January 2018, Times Square, New York. Photo © Ka-Man Tse for Times Square Arts.

Writing in the Rain depicts the artist while he writes his name in Chinese characters with a brush as rain slowly washes the ink away. The work references the elusive nature of culture and identity, and the constant need to reassert them in order to prevent time from slowly and unrelentlessly erasing them.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

2024

Related Topics: Indonesian artists, performance, video, public art, museum shows, events in New York, event alert

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