Year

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Practice)

Department

Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, School of the Arts, English and Media

Abstract

This thesis is an exegesis that complements my installation project ‘Mitoni, Lurik and the Stitches of Lament’. My project was inspired by my personal participation in a traditional Javanese Mitoni seventh month pregnancy ritual in 2006 and was fueled by my concerns in response to the changing socio-cultural environment in Indonesia.

I begin my thesis looking at the legacy of Joseph Beuys’ social sculpture philosophy and the effect this has had on Indonesian installation practice and its connection with the history of installation and contemporary art in Indonesia. I start my research with a history of the legacy of the Indonesian New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru), and I write of how the practice of installation art has had an important role as a social sculpture that conveys artist’s social conscience. Central to this project is an investigation of how ethnographic features taken from fragmented narratives in ritual and cloths become artistic and political strategies in the practice of installation art to connect visual art with discussions of personal, social and cultural dimensions from woman artist’s perspectives as in those created by the second wave feminist artists and Asian female artists such as Kimsooja, Sheela Gowda and Arahmaiani.

Practice-led research is employed as a central methodology in this project, intertwining with material culture and bricolage. The material culture of Mitoni and Lurik cloths is explored through my direct participation and observation in the Mitoni ritual (2006) and the conduction of field research in Semarang city and Cawasan village, Central Java, Indonesia (2011) to interview a Javanese ritual facilitator and the Lurik cloths weavers. Stitching together the threads of ethnographic narratives in the Mitoni ritual and the lurik cloths with the socio-political content of Indonesian installation art history and current socio-cultural issues, the body of work and thesis for this project is constructed through the process of bricolage. As the result of the bricolage, the connectedness between ethnographic narratives in traditional ritual and textile with artist’s concern to the socio-cultural and political issues is revealed in the installation practice.

I concluded through my project that installation art not only has a role to play as a social sculpture but is also a form that holds together eclectic interconnected stories. Installation art practice enabled me to become a stitcher of stories and wounds, as well as a conduit between the past and the present. This project contributes insights into installation art practice through the specifics of my personal experience of the Mitoni ritual and the lurik cloths, and my extrapolation of these specifics into broader socio-cultural dimensions. I highlight the interconnected links between the practice of installation art and ritual, the ritual and the textile, the traditional practice and the contemporary art, the past and the present, myths and realities, and the artist’s social conscience with visual arts practice.

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