Biennale Jogja in Indonesia is set to return on Oct 20 to Nov 30, highlighting “Indonesia together with South-East Asia” theme.

The event is slated to take place at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta and Jogja National Museum.

“This year’s exhibition will be different as it won’t view South-East Asia from an urban perspective, but instead enters an unfamiliar area such as Pattani, Sabah, Kelantan, Mindano or the historical Mekong River; we will see South-East Asia from an outskirt perspective,” said Alia Swastika, Biennale Yogyakarta Foundation executive director at a press conference recently.

The Equator series of the biennale is said to have travelled half the globe after previously collaborating with artists from countries along the equator, such as India in 2011, Saudi Arabia ( 2013 ), Africa ( 2015 ) and Latin America (2017 ). The Equator series itself will end in 2021 with collaborative works with Asia-Pacific artists.

“Since it has travelled half the globe, it’s time that we view ourselves, Indonesia and the South-East Asia region,” said Alia, adding that South-East Asia was chosen since it served as a united culture (not countries) that historically boasts tremendous cultural richness, however also faces many important issues that are rarely discussed in a mainstream platform.

“Biennale Jogja serves as a tool to highlight the platform of history, identity and ecology that have been marginalised,” she added.

Three curators chosen for the upcoming Biennale Jogja are Arham Rahman and Akiq AW from Indonesia and Penwadee Nophaket Manont from Thailand. Meanwhile, among the artists invited to participate are 30 Indonesians and 21 artists from South-East Asian countries.

Arham said the artists are invited to highlight rarely discussed issues of marginalisation among the public in their artwork. Among the three such issues involved the subjects, the issues themselves and life practices.

“The artists that we had invited are those who have been known to focus on certain issues of marginalisation, such as gender,” said Arham.

Meanwhile, Akiq said this year’s Biennale Jogja would apply a different residency for the invited artists.

“We encouraged the artists to conduct a journey, whether by sea, land or river,” he said.

The location for the sea journey is around Mandar city in West Sulawesi. Meanwhile, the land journey involves travelling from Aceh to Jambi in Sumatra, and the river journey will be done in the Kapuas River in West Kalimantan. Each journey will be conducted by three artists – two from Indonesia and one from a South-East Asian country – who will take notes of marginalised issues along their trip and present them in an artwork form.

“All of these journey will take around one month and end in July,” said Akiq.

Alia added that Biennale Jogja, which has been held since 1988, makes Yogyakarta one of the centres of contemporary fine arts, attracting curators and museum directors from many countries.

“This Equator series also serves as a medium for Yogyakarta people to view the world and to destroy certain stereotypes about a country,” she said.

When Nigerian artists participated in a residency as part of the Biennale Jogja in 2015, for instance, the people of Yogyakarta became familiar with another side of Nigeria other than its soccer and drugs. – The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network