FX Harsono (IDN)

Purification
2013
Video, aluminum kettle, wooden sculpture,
found objects
Dimensions variable

FX Harsono was born in 1949. He is one of the initiators of the radical student movement called “Black December” and also “Indonesian New Art Movement” that got him expelled from STSRI ‘ASRI’ Yogyakarta, where he studied painting. After survived living in the streets, Harsono later successfully completed his degree in 1991 at the IKJ (Jakarta Institute of Arts). Despite having a fairly dark academic record in his youth, since 2005 he became a lecturer at the Faculty of Art and Design of Pelita Harapan University. Harsono works have a political background which is often regarded as a threat to the government. Harsono always attempts to provide socio-political context of the artistic language of choice and can be seen as a reflection of his position as an artist in society.

Recently, questions about identity and family of the Chinese descent have become a main topic, especially in the works that emerged after the reform. Harsono attempted to trace his own personal history, rewrite its Chinese name, explore a collection of family photos, and then found more than he expected, he began to understand the sense of political pressures and racism in Indonesia. Intersection between the personal and political terms is especially apparent in his latest works; not only that it showed his concerns about the hidden history but also touches on the more fundamental issue of identity in a rapidly changing world as it is today.

For this exhibition, Harsono has done an intense research on the lives of people in Cirebon, a port city on the border of Central Java and West Java, which has a specific in terms of mixing different cultures (Javanese, Sundanese, Hindu, Chinese, Arabic, Islam). He collects objects that he found in the market, artifacts and video documentation of the a syncretic ritual that is still practiced in the area.