Women and Art: Redefining femininity
Munarsih Sahana, Contributor, Yogyakarta | Fri, 03/09/2012 11:17 AM

Utin Rini, Midnight Blues, acrylic on canvas, 180x160 cmUtin Rini, Midnight Blues, acrylic on canvas, 180x160 cmThere are always multiple interpretations and varied definitions when we come to talk about gender equality in Indonesia. As it is socially constructed, gender equality can be understood differently by different groups in society and influenced by sociopolitical aspects.

This topic has intrigued Ketjil Bergerak, an organization with an interest in facilitating dialogue among different elements in society in collaboration with Skar productions to discuss and later redefine what it takes to be a woman in Indonesia using (visual) art as the entry point for discussion.

They are currently featuring visual art works by 11 Yogyakarta female artists in an art exhibition with the theme Membatalkan Keperempuanan (Canceling Femininity) at Sangkring Art Space in Nitiprayan Yogyakarta, March 3-15. This is part of a series of events to commemorate 2012 International Women’s Day.

“Canceling femininity for women is a way to clear their mind in order to create an absence of concept [about their femininity] and afterward they are free to redefine themselves in line with what they want to say and do in accordance with the life they live,” said Invani Lela Herliyani, organizer of the exhibition.

Their art work on display, however, reflects mostly the typical roles of women, such as looking after the family, nursing, sewing, exposing their everyday life and images of women themselves.

Wahyu Wiedardini, a mother herself, claims that talking about gender relations between men and women is over. For her, women naturally give birth and feed their babies, as in her work Don’t Worry I am Here (140x120 centimeters, acrylic on canvas), featuring an image of a dog suckling three small puppies. A mother is supposed to nurture and protect her children, she said.

Maria Indria Sari showcases her skill in handwork with Trapped In A Form #1 (123x95 centimeters), using fabric, threads, buttons and zippers as her main materials to create an image of a sleeping beauty. The zippers are used to make the hair and buttons for the clothes. The work shows that she is good at employing different stitches, embroidery and sewing techniques, tasks that are generally performed by women.

Sewing techniques and appliqué are also on display in Maria Magdalena’s work Malam Tak Bertuan (Orphaned Night) which consists of six variable pieces of work using mixed media, including framed gunny sacks as the main canvas. She not only employed stitching on the gunny sacks but also appliquéd them with various objects including a fork, embroidery, dolls and two headed statues made of resin.

Bonita Margaret questions whether women are more dominant in men-women relations through a painting of a shadow of a pair of lower legs in Perempuan Dominan ? (Are Women Dominant?, acrylic on canvas, 80x60 centimeters). Onlookers might interpret legs as symbols of oppressing others although Bonita uses a nice color combination.

Painter Lashita Situmorang describes the strong and significant roles of women in her painting Tubuh Yang Bertumbuh (A Growing Body, 20x150 centimeters, acrylic on canvas) depicting an image of a large tree bearing leaves in the form of big umbrellas that symbolize shade and protection. Its lower trunk is supported by a moving female body, instead of roots.

Images of nice-looking girls are shown in Incognito (120x120 centimeters), a painting placed inside a neon box and Midnight Blues (180x160 centimeters, acrylic on canvas). Both are works by Utin Rini, who believes that there already is equality between men and women therefore there is no point for her to self-identify as a feminist.

Maria Indria Sari, Trapped in a Form #1, acrylic on canvas, 123x95 cmMaria Indria Sari, Trapped in a Form #1, acrylic on canvas, 123x95 cmMost of the participating female artists are graduates of the Yogyakarta Institute of Arts. There are two young participants; Arini Imani Sophia, who is a student of Gadjah Mada University, and Deidra Mesayu Risangsaeaya, who is still in the first grade of Fine Art High School SMSR, both are exhibiting pieces in a comic-book style.

Arini’s Perayaan Hari Kebalikan (Celebrating The Day of Reverse) which consists of nine pieces (30x41 centimeters, color pencil on paper) involves a tough young girl whose name is Popo. Whereas, Deidra’s Dunia Butuh Seorang Deidra (The World Needs a Deidra) is a feature consisting of six out of 25 pages from a book of her personal story of being attracted to a male friend in the same class. Deidra said, despite getting no response from the boy, she felt happy when one day he told her she was a great girl.

There is a three-set photography work Perempuan Perkasa (Strong Women) by Idealita Ismanto portraying women in construction work, as porters and other tough jobs.

There are two three-dimensional works, Utin Rini’s Colonizing The Colonizer in the form of an anchor made of metal and resin wrapped in a pink and black color combination of soft vinyl, and an animal statue made of recycled metal (50x50x170) by Wahyu Wiedyardini and her husband I Nyoman Adiana.

All these works will be discussed along with the topic “Canceling Femininity” on International Women’s Day which falls on March 8. This will be followed by other events: Online Exhibition on Women (female artists) on The Move (March 10-May 10) at TBY Art Shop, Open Studio of Yogyakarta female artists (March 12-15) and a festival involving women of Tegalkenongo village, Yogyakarta, on March 24.

Membatalan Keperempuanan
Sangkring Art Project
Jl. Nitiprayan 88 Ngestiharjo,
Kasihan Bantul
Open Monday-Saturday
10 a.m – 6 p.m


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