The things that are closest to use are often the most difficult to talk about. Or maybe we think that their sheer proximity alone makes us experts. But sometimes, we are just too embarrassed to start a conversation on things whose nearness is too ingrained in our own self-image, our absolute existence.
Those who like to dabble in philosophy from time to time would be familiar with the much-discussed (and debated) notion that the core of human existence is the mind, and that our bodies are just vessels that serve to contain it. While there is no end to what can be said about this idea, the human body exists regardless of how we perceive it – that is, whether we consider it to be nothing more than a container or something that possesses its own significance. The fact is that my consciousness coexists with my body. To disregard the latter would be to deny the accepted perception of reality.
This brings us back to proximity. The physical body is not only close to us, but it is also a part of us; it is us. The concept of the body, however, is close to us. Its role is present in every society, but the abstract idea of the body itself is not something that is not equal across cultures. In some cultures, and I think Indonesia is one of them, the idea of “the body” is the big elephant in the room.
Annisa Utami, Natasha Gabriella Tontey and Rega Ayunda Putri want to put an end to the awkwardness that comes with any mention of the body. Not only do these three young female artists aspire to change the attitude that people have towards the image of the body, but they also want to invite everyone to celebrate it with them. Body Festival, a collaborative exhibition curated by Ika Vantiani that begins today (July 5) and will end on July 20, is the embodiment of the artists’ goals and ideals. Through creative interactive installations – such as Tontey’s Hypochondria, a long plank covered with all sorts of little objects designed for visitors to tread on – the talented individuals behind the exhibition want to invite the wider public to be more comfortable with their bodies. “Perayaan tubuh tanpa takut dituduh” (A celebration of the body without the fear of being accused), the exhibition’s catchphrase, accurately sums up the exhibition’s purpose.
The opening event of the exhibition, held on July 4, 2013, was casual and warm since the audience largely consisted of the artists’ friends or family members. One of the highlights of the event was the quirky performance by a group of four masked people who danced to a dangdut song about premarital pregnancy. Humour rarely fails at touching upon the taboos of a particular society.
If you also believe that art is a great tool with which we can point to important, yet often neglected, issues in our society, be sure to visit RURU Gallery in Tebet!
Jl. Tebet Timur Dalam Raya No. 6
Visit ruangrupa’s website for additional information.