Inaugural Artist-in-Residence: Arahmaiani

Charleston, SC | May 2022

One of Indonesia’s most seminal and respected contemporary artists, Arahmaiani inaugurated FSA’s Artist-in-Residence program May 2022. A trailblazer in the field of performance art, she is internationally recognized for her powerful and provocative commentaries on social, environmental and cultural issues. Inspired by spiritual practices and ancient wisdom, Arahmaiani often acts as a mediator between politically tenuous communities to spearhead long-term projects over shared human values (such as environmental preservation) that transcends national and political barriers, generating interfaith dialogue and peace. Calling artists “alchemical vessels for change”, she has been working for decades with various communities to foster self-sufficient agricultural models that preserve the larger ecosystem. For example, an extension of her “Flags Project” is her ongoing Tibet Environmental Project (2010 – ), a collaboration between the Tibetan monks at Lab and the local Chinese authorities that has led to creating a community farm, a large-scale trash clean up, implementing recycling practices, alternative energy sources, water management, and the planting of over two million trees in the Tibetan Plateau, one of the most critical water regions in the world.

During her FSA residency in Charleston, Arahmaiani engaged the local community through several gatherings and public performances – see more about her programs below.

“Flags Project”

Previously performed in various European and Asian countries, her ecologically-driven street performance, the Flags Project inspires collective creativity and facilitates community dialogue. The performance took place in conjunction with Spirited Brunch, an interfaith, self-guided food tour of numerous houses of worship.

Previously performed in various European and Asian countries, her ecologically-driven street performance, the Flags Project inspires collective creativity and facilitates community dialogue. The performance took place in conjunction with Spirited Brunch, an interfaith, self-guided food tour of numerous houses of worship. In collaboration with Charleston Interreligious Council, the event brought together differing venues and sites, drawing a wider audience throughout the downtown neighborhoods to participate in the festivities. Echoing this form of diversity and interfaith dialogue, Arahmaiani collaborated with volunteers to participate in her street performance by carrying flags with meaningful words and symbols that communicate joy and harmony. The performance commenced at the College of Charleston’s Alumni Center, and moved between various locations in downtown Charleston, stopping at landmarks, monuments, and houses of worship – reflecting on history, spiritual unity, and community. It culminated at KKBE Synagogue.

READ MORE
READ LESS

“Shadow of the Past”

A new iteration of Arahmaiani’s Shadow of the Past performance project was organized and produced by Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts. Performed in Europe, Indonesia, and Tibet, her 2016 performance in Java showcases Arahmaiani dressed in gray robes and covered with mud, evoking the long buried Buddha statues of ancient Javanese temples. She is seen walking through the empty buildings of an abandoned Javanese town once inhabited by ethnic Chinese Indonesians, stopping to meditate in various key locations, including an empty Buddhist temple, the remnant of the spiritual life of the former inhabitants. 

A new iteration of Arahmaiani’s Shadow of the Past performance project was organized and produced by Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts. Performed in Europe, Indonesia, and Tibet, her 2016 performance in Java showcases Arahmaiani dressed in gray robes and covered with mud, evoking the long buried Buddha statues of ancient Javanese temples. She is seen walking through the empty buildings of an abandoned Javanese town once inhabited by ethnic Chinese Indonesians, stopping to meditate in various key locations, including an empty Buddhist temple, the remnant of the spiritual life of the former inhabitants. 

In her 2022 iteration of Shadow of the Past, Arahmaiani contemplates Charleston’s rich and complex history, in addition to the city’s spiritual and architectural heritage. Like an angelic apparition, she walks silently – meditating, blessing, and paying homage to various sacred sites, as well as historical and cultural monuments. The performance is a poetic invocation for all of the city and the surrounding region to move further along on the path of communal meditation and collective healing.

READ MORE
READ LESS

About the Artist

Born in 1961 in Bandung, Indonesia, she established herself in the 1980’s as a pioneer in the field of performance art in Southeast Asia – although her practice also incorporates a wide variety of media.

Born in 1961 in Bandung, Indonesia, she established herself in the 1980’s as a pioneer in the field of performance art in Southeast Asia – although her practice also incorporates a wide variety of media. Since 1980, Arahmaiani has been included in over one hundred solo and group exhibitions around the world. Her works have been performed and exhibited widely in museums and biennials, including: the Venice Biennale (2003), Biennale of the Moving Image, Geneva (2003), Gwangju Biennale (2002), Biennale de São Paulo (2002) among many others. In New York City, she was included in the landmark exhibition, Traditions/Tensions, at Asia Society in 1996, as well as Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum in 2007. She also had a major retrospective, Arahmaiani: The Past has not Passed (Masa Lalu Belumlah Berlalu), at the MACAN Museum in 2018.

READ MORE
READ LESS