Kayu|Lucie Fontaine Bali and Yayasan Mitra Museum Jakarta (YMMJ) present “We Move Amongst Ghosts” at Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik in Jakarta. This is Kayu|Lucie Fontaine’s eleventh project and the first in a series of group exhibitions in collaboration with YMMJ. The series, showcasing artists from Indonesia and abroad, is held at a selection of Jakarta museums.
“We Move Amongst Ghosts|Justice”, the inaugural show, includes works by Arahmaiani, Ashley Bickerton, Chris Bunjamin, Marco Cassani, Rafram Chaddad, Cian Dayritt, Fendry Ekel, J. W. Heydt, Agnieszka Kurant, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Sindoedarsono Soedjojono and Rirkrit Tiravanija. The exhibition is on view from February 11 until March 15.
The show aims to look at the interface between object and space on the one hand, and memory on the other. In particular, it focuses on how object and space can conjure up historical and communal memory. This underlying idea harks back to Kayu’s fifth project in 2016, “Ritiro”, in which a group of artworks ‘went’ on a retreat from Bali to Java, thus suggesting the idea that space and object, things without life in themselves, might have a kind of existence – an internal life – of their own.
“We Move Amongst Ghosts|Justice” builds on this suggestion in relation to the definition and meaning of a museum, particularly its role as a nexus between the past and the present. The starting point is the work of YMMJ since 2017 in conservation and documentation.
In 2018, YMMJ commissioned the Indonesian artist Chris Bunjamin to document seven of the eleven museums belonging to the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, all of them eminent landmarks in the Indonesian capital and in the Indonesian national consciousness. These include Monumen Nasional (Monas), Museum Sejarah Jakarta, Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik, Museum Tekstil, Museum Wayang, Museum Taman Prasasti and Gedung Joang 45. Bunjamin produced a series of seven black and white photographs of these buildings, conveying a personal impression of Jakarta’s collective memory.
As one of the documented sites, Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik brings the artworks on show into a dialogue with the museum’s past, its permanent collection and its urban context, Kota Tua (Jakarta’s historically-charged ‘Old Town’). The show recalls the museum’s earlier role as the Raad van Justitie, which served as the highest court of justice in colonial Indonesia.
Acting on the instruction of King Willem III of the Netherlands, Pieter Mijer, the 19th Governor-General of the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia) commissioned Baron Willem Herman Frederik Hendrik van Raders in 1866 to design a new building to house the Raad van Justitie, the highest court of justice in the colony. Completed in 1870 at a cost of 269,000 gulden, the building was called the Paleis van Justitie.
The building underwent numerous changes of function during the Japanese occupation (1942–1945), the Indonesian Revolution (1945–1949) and the early decades of Independence. On August 20, 1976, on the recommendation of Vice-President Adam Malik, General Soeharto, the 2nd President of Indonesia, inaugurated the building as Balai Seni Rupa. On June 10, 1977, the front wing of the building was designated as Museum Keramik. In 1990, both institutions were joined together as Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik.
A mental space – with “Justice” as its theme – is created in the façade, portico and main hall of the museum, within which the artworks are displayed. The overall effect is a play on the building’s former function as a judicial seat, but one now in which artworks present themselves before the court of public of opinion. It is an invitation to explore the memories conjured up by both space and object, memories that form the linkages between our past and present. NAWABALI
Featured Image (Top): Courtesy of Kayu Lucie Fontaine.