Notes of “Under The Skin” Exhibition (by Citra Sasmita)

Malam ia sudah merancang
tidak kembali mengulang mimpi
pada stang bau seledri
kabur membawa tubuh
di atas sepeda
bagai sekeranjang bayam dan kapri
habis kecantikannya terbeli bintang pagi
Tapi, ia mendengar bisik tetangga
dan percaya. Perempuan bisa jadi bapak anak-anaknya
tidaklah jamak setiap menyalakan api
mengandalkan korek dari saku laki-laki
I quote two verses of Iman Budhi Santosa’s poem entitled “The Greengrocer Widow from Imogiri-Yogya” as a fi rst step to walk to Yogyakarta city. The issues of cultural identity, myth, the context of space and time, and the dynamics of community culture became the hypothesis that I obtained from the poem, as well as bridging the work process during the residency period within three months in Redbase. Contrary to my previous work
processes which based on understanding the situation and conditions of Balinese women in the context of their patriarchal and sexuality cultures. This poem brings my body to a more complex issue, not just about the body of Bali, the body of Java, but the human body itself. When I arrived at Yogya, I was slowly harassed by questions and guidance that took me to various place and meetings with a stranger who soon become a friend. So the process of my work not limited to how to get the idea and then poured it into the medium of art only. But my body also helped to record the spirituality and cultural experiences that exist in Yogya. Especially how the The Greengrocer Widow from Imogiri-Yogya’ brought me to explore intense traditional markets, including some visits to several destinations like the south coast, Kotagede and the tomb of Imogiri king.
Traditional markets became the most liquid and open space for me to observe, as a social contest space, the market brought people from different backgrounds and different destinations in the same room. As a visual language, my observations focus on women’s position and relationships in traditional markets as a reflection of their wider social and cultural reality. In traditional markets, women are not only instrumental in determining the value and economic aspects of the various commodity goods traded, but also forging their negotiation space hierarchically. How the market become a public space is identifi ed with women to fulfi ll family needs. In addition, the traditional market also provides a very rich visual diction. I took a lot of things that are commonly found in the market as an idiom that represents my idea in the work. Pieces of meat, cloth napkins,
bamboo strain, leather and natural fi ber became the element that present in this exhibition. In addition to found object in the market, these items at once become a symbol for the identity of the woman herself. The braided natural fi ber strunged together like a long hair hanging. The idiom of long hanging hair, in addition is
become a symbol of women’s identity, also represents their relationship with fellow women, with other human beings, including the context of space and time
This hair idiom also evolved through the shadow-puppet narrative, an element of tradition that links the historical narratives of Javanese and Balinese humans, especially regarding the fi gure of Drupadi. In her story, Drupadi was stripped naked and humiliated by Kurawa because of Pandawa’s defeat in a gambling game.
Her revenge on Kurawa made her swear to untie her hair until she could bathe in Kurawa’s blood. Drupadi ‘s hair that I show is a representation of the form of women’s movement that should be able to fi ght for their rights in the middle of social contest space. This idea became the antithesis of the general view of the fi gure of Javanese women who are usually forcing them to surrender and accept various pressures, as reflected in the philosophy of “nrimo ing pandum” or “mikul dhuwur mendhem jero”.
In this space and time in Yogya, I tried to record these experiences through my Balinese body. Although this cultural identity gives a contrasting color, there is a certain interconnected memory between language, poetry, and philosophy that adds into my visual wealth. The representation of the body that I often present is innocent and with pale white colors on my previous works, and now clothed with a more down to earth experience, with a more earthy body color as well.

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