In the Yogyakarta leg of the residency, Savitri and I did some moving about. We dropped in to Cemeti Art House and Sangkring Art Space, had a lovely chat with artist Dewa Ngakan Ardana, and of course, when we were at the Indonesian Visual Art Archive we got more books and catalogues. I realize I have such a bias towards the written text.
There was a day as well, on 8 January, where we met Kartika Affandi and Heri Dono. Mami Kartika, she insisted we addressed her as such, was a most gracious host. Her compound was a fairly expansive area with houses constructed of wood that she bought and moved, and whose doors or windows she would switch around to suit her eclectic taste. She had an abundance of flowers of the most vivid colours growing, and a few were tucked into her hair that day. She was the grandaunt you wished you had; elegant and attentive, vivacious in appearance yet measured in her words. Located further inside were the galleries housing her works and artworks of other artists she collected. Within that area also was the grave she already prepared for herself.
Mami Kartika’s biography has already been recounted elsewhere, and so I won’t rehash it here. But I must say, on the first impression, that there are some similarities that can be drawn between the lives and works of Mami Kartika and Murni, including in the subjects depicted and also the colours.
At dusk, we made our way to Heri Dono’s studio which, if I remember correctly, was a former Dutch police headquarters. It provided so much space for him to not only just store his works, but to also lay them out for viewing, even such large works as one featuring a wooden carriage that functions much like a hearse and was used during funerals. He has also installation sculptures made of old motorbikes. And those motorbikes do still work thanks to the specialised skills of the technician that Pak Heri Dono so closely collaborates with. Pak Heri Dono was really kind enough to walk us about while talking. He brought us all around the building, through his personal library and all the rooms, and it was like walking through the set of a Japanese animated sci-fi thriller, specifically something like Paprika, and you know, if animations had actual physical sets, and took its visual inspiration from the traditional arts of Indonesia. And by that, I mean to say, the artworks were fantastical objects. Like the shape of Murni’s figures and motifs, I am perplexed, maybe sometimes even perturbed, by the inexplicable realisation of these strange fantastical forms.