JAKARTA BIENNALE 09 ARENA THE 13TH ART BIENNALE AN EFFORT TO EMBRACE VARIED SEGMENTS OF THE SOCIETY
What is Jakarta Biennale? Although some people might consider such question as strange, it is actually a legitimate question, because even though the biennale has existed for scores of years and wellknown among art lovers and within the art communityósince its first exhibition under the name of Pameran Besar Seni Lukis Indonesia (Grand Exhibition of Indonesian Painting) at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Art Center in 1968, Taman Ismail Marzuki Art Center is a compound where art education and art activities are held, whose development had been initiated by the late governor of Jakarta, Ali Sadikin. on to its subsequent name of Jakarta (painting) Biennale in 1975, and then the Art Biennale in 1994 up to 2006 the biennale has largely remained unknown to the general public in Jakarta.
Well then, if the Jakarta Biennale has existed during several different periods, is it still relevant to the art public today? What does it mean to the general public? It is such series of questions that had encouraged the Jakarta Arts Council (Dewan Kesenian Jakarta) of the 2006 ñ 2009 period to invite several art experts to discuss the context and relevance of the Jakarta Biennale for todayís situation.
Some of the experts present were: Enin Supriyanto, Farah Wardhani, Aminudin TH Siregar, Alex Supartono, Asmudjo Jono Irianto, FX Harsono, Hafiz, Rifky Effendy, and Hendro Wiyanto. From the Jakarta Arts Council, the following members were present: Marco Kusumawijaya, Firman Ichsan, Ade Darmawan, and Bambang Bujono as the chairman of the art committee of the Jakarta Arts Council 2006 ñ 2009. The majority of the invited experts stated that there was still a need for an art biennale that would be independent, free from commercial interests and unbounded by the prevalent market tendency, and able to present the latest aesthetic tendencies, so much so that it could serve as a barometer for art development.
Based on the meeting, the Jakarta Arts Council, consisting of Marco Kusumawijaya (architect-cumurban planner), Bambang Bujono (art observer), Ade Darmawan (artist and lecturer), and M. Firman Ichsan (photographer and lecturer) tried to conduct a different process to hold the Jakarta Biennale 2009. On September 3, 2007, the Jakarta Arts Council held an open call to a number of Indonesian curators to submit their proposed themes for the Jakarta Biennale. After a series of considerations, Agung Hujatnikajennong was selected as the lead curator for the international exhibition of Fluid Zone, as per his proposal. The exhibition then became one of the three zones presented in the thirteenth Jakarta Biennale.
The theme of ARENA itself has been the brainchild of the members of the Jakarta Arts Council. One member of the Council, Ade Darmawan, has been involved with the issue of art expressions in the context of the urban society. ARENA tries to provide some answers to the questions regarding art and the city; making the Biennale more accessible and enjoyable for a larger public. This is also why the kick-off events of the biennale are art activities that strive to come closer to the public, by means of the Zone of Understanding and the Battle Zone, in which works of the artists, results of the collaboration between practitioners of different art disciplines (e.g. architects, graphic designers, photographers) and students are presented in public spaces such as the malls, as well as on walls, advertisement boards, and parks. It is a breakthrough that had not been present in previous Jakarta Biennales.
With the Fluid Zone, JBë09 ARENA also presents exhibitions at the National Gallery of Indonesia and the Grand Indonesia mall, displaying works by contemporary artists from different countries. These are international exhibitions that can assist us in getting to know the cultures of other nations, and, specifically, in observing how works by Indonesian artists stand against the background of the international art development.
Thus, Jakarta Biennale 2009 endeavors to hold activities and events that hopefully can draw in different segments of the society. These activities and events are not merely held to enhance public appreciation, but also make art a part of public life.
The biennale would not be possible without the hard work and collaboration among artists, all supporters, and members of the managing committee.
We are grateful for the local government of the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, especially the governor and his staff, who provide us with much flexibility and facilities that have helped us realize the Jakarta Biennale í09 ñ ARENA in the form that we see today.
Certainly, Jakarta Biennale í09 will not be free from defects. We have, however, tried our best to make sure that it fits the latest development of the society. I hope that Jakarta Biennale í09 can be meaningful and helpful for us all.
M. Firman Ichsan
Jakarta Biennale í09 - ARENA