Jakarta Biennale 2015



jakarta biennale 2015


Charles Esche


The 2015 edition of the Jakarta Biennale is called ‘Neither Forward nor Back’. This title comes from an Indonesian comedy film of the 1980s but refers to a local expression for a typical Indonesian situation. We have interpreted this situation to mean that we must focus on the moment and on the contemporary situation around us. We refuse to look back with nostalgia at a past that is out of reach, or forward to an unachievable utopia. Instead the exhibition focuses on the here and now and the responses of artists to the social, political and economic conditions in which they find themselves.

Urban history and memory are very relevant to the exhibition but only as issues of current concern in the sense of how they impact the possibilities of thinking and doing today. The environment features strongly too, particularly through the use and abuse of water. Finally, social and sexual difference, particularly in regard to the role of women and queerness, forms the third principle stream of influence on this Biennale.

These issues: the city and history; water and the environment; and the right to behave differently became the leitmotifs for the biennale. They are ideas that link works together and run throughout the exhibition. each one of these issues is grounded in what the curators perceive as vivid and on-going concerns here in Indonesia. as a team, we have also used our collective knowledge and experience to invite artists from other cities and continents who appear to be relevant to the situation here. These artists have sometimes made new work in Indonesia but they also bring reports and insights from elsewhere that can offer useful perspectives on what is happening here.



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