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Interpellation: Notes on a common language of comparison
in international art events

Rizky Zaelani

To fight for and within the institutional structures of the world art

International art events outside the West- such as this cp open biennale- must live in an ambivalent situation. On the one hand, the events are purported as a 'counter-statement' for such events in the West, which already have a longstanding and stable tradition and are considered as depicting the development of the international art. On the other hand, the tradition of the international art events in the West function as the Lacanian psychological mirror for the development of art events outside the West. The cultural hierarchy existing today nevertheless reflects a mirror of polarized situation of the politic-economy of imperialism. The world of art outside the West feels the existence of the dominant institutions 'out there' as the center. The center is conceived as an elite location, the place that assigns and asserts the validation of cultural values. Nikos Papastergiadis describes the feeling as such:

The center was not just the space of recognition. It was more than smug arrogance and vain pretensions, for it was also the zone that promised transcendence(1.

Behind the existence of the international art events outside the West is a hope for possibility to interact and conduct dialogues with the development of the mainstream art. Basically, the efforts to create such interactions are built through the re-questioning of the common perceptions about art itself. While the Western aesthetic tradition is used to pose such question as "What is art?"; the pervading existence of "the center" changes the question into "What can art actually do?". In that context, Sean Cubitt's attitude as he analyzes the situation of the international art might shed some light on the direction we might be taking:

What art does is mediate. Standing in the zone between people, that space so often dominated by money and power, art offers another way, a praxis-based method of relating. Art's promise of different mode of relationship between people is constantly broken by the intervention of an institutional organization that presumes to know, in advance, what is being communicated, by whom and to whom (2.

Regarding the presence of the center, the international art events outside the West clearly show the efforts to fight for and within the institutional structures of the world of art, so that we can collectively imagine about what we call as "the international art." The capability and the ability of an institutional art structure to assign the presentation and the representation of art, therefore, are the basic problem. There are, however, different perceptions in the West and outside it regarding the modernity projects as imagined by the Western philosophical thoughts of the eighteenth century. The differences are not only about the mind frames, but also about the implementations in terms of the capability and the power held by the parties carrying out the projects- among those parties are the infrastructures and the institutions of art. In such an ambivalent situation, cp open biennale is naturally not a biennale totally different from those held in the West, although there are still some distinctions.

The 'open system' in the cp open biennale, in which various existing artists are welcome to participate, is basically also a depiction of the situation of the development of art in a 'developing country.' When the state's bureaucracy is not- or, perhaps, not yet- able to organize its wealth so that it can support and develop infrastructures for the art, the 'fate' of the art development cannot be supported by strong and capable artistic institutions. As a result, various artistic events are held with neither coordination nor long-term plans. The dependency on the state budget seems to be the main problem in nurturing art- just when the state is not able to guarantee the growth of critical, effective, and organized art infrastructures. In many developing countries such as Indonesia, there are not many institutions and periodic exhibitions that can guarantee the existence of various data on the art ,or which conduct researches about the situation and development of the art- unless with help from institutions from the developed countries in terms of money or human resources. Generally, such situation reminds one of the dependency of the developing countries on the developed ones in realizing their modernity projects. One therefore does not move away from the basic platform, where the 'modern world' for the developing countries seems to be an image conceived by the developed countries.

The shift of paradigms on Western modernity among the intellectuals in the West and outside during the last two decades, also change the perceptions about the world outside the West. It would be ironic if the shift could only change the perceptions about the Western culture, from the original perception on the West as the more materialistic and rationalistic culture into the 'spiritual and eclectic West,' due to the West' recognition about the existence and the influence of the cultures from outside the West. Meanwhile, the perceptions outside the West about the modern world still move around the problem of 'being like the West.' The world of art, just like the world of thoughts, actually becomes the force to project the future of a 'modern world' for cultures from both the West and outside it; a 'modern world' for all societies and cultures formed as modern countries on the Earth. The organizing of an international art event outside the West, therefore, not only shows the intentions of a society or a culture to be a part of the so-called 'global society,' but also portray the will to interpret actively the depiction of the modern world as a whole. In a more specific case- i.e. in Indonesia- the 'art' intended is the various expressions that can connect the artists as well as its art supporters with the reality and the existence of Indonesia itself, as one of the constructions of the modern thought.

On the theme: Interpellation

The word 'interpellation' is a term widely known throughout Indonesia during the last three years, especially among the urbanites. Indeed, the term has to do with the Indonesian politics, more than with anything else. Although the phrase 'the interpellative right of the Legislative Assembly to question the government's agenda' has been drilled to every high school student in Indonesia during civic studies, the political effects and might of the phrase were only felt at the end of the New Order government in Indonesia. The political power struggle after the Indonesian New Order- with the increasing might of the Legislative Assembly- has turned that 'ideological jargon' into a discourse with real political effects. This power struggle also showed the existence of possibilities unimaginable during the 32-year reign of the New Order government. The shift in the Indonesian political map, however, has not necessarily brought about substantial changes that made Indonesian politics become more rational and accountable in the hands of the Legislative Assembly. For Indonesia of today- and within it as well- there are no longer dichotomous perceptions separating the power of the 'state' (through the government's apparatus) and the power of the 'people' (or the public). Theoretically, through the Legislative Assembly the 'people' (or the public) holds the power over the state. However, a huge gap always exists between the theory and the reality- theories can even turn tyrannical if they try to deny the reality. From problems about the state, interpellation starts to have meanings in the realm of the 'nation.' Here, the word has to do with the constructions of the perceptions on a nation called 'Indonesia.' The term thus functions in the cultural realm, touching upon the social awareness of a society and a culture in the time of changes.

Ideas about a nation are no more than the functioning of a certain perception in its cultural forms and situations. Perceptions about Indonesia as a nation are more dominantly stated in the form of a project about a modern state (in terms of ideas and the administration system). Such project is far from the perception on the nation as a convergence of various local cultures commonly engaging in certain geo-political commitments. As a convergence of the various local cultures, ideas about a nation are also a form of eternal interaction and negotiation in conceiving a condition of modernity that all parties can relate to. The culture here functions as a determining situation for a consensus about a nation that continually lives and evolves. To imagine Indonesia as a developed industrial country while asserting her cultures in the essential forms of the various local traditions is like separating the dynamic concept of modernity from the cultural reality that is often thought of being conservative and static.

Interpellation becomes the binding theme that simultaneously question about the perception on a 'nation' in its 'inter-national' context. In this case, culture is not perceived as merely the 'spiritual power' in realizing the project of modernity; rather, it is the modernity project itself. Inseparable from the mind frame about the 'idea of progress,' culture is a process of 'becoming':

Culture is a painful process of becoming: as much an uncomfortable, disturbing practice of survival and supplementarity between art and politics, past and present, the public and the private, race and sexuality, the known and the numinous, as its resplendent being is a moment of pleasure, enlightenment or liberation (3.

In what is called as 'the Indonesian culture,' for example, the theme of interpellation signifies that a self-criticism project of sorts is taking place; opening up, postponing, mulling over, and thinking again about the formalized agenda called the 'national culture project.' Interpellation is not merely a form of intervention, but also a possibility for the repositioning of the various matters on knowledge, expressions, and freedom in the continuing existence of the culture.

In the 'inter-national' structure, the theme of interpellation not only reacts upon the modernity project that is often perceived as monolithic, but it also analyzes further the structure of the existing differences. The modernity that evolves in different paces in various countries can indeed create unfair interactions or cultural dialogues. We know that the process of cultural negotiations never takes place where the playing field is not leveled. There, differences do not function as a treasure that supports the monolithic aspect; rather, they form a hierarchy that disadvantages all parties. Cultural prejudices, for example, will not only undermine the meaning of a 'suspect culture,' but they will also create some eternal fears in the part of the 'culture that suspects.' In the 'modern realm' of the world, the existence of a sole model for modernity with the linear logic of evolvement will not only denote the various forms of modernity outside the West as 'tail,' but it will also support a form of a new 'racism.' Etienne Balibar records the changing meaning of racism from the old language based on biological aspects of a 'race,' to what Balibar calls as 'a new language of culture."

It is a racism whose dominant theme is not biological heredity but the insurmountability of cultural differences, a racism which, at first sight, does not postulate the superiority of certain groups or peoples in relation to others, but 'only' the harmfulness of abolishing frontiers, the incompatibility of life-styles and traditions (4 .

In the consumptive logic of the latest capitalism, a cultural difference- even in the situation of a cultural hierarchy- is the sum total of the consumptive objects. In the name of commodities, nothing remains to be confronted, much less regretted, under such cultural differences- except for one thing: progress. Progress is the domination of the places in the 'center of modernity' that are perceived as giving legitimation and validation for the myriad cultural values. In this case, 'progress' is not only about what one can perceive in the physical form of the material culture, but it basically is also about how its meaning is construed by means of a model. 'Progress', in this sense, is also about the signification process.

The theme of interpellation is valid for the perceptions about the culture in its meaning as a part of the formation of a nation, under the modern thoughts. This theme also supports the relations of the inter-national in the structure of attaining a higher level of the civilization as a whole. The theme has layered relations within and against the context of a national culture, and simultaneously toward its position in the inter-national sense as an unavoidable situation. The basis for that is a form of self-criticism to delay the cultural attitude and belief that are becoming absolute. Homi K. Bhabha explains this situation:

We are very resistant to thinking how the act of signification, the act of producing the icons and symbols, the myths and metaphors through which we live culture, must always--by virtue of the fact that they are forms of representation--have with them a kind of self-eliminating limit. So it follows that no culture is full unto itself, no culture is plainly plenitudinous, not only because there are other cultures which contradict its authority, but also because its own symbol-forming activity, its own interpellation in the process of representation, language, signification and meaning-making, always underscores the claim to an originary, holistic, organic identity (5.

The hope for a 'common language of comparison'

Nowadays we naturally can no longer be sure about the existence of 'progress in art,' except if we perceive the artistic expressions as a representation of the 'progress' in the context of modernity. In the perception of progress as a construction of meaning, artistic expression can investigate the situations taking place in this progress. As we read the development of the modern art traditions spread throughout the world, the traditions of international art events depict how modern ideas and progress have taken place in various cultural realms. Without having to claim that the expressions of modern art are the indication of the modern realities that are the same everywhere- as the Western Modernism has been claiming- we can denote the practices of modern art traditions as the locus of hope for the possibility that a kind of 'common language' exists for comparison interests.

To compare the progressive modern art expressions of the West with the expressions of modern art outside the West- the exotic and mystical Other- is naturally a form of stereotyping. However, the belief that a center exists and functions as the major stream of the modern art traditions is a total denial of all the myriad art practices outside the dominating system. This is valid even for the development of art in the West. Meanwhile in the development of the art outside the West, the problems are about the unfair situations and uneven chances for conducting open dialogues, which go hand-in-hand with the different capabilities of every art infrastructure to negotiate about cultural values. Nikos Papastergiadis explains the situation of the Other in the context of the development in the international art:

What has been most palpably exposed by this turn to be 'other' is the very tension between the context of production and the context of representation. This tension becomes evident in the absence of both agreed criteria for judgment and a language for evaluation (6.

In this case, 'criterion' and 'language' become interconnecting components. To understand about the criteria for a judgment means to comprehend the language valid for an evaluation process, including to understand the problem at hand in terms of the criteria and the means of the evaluation itself. To understand the traditions of the modern art as a 'language' for common comparisons, we naturally cannot place the questions on 'the comparison' under the structures of the universalistic or relativistic mind frames. Both mind frames are actually the same in pointing out the sole essentialist possibility. During one event discussing about the ideas on expanding internationalism in managing the traditions of international art events, Bhabha underlines the matter he calls 'a simultaneous translation':

- a horizon of hope that haunts international events: the hope for common language of comparison, connection, collaboration and communication; the possibility of a kind of -simultaneous translation" of cultural traditions, aesthetic strategies and political priorities (7

In such a translation process, some kinds of interventions on the idea of the originary take place continuously. This is a translation process that enables the emergence of some kinds of interpellative practices, which result in meanings that are constructed oacross the bar of difference and separation between the signifier and the signified." Thus: an interpellation.

Simultaneous translation addressed

The visual art frame in this cp open biennale is open to various cultural traditions and aesthetic strategies. Unlike the tradition in fine art, the visual art frame places the visual aspect among matters about the usage of various media, idioms, or the developments of its technology. However, this does not mean that the visual art frame is distinct from the history of art in general- this particular frame becomes different exactly because it holds within it the historical matters about the 'other art.' The existence of the various cultural traditions has created various aesthetic strategies that fail to be recognized as an important matter in the dominant art history that is valid today.

The visual art frame states the importance of the medium, idiom, and visual technology as a crucial part in the effort to inspire some awareness about the myriad problems at hand. There are at least three problems being faced by the art development outside the West. First among those is the legacy defined by ideas on history. The dominant art history clearly has its limit, not only regarding matters that can be noted in history, but also about how history is defined. The second problem is regarding the shift in the contemporary art paradigms. Following the claim about the 'death of Modernism,' the development in the contemporary art--albeit succeeds in creating radical changes in the development of art--fails to affect substantially the development of art outside the West. The third problem, meanwhile, is about the continuing problems about the development of art outside the West itself. The problems have to do with the locality aspect that has given signs within and toward the situation about the development of the art world today. Together with the practices and readings of art 'in the Western sense' that continue to take place and be recognized today, the potentials and beliefs from the local traditions become the agenda that enriches the discourse about this locality aspect.

a. History Translated

"Non-western nations, though struggling with the process of modernization, are excluded from claiming modernism," thus went the criticism from Greta Kapur, an Indian art critic and historian. This is indeed so. In the writing of the modern art history, no development has been considered more important than the development of art history in the West, colored by the spirit of avant-gardism and Modernism. Following the Hegelian logic, art history includes the portrayal of the positive development that simultaneously shows the ideas of progress and improvement. The spirit of scientism has given colors to the writing of art history, which in turn reads the development of art as a narration about the break-through in paradigms. The Modernism movement, with the spirit of avant-gardism, is considered as a note about the judgment of modern subjects about the modern realities of the projects and situations of Western modernity. Meanwhile, the modernization processes outside the West are considered distinct from the essence of the (Western) modernity project.This modernization is a development project to mimic the society and the situations of the Western modernity. With such judgment, no modern subject could exist outside the West, and the same thing goes for its modernism spirit. With its claim as 'the explanation about the art of the world,' such history is clearly limited.

In fact, the modernization processes have created modern situations considered as modernity outside the West. This kind of modernity in turn also creates 'modernism,' together with the birth of 'the modern subjects' who are 'free subjects' in the formerly colonized lands, where the resonance from the Enlightenment spirit and the ideas of progress have (also) been 'created.' This modernism suffered from all problems of colonialism, its lack of resources and underdevelopment,"said Rasheed Araeen, obut when it entered the mainstream of modernism, both in the metropolis and its so-called periphery, it transformed itself into a critical force to challenge its established premise."(8. Rasheed Araeen stresses the importance of an 'other art history' outside the West. In Indonesia, what Sudjojono and other artists did in the 1930s and 1940s was a clear example of Araeen's explanations above.

Sudjojono is 'an artist' (a title recognized by the art in the Western sense) who used the traditions in painting to question the situations that his public must undergo and was experiencing, due to the gap of the modernity principles in the West and the colonized lands. In this case, the colonialism project and the freedom for a nation (the de-colonialism project) were the two faces of the same coin of the modernity project. Until now, the critical force that is the legacy of the modern art tradition is still alive and well. Yuswantoro Adi's painting, oExciting Game/They Are The Most Rational Ones" in this biennale, for example, clearly shows the meticulousness of the Realism tendency to state its judgment about the current reality of Indonesia today. Yuswantoro not only mocks the political reality in Indonesia, but he also shows the matters behind representation and representativeness. For Yuswantoro, there is nothing wrong with the gleeful world of children playing around--it becomes problematic when they are playing in the wrong place: The assembly hall of the Indonesian Legislative Assembly. For Indonesians, the meanings are clear as the painter seems to suggest a different view beyond its appearance. Yuswantoro's judgment can be wrong, but it is clear that 'the place'--or probably 'the building' or 'the institution'--is not meant for children.

The traditions of modern art, and the spirit of modernism as well, that exist outside the West do not mean to erase the history or deny the modernity project; rather, they want to state and read this history in a different way, distinct from the readings conducted by the West. Once again, Geeta Kapur's critique explains this situation: oYet so far as they [the third world countries] undertake to modernize, the thorny face of the modern must be examined even as the aura that surrounds it must be seen to be what it is, signaling device for the future."(9 The future is indeed a projection of the narration about the past stated by history. Art history is not merely about the 'past' narration, but also about the narration 'currently taking place' that shows the future through various notes on aesthetic movements and manifesto. The abstractive tendency, for example, does not mean to state the basic symbols about the so-called 'pre-historical society'; rather, it wishes to create the abstraction and perfection about the world of ideas in the name of a better future. The abstract works of Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, or the Futurism manifesto, for example, are the depiction about oprogress" in the ways the world is represented. For the Indonesian artist Yunizar, however, with his abstractive work in this biennale, oThe Energy of Power", is a statement of that other judgment. More than a hundred metallic buttons are displayed in his 'painting,' not in order to state the abstraction of thoughts (although it might appear to do just that). For Yunizar, the buttons are not merely forms, but are indeed buttons with their functions as clothing accessories. In that work, Yunizar seems to be collecting various perceptions from the public about clothing and fashion--the buttons are not only representatives of the Indonesian experience with clothing, but they also depict hopes of the public to appear and be different, better, glamorous, or, if possible, 'futuristic.'

b. The Change Interpreted

"Someone, somewhere has said that modernism is dead but dominant," said Raheed Araeen. In fact, it is not 'modernism' that has died, but 'European modernism'- and its corpse has now turned into the most valuable and sought-for commodity (10. Araeen was apparently watching the dominant tendency of the contemporary art currently displayed in almost all the important international art exhibitions of today. For Araeen, the death of (European) Modernism, and the ensuing critical tendency of the contemporary art intended to change the paradigm of the art world, did not substantially change the development of the art world outside the West. Just like modernism, the tendency of the contemporary art naturally influences the development of art outside the West. And like the domination of the Western Modernism, the contemporary art in the world is a kind of 'fashion' unavoidable by the younger generation of contemporary artists all over the world. While the principle of 'universalism' once believed by Modernism seems to be highly arrogant and absolute, then the 'contextualism' strategy of the contemporary art claims a sole 'context' as the 'common context' valid everywhere. For the development of contemporary art outside the West, the observation frame toward art through a context external to them- or in the Western contemporary art's gaze- is after all a form of hegemonic power. As in Modernism, the contemporary art in the world seems to own a certain form of development in its mainstream art.

Apparently, Araeen wants to say that the success of the critical tendency of contemporary mainstream art is also due to the 'merit' of the dead (mainstream) Modernism. It is no wonder, then, if the corpse becomes a highly valuable and sought-for commodity. But does the development of art outside the West not know its own 'modernism'- the modernism that according to the art history never exists? If we read the development of the art in the world in the context of the 'murder' of (mainstream) Modernism, then it is obvious that the art outside the West has never committed the act, indeed. In this biennale, for example, it is interesting to see Ari Diyanto's work, "The Death of The Author". The theme of 'the death of the author' is taken from Roland Barthes's proposal, which has influenced and been practiced by contemporary mainstream art. Ari Diyanto reacts to the proposal as well. He quotes and mixes various images from the works of Dali, Picasso, Duchamp, Keith Haring, or Damien Hirst in one frame: in the form of a neon box. Just like in an advertisement, the form and the medium of the neon box indeed functions as a way to present information and propaganda. Unlike political propaganda that tends to force its will, the format of the critical and mainstream contemporary art only 'coaxes,' albeit in a very convincing way.

If the contemporary art outside the West is "threatened" to function merely as a 'fashion' in the development of mainstream art, does it not lose its actual critical might? The question about what contemporary art outside the mainstream Modernism can do, therefore, becomes a question that is difficult to answer. Here Geeta Kapur points out a kind of responsibility to bring about the matter she calls as 'an existential urgency to questions of contemporaneity' (11. In such context, the critical force can turn to face its raison d'etre. The practice of contemporary art here does not act as a style, but rather as a reason to understand our contemporary life. Many things define our way of life today; one major part is the improvement of technology that 'pushes' the modern human beings to a life of fast movement and acceleration.

In this biennale, we can choose Arahmaiani's work, oHuman Love", as an example for our focus of attention. Through the work that she creates with the help of the advanced technology for visual (re)presentation, Arahmaiani shows exactly her attitude as a reaction of the technological progress. The technology of video and films- after photography- is an example of the progress in the visual (re)presentation technology that has 'left behind' the creative ways of making static images or paintings. In the open possibilities for the images of movements and for the myriad visual and sound possibilities, the technology of film and video can record life images in a more 'real' way. Arahmaiani, however, chooses to ignore that and picks another way to make use of the technology. Appearing almost like a moving black-and-white painting of abstracted forms, Arahmaiani's works show the fading out of the word 'love' inscribed on the forehead of a woman (herself). It is not only the water surrounding the woman's forehead that makes us feel pained, but also the bubbles of air that slowly surfaces, showing the fragility of the woman. Arahmaiani is here playing on the perceptions of the 'forehead' where the word 'love' fades. To many Indonesians, the forehead signifies the awareness and sanity of a person. The fading out of the word, meanwhile, clearly signifies a limit (eternity), not for the word of 'love' itself, but for the attitude and faith of humans that can drown and disappear in the course of life. We view this. The work tries to say about how to understand life. It is clear that the work cannot be used as an explanation for the reason to erase the existence of the art of painting as in the narration of the death of Modernism. Geeta Kapur says: oIt is important to remember this, too, so that we are not simply overtaking ideologies and left with polemical rather than life-sustaining forms of cultural practice." (12

c. Localness Reconsidered

The problems of localness is a condition situated against the development of art outside the West, whether due to the principle to define mainstream art or in the situation of the currently shifting paradigms in art. This is not unlike two streams coming from different directions, converging and creating the problems of localness. Such problems do not always put art outside the West in a difficult position, but they can trap us into thinking in relativistic and particular ways, thus forcing us to exclusion.

The first stream seems to come from outside, creating 'new' traditions. In this regard, one must note the influence and the development of the modern art, or the perceptions on art in the Western sense. Exhibitions, galleries, museums, biennale, criticism, and art journals, for example, are matters unknown in the traditional art. The systems in the practice and theories of modern art has been recognized and accepted in the development of art outside the West; the problem is how far these practice and theories have been conducted and whether they can be advantageous. Generally, the problem lies in the dominating presence of the traditions and the art history of the West, keeping in mind the pursuit of the standard of judgment a'la mainstream art. In mainstream art, there are distinctions between 'art objects' and 'non-art objects.' The hierarchy is defined based on the living tradition in the culture of the West. There are ways, techniques, habits, and certain media that are recognized as a part of the statement of high art (some examples are paintings of oil on canvasses, or bronze statues). Meanwhile, works created from glass or ceramics, for example, are defined as 'non-art objects,' categorized as craft or low art. The hierarchical categories differentiate the kinds of exhibitions (art or craft). The exhibitions of the mainstream art practices, like notes in the signposts of art history, are categorized as art exhibition in the high art context.

The post-modern paradigm and the development of contemporary art have destroyed the boundaries separating high art with popular art. The radical changes in the perceptions of art open up the horizon of creations and theories on art, down to the interactive forms in the daily living. This of course has also 'murdered' the specific and elitist ways of Modernism. It would come to seem as if there were no longer any boundaries that separate the expressions of high culture and low or popular culture. But the changes have apparently meant more for the refinement of the high culture itself, and this refinement did not go in reverse ways. Sue Rowley notes this:

However, to the extent that postmodern notions of creativity emphasize representation over object, and bricolage over skill, these notions do not recuperate craft practice. Breaking down the opposition of high art and popular culture similarly opens up space for craft but, in fact, it is the culture of mass media, mass production and mass consumption that is the focus here. Artisant tradition and hand-technologies remain peripheral to the focal concerns of postmodern theory and practice. (13

The changes in the art paradigms in the world today explains the changing situation of the high art/high culture of the West in the project to reinvent the role and the important position of the culture of the mass media, mass production, and mass consumption, in the perception of the growth of a 'global society.' The situation can be read in the development of the mainstream contemporary art. This is different with the situation of the high art/high culture outside the West. If the art development outside the West nurtures the tradition of art in the Western sense, it can be trapped into 'mimicking' or being in the hegemony of the West. On the other hand, relying on the high art in the perception of the traditions (of the culture outside the West), puts this art development outside the West in the 'difficult' position of the category of non-art, craft, or low culture. That way, the ceramic work of Widayanto, oNarcissus", will never be able to be a part of the contemporary mainstream art exhibition. For the art public in Indonesia, however, the ceramic works of Widayanto are considered successful in reading and re-presenting the traditional values of the Javanese. This is also why the works are accepted and appreciated just like works of paintings or sculptures. Meanwhile, the influence of the 'traditional culture of the Javanese' in Widayanto's works is a part of the discourse about the other stream, coming internally and creating the problems of localness.

The cultural tradition, especially in the perception of the cultures outside the West, has evolved into an important part in creating the cultural awareness and identity. This becomes the energy to differentiate itself from the West. However, this does not mean that such cultural traditions form a guarantee for neutral and certain values. "Tradition is what is invented by a society's cultural vanguard in the course of a struggle," explains Geeta Kapur. In tradition, there is also a set of values considered as the originary:

It [tradition] marks off territories/identities of a named people. In that sense it is a loaded signifier drawing energy from an imaginary resource (the ideal tradition), but always remaining by virtue of its strongly ideological import an ambivalent, often culpable, sign in need of constant historical interpretation so that we know which way it is pointing. (14

In the many changes of the material culture surrounding us, traditions do not change but instead need some interpretative acts- and some kinds of interpellative practices as was suggested by Bhabha are valid here. In their functions, the traditional values are indeed supposed to be able to define actively their relations with the changing reality and life. Therefore, they naturally have within themselves a kind of boundaries. These boundaries are defined in their structure as some forms of symbol-forming activities. Although traditions assign a 'boundary' of sorts for the cultural realm or identity of someone or some society, they do no necessarily function as fixed and absolute boundaries. A tradition lives on exactly as it is appreciated and used. It will be 'owned' by anyone who respects it, even for someone who is willing to go over the cultural boundaries of a certain tradition.

Therefore, the problem of localness is not always about the problem of the usage of the traditional perspectives. In the problem of localness, interpretations on traditions become a kind of translation from a different direction (or from the reading of the direction of art in the Western sense). Traditions can indeed be read from another perspective- ethnography, for example- but this way the space of localness in the sense of the interpellative practices is not opened. The result will be different if we view this through a 'translation space,' such as art exhibitions. In this biennale, we can see the series of Hariadi Suadi's works, "Drama of The Age of Deformity", which of course is different from the traditional glass painting we can find in Cirebon, West Java, where Hariadi Suadi came from. Hariadi's ideas are indeed rooted in his traditions. But he re-reads the traditions and places them in the contemporary space of today's living. Hariadi does not change many of the traditional symbols (in the form of the wayang), except in the usage of colors that he individually assigns. It is interesting to note that Hariadi chooses to use text in Indonesian instead of in the ancient Javanese script, as he keeps in mind the space for communication and interaction processes. In these processes, Hariadi invites and brings about the space for experiences and perceptions among the viewers (naturally those who understand Indonesian) in a kind of inter-textuality room as Julia Kristeva has once imagined.

Rizki A. Zaelani


1. Nikos Papastergiadis, "Culture and Crisis", in THE COMPLICITIES OF CULTURE: Hybridity and oNew Internationalism", 1994, Cornerhouse Manchester, John Hansad Gallery University of Southampton, Department of Sociology o University of Manchester, The Organization for Visual Arts, an INIVA Franchise. p.7

2. Sean Cubitt, "Prologue", in oThe Beginning: Third Text and The Politics of Art", Rasheed Araeen, Sean Cubitt, Ziauddin Sardar, ed. The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory, 2002, Continuum. London o New York. p.5

3. Homi K. Bhabha, "Simultaneous Translation: Modernity and The Inter-national", paper for "Expanding Internationalism", conference on international exhibitions, 1990, Venice, Italy, organized by Arts International, Institute of International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York. p.34

4. See Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, trans. Of Etienne Balibar by Chris Turner, 1991, Verso, London, p.21.

5. Jonathan Rutherford, "The Third Space: Interview with Homi Bhabha", in Jonathan Rutherford, ed. Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, 1990, Lawrence & Wishart, London.

6. Nikos Papastergiadis, "The Processual Frame of Globalization", op.cit. p.48

7. Homi K. Bhabha, op.cit. p.21

8. Rasheed Araeen, 'A New Beginning, Beyond Postcolonial Cultural Theory and Identity Politics", in Rasheed Araeen, Sean Cubitt, Ziauddin Sardar, ed. Op.cit. p. 338.

9. See Geeta Kapur, 'Contemporary Cultural Practice, Some Polemical Categories", in Rasheed Araeen, Sean Cubitt, Ziauddin Sardar, ed. ibid. p.19.

10. See. Rasheed Araeen, op.cit. p.344.

11. Geeta Kapur, op.cit. p.24.

12. Ibid

13. Sue Rowley, "Craft, Creativity and Critical Practice", in Sue Rowley, ed. Re-Inventing Textiles, 1999, Telos Art Publisher, Winchester, England. p.4.

14. Geeta Kapur, op.cit. p.15.