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'CEN.SOR', the Hidden Beauty by The Jakarta Post

29 November 2016

Article of "CEN.SOR" Artist in Residency Exhibition
Writer: Tarko Sudiarno & Stevie Emilia

The faces on the busts of Queen Ken Dedes placed in several corners of RedBase Foundation's exhibition hall in Bantul, Yogyakarta are far from depicting the renowned image of her perfect beauty - they are splashed in pink, carved out, or painted over with a cross sign.

The statues are among 34 works, including paintings and art installations, created by visual artist Ari Bayuaji following his artist-in-residency program at the foundation.

In the exhibition, entitled "CEN.SOR," he explores how women's images have been represented in Indonesia over the years while, at the same time, underlining how society's structural censorship has essentially diminished women's power.

For his solo exhibition, which runs until Dec. 6, Ari, who resides in Montreal, Canada, dug deep into his Javanese roots, working with the memory of his mother in mind. His late mother worked hard all her life, something he indirectly connected to when he saw how women dominate economic sectors in Yogyakarta's many corners, from rice fields, traditional markets to food stalls. "Women are not just dealing with house chores, but also become the family's economic backbone. You only have to see these markets and rice fields to see how important women are", he said. Some of the works he created for the exhibition were inspired by what his mother did to the Balinese statues in her collection in the past. Two years ago, after her return from haj, Ari's mother was advised by several family members to get rid of the statues - most of them were of Balinese women who were naked above the waist as they considered them "improper" for her to have after her pilgrimage. His mother, he said, did not get rid of the statues she had collected for many years, but finally decided to compromise - censoring parts of the statues that were considered "improper" with batik fabric.

"I think what my mother did was funny but smart at the same time. She tried to negotiate with social pressure that she could not fight against because of her religious belief", Ari said. After her return from haj, his mother also received much advice about wearing a headscarf and she complied, even when she was teaching aerobics. "And then again, she compromised between her obligation to wear a headscarf and her work by designing her own clothing and headscarves so she could still be stylish."

Source: www.thejakartapost.com

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