FarBar: Zoe Butt with 'Pollination' curators Kittima Chareeprasit and LIR (Mira Asriningtyas and Dito Yuwuno)

 Apr 28, 2021, 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Link available on Gray Center homepage on day of talk

The Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry's FarBar presents ‘LAND, RIVER, AND SEA: THE MOVING LANDSCAPE ‘OF HUNTERS AND GATHERERS” – a screening program and online discussion - conceived by ‘Pollination’ curators Kittima Cheeraprasit and LIR (Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono). Inviting brilliant minds who work with the moving image, from Indonesia and Thailand, to share their observations/experiences as they follow the trails of local wisdom through a farm in Bandung; to a sand river under an active stratovolcano in Yogyakarta; to a sinking island at the northern shore of Jakarta; all the way to the Mekong River basin where routes have been blocked by dams to create “The Battery of Southeast Asia”; ending at Klity village in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where this mighty water source has been contaminated by a mineral processing factory.

Online screenings, April 21 - May 30:
This screening program investigates the ecology of land, water and community, drawn to the plurality of knowledge in local experience, particularly the depth of memory such wisdom affords in the face of change. Featuring artists/filmmakers Tita Salina, Prilla Tania, Wut Chalanant, Nontawat Numbenchapol and Maryanto. 

All films are viewable at the links below until May 30:

1. The Sovereign of Mount Merapi (2021, video animation by Maryanto, 6.56 min)
Sand mining is one of the reasons behind the destruction of nature along the river at the slope of Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta. Massive mining activities are considered a form of non-compliance with Nature’s cyclical mechanisms of sustainability. As a form of resistance to exploitative forms of mining, Nature thus often gives warnings that should be able to stop this mining. These warnings can come in the form of mudflows that drown trucks, or even the death of miners. This charcoal-inked animation depicts the sand mining industry landscape, with the voice of Mount Merapi’s people sharing fables, ghost stories, and other mythical tales that are experienced by its community along the river, under the volcano, where the sand mining operates. 

2. This Dam Belongs to the Neighbours; Rebuilt (2020, Wut Chalanant, 7.38 min)
Note: Vertical screen In this documentary work, Wut Chalanant creates a dialogue between landscape, dam structure and the housing around Xayaburi Dam - the first dam located in the Lower Mekong River, on the border between Thailand and Laos. Initiated by the Laos government in 2005, this project adopted an economic oriented plan to be “The Battery of Southeast Asia”, by building a series of dams along the Mekong river. This video (in vertical format) shows the main structure of the dam construction and its surroundings, including how its construction workers live. Combining footage collected in 2018 (one year before this dam operated), the artist rearranges different stones from various associated quarries, suggestive of the man-made transformation of this once natural landscape.

3. Preserving Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Asri (2021, video performance by Prilla Tania, 21.34 min)
Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri is the goddess of agriculture, the goddess of rice (and its rice fields), and the goddess of fertility, in Sunda culture (which is also known as ‘Dewi Sri’) in Javanese and Balinese culture. Since the pre-Hindu and pre-Islamic times in Java and Bali island, people have always worshipped Her. Once she was buried, Her body grew various plants that are very useful for humans.  With this myth, it is possible that the ancestors wanted to convey the science of managing an ideal environment for a group of people through the composition of plants growing from Nyi Pohaci's body - from head to foot - perhaps also explaining the head as a higher land, and the feet as a low land. Around the settlement there are various types of plants to meet the needs of the community, starting from food source; material for kitchen utensils, agricultural tools, domestic buildings; to medicine. In this video, which captures the artist performing such a landscape with her body, we are given a window onto how permaculture works.

4. 1001st Island: The Most Sustainable Island in Archipelago (2015, documentary by Tita Salina, 14.11 min)
A giant sea wall is a solution offered by the Indonesian government to prevent floods and open new housing areas in its capital, Jakarta. They propose it will integrate seventeen artificial islands as land reclamation. Many people doubt this gigantic project could solve the urban problems as Jakartans still struggle with waste management and polluted water. Together with local fishermen in Muara Angke (a fishing port on the northern part of Jakarta) -- apparently soon to experience the impact of the project -- Tita collects marine debris and plastic trash from this area to create her own ‘artificial island’. With the help of a fisherman boat, the island is pulled and placed between the reclamation islands and Kepulauan Seribu (a chain of islands commonly referred as ‘A Thousand Islands’). Tita tries to connect issues of land reclamation with the plagues of waste in the sea that future traditional fishermen will have to face.

5. By the River (Sai Nam Tid Shoer / สายน้ำติดเชื้อ) (2013, documentary by Nontawat Numbenchapol, 71 min)
Amidst the tranquility of the deep woods, the inhabitants of Klity, in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, have always led a simple life. They have fed on the fish populating the town’s creek, but for some time now the river has been contaminated by a mineral processing factory.

FarBar discussion, April 28:
Join us via Zoom for a conversation with ‘Pollination’ curators Kittima Cheeraprasit (Chiang Mai) and LIR - Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono (Yogyakarta); with filmmakers Tita Salina and Nontawat Numbenchapol; and Zoe Butt (Artistic Director, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City). Taking cue from the moving images presented, this discussion will investigate particular environmental crises currently faced  in Indonesia and Thailand, highlighting how artists can broaden perspective on the need for balance between human desire and its object, to assess the need for  sustainable options which arise from understanding reality from differing angles, sites, and localities. 

A Zoom link for this conversation will be posted on the Gray Center's home page near the time of the event.  Closed Captioning will be provided.

This event forms part of the public program for ‘Of Hunters and Gatherers’, the third edition of ‘Pollination’, initiated and organized by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre. This edition is curated by Kittima Cheeraprasit and LIR (Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono) and comprised of ‘The Hunters’ – an exhibition featuring Maryanto and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (currently on view at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai); ‘The Gatherers’ - an online symposia from 28-30 May (hosted by Selasar Sunaryo Art Centre with the support of the Gray Centre for Arts and Inquiry); and a dedicated website of newly commissioned text (going live on 28 May).

About the Speakers
Kittima Chareeprasit (b. 1989, Chiang Mai) received her MA in Curating and Collections from Chelsea College of Arts and is currently curator at MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In 2016, she co-founded the Waiting You Curator Lab, focusing on curatorial approaches within contemporary art practices. Her interest lies mainly in contemporary art and culture that revolve around critical history, social and political issues. She has worked on numerous projects with both emerging and established artists within the realm of Southeast Asian Art and its cultural context. Her recent curatorial work includes ‘House Calls: Pinaree Sanpitak’, 100 Tonson Foundation (2020); ‘Breast Stupa Cookery: the world turns upside down’, Nova Contemporary (2020); ‘Temporal Topography: MAIIAM’s New Acquisitions; from 2010 to Present’, MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum (2019); ‘In search of other times: reminiscence of things collected’, JWD Art Space Bangkok (2019); ;Occasionally Utility’, Gallery VER, Bangkok (2017); ‘The Thing That Takes Us Apart’, Gallery Seescape, Chiang Mai (2017)

LIR (Yogyakarta) is an art institution cum curator collective consisting of Mira Asriningtyas (b. 1986. based in Yogyakarta) and Dito Yuwono (b. 1985. based in Yogyakarta). Since 2011, LIR’s program ranges from exhibition laboratories and research-based art projects to public programs, residencies, and alternative art education platforms. LIR’s projects are characterized by multidisciplinary collaboration and often performative exhibitions; fostering continuous transgenerational transmission of knowledge, memory, and history. LIR’s most recent projects including “Curated by LIR” exhibition series (KKF – Yogyakarta, 2018 – 2020); “Transient Museum of a Thousand Conversations” (ISCP – New York, 2020); and “900mdpl” (Kaliurang – 2017, 2019, & 2021), a long-term site-specific project in Kaliurang, Indonesia—an aging resort village under an active volcano—with the aim of preserving collective memory of the space.

Zoe Butt (Ho Chi Minh City) is a curator and writer who lives in Vietnam. Her curatorial practice centres on building critically thinking and historically conscious artistic communities, fostering dialogue among countries of the global south. Currently Artistic Director of the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s first purpose-built space for contemporary art, Zoe formerly served as Executive Director and Curator, Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2009–2016); Director, International Programs, Long March Project, Beijing (2007–2009); and Assistant Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2001–2007) – this latter post particularly focused on the development of its Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Her work has been published by Hatje Cantz; ArtReview; Independent Curators International; ArtAsiaPacific; Printed Project; Lalit Kala Akademi; JRP-Ringier; Routledge; and Sternberg Press, among others. Her curatorial projects include interdisciplinary dialogue platforms such as Conscious Realities (2013-2016); the online exhibition Embedded South(s) (2016); and group exhibitions of Vietnamese and international artists at various international venues. Recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber – Journey Beyond The Arrow, (2019); Empty Forest: Tuan Andrew Nguyen (2018); Spirit of Friendship and Poetic Amnesia: Phan Thao Nguyen (both 2017); Dislocate: Bui Cong Khanh (2016), Conjuring Capital (2015). Zoe is a MoMA International Curatorial Fellow; a member of the Asia Society’s ‘Asia 21’ initiative; a member of the Asian Art Council for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and in 2015 was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.

About the artists:
Tita Salina's work explores issues of injustice, political turmoil, environmental energy and marginalisation, in pursuit of conditions that enable more equitable human rights and values. She has presented at institutions internationally, including at the Jakarta Biennale (2015), Tokyo Wonder Site, (2014) and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2013). She studied graphic design at Jakarta Institute of Art (IKJ) and founded the design studio Ahmett Salina. Salina currently lives and works in Jakarta.

Prilla Tania is a multi-disciplinary artist whose works include soft sculpture, installations, videos and photos. Prilla's works are influenced by the idea of​​ food sovereignty and the sustainable relationship between humans and nature. Currently she is managing a garden called ‘Leuwigoeng’, focusing on organic farming and sustainable living.

Maryanto creates evocative, black and white paintings, drawings, and installations that undermine the romantic language of traditional landscape painting to examine socio-political structures in the physical spaces that he depicts. Through fable-like and theatrical settings, these landscapes are subjected to the whims of colonizers and capitalists through technological development, industrialization, pollution of the land and exploitation of its natural resources. Maryanto graduated from the Faculty of Fine Art, Indonesia Institute of the Art, Yogyakarta in 2005, and completed a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 2013. Currently he is researching the impact of tourism, online sharing platforms, and ecology.

Nontawat Numbenchapol is a Thai documentary film director and cinematographer. After graduating from the Visual Communication Design Department, Faculty of Art and Design, Rangsit University, Numbenchapol has pursued his career as a filmmaker. His notable works include ‘Boundary’ (2013), ‘By the River’ (2013) ‘#BKKY(2016)’ and’ Soil without Land’ (2019).

Wut Chalanant is an artist/ photographer based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. His artistic approach involves the theme of the relationship between humans and space in the modern age. He photographic works based on his  interest in the ideology of urban development, of how land is transformed through the shifting demands of the global economy, creating a void of context that opens up room for new interpretations of the realities. Wut graduated from Meisterschueler with Joachim Brohm, Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig,Germany. His recent exhibition include ‘This Damn Belong to The Neighbour’ (2019) at  hgb gallery, Leipzig ‘Southeast X Southeast’ (2018)  at Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, USA

About FarBar:
Conceived as a way to maintain the ethos of our regular Sidebar series for the pandemic moment, FarBar is a vehicle for artistic and scholarly dialogue with practitioners from around the world. Throughout 2020-2021, our planned conversations with artists in Puerto Rico, Haiti, South Africa, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Philippines, and Chicago will revolve around translation, indigeneity, ecological and economic collapse, logics of extraction, crisis, and memory and the archive. Being online for the year will also enable the Gray Center to reach audiences well beyond our Chicago geography, so please invite your far-flung friends. 

Image from By the River, 2013, Nontawat Numbenchapol