Ordinary Negotiation (Korean – Indonesian Artists Exchange Exhibition)

Ordinary Negotation E-flyer (1)Ordinary Negotiation

Korean – Indonesian Artists Exchange Exhibition

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations

between Korea and Indonesia

September 28 ~ October 27, 2013

Lotte Shopping Avenue, Jakarta


Ordinary Negotiation is an international exchange exhibition of contemporary art featuring five Korean and five Indonesian artists of new media.  Celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Indonesia, this exhibition aims to broaden the scope of cultural exchanges that have mainly centered on popular culture and traditional heritage, encourage the vibrant exchange of contemporary artists of the two nations, and enable local audiences to benefit from encountering art in everyday life by providing dynamic site-specific installations displayed in a public space. 

Ordinary Negotiation focuses on various phenomena around “cultural exchange” that is initially driven by one’s curiosity about the unknown, which then leads to the development of a balanced interaction between two cultures.  The term “negotiation” is often perceived at a grand level as in business and politics, yet, in actuality, it is more often attempted in ordinary life settings.  As the title suggests, this exhibition redefines and emphasizes the notion of negotiation as not only a mundane activity stimulating tension and desire, but also an essential process to reach a mutual understanding between different cultures.

Showcasing works of various media such as installation, object, performance, video and animation, this exhibition looks into the three core principles that enable a vibrant cultural exchange to be possible between Korea and Indonesia, which include Pop Culture, Commodity and Diaspora, and demonstrates how these principles are represented in contemporary arts.   

Pop Culture – produced and projected image of mass media

Popular culture such as K-Pop and K-Drama known as Korean Wave or Hallyu is apparently the most influential medium nowadays to act as a  bridge  between people of Korea and Indonesia..  Korean boy and girl bands have had a tremendous influence over Indonesian teenagers in not only their musical performance, but also their fashion and hair style establishing a new image of youth.  Likewise, the storylines and stage settings that appear in Korean dramas introduce a life style which has gradually crept  into the minds of Indonesians.  In spreading Korean popular culture into Indonesia, it is also worthy to note that mass media known as television and YouTube, have been the main references; nonetheless, they have created a problem of ‘image’ made by mass production and mass replication.  Wok The Rock’s interactive installation manifests how popular music inspires one’s life.  His installation is a collection of ordinary young Indonesians’ favorite albums that are compiled and packaged as a product by the artist.  By selecting and playing a CD displayed on a rack, the audience experiences a sense of intimacy with an unknown person who may share a similar musical taste and memoir.  Prilla Tania appears in a television cooking program in which she demonstrates how to make ‘Gado-Gado,’ a popular Indonesian mixed vegetable dish that in fact turns out to be ‘Bibimbap,’ a traditional Korean rice dish topped with vegetables.  Clumsy, yet perplexing, her performance of mimicking a cooking program illustrates how television as mass media has spread widely and implanted a different culture in a new place.  In a similar spirit, a project duo, Mioon presents multi-channel videos that offer a glimpse into the everyday life of ordinary people.  Set and staged in limited and identical interior spaces, the series of this video reminds one not only of the uniform living spaces found in the real lives of Koreans, but also a standardized virtual space that appeared in a Korean drama.  Tension between the private and the public also plays an important part in their work.

Commodity – traded and exchanged in everyday life

Ordinary Negotiation is held in an open space at Lotte Shopping Avenue (LO-VE), one of the leading Korean department stores newly launched in Jakarta.  Literally, LO-VE is a physical place where daily goods and commodities are traded and exchanged, yet it also serves as a symbolic space spreading Korean Wave or Hallyu to the local Indonesian community.  LO-VE is a mundane and consumptive place for everyday items, yet by mutual communication with the audience through this exhibition, it is reborn as a creative and productive cultural space.   Reza Afisina presents multi-channel videos recording his mundane activities such as shopping at a market, walking on a street, and watching TV at home.  All his everyday activities reveal the cultural influence of Korea by means of the use of Korean branded items which have been widely yet unconsciously accepted by many Indonesians.  While Reza focuses on the phenomena of the influx of Korean brands which are changing the lives of local residents, Narpati Arwangga (Oomleo) is critiquing the ‘Koreanization’ of Indonesian youth who admit a foreign culture without self-reflection or critique.  His pixel painting installation depicting an everyday Modern life scene shows where desires, tales, and dreams of ordinary Indonesians are produced and exchanged.  Sarcastically, the dream that they wish to come true is to be merely an image of a celebrity that is printed on a photo stand, the most popular tourism product in Korea.  Interestingly, the fantasy addressed by Oomleo is similarly shown in Hwang Eunjung’s series of animation that are inspired by mythical characters of Indonesia.  Her animation depicts hybrid creatures existing in an imaginary and dream-like world.  Resembling popular character products in a Disney-like store, her creatures become a commentary that in our globalized capitalist system myth or dream becomes nothing but a mere commercial item.

Diaspora – memory, identity, and border

As globalization ties all nations to one another with the aid of the development of technology, communication, and transportation, the fear of losing contact with one’s motherland or the issue of identity in race and ethnicity has been decreasing.  Rather, a blend of identities and a cultural hybrid by means of the diasporic experience become popular subjects in the works of many contemporary artists.  They are also keen to the state of the Other who is suppressed by being marginalized from the mainstream, which is what Korea and Indonesia share throughout the history of the modern and contemporary period.  Having experienced a long term migration, Tintin Wulia examines issues around citizenship and nation as crossing borders and explores her own identity as a ‘border rider’ and a minority.  Her main object, a passport, reveals the subtle yet complex power relation across countries, but by placing it in a context of chance and play, she challenges the aura around the passport as identification by commenting that such concepts as citizen and nation are infirm in their foundation, and rather fabricated.  Lee Sanghyun suggests a different perspective on diaspora by depicting the image of Korean as Other under the Japanese occupation in modern times.  Lee’s traditional image of a court maid in his animation who sheds tears thinking about her perished country symbolizes that a diaspora can be experienced even in her own country by being situated at the margins.  While Lee appeals to a cultural symbol and collective memory, Jeong Soyoun who is an artist based in both Korea and America deals with the issue of identity by recalling that it is not a fixed thing, but instead, always changes in different contexts and situations.  By showing feet of the unknown, constantly chasing something with no clear intent, her video seems to be a psychological exploration that depicts one’s complex innerscape.  Unlike Jeong’s emphasis on one’s inner state, ParkYongseok pays attention to a memory that many people share.  By interviewing people about diasporic experiences, Park elaborates a form of question that provokes the viewer’s memory.  Presented in a site-specific banner installation, his question will be recalled and embedded in viewers’ minds, which is how his art remains immaterial and permanent.

Ade Darmawan and Jeong-ok Jeon (Curators)