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* 1960 Jakarta, Indonesia. Lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Commissioner: Sapta Nirwandar
Deputy Commissioner: Soedarmadji JH Damais
Curatorial Team: Carla Bianpoen, Restu Imansari Kusumaningrum, Asmudjo Jono Irianto
Board of Advisors: Carla Bianpoen, Elisabetta di Mambro, Asmudjo Jono Irianto, Watie Moerany
Producers: Bumi Purnati Indonesia, Change Performing Arts
Supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Indonesia
Heri Dono is Indonesia's leading contemporary artist, the first Indonesian contemporary artist to break into the global art scene in the early 1990s, who has since then been participating in no less than 27 international biennales. He is also the only contemporary Indonesian artist to have been invited to the Venice Biennale's own curatorial exhibition in 2003: Z.O.U. - Zone of Urgency.
Angels, mythical monsters and the Trojan horse are three recurrent metaphors in Heri Dono's oeuvre of more than two decades of fusing the local with the contemporary. Consisting of painting, installations, video art and performance, his bizarre, grotesque images that hover between frightful and witty, satirical and mocking appearances commenting on social and political situations have been inspired by the Javanese folk theater, the wayang, as well as by cartoons, comics and daily situations. Marked by metaphors, he also draws from prophecies rendered in old poems by, for instance, Ronggowarsito (b. 1802), Java's own Nostradamus, who prophesied tanda tanda zaman (the signs of the time), which some view as predictions of certain situations centuries after they were written.
Angels derived from stories when he was a kid had nothing to do with religion, rather he was inspired by Flash Gordon comic strip, as he asserts that it arrived on the moon before Neil Amstrong, meaning that imagination is faster than reality. Angles became an early metaphor for freedom and dreams. “Angels are free to fly wherever they want”. His angels, made of wood with flapping wings, a low-tech device and gender genitalia that were first created at a time of hopeful freedom, were soon flying in a cocoon, followed by a series caught in a trap and even broken in the next series, and recently facing the future, all in parallel with the ups and downs of freedom of speech following social and political social situtions in the country.
The Trojan Horse which is symbolic of the previous times in history in which acts of war have taken place from inside the line of defence of a country, became a tool to subversively engage in activist and political actions, to infiltrate organisations and institutions, and to cross boundaries under the cover of art. “I started using this after the WTC attack in 2001 which many people think was an attack from inside the country”. But contrary to such associated violent manupulation, it is Chinese explorer Zheng He's strategy of peaceful infiltration that he actually wishes to emulate in his site specific work for the Indonesia Pavilion in the 56th Venice Biennale.
More on the work in Venice, see the curatorial text
Official website: indonesiavenice.com
(From press information)