An art exhibition tells about women

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At Waiting Corner, Struck by Time. Oil, pencil paint on canvas tell story about Borobudur women from time to time. (photo: IO/Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – Talking about the art­works, of course, Indonesia never gets behind as plenty of emerging talented artists always thrive on every generation. As done by Dyan Anggraini, a highly skilled person [artist] who composes particular crafts, which later responded by the skilled public performer [artiste] Landung Simatupang in transform­ing her works into poetry or lyrics prose. They both showcasing a re­markable exhibition by combining artist and artiste works through a unified concept of women.

The “Women (in) of Borobudur” exhibition which held at the Indo­nesian National Gallery, raised an important and sensitive topic, the ‘women roles inside the tourism industry’ which is by far oriented to the tangible measurement of number and duration of visits. As those cases were likely to ignore the cultural values, thus the idea emerges after both artists discover the complexity of problems in that matter.

Borobudur is a notable site, brand, region, and entity, with a long history as well as its dy­namic narrative which preserved through bas-relief carvings over generations. This masterpiece set to highlight the link between a profane life and ‘the strides of Buddhahood’ in the form of ‘abso­lute liberation’ as the culmination point. Thus, pursuits of the high­est state are very well illustrated at the Borobudur structure provided with narrative layers; from lowest degree of karmawibangga, kama­datu, rupadatu, to the highest arupadatu. Thousands of years later, Borobudur becomes one of the most prominent tourism des­tinations in Indonesia, even for the world citizens.

Borobudur always become the closing point of Waisak ceremony to date, after previously conduct­ed ritual events in Pawon and Mendut temples. Of course, it is undeniable that the series of cer­emonies eventually become part of the main tourist attraction. For the latter, Ministry of Tourism formu­lates specific policies in boosting annual visitors with the instance of opening new roadway that con­nects new airport in Kulon Progo, passing through the Menoreh hills, and straight to the Borobudur site. Such measurements are, of course, referred to the income estimation for the state revenues, including regional revenues, whilst enhanc­ing citizens’ socio-economic stan­dards around the tourism desti­nation.

Through an exhibition titled “Women (in) Borobudur”, Dyan Anggraini and Landung Laksono Simatupang picture the Borobudur site and its surroundings from an­other point of view, then composing it into artworks that spurs critical awareness of the audience. After­wards, Landung Simatupang de­livers it into poetry or lyrics prose based on Dyan Anggraini’s works. Borobudur and its surroundings became the profound symbol of In­donesian tourism in International stage. Dyan highlights the world of women (around) Borobudur from within, not only refers to female figures of the present day but in­cludes ‘women’ who dominate the Borobudur sculptures. The ancient relief of more than 1500 panes (frame) includes carnality stories, the birth of Sidharta Gau­tama (Sidharta means “he who has fulfilled his destiny” (Yasir Marzu­ki, Toeti Heraty, 1993: 9), his life journey, until the day he becomes Buddha, all showing women’s role in the past society.

Those bas-relief carvings are embedded with the history of Bud­dha’s birth, the life of Queen Maya (her mother), Prajapati (her moth­er’s sister, who was also married to her father, King Suddhodha­na), about the God’s daughters, Queen Maya’s servants, about the beautiful women who were try­ing to prevent Sidharta (Buddha) from abandoning the palace, Mara daughters’ tempting to Buddha, dancers, babysitters, masseuses, musicians, and women who were preparing ceremonies. Yasir Marzuki and Toeti Heraty claimed these reliefs as “… an encyclopedic nature about the life and ancient Javanese cus­toms on its environment” (1993: 80).

In the everyday life around the temple, women continue to be the key figure in social, cultural, and economic activities to date. Dyan Anggraini closely observed these women and their roles in society. Often, women bear social and eco­nomic burdens beyond their capaci­ty, yet they are consistently showing perseverance trait. Overpower every problem they face, as a duty and re­sponsibility for her own life and life [of people] under her patronage.

Next, to the Borobudur site, there is a proof and tangible ex­ample of aforementioned cases, as we could witness from the women lives in Klipoh Village. Those pot­tery craftswomen are just an ex­ample of how many women within the village carry on the same fate although their surroundings ex­perience otherwise. ‘Women and tourism’ is just a sheer irony which seems far bitter as it comes into deeper observation.

The exhibition by Dyan Ang­graini and poetry/lyrics prose by Landung Laksono Simatupang is an exciting collaboration as it transpired from two artists with different disciplines complement­ing each other. Physical artwork could be harmonized with liter­ary traditions, whilst poetic words could be complemented otherwise by appearance, colour, and shape. That’s it. Basically, art medium communication responds to mu­tual respect, extends the meaning to each other, later offers to the public to reach broader perspec­tive of their works. The artwork is a sharp evidence which could thrill the injustice, arbitrary judge­ments, arrogance, or even chaos, also possessing reprisal power over victim’s perpetrators. That’s what appears as the prominent value of their works: a silent lawsuit repre­senting socially and economically marginalized women. (Aldo)