[Performance] Memory of Nature (2013)
The Memory of Nature performance starts with the idea that we have forgotten that life is a beautiful garden and that we are therefore failing to look after it properly. Arahmaiani does not concentrate on nature and the environment itself, but on the values that form the basis of our respect for nature. Without these values, the Earth would be understood only in terms of its exploitation.
In the middle of the performance space stands a scale floor plan of the Buddhist temple complex at Borobudur. A copy of it was made of wood and filled with earth. Arahmaiani planted green shoots in it in the form of the Borobudur mandala. The mandala is a cosmic symbol that represents the universe with all its inhabitants. It is the basic form of a system of quadrants that evokes the principles of ‘horizontal and vertical’, ‘rising and falling’ and ‘inside and outside’. During the performances, Arahmaiani cares for and waters the plants and invites the public to join her.
[Performance] Flag Project (2006)
Flag Project is a long-term, participatory art project that Arahmaiani launched in 2006. Its aim is to stimulate communication between different communities and to arrive at collective creativity.
The colourful handmade flags symbolise diversity. They contain the core values of the various faith and cultural communities in Australia, Asia and Europe with which Arahmaiani has cooperated in the last few years. In workshops and discussions with various groups, she tried to find out what each community’s criteria were. The notions that emerged included Freedom, Love, Heart, Courage, Mind, Culture, Capital, Earth, Water, Air, Food, Resistance, Wisdom, Happiness, Hand in Hand and Solidarity, and also such short phrases as Don’t be arrogant. The flags were made by a group of seamstresses in a village near Yogyakarta on the island of Java in Indonesia.
Arahmaiani sends the flags around the world and with the help of volunteers has them raised in museums and public spaces.
Arahmaiani Feisal (Bandung, 1961) lives and works in Yogyakarta. As an artist she uses only her first name. Arahmaiani grew up in the hybrid religious culture of Indonesia, where Islam bears the traces of animism, Hinduism and Buddhism. The juxtaposition of symbols from these different religious cultures has thus become a constant in her visual work.
Arahmaiani is known as a pioneer of radical art. From the beginning she approached art as a form of political activism, intended to break through the dogmas associated with faith, class and gender and to denounce political oppression. Her public performances over the last thirty years, which among other things have exposed prostitution, environmental destruction and the demon of market obsession, regularly earned her the resentment of both the political and the religious authorities.
For the last ten years, Arahmaiani has engaged in participatory projects on ecological and religious topics all over the world. She employs peaceful methods to bring together groups with differing views, among other places in Southern Thailand and Tibet, where the tension between Muslims and Buddhists is approaching boiling point.