"Essay", The Memories Hurrying Home

Suvi’s Experiment to Spell Events

English | Indonesia

Suvi’s Experiment to Spell Events

In 1999, 20 years ago, Madura suffered a total blackout for three months. At that time Suvi was still young, still in elementary school. Suvi still remembers how “darkness” overshadows entire Madura. He and his family had to flee from his home to the Village Hall in Bangkalan, where he lived with other families, while adult men had to guard in their villages, guarding his village from the threat of “ninja” targeting religious leaders in Madura. At the same time as the three-month blackout in Madura, conflict in Kalimantan between ethnic groups involving migrants from Madura began to flare up.

While in elementary school, Suvi met conflict survivors who were evacuated to Madura, Suvi was in the same class as a child from Kalimantan who had scars on his body. When Suvi was in junior high school, information about the conflict in Kalimantan increased through his experience watching recorded conflict through VCD player that he watched with his friends in the family room. For Suvi, ethnic conflict in Kalimantan is known in pieces of incomplete information. In 2019, he had the opportunity to visit Pontianak, armed with a piece of Tempo news published few years ago. In Pontianak he met many people from various backgrounds, visited shelters of Madurese who were driven from Sambas, interacted with artists from various ethnic backgrounds. Suvi was later escorted by the Dayaks when they made a brief visit to Sambas, a place that is still “forbidden” for Madurese.

Suvi’s experience in the “tension” both directly experienced by himself, and his experienced through other media, was a trigger for Suvi to work. Suvi’s working strategy was to record the “tension” in poetic form, which he did as if someone were keeping a diary. Suvi’s poems depart from being a kind of intermediary that connects data, incidents outside of himself with memories that are inside him.

Suvi’s works discuss the banal on violence in a poetic perspective. In this process Suvi tried to supplement his knowledge of ethnic conflict in Kalimantan with variety of literatures, which led to the incompleteness of knowledge about what was the root of the conflict, or what actually happened in the conflict. When he visited conflict sites, what he found was prolonged injury and loss.

To understand what happened to the ethnic conflict in Kalimantan, Suvi chose to visit his memories, personal memories that he experienced as a way to open up possibilities to reveal new narratives about the conflict.

Suvi’s sharp and dense visual language helps him speak a lot with economical visualization. Suvi’s works with a broad landscape background do not present any ornamental ornaments, Suvi is sufficient to place one or two objects in the middle of the landscape as sharp focus. This may be rooted in his habit of recording events as poetry, which made him accustomed to choosing sharp and strong metaphors to represent the “tension” he experienced. The visual power of Suvi makes his work which, although its form may be simple, but it can be “overflowed” in its readings, a decomposed cow carcass in Suvi’s work can speak many things, shuttling between ethnic conflict in Kalimantan, Suvi’s personal experience, or Maduea masculine cuture.

The paper sewing work, which is visually very economical, but very effective in conveying many things that lie behind it, is Suvi’s way of telling himself and the “tensions” about the wounds and losses he experienced outside himself. The two works can be the examples of how Suvi spoke subtly through idioms which he chose as metaphors, which were subtle but dived deeply into the elements he found as links that link him and ethnic Madurese conflicts so that they can open the talks about humanity wider.

Through his solo exhibition Suvi has the opportunity to “return” to memories from his past. The memories that have been “haunting,” as if there are things that have never been discussed. If art today tries to fill a canvas with colorful aesthetic values, Suvi chooses to tell stories in the simplest way, through images that are extensions of his body’s experiences. In this simple picture, Suvi’s work can actually “overflow” talking not only about himself or his ethnicity, but furthermore talking about universal humanitarian issues.