20 November 2022
The first day of the workshop began at 11.00 AM with SWAB antigen and space orientation related to the infrastructure provided for the workshop and safety measures. Lunchtime became time for hospitality and an initial introduction. The workshop started with a welcome speech from the Head of Cultural Programmes Goethe-Institut Indonesien, Dr. Ingo Schöningh, and gave an introduction about Beuys. Schöningh said that this moment also tries to find a correlation between Beuys art practice and Indonesian artists. He considered that Iwan Wijono’s art practice and activism resonated with Beuys. In this workshop, Iwan shared his idea about “Nusantara Contextual Art”, which he formulated through a 30-year exploration of the performance art field.
Beuys art practice was re-introduced through a film screening and discussion of I Love America, America Loves Me’ – about Joseph Beuys performance in the Rene Block Gallery, Manhattan, USA. And then, Iwan Wijono gave an introduction about “Nusantara Contextual Art” which emphasized the importance of action-awareness, the context of space and time, as well as consideration of how the public receives the action. For Iwan, artists must be humble and aware that they are part of society. Alongside this subject matter, Iwan also gave text material about Beuys trajectory and opened a dialogue with the participants to point out Beuys practice, which resonated with each participant’s interests and practices.
Next, Iwan played documentation videos and examined his two art performances to show the elaboration on the important elements in his work. Berdaya Undur Undur Dance was performed on June 1st, 2018, in the Titik Nol Yogyakarta area. In this work, Iwan Wijono invited dancers to voice their concern over the hoaxes circulating just before the 2019 presidential election by appropriating movement elements of the Yogyakarta-style classical dance, particularly Beksan Bedhaya as the language of expression. In this dance, the male and female dancers mingled in line, moving backward while biting a keris (Javanese dagger) as a self-introspection to rouse awareness of hoaxes.
The second work he showed was the performance I’m Artist, Spiritualist, Farmer held at the Polyphony: Southeast Asia exhibition at Nanjing University, China, on November 9 – December 20, 2019. There, Iwan prepared five paintings on canvas, paint, and farming tools. Iwan encouraged audience participation to respond by adding paint strokes and nicks to his five paintings using the farming tools that have been provided.
At the end of the session, Iwan guided the participants to get their bodies ready for the next workshop session. He asked them to fast or “limit their meals” (just ate vegetables, fruits, and mineral water). Through this method, Iwan invited the participants to review the “body” not just as something which is often prepped in performance art and performing art, but as a “home” for soul and blessings for our embodied existence. *