*For a better experience in accessing the content on this page, please use a desktop device.
Another Land to the Utmost Happiness
Jessica Ayudya Lesmana
Video, in color, 31 minutes 22 seconds
In the theatrical performance entitled Another Land to The Utmost Happiness (2021), Jessica Ayudya Lesmana provokes the majority’s assumptions about names. Systemically it becomes everyone’s identity label; the name is basically political when attached to the subject, yet the named subject is often judged based on the spaces that determine how their identity is perceived socially.
“Birth Name” (the name given at birth; administratively listed on the identity card) and “Life Name” (the name chosen and used by transwomen in everyday life) are two concepts that cannot be separated from the flow of trans-women’s life because both represent the conflict that accompanies their everyday lives. The existence of these two concepts also shows how institutions in the social system work repressively against marginal groups and how marginal subjects often try to deal with this repression. Jessica draws a connection between their background as a transwoman (who has to deal with the reality of the struggle for the right to have a name and expunge the labels that have been attached to them) and the identity of the Parangkusumo beach location (one of the locations where a number of trans-women groups maintain their social lives and positions).
The artistic reflection on this relationship works to build a narrative about self-liberation from social shackles. Jessica uses the visual elements of the location, such as piles of garbage, sand, the view from the beach, as well as their theatrical response to these elements, as a metaphor for the journey of a trans-women’s identity. This work stimulates an observation about how minorities have their own potential to find happiness on land which has been dominated by the discourse of the majority and preserved in unequal power relations. Another Land to The Utmost Happiness is a celebration, an affirmation, of these realities, as a way to achieve a certain catharsis.
Jessica Ayudya Lesmana (1993) began their arts practice in 2017 through Amuba, Indonesia’s first transgender band. They developed their artistic practice as an activism to record and narrate the life of marginalized suburban people. Jessica is a contributor for Konde.co – media for women and minorities; and was a transgender actor in the Deleted Scene In SEA program at the 2021 Bangkok International Performing Art Meeting. Currently, Jessica is running the “Mother Project”, a lifelong activity that began while participating in learning activities at Cemeti – Institute for Arts and Society. This project seeks to explore various possible mediums -starting from studying written texts, then combining the ideas of montage and performance into an artistic style of expression. Jessica’s works highlight the lives of transgender and sex workers who’ve experienced discrimination and stigmatism, as subject matter.