15 March 2003 - 15 May 2003
The Kuta Bombing: Wianta's Scream of Horror
On the 15th of March, 2003, at Gaya Fusion of Senses, Balinese artist Made Wianta presents a combined installation and performance event reflecting on the Kuta Bombing.
Wianta's provocative exhibition is certain to invite controversy and anger; the provocation is deliberate, an integral part of a show that encourages reflection: reflection upon violence and suffering, upon anger and controversy.
Wianta's exhibition is a display of horror. His creative 'material' is the horror of the Kuta Bombing, with its 192 victims; his canvases are the most unbearable photographs of the bombing, hanging on the once-pristine walls of Gaya gallery; his paint is the blood splurging from a freshly slaughtered cow. The horror becomes visual, tangible, and the gallery begins to feel of death, of burned and decapitated corpses.
In the middle of the gallery space Wianta spreads 2002 kilograms of rice. He sculpts them into an oval shape that symbolises the Balinese world and the Balinese rose of the winds. On this mound of rice, facing the eight directions of the compass - four cardinal and four intercardinal - he places symbols of human remains and Balinese offerings. The high gallery walls are all black; darkness thus rules. Only at the opening is there hope: small fireflies are released, their natural flickering symbolises its hesitant return.
The humanity in us protests. Wianta's exhibition leaves us disgusted, haunted by nightmarish images, perhaps even physically ill. We ask whether such a show is immoral, then wonder whether morality is even relevant to an evaluation of such art. His exhibition is indeed violent and provocative, but it is also clear that Wianta has extracted morality from horror itself and that the usual sense of the word doesn't fit easily here.
A moral evaluation is all the more problematic because perception and the medium through which the horror is viewed are an integral part of the exhibition. The artist exposes himself within his work as both a denunciator and a manipulator of the media: the media thrives on horror and creates a second degree of horror; the artist thrives on this representation of horror created by the media and, as all art, on the gap between reality and representation. But here the reality is too powerful. Neither the media nor Wianta's addition of a third degree of horror - that of the manipulative artist who will use anything, including horror, to enhance his media recognition and satisfy his narcissistic obsession - can wash the reality away. The result is a strange clarity, a view of the nude narcissistic creator who dares to denounce all the levels of horror with which he is faced. It is precisely through his ambiguous use of horror for expressive purposes that Wianta can generate enough clarity to denounce the media's use of horror and the reality of horror itself.
Wianta's show at Gaya Fusion of Senses should be construed as a loud, daring, lonely, scream among all the hushed men and women stricken by the terror of evil. His is an absolute scream, in which he forgets that he should be human because he can't be; he suddenly discovers, and then uncovers, evil itself.
But Wianta's scream is more than protest. It is symbolic art at its most vivid. The world he represents is made of rice and is, accordingly, life itself. The bones and human remains are symbols of death as the natural, cosmic opposite of life. The blood with which he paints the horrific photographs is the blood of sacrifice - the condition, through death, of the return of life after purification. The message is therefore cosmic, in a Hindu and also in a universal sense. To darkness will succeed light, as the flickering fireflies announce; to impurity purity, as the exorcism of blood proclaims; and to death life, as the artist's show itself should make clear to us.
Made Wianta is an artist and a demiurge. His show is an attempt at teaching all of us how to scream and how to live.
DREAM LAND can be viewed at Gaya Fusion of Senses from the 15th of March until the 15th of May, 2003. Bali's leading art space, Gaya reinvests all profits into support of art projects in Bali. Its goal is to integrate art with life and to further the development of cutting-edge contemporary art in Indonesia. In partnership with Gaya, Made Wianta's exhibition will travel from Sayan to the Biennale di Venezia, where it will be displayed from June to November. The 2003 Biennale in Venice, Italy, is the 50th anniversary of this event, which is recognised internationally as the most important on the world contemporary visual arts calendar.
In collaboration with :
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