Understandings, 2014

The Understandings series is a collection of paintings and ‘found documents’ that reflect my observations of Indonesian and Australian relationships and perspectives – on personal, cultural and political levels. Some of the works are reflections on my own misunderstandings while I was living in Indonesia (2010-2013) and/or responses to the misunderstandings I witnessed there and since returning to Australia.

 

Pasangan 2014-2015, acrylic on plywood

Pasangan 2014-2015, acrylic on plywood

In Java I took Indonesian dance classes at a university. Some other foreign students were really outraged that the classes were taught in Bahasa Indonesia. In one class the teacher instructed us to choose a ‘pasangan’ for the new dance we were to learn. I asked my Indonesian friend what this word meant. She translated that we needed to choose a ‘soul mate’.

By this time, everyone had already found their soul mate.

 

Found documents:

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures, Compiled and Annotated by P.D. Norman acrylic on canvas, wood, tacks 130cm x 102cm

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures, Compiled and Annotated by P.D. Norman
acrylic on canvas, wood, tacks
130cm x 102cm

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures, Compiled and Annotated by P.D. Norman was created as a form of self-/criticism as I noticed my own and other foreigners’ flawed perspectives on things in Indonesia. For example, once I watched a dance performance which I  assumed was “traditional” when in fact was a contemporary creation (and I noticed other foreigners doing similar things too); or sometimes I would realise I completely misunderstood a situation that happened several days, weeks or months earlier; or hear foreigners explaining something they experienced or observed in Indonesia that to me seemed to be a misinterpretation. The compilation of “traditional Javanese dance hand gestures”, allegedly collected by a foreigner called P.D. Norman (“PD” in Indonesian slang stands for percaya diri, which translates to self confidence), combines illustrations of actual gestures used in Javanese dance with fictional and expressive gestures found in Indonesia and elsewhere. Similarly, the annotations include “factual” descriptions, with partially true and completely fabricated information. The work stands as symbol of, or as a device to doubt, my own understanding of the subtleties and “whole picture” in many contexts in Indonesia and within Javanese culture.

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures 2014, detail

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures, Compiled and Annotated by P.D. Norman, detail

Ida Lawrence -Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures 2014, detail

Traditional Javanese Dance Hand Gestures, Compiled and Annotated by P.D. Norman, detail

 

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats (signed ‘Tony & Scott 2/7/2013), mixed media on paper map, 70cm x 100cm

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats is a mind map allegedly created in July 2013 by the leader of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, and Shadow Immigration Minister Scott Morrison before the Liberal Party’s announcement of a “regional deterrence” policy. Announced in August, in the lead up to the Australian federal election in September 2013, the policy detailed $20 million plans to purchase thousands of Indonesian fishing boats in order to stop asylum seekers travelling by boat from the archipelago. (Yes true story, which you can read here). Abbott’s ideas and sketches are drawn in pen while Morrison’s contributions are in pencil. During the lead up to the election, the Liberal Party/Coalition’s rhetoric centred on “jobs and growth” and “creating jobs for Australians”, referenced many times in this mind map. The referenced URL, www.realsolutions.org.au, directs traffic to the Liberal party’s official website. (Yes, true story.)
Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

Possible Uses of 740,028 Indonesian Fishing Boats, detail

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Fabricated Histories

 

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