In just a few weeks, the Helwaser Gallery will open an exhibition of works by artist Boedi Widjaja, born in Indonesia but based in Singapore. Titled ‘Declaration of’, the exhibition explores notions of collective memory, gaze, and embodiment.
‘Declaration of’ will feature a number of Widjaja’s newest works, many of which are from ‘Imaginary Homeland,’ an ongoing series that the artist began in 2015. Works in the series range from installations to photography to drawings. These works stem from press photographs taken during the Cold War, which primarily feature Sukarno and Suharto, founders of post-colonial Indonesia.
Through his works, Widjaja grapples with his own perception of the country he left at a young age meaning his memories of it were largely shaped by images in the press. Among the featured artworks is Widjaja’s recently commissioned work 九百九十九朵玫瑰 (Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Roses). The work consists of pinhole photographs of then-president Sukarno with Cold War-era leaders of Russia, China, and the US. The photos are positioned alongside nine pecis, a specific type of popular hat worn by many in Indonesia among other Southeast Asian countries, stood on a tripod. Each peci was fashioned into a camera obscura of sorts and used in the making of the photos that accompany them.
Alongside Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Roses, Art is only a continuation of war by other means (flags) (2019) will be shown. The installation of 10 flags is Widjaja’s newest edition of a 2016 installation by a similar name at the inaugural Yinchuan Biennale. Each flag bears a red and blue design and when viewed together, the flags read ‘Art is only a continuation of war by other means.’ The phrase references a 1954 quote in Morse code by Premier Zhou, who referenced a Clausewitzian quote to say: ‘Diplomacy is only a continuation of war by other means.’
Widjaja was born in Java in 1975 but now lives and works in Singapore. In recent years, he has received a number of honours for his works including being one of the Top 10 Winners of the 2017 FID Prize, a finalist for the 2015 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, and the Grand Prize winner for Sound Arts in the 2012 Bains Numeriques, France, among others. In addition to these accolades, Widjaja has exhibited in a number of international shows including the 2018 Asia Pacific Triennial in 2018, the 57th Venice Biennale’s Diaspora Pavilion, and the 2016 Yinchuan Biennale. He has also shown in exhibitions including ‘From East to the Barbican’ in 2015 at London’s Barbican and solo shows like ‘Black – Hut’ (2016) and ‘Path. 6, Unpacking my Library 。书城’ (2014).
‘Declaration of’ by Boedi Widjaja will run from September 11th through November 7th at New York’s Helwaser Gallery.