When Indonesian artist Daniel Kho decided to return to his native Bali after studying art in Germany and building a reputation there and in Spain, he started contemplating about the essence of his own identity. In the process he became friends with Teguh Ostenrik and Ito Joyoatmojo – two Indonesian artists who spent half of their careers abroad. They too, reflected on their identity and being. It was only consequential that this situation influenced their artistic practices and thinking. In the pre-internet era mobility was an artistic strategy to keep discovering, seeking, inventing.
As these artists worked and grew, their art became more urgent and deliberate. This is how the exhibition Identity Nomads was eventually born. Daniel Kho, Teguh Ostenrik, Ito Joyoatmojo, Odo Rumpf, Lili Voigt and Irene S.M. Lee – all artists who spend most of their time traveling between countries, even continents, joined hands to find new discourse and patterns in the unknown and unfamiliar.
The exhibition itself is a nod to its title and intentions: It opens in Jakarta and later travels to other places in Indonesia, then on to Singapore and Germany. While presenting a visualization of the nomadic mindset, it also abounds in artistic languages with
painting, photography, sculpture, mix-media installation and video art.
Identity Nomads is the multifaceted and complicated expression of the artists personal experiences of national and cultural identities and of themselves. Daniel Kho searches for the common factors in human nature. Odo Rumpf uses juxtaposition of two
technological products to express his bewilderment with conventions and cultural frontiers. Lili Voigt can see the inseparable
process of re-construction of a nation or a nation state in man created objects. Teguh Ostenrik presents elephant sculptures as a nomadic group thriving on mutual support and trust. Ito Joyoatmojo seeks recognition in the mundane and Irene S.M. Lee examines her relationship with her Chinese heritage.
In their artwork the artists corroborate that by being aware of the latest global political and economic dynamic like migration, Brexit or climate change, we observe how people everywhere in the world become more intolerant towards foreigners and minorities.
Yet some people seem to not be afraid of what is different from or strange to them. The personal nature of the art works of
Identity Nomads invite the observer to examine and reflect on their own attitudes. Yet art deliberately denies answers and aims to encourage the removal of boundaries instead.
Congratulations to the artists who have given their experiences shape and body, so that others can share them with them.
Regional Curator Indonesia