Critics’ Picks

Ade Darmawan, Tournament, 2012, found objects, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Ade Darmawan, Tournament, 2012, found objects, dimensions variable. Installation view.


Ade Darmawan

ARK Galerie
Jl. Suryodiningratan 36 A
September 23–October 23, 2012

With its population nearing 250 million and a burgeoning middle class, Indonesia sets the pace for Southeast Asia’s economic globalization, and its emerging art market. Sustained growth begets a world of seemingly inevitable improvement. The first solo exhibition in eight years by Ade Darmawan—founding director of ruangrupa, the vanguard twelve-year-old Jakarta collective—comes as a measured shot across the bow of an excitable market. A montage of his country’s earlier glimpses of economic blue sky, “Human Resource Development” is a history of optimism, seen secondhand through its material residues and tinted with doubt. Tournament, 2012, is a jab at the collectors and impresarios: a field of pre-loved sporting trophies, fixed to the wall with Cubist composure and presided over by a skeletal, dilapidated armchair. The gallery is flanked by screenprints of untitled graphs, quasi-scientific diagrams,
and numbered matrices that resemble supersize Sudoku grids, aping modernity’s penchant for the quantitative. Foil to all this hopeful rationality is evidence of chance survival: Permutation, 2012, is an array of found urban flotsam in playful and cunning assemblage. A pair of scuffed plastic mosques sit back to back, one a functioning alarm clock; a bike chain peeps from beneath a heap of prayer beads; a chunky old Casio calculator spouts a tuft of hair instead of figures; and all are illuminated by a school of unlikely chandeliers, redolent of Jakarta’s nouveau riche suburbs. The show’s centerpiece is Carousel, 2012, a time capsule of 35-mm slides projected onto scrap timber from a home renovation, and mounted to the back of an upright piano. They appear to be the holiday snaps of some well-fed, mustachioed crony of President Suharto’s New Order (1967–98). Each destination is mere pretext for bourgeois self-imagining—the miracle of one’s worldliness as fruit of national development—as if Sophie Calle had accidentally wound up tailing an Indonesian Chevy Chase on his European vacation.