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Defining experiences : feminisms and contemporary art in Indonesia


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Dirgantaro, W 2014 , 'Defining experiences : feminisms and contemporary art in Indonesia', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis explores the relationship between feminisms and visual arts in Indonesia.
Focusing on works by Indonesian women artists produced from the 1940s until the present
day, it provides a new understanding of the history of Indonesian modern and
contemporary art from a feminist perspective. Its main aim is not only to analyze the actual
works of Indonesian women artists historically and today, but also to illuminate the sociocultural
and political contexts in which the artists worked through feminist reading.
Feminisms are often regarded as a purely Western concept that is irrelevant to the
Indonesian context, but during a brief period of time after 1998, there was a surge in the
Indonesian mainstream consciousness about gender issues. Feminist scholars, activists and
cultural workers successfully created a discursive space in the mainstream media to discuss
issues which were previously taboo, such as the politics of the female body, domestic
violence, sexual abuse and more. Women artists such as Arahmaiani and Titarubi made
significant contributions to this discourse, for example through their critical installation and
performance art pieces.
The thesis sets out to explore the works of these and other women artists, employing
multiple methodological approaches from psychoanalysis to semiotics in order to construct
a framework for an active re-reading and re-visioning of Indonesian art discourses.
Strategies of correction and interrogation are applied to both critically asses the patriarchal
structure of the Indonesian art world and revise the existing readings of works by women
By looking beyond the labeling but not rejecting the term itself, the thesis highlights a
trajectory of change in the way feminisms operates in Indonesian visual arts. As important
drivers of this process of change, Indonesian women artists neither resist patriarchy in a
‘politically correct’ way nor revel in eroticism, but steer a course between these two
positions. Furthermore, the thesis demonstrates how works by Indonesian women artists
can include difference and absorb ambiguity within their frame of reference, thus avoiding
the totalising and exclusionary practices sometimes associated with feminisms.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Dirgantaro, W
Keywords: Indonesia, contemporary art, art history, feminisms, gender, women artists, performance art
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2014 the author

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