Human Learning

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Sculpting the Future, with Dolorosa Sinaga

By Ginastera “Boo-boo” Sianturi

Continuing the spirit of our collaboration with the Children’s Museum of the Arts in NYC, LTTW have conducted an in depth interview with Dolorosa Sinaga, who is known by many as Dolo. To name but a few, Dolo (b.1952) is one of the most respected Indonesian fine artists of her generation, alongside Semsar Siahaan, whose work not only challenged many real local and global issues, but also inspired subsequent generations of artists.

A sculptor, a lecturer and also an activist who unceasingly confronts the ongoing issues humanity still continues to face, from gender equality, human rights abuses, freedom of speech, to pluralism, in which Indonesia as a young democracy is still struggling with despite its independence over half a century ago in 1945. From the tragedy of 1965 to the monetary crisis in 1998 were amongst the themes which her works respond to; the bronze sculpture, ‘Solidaritas’ (Solidarity) was a response to the tragedy in 1998, exhibited in 2000, depicting seven women standing in a line and holding each others hands to symbolically represent a fence – a deeply personal work triggered by the subsequent abuse of women and the rights of citizens in general during the Jakarta riots of 1998.

While many people ran away and hid due to the crisis, Dolorosa is amongst those few artists who confronted and dealt with the situation. Our parent organisation, the Sacred Bridge Foundation, was established solely as an immediate response to this crisis, which aims to find solutions by using cultural currencies to re-establish respect and mutual understanding amongst the divided nation and its people.

Before Sacred Bridge Foundation was formally established in 1998, Stephen Hill and Serrano Sianturi (founders of Sacred Bridge) had been working together since 1996, even performing some censor-challenging musical performances while Soeharto was still in power. They also worked together on issues such as looking after the children who were caught up in the conflict, educating children with environmental awareness and action, as well as promoting awareness of peace and cultural tolerance. They worked with children throughout all the schools in Jakarta, ranging from Islamic, Catholic, and general schools , at a time when tensions  began emerging around 1997, and continuing the work thereafter. The spirit then continued manifesting, including confronting street gangs in Jakarta and helping traumatised Acehnese children after the tsunami in 2004. It was quite helpful that Stephen, who at the time served as the regional director for Asia and the Pacific at UNESCO, could incentivise the United Nations to legitimise some of these events – when the national politics of Indonesia were rather uninclined to creative endeavours.

To continue its journey to provide cultural education for the young, the Sacred Bridge foundation established creative camps called Hugging the City (Peluklah Jakarta) and Hugging the Nature (Peluklah Bumi). Dolo was one of the first facilitators alongside Adikara Rachman, Oscar Motuloh, Tagor Siagian, Dibal Ranuh, I Wayan Sadra, I Nyoman Astita, Diana Embran, Jasperine Ramona Nanletta, amongst several others. As a result of her contribution, Dolo was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation given by UNESCO and Sacred Bridge Foundation for her generous support in Cultural Programs for Children Activities in 2003.

Dolorosa with Hugging the Nature’s children at Cibodas National Park | Photo: SBF

LTTW hopes that this interview will not only provide perspectives about Dolorosa, but also provides a platform for those who shared great concerns for the future generation, as well as the neglected role of Arts as a healing, educational, and expressive medium, rather than merely as an economic commodity, which can actually contribute to the progress of human development in this age of the post-industrial society.

LTTW: Good afternoon. How are you?

DS: I’m fine, thank you. Long time no see! I’m so happy to see you again. My God…

(more greeting exchanges).

So, congratulations for the launch of the recent book, publication title Tubuh Bentuk Substansi or Body, Form and Matter. I haven’t read the book myself, but I promise you I will.

Good! You have to.

But, knowing you from my childhood, not only as a dear friend to my father and the Sacred Bridge Foundation, but also as a teacher that had helped me and many others to unleash and to unlock their creativity and endless potentials during their adolescent period, which is a very important period of a child’s development. I think it would already give enough background for us to continue the conversation. So, maybe you can tell us briefly about the book itself.

Okay, yeah…this book is actually taking so long to realise. In my solo exhibition since 2001 till 2013 I had 5 solo exhibitions. In every solo exhibition I always invited numbers of my friends of different backgrounds and disciplines to write their thoughts about my work. They actually make a very rich contribution in studying my sculptures. The reason why I did it is basically I want people to know that the viewers or the public views on art is much more important than the art itself. By doing so,  I actually did a compilation of knowledge on my sculpture. That’s why I planned to do this book and I found two editors who are very qualified in structuring books and finding suitable references; to see how the genealogy of artistic creation and how they structure my work in terms of connecting it to a greater knowledge that people can read and learn about. That’s the mission actually.

So, I have a quote from a French poet and philosopher (Paul Valery). He observes architecture and design. He said that “it is important that we should keep in mind the most subtle and powerful principle of all arts; the agreement between material and form, made as intimate and thorough as possible by the nature of things. The fusion of these two elements is the absolute aim of all great art. The simplest example is offered by poetry which cannot exist without the close association or the magic symbiosis of sound and meaning. Only through this search for a kind of union that must be imagined and take place within the living depth of the artist, and in a way throughout his whole body, can the work achieve any resemblance with the living production of nature, in which it is impossible to dissociate force from form.”* That’s what he said. I see it as a UNIFICATION which resembles the title of your book, tells us 3 different aspects about how art cannot be separated from those substances as you mention. My question: is the interrelation between the three aspects that you mention now something that is hard to find amongst young artists – do you feel that it is something that has been gradually neglected over time?

Body is not only a body. Body that you know, is body that you know. But actually, body can be like a legacy, a medium, knowledge and movement.

They are all actually related. I mean, body is not only a body. Body that you know, is body that you know. But actually, body can be like a legacy, body can be a medium, body can help you to understand a structure  such as architecture knowledge, body can also allow to help understand movement of the body, its so rich, its so alive and yet its could be symbolical and metaphorical to some extent. Artists throughout history had been exploring many issues enriching the notion and understanding of the body. So it’s not only…like…theoretically just the body as the structure of anatomy.. No, no. That is not my point. Why I choose body in my sculpture is because body is something that carries so many mysteries, so many issues in life. Just like what you see in what we are facing nowadays in life, all over the world. It’s something to do with the body, something to do with the mind. Body is not only a form but body also is the harmony of mind and raga and soul.

The Children’s creations at Dolorosa’s inspired workshop | Photo: Patricia Argie

The connection between the mind, body and spirit? 

What I’m gonna say is body…um…form and matter is actually one substance. Like theatre, is a substance. That’s why you see all my pieces are based on body but you see so many issues I can bring up with you, and you can understand and you can share my concerns and people can understand what my issue is on women, so they understand. I think I have to say that pieces like my “Solidarity” that they can feel if women get together they can build a strong wall. They cannot be destroyed or made to disappear. Something like that. I believe that when you see art works, you see obviously see the expression of  authority of the artist that created it. On the other hand, artists should be able to understand that there is also a spectator’s authority in reading the art. You cannot just push the spectator to dictate how to see your work. No, no. I believe any art work is  a medium of communication so it should be open up to discussion, to any perception, it’s like a dialogue of authority that eventually becomes a knowledge. . that can enrich your art experience. I think this is very important. That’s why I keep saying that my work is just a medium of expression. But the most important thing is how the spectators see it and read it as they experience it.

That’s actually very similar to how SB sees culture as a living being, whether it is a monument or a ritual itself that we may have to keep renewing, not all aspects of course, to become relevant to our world, and I see your work is very important because you are responding to the surroundings around you and make the arts as a living object rather than a dead object, as you said it is open for discussion, an important role of art as a medium of dialogue.

No art is the same. So, by experiencing art, that visual experience teaches you that you have to respect others.

And also, I want to say the experience in engaging with  art experience  is actually giving you or teaching you to have respect…toward the sense of being difference. No art is the same. So, by experiencing art, that visual experience teaches you that you have to respect others. That you have to give respect to diversity.  Being different is not something that you have to be afraid of. There should not be a danger by being different. Therefore I guess art can inspire you to have respect and value the richnesses of being differences.. Then you will grow with a good sense of…being able to understand anything not only yourself.  I don’t think I have the vocabulary in my life of being right that other people is wrong.

It’s not about right or wrong, it’s more about expression and being able to be different…. jumping to the next one, it’s about being different. I see that millennials and even more, generation Z, today are growing up with less awareness of their surroundings/environments in various social and natural circumstances, and even the same situation is apparent across the planet in London, the city that I have lived in for years. In other words, I remember growing up in Jakarta, climbing up random trees, jumping into the city fountain ponds, and even talking to some strangers on the road; we had these wild and daring experiences, today it looks like the children do not have it anymore, do you feel that? Have they been consumed by gadgets and smartphones? Perhaps the road is much busier and therefore the air is dirtier and safety becomes a concern for many parents.

You guys live in a very different world to me. In your case there’s no time difference anymore. There is no space…difference…I mean you touch a screen and you can see like you’re living in New York. This situation is completely different to what we, in my age, experienced in the past. I believe that facing the new generation with this kind of privilege of engaging with technology, we actually have to take a very crucial concern on education. The institution of education should be changed. Class, teaching, whatever you call it that…um…makes them bored. So…um…I think the institution where they school should be able to accommodate how they live now. How they see the world, how they see the time, how they see…um…that they can touch the world anywhere. In my case we don’t have that experience. So, it’s very difficult and this is a great change in life.

So, you are more on the optimistic side on the technology…

Oh, yea, yea. The only thing that I understand if I teach my students, for instance, they have to read Van Gogh. They can read so many critiques written on Van Gogh in their gadget.   But they can not find my interpretation on Van Gogh in their gadget. Is this the kind of authority, you tell me, but I agree that in education process I believe that the value of authority for the sake of their formative years should be implemented for a good reason.  That gives a kind of…um…what should I call it? Kesadaran (awareness). (A) notion that I am there, I am here as your teacher and I’m ready to work together with you. We can get all knowledge from your technology, but I’m here with you to talk and discuss.

So, there’s a living guide.

Yes, it’s a living guide you may say so. I thing its an important foundation to develop a new paradigm in any formal education in every field, that is to facilitate a dialogue with the student. In this sense all teachers generate a dialogue on knowledge across generational experiences. I learn from you and you learn from me. By doing so, we will be able to construct and shape our vision together for the future. I think this is a very important issue.

Discussion at Hugging the Nature, Cibodas National Park | Photo: SBF]

I think it’s a good point to bring up, because of…

I don’t hate them. I love them, I learn a lot from them. I mean, I don’t live in their life, but they cannot live in my life, too.

But that’s something I think is in Hugging the Nature and Hugging the City programme that we want to reveal. I think it’s important for young people today to know what past generations have done and contributed to their life and actually learn a lesson from them rather than ignoring the past.

See, the important thing is actually how to build a relationship with the young and that we build our history together. To the future. So…um…I’m not guiding you to take my experience as your reference. No. But the dialogue that we have in shaping the future of the world. Like how this relationship between you and me, with different generations, can shape the world. To the future. We probably will not have a problem with living in a different country but we are going to live in a world nation. Citizens of the world. In this way we lay history together. We’re building it up. It is very important.

And that’s where the challenge of diversity comes. So last week, we received an email from CMA in NY,  which included a poster whereby I saw your name on it, about the workshop for children inspired by Dolorosa titled Wonderful Woman. I mentioned our relationship briefly, I became curious about how and why the facilitators are inspired by your work. They wrote back to us, Ian, the lead teaching artist, and he said, “Selecting artists to highlight during CMA’s Cultural Festivals are a collaborative effort amongst the department managers. We look for contemporary artists who have an active studio practice, and whose work is informed by the place that they come from. We don’t want to highlight an artist simply because they come from a culture that we are celebrating. Instead, we seek to highlight artists whose artistic practices touch upon themes that are informed by their upbringing, living situation, or response to current events in the countries or geographic areas that we are spotlighting.” That’s the first paragraph. I think that’s brilliant! I think it resembles your work as an artist that you can always respond to many issues in Indonesia, whether it’s political issues, human rights issues, or social issues, from monetary crises in 1998 to any other issues in Indonesia. Since Sacred Bridge’s foundation, Mas Rano had always reminded and taught us, the Reborn generation, on the importance of context. In the development of Indonesian arts, especially urban arts and even in the rural areas, most of our arts do not emanate from the ‘living situation’ or as we in SBF say, embedded to the locality or local wisdom, which has been prioritised by SBF for years. Neither of the arts respond to current events or issues faced by the society. What happens to our arts is merely claims of other nations’ identities or culture. For example (as a musician, I like to take examples from music sphere) Blues was born in the time of the slavery of black people in the United States. Reggae was born as an expression of Jamaican people for their independence. Even Punk was born as a criticism of the commercialisation of Rock music. In the west, the close relation between arts and its environment have brought up a movement. Once the movement was established, the industry stepped in and took advantage of it, adding another value or a selling point to the arts. Now, according to the Museum, your works are considered contextual, meaning they respond to the living situation. After decades of working as an artist how do you see arts in Indonesia, especially fine arts? Is it like what I mentioned before, that all music genres that are born outside Indonesia can become a movement because they responded to the local context? How important is it for our young artists to be able to see local contexts in producing their works?

LTTW’s joint exhibition corner with Hugging The Nature, questioning the very fundamental question that is important in human development | Photo: SBF

As an art educator…maybe I should start with a story that since the 80s all artists in Indonesia had a formal academic background. Before the 80s some artists were mostly trained in studios, you called them autodidact, they were trained in a diffrerent education atmosphere.  The frictions between these artists are actually resolved. Those who were traditionally trained as an artist, they continue to build and have their own community development. That is why we do not have issue on this matter.  When the number of formally trained artists are making progress, we no longer see any frictions between artists who are self-trained and formally-trained. These formally-trained artists are then divided into two groups: those who see the market as a destination and those who don’t. Most of them who don’t see the market as a destination have dedicated their life as an artist to empower the society. Semsar Siahaan, myself, and many others. I have never been interested in the market, even though I do have a market that I built myself.  You will never see my arts in any auctions because no one wants to resell my works. They are happy to have them in their homes. It gives something to them. And if my works are no longer in their homes, they might feel lost. Perhaps it does not happen to a lot of artists. I don’t know. That’s why I think it is important to see how they use an art. They are the spectators, so-called collectors, or whatever you’d call them. We can’t say that all collectors see an artwork as an investment. I don’t believe that.

But arts can actually live without industry.

Listen To The World’s exhibition corner at Sacred Rhythm Reborn Unison ‘Celebrate Life’ event at the National Museum of Indonesia | Photo: SBF

Ummm (long pause)….it’s not really like that. If you ask me, if arts can live without industry, that’s not correct. Because without industry…industry is actually an indicator of progress. Indonesian economic increase, all those high-rise buildings, they need artworks. And there’s a market for that. There’s an industry for that. But whether or not it affects people’s awareness to the important issues, that are fought by the artists, it’s not necessarily so. I don’t hate industry. But when industry turned into the authority (power) that makes people treat arts only as an investment, that is not just, and I think we should fight this kind of authority that do abusive power toward the function of art in human life.

Sure. It can also reduce the roles and other functions of the arts to merely a sight for sore eyes. 

When we let the industry to have such a power on art,  the opportunity for people to experience arts as a long cultural investment that will bring awareness to people, to see arts as a sources of beauty, be enlightened by works of art, be concerned with other matters that they never thought about, be an inspiration for healing process, as the sources of education, all this potential is valuable to human life. Through my art people can see what medium is to me, how I did my exploration with medium in order to express the substance of my art. I need them to see my point, to make them  care of the issue that I care about.  I see arts as my way to say to people the things that must be corrected. When the country does not seem to solve the activists kidnapping cases, I made an artwork. I asked them, why they took our children. I want to show my empathy to the endless sadness they have to endure because the country has been ignoring the cases. So, my works is my statement to all issues that I care about.

Well, thank you. I hope the young people can respond… 

I am sure they can, I have no doubt of what they can do to change the world to make it a better place and to live together in peace and happiness. .

And realise that industry is not the only thing that can support arts and they finally can be able to make use of the functions of arts, as well as becoming aware that arts can actually live in the society.

That’s what I’ve been teaching my [art] students. They should be able to make a living with their intelligence.

There is another side that…it should not stop at its economic value. That’s what I’ve been teaching my students. They should be able to make a living with their intelligence. Making artworks, selling them, it’s okay. But on the other hand, they also must have an awareness that as an artist they can be engaged and take part and contribute as the agents of change!!.

Continuing Ian’s statement regarding your work, he said: “What I love about Dolorosa’s work is the capturing of feminine qualities and spirits in a hard sculptural material. Many people have a notion that femininity must be ethereal and fragile. To me, strength and resolve in the face of aggression exemplifies femininity. Dolorosa’s metal sculptures are perfect representations of both of these qualities, and reflect CMA’s belief that women are leaders, change-makers, and key decision-makers.”

Alright, cannot agree more….

They must have really studied your work. We have a question, a really broad question. Has the world made any progress on continuing the so-called gender equality, in particular in Indonesia? Has the role of women, not only in the arts, achieved any progress since you were growing up? Today there’s a saying that most females are now happy because they don’t take men seriously anymore.


Is this statement somewhat true in the practice? Because I see a lot of my female friends, especially who are living in the city, despite many pressures from traditional values of marriage, a pressure to get married, they are just happy human beings working and focusing on their career, even when they pass 30 years of age. Does this also resemble what we call freedom of thinking and freedom of expression for women?

Display of information about Dolorosa’s workshop at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, NYC | Photo: Patricia Argie

I believe there are more and more powerful women in the world. They’re growing in numbers as activists in many different professions, in science, in politic in health and the most important thing is in human right issues in almost . everything. There are more women become top leader, in power. But even so,  I believe the whole world is still stay the same as the whole power is still on the hands of male domination.  Women struggling and still trying to connect with one another, how the implementation of human rights can be seen as a general problem. It’s difficult. Because we still have many authorities not from public areas but from sectarian issues like religion and oligarchy? So, there you will see the issue of human rights, the issue of gender violation is still there. It will still be something that we have to be concerned about.

Hopefully the arts will still be the powerful medium…

Yeah, yeah. I still believe that. For me, art increases intelligence. Art can also be a weapon. It can also be a propaganda, but we want to have a positive propaganda.

Or positive campaign.

Yeah, positive campaign.

There is interesting interview LTTW conducted with Pak Uki, the Sufi maestro of Aceh and he poses a question on gender equality. As for the influence of Islam, Acehnese art had indeed incorporated some of the Islamic tradition into the forms of their art, such as gender role, for instance, in which male and female performers must not perform in the same room or the same area. Inevitably, however, this has changed as time goes by. And I was surprised myself in finding this out because we see from here that, with Shariah law and everything that goes around in Aceh, this is something that may never occur. So I re-questioned Uki, is such separation still existent, he said no. As a matter of fact, many aspects have gone astray. At the time when I was growing up, meeting him, learning Saman, or Seudati (Acehnese dances), the Islamic tradition is strictly fermented during the process as part of the Islamic wisdom that we must exercise in our life. One example was regarding Meunasah. Meunasah is the learning centre attached to the mosque. Like small madrasah. The learning activities, mostly reading the Quran, then followed by traditional art, practices for male and female apprentices were run under strict separation. When the female apprentices rehearse Ratib Muzakat dance, for instance, no male was allowed to be present. It’s such a strict rule. I need to mention however; the strict separation was not all about discriminating the level of educational importance between and for the two genders. Such importance is delivered in equal weight. So, there is progress we see and the role of arts as Uki, as our teacher, has pointed to us.

Marzuki (Uki) Hasan and Canang 7 Atjeh Ensemble at Demajors LTTW offline event, December 27th 2019 | Photo: Boo-boo Sianturi

Wow, it’s good to hear.

And also we brought the similarities of Seudati, the dance, between Seudati and Hip Hop…

Yeah, but still, I mean, this tradition of the lines of women, with dance, you only see all women. Like, what’s the name? Seudati? Never been in history in the lines you see the man. No. It’s like, the men can also have their own. Lines of men, lines of women, with different movement, right?

The general practice hasn’t been implemented in the whole of the region…

But it shows to me that they have a sensitivity of being…they have that sensitivity of being equal. You can have Seudati consists of women, but you can also have Seudati consists of men. It’s equal.

And I think that’s the importance of cultural identity, therefore we can broaden and enrich our interpretation on religion based on Culture and its locality. 

I believe in any culture there is a wisdom in man and woman positioned in life that express the cosmology of their culture.

I totally agree with you. There’s no reason to question why the Seudati not try to have man and woman together in this performance. I guess no need to raise that question. Because in every cultural expression, there is a local wisdom being invested in so many ways. I believe in any culture there is a wisdom in man and woman positioned in life that express the cosmology of their culture.

And the last thing in the relation to the museum, in the last paragraph, I’ll just read it out to you. “Every project at CMA incorporates the museum’s pedagogy of Look, Make, Share. Providing visual references and examples of the artist’s work is paramount for young artists to understand what is being made and the issues that the work is responding to — this is Look. Make is easiest to implement — without it, there would be no project! Share is arguably the easiest to disregard, but encouraging young artists to talk about their work and recognise their own accomplishments can create an everlasting confidence in themselves and appreciation for the transformative power of art, from very early on in life.” Does the museum’s pedagogy of Look Make and Share resembles your methodology, your way, your spirit of delivering teaching materials to Students at all levels?

A brief description on how the museum’s pedagogy is applied to Entang Wiharso’s workshop at CMA, NYC | Photo: Patricia Argie

Yeah, I believe so. It’s like when you want to teach your student…about…surrealism. First thing you do is to look at the work of surrealism. What is so special about this concept of expression?.  Where that imagination is coming from and how they discover the other meanings that you never came across to. It is very true, first is to look and study the work of surrealism, second is to try not to imitate as a method to develop your skill and technic in painting, I think to let the student take these steps of learning, engaging themselves into the concept, if they could internalise the thought, by the time they will be able to develop this concept of expression, they become their own expression.  So, in art theory, aesthetic theory, it is called the process of decoding. I was surprised that small kids who…are able to do internalising after the experience of looking…wow, it’s something great. Right from the beginning. Early years, you told them to do that, it’s great. I’m gonna copy it (laughs).

We can do a project with them also. Almost there…this is almost a general question…Rano told me once… that how come that Architecture students don’t know what the mix of cement is, in fact some of them had never touched wet cement before it became concrete; music composition students do not have their compositions played in their final year yet they receive their degree. and I see that in many institutions in Indonesia. Is there something wrong with our education system, especially in the arts? We talked about make, today theory and practise are almost separate things that they study so much under an institution that we forgot. After all art is about making, touching, feeling. So, do you think this is the failure of the institution and the teachers? Do you see this? 

It’s not about dispute on knowledge and practices, really. It’s…um… we create an artist, not artisan. Meaning, if we create an artist we’re dealing with conceptual work, engaging with all theories of art, what is the bottom field of every movement in art. I mean it’s all about knowledge. But in practice, actually, you get like…um…how to do a (…) joint in woods, and how do you apply colours in metal mediums? That is a technician’s expertise. I believe that complete artists know both, like me. I did my apprenticeship, I did know artisan, I know all the techniques, know how to use electric welding; I know them all because I want to experience. But not all artists are like me. So, it’s coming from themselves. If the artist thinks that they should look for practice experience, then go for it. Some not. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t have practice experience you will not be a great artist, no. Many great artists do not know how to mix something, probably. I don’t know. But they are still great. I mean, we still can learn from them. So, it’s a dispute we have to settle down. They have their own authorities actually. It will make a complete artist if they know both. Then your eyes are trained right from the beginning in the sense of technician and also in the sense of artistic creation. So, that is complete.

There is still time…you do still see it (artists who don’t know how to mix becoming great artists)…occasionally…

Well,  yes it happens now, because everything is so easy nowadays. The big question is whether it jeopardises your work or not.

Actually one more related to material.

Maybe it is through the use of clay, but metal can also be considered fragile in terms of using it as a means of lightness or sturdiness …

What is about material? What do you wanna know about material? Femininity always looks … fragile. Maybe it is through the use of clay, but metal can also be considered fragile in terms of using it as a means of lightness or sturdiness …the metal medium, also has the character of lightness … elasticity! Medium is fascinating to me.

So, the one that was appointed by the CMA was metal, right? As the medium…

It depends. Every medium has got a character of weight in itself. Kayu (wood), logam (metal), they have weight. Only paper does not have weight. Just like my studies in St. Martin. I believe this question is back to the artist. How they see medium. What medium is to themselves. So, for me, every sculptor sees a medium as a way to create an object. You can use metal, you can use fibreglass, you can use cement, you can use woods, stone, and everything. It’s a medium you create something that brings out your expression.

Is there a particular reason you use metal especially for the work that resembles femininity or women’s rights? Why not using clay?

Because I can use metal as a very thin figure. Which is very strong and at the same time so fragile. So that’s the bipolar power of the medium. Somehow, it’s intriguing me. That’s why I choose metal in that way. But, back again, it’s the concept of my work. See. I chose a medium as a statement, other artists may not see it that way. They use it as a way to create object. For me my relationship with the medium,  it’s a statement.

Resulting artwork made at Dolorosa’s inspired workshop, Children’s Museum of the Arts, NYC | Photo: Patricia Argie

If we use music, like in the classical symphony orchestra, we have several families. Woodwind, brass, string. That’s the medium in the orchestra. 

It has character. The same thing is actually in sculpture, every material has a character. And many artists work through the material like Henry Moore. He has a concept of matter. How the material shown. So, if he uses marble, he wants to see all the beautiful marble grooves. He will not cover, he will not eliminate the natural character of the medium.

Last Question, with the age of internet today, many platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, we have also been flooded with music software. People now make music with technology, instruments are almost no longer an important medium for musicians, because they have laptop. That is from one side. With rapid technological advancement, I also see the flooding of creativity, everybody now can claim themselves as artists in this day and age. There are two sides of the coin. Not long ago, you had to really master and learn the fundamentals but also understand its relations with living in the contexts that do not only stand on their own linear ways, but interconnected with other cross disciplines. Do you see this more on the optimistic side? Do you accept that that now anyone can become an artist?

I wish the world can be like the song of John Lennon (Imagine). You don’t need countries, you don’t need everything. Everyone is an artist. The world can be a happy life for all.

What’s your message for young artists in Indonesia particularly who are still searching for meaning in Arts and their identity as artists?  

You guys actually have a very difficult position now because you are so close to a danger as a humanity. I’m serious. And the power of technology and you guys that live in that era, where do you want to take this world in the future. That’s a big question. Not for me. I’m gonna be gone, but honestly I want to witness how you guys deal with your digital era that made your life much easier but potentially disastrous.

But you can still help and direct us.

So, I think the big question is when your life is facing the great privilege to do anything because of technology, where do you want to bring humanity in the future?

So, the humanitarian aspect is still your greatest concern for the young generation.

Because when you keep continuing living in your maya (virtual) culture, you don’t need other people to interfere in your life. I can’t imagine. You’ll lose all contacts; you’ll lose all your needs which you think is not important anymore. Oh, I cannot imagine. You will be the first generation that would lay another layer of generations to come. What would you…what would be your legacy? That is the big question. PS: Don’t answer it!

Hopefully we can work together in finding the answer together in Hugging the Nature and Hugging the City in foreseeable future.

In the long run, I believe that you all will see the engagement of technology, will bring you the new notion for legacy that you all should think about.

Great. Thank you very much!


*Grillo, Paul Jacques (1960). “Form, Function & Design.” New York, Dove Publications. (p.50)


Author: Ginastera “Booboo” Sianturi

Chairman of Sacred Bridge Foundation

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