On Matter and Place at Museum MACAN

by Julius Kensan
16th April 2019
Museum MACAN is back with Matter and Place, an exhibition that opens up the discourse on the concept of space that's anchored with the striking installation by famed Indonesian architect Andra Matin.

Museum MACAN continues to expand the conversation of contemporary art and what constitutes it in their latest exhibition, Matter and Place. The latter brings together the works of contemporary artists and most notably the famed Indonesian architect Andra Matin.

From site-specific installations to contemporary artworks that employ various mediums, the intention of Matter and Space is to invite visitors to probe into how the concept of space – the private and public along with the physical and psychological – moulds the identities of those inhabiting within it.

Andra Matin’s Elevation installation is an example that demonstrates the ways architecture influences identity, politics, and culture. The striking installation – wrapped by an intricate woven rattan façade by Lim Masulin (founder of BYO Living) – showcases a handful of traditional Indonesian vernacular structures, including Rumah Joglo from Java and Honai from Papua, which is the most identifiable through its mushroom-shaped roofs. Visitors make their way up the installation where the scale models are placed in order of the real life elevation of the structures.

Elsewhere, Malaysian artist Shooshie Sulaiman’s connection to rubber plantation as a child sets the context of Tadika Getah (Rubber Kindergarten). The artist’s personal connection with rubber plantation aside, the installation offers a discourse on the growing rubber economies in Southeast Asia thanks to their high economic return despite their negative effects on the environment.

Meanwhile, a smattering of Museum MACAN’s collection completes the Matter and Space exhibition. American artist Theaster Gates’s A Transgressive Wyoming examines the living conditions of local black communities. Indonesian artist FX Harsono’s Wipe Out #1 is a painting that follows up on his performance that alludes to the erasure of Chinese-Indonesians’ identity during the authority of President Soeharto.

Above all, the exhibition also serves as a homecoming celebration of Andra Matin’s Elevation where the installation was originally displayed in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, FREESPACE in Venice last year. Indeed, out of all the works displayed, Matter and Place is undeniably anchored by Elevation. The fact that Andra Matin is the only architect whose work is shown among other established artists is certainly not a snide remark. Matter and Place is an open-ended conversation on the nature of contemporary art that covers a multitude of disciplines.