About a year ago, Museum MACAN held an exhibition Melati Suryodarmo: Why Let the Chicken Run? Unknown to us all, the year took a different turn and its debut was short-lived; two weeks after its opening, the museum, and every other public space in the city, were compelled to close their doors, as the then-novel COVID-19 pandemic struck.
For the remainder of 2020, Museum MACAN utilised the digital space as the safest, most convenient way to keep museum experiences accessible to the public and art conversations going. Despite the pandemic, the gallery relied on technology to bring a series of virtual exhibitions, curatorial discussions and museum-related activities to keep the spirit and excitement for art alive.
Sure, life went on virtually but the longing for museum trips continue to linger—the physical experience of walking through exhibitions and relishing in art pieces in real-time and real-life remain irreplaceable. So, by following strict health and safety protocols, Museum MACAN’s reopening is hoping to welcome its regulars and new visitors to revel in art again like we used to.
Museum MACAN’s reopening will feature five different exhibitions, three of which are brand new including Stories Across Rising Lands, Semesta dan Angan (Multiverses and Dreams: Selections from the Collection of Museum MACAN, UOB Museum MACAN Children’s Artspace Commissions Tales of Nowhere by Citra Sasmita, and two of which are resumed from last year: Melati Suryodarmo: Why Let the Chicken Run? and Children’s Art Space Commissions Color in Cave by Mit Jai Inn.
Stories Across Rising Lands is an exhibition discussed during the pandemic and finally made its debut in the museum reopening. Partnering with ASEAN, ASEAN Foundation, and ASEAN Korea Cooperation Fund, the exhibition features eight individual artists from across Southeast Asia, touching on social, political, and cultural expanses expressed on photography, mix-media art, installations and performance art.
Diverse topics such as roles of women in society, homelands and immigration, the notion of time, consumerism, collaboration, and individuality and identity are heavily discussed. Some notable pieces include Saleh Husein’s Arabien Controlled Territory, which probes the life of Arab communities during the Indonesian colonial period, Lim Kok Yoong’s Licensed to Wait, where the Malaysian artist explores the process of waiting expressed on a projection video and fishing platform installation, and Kawita Vatanajyankur from Thailand, with a performance piece entitled Knit, which critiques the condition of female labours in the textile industry.
As visitors walk through the other side of the exhibition hall, they will encounter Semesta dan Angan or Multiverses and Dreams: Selections from the Collection of Museum MACAN. The exhibition comments on how artists from around the world explore realities through diverse perspectives; straddling the realm between reality and multiple and subjective realities, these contemplations reveal unique understandings and perspectives of the world around us. Alluding to the pandemic, the exhibition also engages the audience to reflect and question their own perspective and imagine different narratives for the future.
Some striking pieces from Semesta dan Angan include Multiverses and futures (2017) by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson with kaleidoscopic installations that reflect and divide the world around us into new vistas, Portrait of Grace Jones (1986) a major work by Keith Haring, and Just Deserts (1978) by American artist James Rosenquist, who was one of the key figures of Pop Art movement, exploring everyday objects and advertising imageries. Other notable pieces by local artists in this exhibition include Photon Highway (2017) by Bandung-based artist Bandu Darmawan, and performance object and installation titled Potret Diri Sebagai Kaum Munafik (2017) by Tisna Sanjaya.
Visitors can also walk through two children’s art spaces, one entitled Tales of Nowhere by Citra Sasmita, which is inspired by classic Balinese stories and folktales and also Color in Cave by Mit Jai Inn, an exhibition comeback where visitors can explore the vibrant environment of the well-lit cave, now with limited interactions inside the exhibition. While Melati Suryodarmo: Why Let the Chicken Run? also returns as a continuation of where it left off last year, exploring Melati’s long-duration performances and artistic journey, spanning across 25 years.
As Museum MACAN welcomes its visitors back, the museum will continue to put safety and health protocols as a priority during this time. Aaron Seeto, Director of Museum MACAN said, “As we reopen our doors, we invite the public to work with us to ensure the highest standards of health and safety so that art lovers may once again encounter art in person.”
Museum MACAN will continue its virtual exhibitions, online programmes, activities on the website and across its social media platforms. For those planning to visit the museum, visit www.museummacan.org for more information on ticket purchases, time slots availability, and other news.