Sunday, May 6, 2012

Female Discrimination

All my life, I have been a woman. A woman in a patriachal society. My homeland Indonesia has a rich history and culture which unfortunately includes traditional societal expectations under which women have obediently placed themselves, victims of sexism in their own homes. Women in my country willingly subject themselves to male order and admonition throughout their lives, and as a result have enforced the belief that women should traditionally be regarded as subordinate to men. I, like most other Indonesian women, live by the rules made by and for men: "masak, macak and manak (cook, make herself up and have children)" are my primary functions. 

My art is a reflection of myself and the way in which I interpret this environment, inseparable from the social conditions of my home Yogyakarta. The view that a wife's status depends on her husband and the status of a girl depends on her father and male siblings is still prevalent in my society, in this modern day and age. People often say that the word "wanita (a woman)" is derived from the Javanese words "wani (to dare)" and "tata (to order)", which then means a wanita is a non-male being who "dares to be ordered". 

To express the situation I am in, my  work often deals with themes of cultural status quo as a female in my male-dominated society, as well as being Catholic in a Muslim environment.  My art is a reflection of myself, as affected by the social and political climate in my homeland.

Born in Central Java in 1959, I was a victim of domestic violence. This troubled background has greatly influenced me, encouraging me to integrate the personal pain and struggles I have been subject to in my artworks.

Spying Eyes (1989)

 I feel so passive, so vulnerable and always listen to what the men say.
The sense of terror I feel is indescribable... as I struggle to be myself
No one is here, I am all alone and I have to face the stares and judgment of those around me.

"Spying Eyes" shows a sleeping female figure who is the object of spying, gazing and scrutinising. This is what I told the reporters when I tried to explain myself, "It tells of my obsession with eyes, especially human (spying) eyes, which frighten me very much. They follow me wherever I go and always want to watch my business."

I feel passively lost in a dream world, trapped in a maze of societal expectations and cultural traditions. Cloth billows all around me, and I feel as though I am constantly floating along on this journey, a zig zag path ahead leading nowhere, and

I have no idea where I am going.


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