Pillowtak: Syagini Ratna Wulan July 08 2019
Suku is a female created, and female led business and as a brand one of our core tenants has been supporting and uplifting girls. We are constantly in awe of the creative women we encounter from all over the world, and Syagini is no different. Born and raised amid volcanoes and fields, in Bandung Indonesia, Syagini turned to a career in art. Her installations speak to contemporary Indonesian culture with a focus on the feminine, the every-day life and self-reflective humour. Her works have been exhibited all across the world, with her group work being exhibited most recently at the prestigious Venice Biennale. We took a moment to talk to her about what life in Indonesia feels like for her, what inspires her artistic practice and what it means to be a female artist in a screen-driven contemporary landscape.
Slow mornings or long nights?
How do you set the tone for your day?
Wake up early - sunbathing with my cats - ginger tumeric shot - wash my face - put make up first while enjoying the rest of the morning - either reading or drawing - have a cig with friends at the office - take a bath later haha - then work work work
Books or podcasts?
Can I get both
Tell us about your hometown of Bandung in Java, what are the special smells and sights that make up your home?
The city of laid back life, at the right pace. In Bandung you have more time to go out, think, stop and smell the roses. But what so special to me is the smell of the trees and the soil in endless spring weather, also the smell of passing by bakso (meatbowl trucks) - Constantly reminds me of my childhood when it was just me and my bike.
How would you describe what you do?
I studied fine art and ended up as an artist. I gave birth to a baby girl and ended up as a mother too. But I think I could do almost everything except singing. I wish the day was more than 24hrs long.
Do you remember a moment in your life when you realised that you would pursue art as your career?
I was accepted is an architecture major at first and then fine art later. But I thought getting into art school was the easier option - no math and it was like a very long holiday.
What was the process like creating a collaborative piece for the Venice Biennale?
It was a very quick and difficult process, we had only 2.5 months, so the best option was to push our way of doing things based on our intuition and subconscious thought and also our highest ability of acceptance.
How did you want to interpret and represent the proverb “akal tak sekali datang, runding tak sekali tiba” in your contribution to the Indonesian pavilion at the biennale?
It’s a Minang proverb “akal tak sekali datang, runding tak sekali tiba.” Translating literally to “reason recurs, and consideration arrives never just once,” It tells about how things come to one’s senses through long, enduring processes of negotiation. The basic of our mind, and our self, is then perceived as reiterating—adapting through changes while assigning meanings in brevity of time. It is about identifying, and the many manifestations of our saturated comprehension while trying to make sense and continually looking for lost verses.
What’s the future of contemporary art in the digital age?
I believe in the digital era, there are a lot of opportunities to distribute information. Every new era results in a new cultural paradigm and for contemporary art this is a fun time, because there is a lot more subject matter that we can discuss.
How do you see our addiction to screens affect our consumption of art and creativity?
I gain creativity more when I’m off screen. Discussing with friends, creating, reading books, playing with my cats. There is more time for me to think and contemplate. This screen culture can be a trap because it makes you only look at things from the surface and wanting everything instantly - like what you see on your screen.
What is it like to be a female artist in Indonesia today?
It’s very convenient to be a female artist in Indonesia, there is a lot of help from workers and your fellow male artist. It’s a privilege actually. However I wish there were more females artist in Indonesia, because the more we have, the stronger our art scene will become in the international arena.
What project are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on pieces for a few art fairs, and I have my solo show in Exit Gallery Hong Kong this November 2019, then Silverlens gallery Manila mid 2020… while also preparing my second (and my last) wedding party in between haha.
If you could have a conversation with any person in the world, who would it be and what is one question you would want to ask them?
Timothy Morton, a wild thinker who embraces anarchism. He can draw the line between Buddhism and OOO (Object Oriented Ontology) in an argument for solidarity with all that exists. One question I would ask him; “Would you assist and guide me through my thinking and creative process now and days ahead?”