Exhibition by Indonesian artists explores 'food politics'

New Delhi


Works of art by promising Indonesian artists, depicting the global-local politics of food practices in South Asian countries, are the focus of an ongoing exhibition here.

The exhibition titled "The Food Diplomacy: Makan Ngga Makan Asal Kumpul", is open at the Korean Cultural Centre till July 30.

Curated by M. Haryo Hutomo, the exhibition features seven Indonesian artists and wrestles with questions about public consumption practices, production and distribution of food. This way it takes food out of its usual culinary discourse, forcing one to think of its broader social role.

In its wide ambit of themes, the exhibition showcases food production and distribution modes, minor narratives of Indonesia's socio-political history related to food sovereignty, contemporary trade politics in the snack industry, spices and herbs as alternative medicine, and the future relationship between arts and technological creativity.

Adi Sundoro artistically recreates the food distribution process of global companies using their transportation tools.

Another presenting exhibitor, a food study group named Bakudapan, believes that food isn't restricted just about cooking -- its history and conservation, but also an instrument to speak on politics, society and economy.

Here, they are exploring politics of food during a dark socio-political era of Indonesian history -- the civil unrest of the 1960s -- that also changed agrarian laws.

Fransisca Retno's new-media art works inform people of the negative effects popular foods have on our health. 

Popular Jakarta-based artist Natasha Gabriella Tontey, who is known for her out-of-the-box art, features in the show with her imaginative work about the sustainable future led by pests.

Also on view are installation and video works by XXLab about the process of industrial waste that produces tofu into ready-made fabrics.

Inaugurating the exhibition last week, Indonesian Ambassador Sidharto Reza Suryodipuro shared how food was an "expression of culture" and culture was the forefront of diplomacy.

"Some Asian countries that have similar cultural backgrounds are also similar in terms of food relations, bio-political practices and its changing practices on the way people consume without considering where the food comes from," said the Korean Cultural Centre, a cultural offshoot of the South Korean Embassy in Delhi. IANS