Melati Suryodarmo

One of the highlights of the OzAsia Festival’s visual arts program is internationally renowned performance artist Melati Suryodarmo.

Suryodarmo will perform a world premiere live durational performance event 24,901 Miles, at the Artspace Gallery at the Adelaide Festival Centre. 24,901 Miles is being performed across two days and because of the spontaneous nature of performance art, you never know exactly what to expect. OzAsia Artistic Director Joseph Mitchell: “I didn’t really want to bring out an existing performance artwork because for me performance art is about the realisation of something for the first time and the risk involved with that.” In addition to the live performance there is also an exhibition of documentation of previous live performances and video works at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia and the Artspace Gallery. Mitchell thought it was important to run the exhibition along with the performance piece, so as to present Suryodamo’s work within some sort of context. “All these questions around distance, place and geography has propelled her to create a new work and I thought that’s what performance art is about,” Mitchell says. “I thought it would be a really interesting insight for Australians to see not just live performance art but live performance art by a cutting edge artist from Indonesia.” Suryodarmo became a worldwide sensation when a documentation of her performance piece Exergie-butter dance, 2000 (performed in Malmö, Sweden in 2010) was posted on YouTube. The original music was later replaced by Adele’s hit Someone Like You, sending the clip viral. “I do not mind people discussing it in a different way, because, I always think, once you are ready to put your work out for the public, it does not belong to you anymore,” Suryodarmo says. “Of course you are the creator or the person who owns the authorship, but we live among this kind of unpredictable and uncontrolled numbers of people.” Indonesian-born Suryodarmo studied in Germany under the prominent performance artist Marina Abramovic. “I have been working for the last 10 years on my ongoing research especially, considering how the body as the container of memories and historic, genetic and cultural substance, is taking place, or displaced, being attached and detached to and from its origin, its nurturing, its nature,” Suryodarmo says. 24,901 Miles draws on Suryodarmo’s interest in the human body and displacement. “Although I started from my personal experience as a migrating person, I became more interested in the complex chains between cultural and political identity and the very basic human need, which is a shelter, a home,” she says. Referring to the length of the equator, the work looks at the symbolism of the circle, where the starting point is the same as the end point. “Many human philosophies are using the circle to picture cyclic human organic, social and psychological change,” she says. “I am inspired by the human’s resistance during the process of finding or creating home, it does not matter whether it happens in their own origin or elsewhere.” For Suryodarmo, the medium of performance art is all about the human body and movement with dance a big influence on her work, particularly Japanese butoh, which she learnt from well-known dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa. “I love it when the main medium of an artwork is the body. It has the value of imperfectness, as life itself,” she says. “It also confronts the essence of presence, through its conceptual aspect and the physical beings within the actions.”   24,901 Miles Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre Friday, September 25 to Saturday, September 26   Selected Works Contemporary Art Centre of SA Wednesday, September 9 to Sunday, September 2   Artspace Gallery, Adelaide Festival Centre Wednesday, September 9 to Sunday, October 4   adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au/ozasia-festival

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