19 Okt Makassar Biennale 2017: Welcome to Maritime (Visual) Arts
Biennale activities become an important event as well as an important site marking the development of culture in a city. This kind of event has long been held in various cities, it is packaged in the form of international festivals that bring together various types of ideas or artistic practices.
This is started from La Biennale in Venice first held in 1895, following other cities around the world—from Sao Paulo, Havana, Gwangju, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Busan, Berlin, Porto Alegre to Singapore. In Indonesia, there are five areas conducting similar activities, namely Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Sumatra, and Makassar. In addition to being a showcase of various forms and the latest artistic strategies every two years, it also becomes a conversation space knowledge of various circles related issues or certain ideas.
As the youngest biennale fine art in Indonesia, Makassar Biennale also directs itself as a space of knowledge exchange with art aim, it is not just an artistic nuanced display.
In the first event, in 2015, Makassar Biennale carried a title of Trajectory, which attempted to climb the art history milestones in South Sulawesi. This was started from Parietal Art which was inscribed on the walls of Leang-Leang cave, Maros, roughly forty thousand years ago, Girlan art (roadside) that marked the beginning of the emergence of modern art in South Sulawesi, to the various art forms that developed in the 2000s. This event is, at the same time, a new marker for art in South Sulawesi that less active in the last fifteen years.
Finished the first event, the art groups in the city of Makassar began to be re-mapped. Some communities with artistic modes previously are not viewed as art practices, then they are starting to emerge. What is more, it is the same as young artists which are scattered in this city, they are trying to be embraced and encouraged to become part of the next Makassar Biennale event. This is used as a tactic to deal with the lack of art worker resources such as art handlers in Makassar City, which is indispensable in large scale activities.
Furthermore, as a part of events in 2015, it also conducted public education programs through the symposium, exhibition tours, and workshops of art writing. The latest becomes quite strategic, as in the city of Makassar there are quite a lot of potential young writers, but all of them are very rarely interested in the writing of fine art. Hence, Biennale is also one way to build the infrastructure and intellectual world resources, especially related to the art scene in Makassar.
‘Trajectory’ was the first theme of events, it will be the trigger in concept theme for the second event of this year. Trajectory’s headline was a wide theme because it departed from the reading of the sociocultural context and the art form of South Sulawesi in a very general way. Nevertheless, there are interesting findings in the framework of the initial reading, one of the things that it has not been picked up in the previous event was maritime.
Talking of maritime culture in South Sulawesi is almost never attributed to the local art practices. At least, the notion of maritime is merely seen in terms of artistic expression like in decorative or realist paintings of the sea and the ship of Pinisi. In fact, it is too much another potential that allows us to read together.
It can be seen when Parietal Art in the form of 12 works of hand stencil and painting pigs in Leang-Leang crowded were talked about, people just focus on the age which is much older than similar findings in France and Spain. The conversation missed the fact that the cave karts were once also directly adjacent to the shoreline. It cannot be ignored that they live as coastal people who daily stare and live from the sea. The pile of shellfish which was consumed was not scattered just like that, it stacked in a certain place, and it had turned into a kind of aesthetic installation of ancient in a long time.
Similarly, discussing the historical record of this region, like the golden age of the Gowa-Tallo Kingdom, it was one of the largest maritime empires that developed from the early 16th century. We can imagine how important the findings and the relationship between art and knowledge.
When King Tumapa’risi Kallonna ruled at that time, he made the first non-territorial office in this kingdom called sabarana (syahbandar) held by Daeng Pamatte. The Gowa chronicles attached the inventor of the Makassar script to this figure, although most likely there had been a hundred years earlier, this was the first time the country had used it (Gibson 197: 2009). Shortly after, Tunipallangga (1548-1565), spearhead innovation and lighter shields and gunpowder production and bullet-making for rifles also took a place (Ibid.). Then, in the 17th century, Karaeng Pattingalloang and Amanna Gappa, two clever people cosmopolitan character were alive.
Pattingalloang was the figure behind the triumph of Gowa-Tallo at that time, diplomacy expert and a master consolidator crazy about science. He was ordering rare items such as the globe, world map, and binoculars (Lombard in Arsuka, 2000). Amanna Gappa, a Wajo matoa in the Gowa-Tallo Kingdom, became the founder of the famous maritime law, Ade ‘Allopi-Loping Ribicaranna Pa’balu’e or Amanna Gappa’s Shipping and Trade Law (O. L. Tobing, 1961).
From the above examples and historical accounts we can say that the values of creativity, as a bias of the exchange of knowledge between humans from different regions, it promoted progress and maturity of civilization in certain regions through the maritime world.
As a result, the art of maritime union can no longer be limited by simply referring to certain visual forms. What is also very basic is the ‘reason’ about how maritime issues are placed as frames in the artist’s creative process in order to not get caught up in visual form exoticism. At this point, the maritime will try to adopt as the theme of Makassar Biennale II event. Through this event, various possibilities in maritime issues will be explored with an artistic approach.
Establishing maritime as a major theme of this event would also be its own bargaining power, in addition to the position of Makassar as a harbor city that grew during two major trading periods in Indonesia, it was the spice trade and trading periods and the sea cucumber industry which made this harbor the center. Nowadays, Makassar as a portal is a strategic liaison door in the contemporary Indonesian context.
By taking this absolute advantage, it should make maritime issues as the hallmark of Makassar Biennale especially in contact with other issues. Discussing maritime is like discussing the issues of human life that are related. This event envisions itself as a great container that also gives advice (even solutions) related to a better human life.
This notion also has the same thing with one of the visions of the Jokowi-JK cabinet that wants to restore Indonesia’s soul as a maritime axis of the world. It has also similar starting point that is anxiety over the attitude of the Indonesian leading back to the ocean and going far away places for hundreds of years. In fact, 160 million Indonesians (60 percent) live in coastal areas. This event is expected to be one important step to realize that vision.