Melati Suryodarmo

b. 1969 in Surakarta, Indonesia
Working in Gross Gleidingen, Germany; and Surakarta, Indonesia
Showing at Asia Society Museum
On view from March 16, 2021, through June 27, 2021

Melati Suryodarmo, IF WE WERE XYZ, 2019. Performed at Asia Society, 2019. Courtesy the artist. Photograph by Ellen Wallop

Melati Suryodarmo maintains a multidisciplinary practice, which spans choreography, installation, photography, video, and durational performance. This is informed by the artist’s ongoing research into the physical and psychological manifestations of the self and its relationship to the world through the lens of memory, identity, and sociopolitical histories. Suryodarmo received a BA in international-relations studies from the Universitas Padjadjaran, Sumedang, in 1993; a BA in fine art and an MA in performance art from the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig in 2001 and 2002, respectively; and a PhD in artistic research/art as practice, from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts Surakarta in 2016. In 2012, Suryodarmo founded Studio Plesungan, an art space for performance artists, and in 2017 she served as artistic director for the 17th Jakarta Biennale.

Drawing equally upon Javanese mysticism, neuroscience, and Freudian psychology, If We Were XYZ delves into the realm of dreams as they pertain to the slumbering subconscious and the conscious manifestation of desire. This multimedia project was developed from the artist’s 2019 performance of the same title, commissioned as part of Asia Society’s Creative Common Ground initiative. This trio of videos, inspired by Goya’s 1799 etching, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, and incorporating the artist’s REM waves as documented in a sleep laboratory, leads the viewer through the scientific, surreal, and psychological landscape of our dreams as an attempt to understand the impact of the subconscious on our daily activities.