A pillar of the historical axis in Paris and bordered by the Arc de Triomphe, the Avenue des Champs-Elysee is one of the most famous streets in the world, and a vibrant center for high-end fashion and art galleries, from the massive Grand Palais to a new hidden art space by Louis Vuitton. The Louis Vuitton Culturel Espace, located on the seventh floor of the fashion brand’s flagship Paris store, is hosting the exhibition “Transfiguration: Indonesian Mythologies,” curated by Herve Mikaeloff. The show opened in June and runs through the end of October. “Transfiguration” features 11 upcoming and promising Indonesian artists, instead of simply promoting already-established ones. The works featured in the show not only show a wide variety of forms and styles, but also highlight the different backgrounds of the participating artists. The works tell the complex story of Indonesian social history, from the tension of post-colonialism and feudalism to statements of individuality and Indonesia’s place in a globalized world. The exhibition features mostly visual artists, including Eko Nugroho and Mella Jaarsma. One of the most familiar names in the show is the film director Garin Nugroho, who has recently expanded into performance and visual arts. Eko Prawoto, an architect and artist, created a bamboo temple inside Culturel Espace with nearly a whole shipping container’s worth of reeds from his hometown of Yogyakarta. Eko transforms the foyers, creating a new atmosphere that evokes a sense of nature with a blocked, minimalist architectural design. J. Ariadhitya Pramuhendra, a young, prominent Indonesian artist, has a combination of installations, paintings and drawings at “Transfiguration.” A clean white floor and wall contrast Pramuhendra’s black materials: charcoal, burned chairs and ashes. One of his works, “Absolution Installation,” presents a burned and ruined priest’s chair, surrounded by ashes. Behind the chairs is the confession table facing a large painting of Pramuhendra’s sister in a pose resembling the crucifixion. Jompet Kuswidananto presents two video works. “War of Java, Do You Remember?” depicts the modernization of Java and the complex influences that have shaped Indonesian identity. “Java holds particular interest for [Jompet], because of the complexity and diversity of its people,” according to the artist’s biography for the show. His other video work, “Pilgrims and Plague,” is a philosophical dialogue about people on a cultural quest. Garin’s sculpture installation and video feature new looks at some of his old movies, and underline the strong female and mother figures in his work. In the middle of the rotunda room where Garin’s work is displayed, a sculpture of a woman’s body floats, held by traditional woven tools connected to the roof. Another video artist, Tintin Wulia, displays her well-known passport installation, “(Re)Collection of Togetherness,” which is presented as an interactive game where visitors can try their luck applying for citizenship to a particular country. Her newest video work, which connects the story of “(Re)Collection” and the geo-political background behind the work, is also on display. Agung Kurniawan offers new pieces made from wire. They tell the story of his father passing away and forgetting moments from his life. “This project was born when [Agung] came across some old family photographs and realized that even though those snapshots depicted moments of radical change in his family’s life, he couldn’t remember any of them,” according to the artist’s biography for the show. “The wire sculptures become the symbolic link between truncated memories and reality.” One of Agung’s pieces shows several stacked graves with men in the background walking away. Through the use of lighting, the wires cast shadows and give depth and a phantasmic quality to the work. The white spaces in Tintin’s and Agung’s installations offer a huge contrast from the comical and colorful drawings, paintings and embroideries of Arie Dyanto, Bayu Widodo and Eko Nugroho — all artists from Yogyakarta. Other works include a 30-meter corridor by Eko, one of the best known mural artists in Indonesia, that tells the stories of everyday people living in Paris. Another artist, Mella, who is known for her costume work, composed a sculpture of two figures fighting. The combatants are covered by embroidered emblems copied from the packaging of obat kuat (herbal virility medicines). Artist Heri Dono has two paintings in the show and an installation, “Angels Face to the Future.” In “Angles,” 10 robot angels with mythological faces show the complex interaction between technology and mythology. “Transfiguration: Indonesian Mythologies” is a great leap for some of the country’s young contemporary artists onto the global stage at the Avenue des Champs-Elysee. And these younger artists prove to be great ambassadors for Indonesian art by expressing different opinions, aesthetics and world views in their work. Rather than trite assertions about the booming Indonesian art market, the exhibition in Paris introduces another way of looking at Indonesian society today. taken from The Jakarta Globe

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