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Taboo and Transgression in Contemporary Indonesian Art

Common to all the works in this exhibition is an exploration of the fragility of borders, surfaces, and boundaries within which cracks inevitably expose what has been hidden by social, cultural, or political taboos. Behind taboo lie social norms, power, and consensus, and transgression becomes its dissenting voice in a variety of subtle forms. Like cuts through skin, a partially drawn curtain, the moment between sleep and wakefulness, or an unzipped zipper, the artworks in this exhibition imply enclosure, exposure, erasure, and disclosure. They demonstrate that just as surfaces and boundaries define space, they are also psychologically and socially defined and controlled.

The exhibition has been organized by the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and curated by Amanda Katherine Rath, Cornell PhD candidate in the History of Art. The exhibition is supported by a major grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. It has also received support from the Cornell Council for the Arts and Cornell Southeast Asia Program.

The Museum is grateful to the artists and lenders for sharing their works with our visitors. Special thanks go to Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, for all their efforts on behalf of the exhibition.

View images from the exhibition.