The works in this exhibition by Indonesian artists, Bulan Fi Sabilliah and Fitri DK, comment on the Indonesian New Order’s legacy of the primacy of prescribed beauty ideals and women’s domestic and reproductive roles over public and political roles. The artists’ playful images expose societal norms and offer alternatives to understanding women’s position in society that defy the restrictions of domesticity and beauty ideals and highlight the empowering and agentic potential of women’s solidarity and organising against patriarchal norms. The artists use print-making techniques as a reference to the medium’s role in the dissemination of information against the New Order regime and into Reformasi to advocate for social justice.
Fitri DK, uses graphic art techniques such as woodcut and etching to critique and initiate dialogue on social and environmental issues. Fitri is committed to raising women’s issues through art and music. Fitri is lives and works in the South of Yogyakarta, Indonesia and is an active member of the SURVIVE!Garage community, Taring Padi art collective. Fitri is also lead vocalist of the band Dendang Kampungan. Over the past decade, Fitri has exhibited in Australia, Europe and the United States, as well as throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Instagram: fitridk
My works record many memorable or important events in my life. This body of work is inspired by the Women’s March, a political action that I participated in 2019 in Yogyakarta. The Women’s March was organised to celebrate International Women’s Day. This worldwide movement of solidarity, held in cities all across the world, draws on global challenges and encourages social, cultural, legal, and economic changes at the local levels so that women’s rights are recognized, fulfilled, and protected.
The Women’s March in Yogyakarta in 2019 highlighted the ongoing local issues of violence against LGBTQI groups, protection of domestic workers and migrant workers, child marriage, dating violence, and protection of sex workers. I hope that through my artworks, I can spread the message to the world that gender rights are an essential part of human rights.
Bulan Fi Sabilillah
Bulan Fi Sabilillah is a visual artist living in the South of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Bulan works with the medium of print and etching to discuss social issues. Her concerns are predominately about challenging beauty ideals imposed by a patriarchal society and imposed on young women by social media. Her messages are of body positivity and acceptance. Bulan is a recent graduate of ISI, the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta. Instagram: Bulalalan
Commentary on people’s bodies – particularly women’s bodies – is part of everyday life in Indonesia. For example, when you meet a friend in the street, often the first thing they will comment is your physical appearance; your weight and the colour of your skin. Digital media often reinforces this everyday practice to comment and make comparisons on people’s appearances. Often people don’t understand the impact this seemingly meaningless ‘banter’ has on people’s self-esteem.
My religion teaches women that they must cover their aurat – their bodies. However, men are not required to change at all. This leads to unjust outcomes. In cases of sexual violence, often society and the media consider the woman to be responsible because she wasn’t covering her body and becomes re-victimised, as a victim of stigma.
All of these experiences, both personal and from society at large, form the basis of this series. As a young woman living in Indonesia, I want to share my interpretation of what positive body image means, and provide a perspective on why women should feel body confident without being forced to cover it or compare to others, or be discriminated against.