Approaching my topic’s active subjects in the roles of conversationalist, story-keeper and -amplifier, much of my research focuses on post-/modernist Indonesian female artists. Here, I investigate the relationship of a few select contemporary artists to the market for modern art that has developed nationally, regionally, and globally in the last 20 plus years.
The modern art world in Indonesia includes a broad spectrum of women artists, working with a variety of genres, styles and intentions. Within every group one can define, however, women’s representation in the publicly visible parts of the art world — exhibitions, museums, galleries and art auctions — is disproportionately less than their numbers. When they are featured, they are often ghettoized in women-only exhibitions. This contradicts the fact that these artists see themselves as artists first, not as ‘women artists’; only a few of them embrace the word ‘feminist;’ yet all of them recognize the differential in art world visibility given to male and female artists.
What are some of the strategies that allow Indonesian women artists to keep working? Where there is little gallery representation for women, a gallery just for women artists? Where there is little museum-collecting of women’s art, a museum specifically for women’s art? Where there is little institutional or individual patronage of buying, selling and collecting art made by women artists, informal venues are created and cultivated. This paper, inter-weaving voices and analysis, will explore the anatomy of Indonesian women artists’ presence within, and stances towards, formal and informal art market venues locally and globally today.