Mizuma Gallery is pleased to announce Baroque Archipelago, a group exhibition curated by Tan Siuli, featuring Indonesian artists Agan Harahap, Budi Agung Kuswara, LULU LUTFI LABIBI, Mella Jaarsma, Octora, and TOTON. Baroque Archipelago brings contemporary art and fashion in conversation with one another, to illuminate parallel approaches in creation and exploration of current issues.

The exhibition title makes reference to both the baroque pearl as well as the Indonesian archipelago; the latter — spanning over 13,000 islands and a stunningly diverse spectrum of cultures, ethnicities and topographies — is compared to the former, an irregularly-shaped pearl celebrated precisely for its asymmetry and organic form. Embedded in the metaphor of the pearl is the process of its creation. It is formed when a foreign object is lodged within the interior of a mollusc; as a defensive mechanism, layers of nacre are secreted to envelop the external irritant, and these subsequently develop into a prized pearl. This process of formation may be likened to the Nusantara’s negotiation of the diverse and multi-faceted cultural landscape encompassed within its geographical and national boundaries, as well as with the foreign cultures that journeyed to its shores, in the process adopting and evolving these into something uniquely ‘Indonesian’.

Turning on ideas of adornment, desire and difference, Baroque Archipelago shines a spotlight on Indonesian creatives reinterpreting and reworking Indonesia’s rich traditions, and on the archipelago as an exemplar of the region’s syncretic culture, borrowing and adapting from diverse sources and cultures to evolve a distinct and unique sensibility. The notion of a syncretic identity (as opposed to a monolithic one) is also explored as a strategy of resistance against essentialist nationalism. In addition, the art and fashion creations on display question social and cultural norms and their evolution, especially as they relate to notions of identity, gender and power. In Indonesia, artists and designers often collaborate with each other and form a supportive, close-knit community; this exhibition is in many ways a celebration of these creative synergies and relationships.