Frieze SeoulCOEX, Seoul, South Korea2 - 5 September 2022
ROH Frieze Seoul

ROH is pleased to share its participation at Frieze Seoul 2022, its inaugural edition, exhibiting a site-specific, research-based installation by Bagus Pandega and Kei Imazu, two of the gallery’s represented artists.

Bagus Pandega (b. 1985, Jakarta, Indonesia) and Kei Imazu (b.1980, Yamaguchi, Japan) focus on kinetic multimedia installations and painting respectively, and they reside in Bandung, Indonesia. Despite building further their own distinctive aesthetic languages, the two artists have been building a body of collaborative work as well that delves into the relationships between ecological and sociopolitical histories of their surrounding environments. In the case of their presentation at Frieze Seoul, they draw reference from the local colloquialism Tanah Air, literally translated as “land and water”, but metaphorically as the entire archipelago of Indonesia. 

ROH Frieze Seoul

This new body of work is based on research upon the Lusi Isle on the coast of Sidoarjo, East Java. The name Lusi is portmanteau for Lumpur Sidoarjo (Sidoarjo Mud), a 94-hectare island that was formed due to the largest recorded mud volcano spillage in recorded history. In 2006, the first hot mud eruption occurred from a natural gas well at Sidoarjo Regency, East Java, which has not ceased until now and has been declared a national disaster. The mud has since then continued flowing into the Porong River, resulting in the shallowing of the riverbed and has gradually formed the Lusi isle. The eruption has displaced thousands of people in the surrounding villages and communities, as well as causing billions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure, property, and ecology. The mineral content of both water currents and soil topographies surrounding the site have been altered in an intractable manner. 

In a series of interviews with a local shrimp farmer, they discovered that local aquaculture farmers have found means to recover their livelihoods through innovations in ecological harvesting strategies by planting mangrove plantations in select locations to filter the water from the mineral impurities and sediment caused by the Lusi disaster. The mangrove plantations have also allowed for the possibilities of a new ecosystem involving mangrove crabs, fin fish, and clams. Whenever the water becomes overflown by the mud once again, the crabs and other lifeforms begin to die and float around the mangrove roots, signaling the farmers to fix the possibly broken embankment. The clams also act as biological water indicators and are also cultivated to filter and absorb hazardous materials from the water. The development of these strategies, alongside other indigenous responses, are made possible and have been kept intact by the local communities of aquaculture farmers, all working collaboratively to help each other adapt and survive.

Based on their observations, Imazu has developed a new body of work consisting of When Facing the Mud (Response of Shrimp Farmers in Sidoarjo) (2022), an expansive diptych depicting an aerial view of Lusi and its mudflow towards the ocean, as well as the geographical locations of mines and strata of soil that depict layers of time in its topography. Imazu’s painting places in juxtaposition with each other a map of the Porong Regency with scenes from the shrimp farmer’s personal narrative and biological cycles putting in picture the silvofishery system. To further illustrate life after the disaster, Imazu shows When Facing the Mud (Putra) (2022), a two-channel video projection on a pair of silkscreen that present their conversations with a local shrimp farmer. Imazu has also developed a number of intimately scaled paintings to further express more quotidian textures pertaining to the interviewed farmer and his daily cycle of life. 

In conversation, Pandega has developed Cycle (2022), a complex DIY 3D-printing machine that utilizes mud samples taken directly from Lusi Isle as a medium and prints sculptures throughout the duration of the presentation in a constant cycle based on the mud. Cycle prints architectural structures constantly based on a decrepit house Pandega came across as he visited Lusi. Every day, Cycle will be constructing the mud house repeatedly, then destroyed repeatedly, in a continuous manner. 

In addition to the constantly house-building 3D-printed machine, Pandega will also show Grey Pool (2022), a sculptural visualization of the mud spillage. An aerial mapping of the affected area made out of Plexiglass is attached to a mist machine representing the continuity of the mud spillage today. 

In both the works of Imazu and Pandega, destruction and regeneration are not binary concepts that interject upon each other, but instead form necessary conditions by which the other exists. The emphasis on the project, therefore, is not so much as critique towards manmade disasters or the Anthropocene, but rather in relation to our capacity to be resilient and adaptive to the ever-changing.

Born 1985, Jakarta, Indonesia
Lives and works in Bandung, Indonesia

Working primarily through the medium of installation, Bagus Pandega often challenges pre-conditioned relationships between objects and its viewer. In his works, Pandega assembles various electronic systems as ‘modules’ and explores objects such as voice recorders, cassette and record players, lamps and electronic circuit boards— among others— to construct his works. Many of his artworks become activated through the interaction of movement, sound and light. 

Pandega graduated from Bandung Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Arts (Fine Art) in 2008, majoring in sculpture. Pandega’s selected solo exhibitions include A Pervasive Rhythm at Yamamoto Gendai, Tokyo, Japan (2018); Random Black, ROH Projects, Jakarta, Indonesia (2016); and A Monument That Tells Anything, Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2015). Selected group exhibitions include Frieze Seoul with ROH, Seoul, South Korea (2022); WAGIWAGI at documenta fifteen, Hübner areal, Kassel, Germany (2022); Declaring Distance: Bandung — Leiden, Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung, Indonesia (2022); ArtJog MMXIX: Common Space, Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2019); Paris Internationale with ROH, Paris, France (2018); all of which feature his collaborative practice with Kei Imazu; Art Basel Hong Kong with ROH, Hong Kong (2023); The 10th Asia Pacific Triennial at QAGOMA, Brisbane, Australia (2021-2022); Tiger Orchid presented at Art Basel OVR: Miami Beach (2020); Condo London at Project Native Informant, London, UK (2020); Ripples: Continuity in Indonesian Contemporary Art at Taipei Dangdai, Taipei, Taiwan (2019); Distorted Alteration at Project Fulfill, Taipei, Taiwan (2018); Amsterdam Light Festival, Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2017); and Clandestine Transgression at Art Basel Hong Kong: Discoveries with ROH Projects, Hong Kong (2015). After winning third place at Bandung Contemporary Art Awards #2, Pandega completed his first residency at Le Centre Intermondes, La Rochelle, France in 2012. A nominee of the 2016 Sovereign Art Prize, Pandega had also collaborated with Adi Purnomo and Irwan Ahmett in presenting Freedome, Indonesia Pavilion at the London Design Biennale: Utopia by Design in 2016.

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Copyright belongs to The Artists

Photography by Kei Imazu

Courtesy of The Artists and ROH