ROH is pleased to present murmur, an exhibition that considers the relationship and transformation between words and their corresponding etymologies, ideas, images, and form, in a discrete cycle. The show presents the works of multidisciplinary artists from different parts of Asia — Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Indonesia — in a dialogue that ponders on these transitive sequences. Time and memory make up the important aspects of the show, in relation to history, the past and the present. The term murmur is considered as onomatopoeic, a word that phonetically resembles the sound it creates. In some ways this distinct linguistic quality provides a framework to understand the exhibition further.
In the Indonesian language, the word mur is used to define a hexagonal nut often paired with a screw or bolt to fasten up multiple parts that compose a machine or a system. Interestingly, when the word mur is repeated twice, with a hyphen in the middle in the Indonesian grammar, mur-mur becomes the plural version of itself.
Through its utilitarian and linguistic clues, the two possibilities of deciphering the show aims to better understand what the artists attempt to say in their works, as well as emerging dialogues between one another. There is an aspect of bringing to form things that may be inherently formless and indescribable through words, and a notion of looking at an artwork the way we look at a word in multiple languages. As words and sounds travel among speakers of differing linguistics and geographical origins, an artwork therefore always carries within it simultaneous layers of contexts and meanings.
B. 1968, Jember, Indonesia
Lives and works in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Agung Kurniawan is a multidisciplinary artist working with drawings, installations, and in more recent years, performances, theater, and happening arts. He looks at the socio-political as well as historical aspects of trauma and tragedy situated in a place or a nation by unraveling the stories from first-hand sources and recounting them with his own imaginative narration. Kurniawan has been developing a new series of striking works on paper that interweave complex layers of history and narrative with fiction based off of his ongoing interest in the Indonesian reformation period of 1965.
Kurniawan studied Archeology at the University of Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 1987 and later in the Fine Art Department with a concentration in printmaking at the Indonesian Art Institute, Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 1991. Kurniawan’s artistic practice spans more than twenty years with numerous solo exhibitions held in Indonesia and abroad. His recent solo presentation was The God of Small Things at S.E.A. Focus with ROH, Singapore (2023); solo exhibitions include Milik Nggendong Lali, Richard Koh Fine Art, Singapore (2013); Actus Contritionis, Umahseni, Jakarta, Indonesia (2012); and The Lines that Remind Me of You, Kendra Gallery, Bali, Indonesia (2011). Group exhibitions include Art Basel Hong Kong with ROH, Hong Kong (2023); Art Jakarta with ROH, Jakarta, Indonesia (2022); ArtJOG MMXXII: Expanding Awareness at Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2022); ERRATA: Collecting Entanglements and Embodied History at MAIIAM Contemporary art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand (2021); Europalia Indonesia: Power and Other Things, BOZAR, Brussels, Belgium (2017); First Sight: August at Museum MACAN, Jakarta, Indonesia (2017); Jakarta Biennale 2015: Neither Back nor Forward: Acting in the Present at Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem, Jakarta, Indonesia (2015); Biennale Jogja XII: Equator #2 at Sarang Art Space, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2013); Sip! Indonesian Art Today at ARNDT Berlin, Berlin, Germany and at ARNDT Singapore, Singapore (2013); 9th Gwangju Biennale: Roundtable, Gwangju, South Korea (2012); and Be(com)ing Dutch at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2008).
Kurniawan’s interwoven creative activism flourished into several collaborations with writers, poets, theater houses, musicians and more prominently the survivor groups of 1965. He has written and staged numerous plays, among them are Gejolak Makam Keramat performed at Koesnadi Hardjosoemantri Cultural Center, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2017) and Hanya Kematian yang Setia Menunggu performed at Institut Français Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2015). His works are part of the public collection of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands; MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Thailand; National Gallery Singapore and Singapore Art Museum, Singapore; and Queensland Art Gallery (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Copyright belongs to The Artist
Photography by The Artists and ROH
Courtesy of The Artist, BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY, Nova Contemporary, Silverlens Gallery, and ROH