Aku Akan Bertahan / I Will Survive
3 channel HDvideo installation, approx 27mins loop (27:29mins 27:33mins 26:49mins)
Series of 6 Archival Pigment Prints (120x80cm)
Aku Akan Bertahan / I Will Survive comprises a three-channel video installation, a photoseries and a live dance performance.
Using 3 classics of Australian cinema as a starting point – Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975); Walkabout (1971, Nicholas Roeg); Priscilla Queen of the Desert (1994, Stephan Elliot) – 3 films that deal with the confrontation of humans with the Australian outback – Aku Akan Bertahan / I Will Survive transposes the characters, narrative, and location to Jogjakarta in Java, Indonesia, situated between Singapore (where the artist comes from) and Brisbane (where the work was finally presented). By transposing the imaginary from the Australian films to Java, Indonesia – notable for its long history and religious evolution that intersects Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam – the work taps into a larger, older, shared regional history – far older than notions of colonial Australia or Singapore.
For Aku Akan Bertahan / I Will Survive the Singaporean Chinese artist invited 3 other collaborators who also work with Drag: Tamara Pertamina (Indonesian based in Jogja); Shahmen Suku (Indian Singaporean based in Sydney); and Bradd Edwards (Caucasian Australian based in Sydney).
During a 2-week residency in Jogja, they learnt a choreography that combines classical Javanese dance, Dangdut (Indonesian Pop) and hiphop (with a nod to Beyoncé Knowles), set to Gloria Gaynor’s anthem I Will Survive (immortalised in the film Priscilla) in a new version devised with an Indonesian Street band of “Angklung” musicians improvising on their bamboo instruments.
The four performers can be seen as Victorian schoolgirls wandering amongst ancient volcanic rocks, or as nymphs bathing in mystical waters, or as decorated (drag)queens conquering the mountains overlooking the lands. Crowned with wigs made of recycled plastic raffia in bold primary colours, the four figures are a mix of Javanese decoration, drag queen kitsch, children’s television, classical European painting, Cosplay, etc – blurring the lines of ethnic or national belongings, and between high and low culture. What does survive is the determinedness of the indeterminacy of culture, a resolution to perpetual (r)evolution.
Performers Ming Wong, Tamara Pertamina, Shahmen Suku, Bradd Edwards
Choreographer Otniel Tasman
Production Manager Karina Roosvita
Production Assistant Tamara Pertamina
Location scout Ardi Kuhn
Cinematogapher Shalahuddin Siregar
Stills photographer Christian Dwiky
Make-up & Hair Gandrik Waluyo
Music (Part 3) Orkes Angklung New Banesa
Music recording Andreas Oki Gembus
Postproduction Kin Chui, Marko Schiefelbein
Filmed on location in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
Commissioned for the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8) by Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Brisbane, Australia in 2015.
With support from Artspace, Sydney and National Arts Council, Singapore.
With thanks to:
Arahmaiani Feisal, Deddy Irianto (Langgeng Art Foundation), Jimmy Ong, Mulyana, Russell Storer