Stories of struggling artists

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Andy Parks

Aris Prabawa with his work Born to Obey.
Aris Prabawa with his work Born to Obey.

The two current exhibitions being held at the Lismore Regional gallery deal with themes of struggle and survival in an environment where the military are a dominant force in everyday life.

The Nature of the Beast is a show by Lismore-based Indonesian artist Aris Prabawa that reflects on the social and political situation in his home country and The Force of Forgetting is a group exhibition curated by Khadim Ali that looks at the situation of the Hazara ethnic group in Afghanistan.

This Friday night, April 1, Aris and Khadim will be engaged in a discussion chaired by Suhanya Raffel, Deputy Director at the Queensland Art Gallery.

“This is a great coup to have her come open a dialogue between the artist and about life as an artist in those countries,” gallery director Brett Adlington said. “The two shows were being discussed independently of each other, but they are similar in terms of contemporary issues in Indonesia and Afghanistan and they cross over in many ways. There is a similar story of struggle.”

Aris was born in Solo, Java and was a founding member of the important artist-run collective Taring Padi in 1998 at the fall of the Suharto regime.

“While Indonesia is no longer ruled by a military dictatorship, the military is still central to political, economic and social life. The military is strongly involved in politics, with the current President a former General. It is directly involved in all levels of business in Indonesia… Its leaders are some of the wealthiest people in the country. Corruption is endemic and violence is used to suppress dissent,” Aris said.

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