ABOUT THE SHOW SILVERLENS is proud to present +63 | +62, a four-person show of major artists featuring Agus Suwage and Melati Suryodarmo from Indonesia and Geraldine Javier and Leslie de Chavez from the Philippines. This is the first time they will be showing together. Referencing the Philippines’ (+63) and Indonesia’s (+62) country dial code, this exhibition explores how these two next-door countries who are strangers to each other’s cultures, are connected through their own rich art histories.
Southeast Asia is a geo-political carving of a large part of the earth between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Philippines and Indonesia occupy the most land and sea in this region, together accounting for over 25,000 islands. Separated by the Celebes Sea, we are north-south adjacent neighbours. The downside similarities of our countries lie in political instability, widespread corruption, and uncontrolled populations; the upside is what we are celebrating with this show: the shared vibrancy of art as community and practice. It is no secret that the Philippines and Indonesia are the backbones of art in Southeast Asia.
The show is an attempt is to begin a conversation through art over the metaphorical wall that divides our countries—a bridge show over that glass divide between our two large, chaotic nations. Not much is known by the average Filipino or Indonesian about the other. It is only very recently, within the last three years, that straight flights happen between Jakarta and Manila, and still not daily.
To bring together four pillar artists—Geraldine Javier and Leslie de Chavez from the Philippines, and Agus Suwage and Melati Suryodarmo from Indonesia—took several years to organize, between schedules and commitments; and almost did not happen when the chosen curator decided to ghost the show. But being the professionals that they are, the artists continued to make work and self-organize.
Taking these artists as separate islands with their established practices and communities around them; or as four separate mountains who have set their own trails and fashioned their own summits—we are very pleased to present them together for the first time in a show anywhere, and more specially, in a show in the Philippines.
All four artists have deliberately moved out of big cities, establishing studios off-center. Less distraction, clearer focus, and stronger commitments allowed them to build and nurture their own communities. Leslie has established his Project Space Pilipinas in Lucban, Quezon; Geraldine has her studio in the foothills of Cuenca, Batangas; Melati has her Studio Plesungan, an art space for performance art laboratory in Solo, Indonesia; and Agus moved to Yogyakarta at the turn of the century with his wife, artist Titarubi. Draining the shallows, doing what is essential without wasting time and energy on the unnecessary, was essential for all of them, to get to where they are now.