ONGGHA (climb up)

Solo Exhibition
12 April - 13 May 2017
Redbase Foundation Indonesia


Suvi Wahyudianto – ONGGHA (climb up)

At the beginning it was onggha.

Literally it means ‘going up’, its opposite is toron which means ‘going down’. In a nomads of Madura tradition, onggha means ‘leaving home to get better live’, while toron means ‘coming back home’.

Migration is a part of Madura’s history, a solution of economy problem on the land faced by the people. I do not know when exactly the words onggha and toron used as migration practice terminology of the people of Madura. It seems that the definition about onggha and toron does not has any problem, but if we observe further to colonial era in the past, soon we’ll dispute the way how the words onggha and toron used in and how they became specific words referring to migration practice of Madura people.

Besides that, we will know that both of the words are not only as simple as about ‘going up’ and ‘going down’, but also well-related to a complicated case especially with negative stereotypes of Madura people legated by Dutch Colonialists.

The stereotype was created by Colonialists as identity and image of Madura, by comparing with its closest sister: Java. And because of those stereotype and the way how Madura being narrated, particularly its relation with Java, we will soon know that

onggha as going up to Java and toron as going down to Madura is completely unfair, a position which placed Java as a more superior than Madura. As well we will know that the way Colonialists thought about Java and Madura is not equitable, especially for the given stereotype and its implication on the migration practice of Madura people to Java which is symbolized as onggha and toron.

At the beginning it was onggha, and then “Onggha”.

Now is the time for us to reinvent Madura through the eyes of the first man: Suvi Wahyudianto.

I want to come through, first by questioning: How the exhibition “Onggha” which is presenting Suvi Wahyudianto’s artworks interpreting the practice of onggha? How Suvi, as a young generation of Madura understands the practice of migration that Madura people do continuously from time to time? What kind of relation’s pattern used by Madura people in interacting with local people and with the other ethnic communities in their new land?

I will not express those questions as a requirement to be answered. They’re pointed out just as a path to explore further and to trigger any possibility of another interpretation by the Visual Art spectators in Indonesia and as well by Suvi himself. For example, is the usage of onggha relevant while Suramadu-bridge has been operated and does it mean that the position of Madura and Java equal, no more interpretation as ‘going up to Java’ and ‘going down to Madura’ but as ‘between’ Java and Madura, a position which is equally the same?

Suvi is really interested in exposing something familiar and closely related with him, especially about Madura and so in the ex- hibition “Onggha”. But I see his artworks showed in this exhibition are much ready to ‘speak’ about Madura than his artworks of his previous exhibitions. One of the way how Suvi contemplate on his insecurity in which then reduced by dividing them into three parts of idea, they are: memory, tension and contradiction.

On ‘memory’, Suvi dug his primordial relation, first by recalling his own childhood, a melancholic feeling of a village, then re-checking his family’s photographic archives. On this part as well Suvi has gained five series of ceramic chicken legs artworks, as symbol of working ethos of Madura people. Chicken digs trashes to find food with their feet or in Madura said as akar-kar nyolpe which is also chose as the title of artworks.

And on ‘tension’ Suvi focuses in presenting more frightened reality which is always stated in a ‘between’ situation. This kind of tension is gained normally in a migration practice, a force between a reality of the unpretentious village and urban reality in which he is. On this part, Suvi chose a banner of Sate seller in Yogyakarta. The reason why he chose the banner is because banner ‘Sate Madura’ only can be found outside of the Madura island, a specification of identity where ethnical identity and culinary (besides Madura barbers) always related to its origin.

And ‘contradiction’ is referring to Suvi himself. At one side he is one of Madura people who believing in the philosophy of Madura, but on the other hand he is opened to the other culture’s influence. The interesting point of this part is the way how Suvi interpreted ‘encounter-contradiction’ and how he tried to harmonize both of them in acculturative way. On this part, Suvi chose to make a fake biscuits displayed in a real glass biscuit container. As one of industrial product, biscuit has been entering and taking part of being easily found beverage in village society in Madura, they call it ‘bisket Mari’.

From the three parts of idea, ‘memory’ is the most viewed part. And tendency to romanticize is an unavoidable reality even on his artworks which reflecting ‘tension’ and ‘contradiction’. The way Suvi created the artworks of the three parts of idea is the same: re-calling memory, contemplating on it and representing it in a form and from material which is day to day reality in Madura or part of Suvi’s daily reality.

So, it’s not the time to answer the questions above. But I keep enjoying Suvi’s artworks as a subtle explosion. And for me, this exhibition is only the beginning of Suvi’s long journey in the next time.

But, we all know, artworks of “Onggha” is onggha to/in Yogyakarta. And at least Suvi has identified one thing, some questions.

Selected Artworks
Installation View