Female ‘artivists’ from Jakarta take up residency in Footscray

By Rani Pramesti

Bachelor of Dramatic Art, 2013

This year, thanks to the VCA & MCM Professional Pathways Scholarship supported by Creative Victoria, I have been working as an Associate Producer at Footscray Community Arts Centre.

I graduated as an actor from the Bachelor of Dramatic Art course in 2013. Since then, I have been growing my theatre-making and inter-cultural producing practice. One of my passions as an artist is to support the work of women artists and to work across cultures, particularly between Indonesia, my country of birth and Australia, my adopted country of more than fifteen years.

Luckily, the opportunity came up for me to produce the WANITA: Female Artivism, Jakarta! event, opening on October 1 at the Gabriel Gallery in Footscray Community Arts Centre.

WANITA was founded by Sooji Kim, a local musician of the renowned Empat Lima band, who fell in love with the women artists of Indonesia in 2014. WANITA, apart from meaning ‘woman’ in Indonesian, is also an acronym for Women Arts Network Indonesia to Australia.

The majority of artists who have a high profile internationally from Indonesia tend to be men. Within this context, a network like WANITA can be part of the solution to addressing this inequality.

Presented at Footscray Community Arts Centre, the program will bring over three cutting edge artists from Jakarta: Ika Vantiani, Marishka Soekarna and Ayu Dila Martina, to curate an exhibition, workshop and discussion program. The exhibition will showcase the works of ten contemporary female artists and will include music video clips, collage, zines, prints, illustrations, merchandise and catering by Café Batavia.

It has been a real learning curve producing a visual arts event. This was not the medium that I have trained in! There is a lot of attention to detail that needs to accompany the exhibition preparations, like artwork dimensions, curatorial statements, working out how the Gabriel Gallery space can best serve the artists’ visions and so on.

Some things, however, have continued to build on my connections in the Melbourne-based Indonesian communities, something that I started tapping into last year for my performance installation work, Chinese Whispers (supported by Creative Victoria through a VCA & MCM Graduate Mentorship Scholarship).

Producing WANITA: Female Artivism, Jakarta! has included preparing bilingual invitations and press releases, presenting at Indonesian student and community events as well as networking with government bodies such as the Melbourne-based Indonesian Consulate.

I am particularly passionate about this community-engaged outreach promotional work because I know that the majority of Indonesian people who come to Australia do not necessarily engage with the artistic world, so this is an incredibly unique opportunity for Melbourne-based Indonesian students and the broader community to get in touch with leaders of the Indonesian contemporary arts scene.


A version of this article originally appeared on Channel, the Faculty’s previous publishing platform.