Toko Buku Liong (Liong Bookstore) is a collaborative art project by curator Adelina Luft (Romania/Indonesia) and artist Daniel Lie (Brazil/Indonesia) web-hosted by Cemeti Institute for Art and Society running from 4 August to 4 September 2020.
The project is a joint effort to recollect the biographical fragments of the Lie family and the comics they produced and published at Toko Buku Liong in the 1950s by creating an affective archive situated at the intersection with identity politics, power structures, and cultural agency in post-independence Indonesia. Structured in four sequent volumes presenting artworks, essays, and archival materials, the project proposes an alternative route from mainstream history and hopes to further generate conversations on authorship subjectivities and the role of Indonesian comics in the construction of a cultural identity.
Each volume addresses an aspect of the research while also building up a weekly sequential reading through the lens of the previous volume(s) and Discussion Program. The first part sets the research in Semarang, 1950s, through the bookstore’s former physical space, while the second volume introduces the founders and producers of Toko Buku Liong who migrated to Brazil in 1958. The third volume looks into the independent comic production house and their search for a cultural identity, while the last volume focuses on a critical reading of Wiro, Anak Rimba Indonesia, the paramount Indonesian comic legacy.
Within the actual circumstances of the pandemic, this project was built in an online format as a way to experiment with hybridising forms of visual expression (as an exhibition, publication, and artwork) and to create transnational and multilingual accessibility.
ADELINA LUFT is a curator and researcher with focus on Indonesian art and history. She holds a BA in Public Relations from the National University of Political Studies in Bucharest (2012) and a MA in Visual Art Studies from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta (2017). Her master thesis and collaboration with Jogja Biennale Equator expanded her interest in post-colonial studies, horizontal South dialogues, and transnational perspectives. Her hyphenated position and identity in the double post (post-colonial and post-communist) has been a source to artistically reflect transnational histories and seek to reconstruct marginalised narratives within the politics of (re)presentation . She has been based in Yogyakarta for the past six years where she experiments with collective-based lifestyles and collaborative processes of working with artists and curators, allowing the shaping of new subjectivities and non-hierarchical environments.
In DANIEL LIE’s practice time is the central pillar of the reflection. Since the oldest and affective memory – bringing family and personal stories – until the time of things in the world; the period of a lifetime, and the duration of the states of the elements. Through installations, objects and hybridization of languages of art – using the things as they are – the work creates bridges with performance art concepts such as an art based on time, ephemerality and presence. To highlight these three instances, elements that have the time contained in itself are set in the space, as installations, such as decaying matter, growth of plants, fungi and the body. In the work research, the look is facing tensions and breaking a binary thought between science and religion, ancestry and present, life and death.
CEMETI – INSTITUTE FOR ART AND SOCIETY (formerly ‘Cemeti Gallery’, then ‘Cemeti Art House’) is Indonesia’s oldest platform for contemporary art, founded in Yogyakarta in 1988 by artists Mella Jaarsma and Nindityo Adipurnomo. Cemeti offers a platform for artists and cultural practitioners to develop, present and practice their work in close collaboration with curators, researchers, activists, writers and performers, as well as local communities across Yogyakarta. The programme takes shape through exhibitions, workshops, talks, assemblies, publications, long-term research threads and a three-month artist-in-residence programme (held twice annually). The subtitle ‘Institute for Art and Society’ was added in 2017 by a new team to express the organisations commitment to socially and politically engaged artistic practices, exploring the possibility for a gallery to act as a site for civic action. (Website: https://cemeti.art/)