Sakti: Art as The Magic Commodity
It was from the eyes of the colonizer that traditional culture appears to be something unique, exotic, and different. The system of collecting and exhibiting ethnographic objects creates the display of certain culture as “the other.” The colonialist perspective on culture seems to be continued by the “local colonizer” as we can see in the selection of works of art and artists who used materials and medium that appear to be mystical and promoting some kind of “Eastern Wisdom,” such as puppets and stupas.
“Sakti,” which literally means magic or power, is the curatorial theme for the Indonesian Pavilion. It represents the way Indonesian in which government sees the economy potential of art. This pavilion is supervised by the Vice Minister in Tourism and Creative Economy and supported by numbers of wealthy collectors in Indonesia. In the creative economy contemporary art is considered to be a commodity which also is of value to the tourism industry. Symbolically, “sakti” shows the sacred force of the government and the collectors in this pavilion. They are the invisible hand which dictates the representation of Indonesia’s art and culture for the sake of touristic promotion. In the shadow of tourism and new economy strategy, what kind of national image does this pavilion construct from the wide variety of artistic voices, and can that image be separated from a (neo-)colonialist perspective?Syafiatudina & Brigitta Isabella