Learning to Make Fire was a solo exhibition by Indrani Ashe with texts by Haseena Abdul Majid. It took place from June 8- June 21 at Kedai Kebun Forum in Yogyakarta. Kedai Kebun Forum is an alternative art space that has been a forum for the arts since 1996. The Artistic Director at Kedai Kebun is the artist Agung Kurniawan. More Information about Kedai Kebun can be found at kedaikebun.com
In the title “Learning to Make Fire,” sensuality is the fire. Sensuality in this context does not have the traditional meaning, which refers to indulging in sinful and evil acts, but being aware of our senses and putting them to proper use, to live life well and beautifully. Certainly God did not make us human so that we can live in sense deprivation, but similar to fire ‘to indulge the senses’ is an act that must be pursued with wisdom. ‘Learning’ to make the fire refers to coming of age, for never do we sense things more sharply than when we start to see life with our own eyes instead of being bound to our parents’ perspective. This is the experience described in Haseena’s autobiographical group of poems, Pussyfoot . “A girl with papa’s blessings and moles on her wrists. I am not that girl…. I am the girl with firecrackers going off in her eyes.” For Haseena , experiencing relationships and a keen awareness of her emotions are the ‘sensuality’ that inspire her writing
For me, sensuality is a delicate awareness of materials and objects: their textures, colours and translucencies. I understand these objects as an extension of my own skin. Each object in the space triggers a tactile memory of existence within the female skin, saying things that cannot be contained by words. The objects are not realistic, but fantastic in nature. I use fantasy and abstraction to allow my audience to consider my topic with freedom. In the same way I respond to the imagery in Haseena’s texts with fantastic visualizations, allowing reality to seep through now and then, a strategy which triggers the visual memory while allowing space for the action of the imagination.