Self published / Eko Nugroho, edited by Adeline Ooi and Beverly Yong, 179 pages
Rebuffing commercial offers, rising Indonesian star Eko Nugroho took this first monograph into his own hands. It offers an intimate peak into a prolific decade of his comic-inspired, alien-cum-robot characters, which are odd yet recognizable versions of our complex selves. Rooted in the post-Soeharto reformasi social conscience, illustrative vernacular art has been a critical force in Indonesian visual culture since the late 1990s. His practice has since expanded from paintings, murals and photocopied zines to include embroideries, sculptures (most recently, bronzes), and collaborative community projects. His figures, with chimney or box-heads, multiple eyes, limbs, or mouths, and pincers for hands, have also been adapted for Wayang puppet theater shows. Included here are interviews with regional specialists Adeline Ooi and Enin Supriyanto, and a selection of major projects in Yogyakarta, Fukuoka, Lyon, New Orleans and Brisbane, between 2004 and 2010. No doubt a lot more can, and will, be written about Nugroho’s expanding oeuvre, but this generously illustrated introduction, though messy and busy, aptly immerses the reader in the thick of a fertile, insightful imagination.
Kunsthaus Bregenz, edited by Yilmaz Dziewior, 351 pages
Haegue Yang’s work is poised between the familiarity of the domestic materials she uses and the alien character of their assemblage. This bilingual, English-German volume was published for Yang’s exhibition “Arrivals” at Kunsthaus Bregenz in January 2011. Following ample documentation of the show, are interviews and an essay on “What Things Mean” by curator Anders Kreuger. The featured works include Warrior Believer Lover (2011), comprising 33 light sculptures on wheeled frames, with the artist’s signature mix of handmade and industrial, ornamental incongruity and functional illumination. Yang has commented how such illumination reveals electricity’s otherwise invisible form—an apt metaphor for the extraordinary function of mundane objects in her practice. This can be traced in the included catalogue raisonné, making up the bulk of the volume, featuring works from 1994 to the present.Included are further texts, many by the artist herself, written to accompany her projects. Yang notes how the exhibition title, “encompasses more than just the quotidian, even though it derives from the everyday,” aptly suggesting a journey taken, or a destination finally reached.
Rinko Kawauchi won the 2002 Kimura Ihei Award at the age of 30 for her three debut publications, Utatane, Hanabi, and Hanako, all from 2001. In this sense, the shashinshu or “photobook” has been the natural habitat for her intimate, ethereal snapshots. The theme of her latest volume is “light,” for which Kawauchi draws on 15 years of images of reflections, flash-lit nocturnal scenes or glaring sunlight. Punctuating these are everyday images snapped so closely they seem abstract or alien. Sensitively designed, Illuminance packs 144 photographs into its 163 French-fold pages. Yet by foregoing individual titles, captions, and page numbers one is left to really look at the images—their uncanny juxtapositions and accumulated connections. The cropped details, emotive overexposures and blurred movements actually perform a complex choreography, both in the camera and at the editing stage. For better or worse Japanese photobooks often go without essays to “contextualize” the work, yet here an appended essay by David Chandler notably cites what Kawauchi has referred to as the “constant present” to describe the elliptical sense of time permeating her enigmatic oeuvre.