The Bonnefanten proudly presents Melati Suryodarmo (1969, Surakarta, Indonesia) as the eleventh winner of the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA). Suryodarmo is a versatile artist, but is particularly known for her compelling performances. In her work, she interprets strong political and social insights in a poetic and physical visual idiom. Awarding her the BACA is a welcome reason for the Bonnefanten to present Melati Suryodarmo to the public in the Netherlands and to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of performance art. The BACA is Suryodarmo’s first big European art award, and the accompanying solo exhibition is her first in Europe and the Netherlands.

Suryodarmo will receive a grant of €25,000 to support her artistic practice and the production of new work, in preparation for a solo exhibition with an accompanying publication in the Bonnefanten, in 2022.

Melati Suryodarmo, EXERGIE - butter dance, performanceduring VideoBrasil, Sao Paolo, 2005. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: I. Matthaeus

Jury BACA 2022

The jury for the 2022 edition comprises six art professionals, including four experts with experience and knowledge of artistic practices in the Indonesian archipelago. The region has a rich and complex cultural life, with strong historical ties to the Netherlands.

The members of the jury  (in alphabetical order) are: Sadiah Boonstra, independent curator and cultural historian, living in Jakarta, Indonesia; Zoe Butt, artistic director Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Rhana Devenport, director Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; Stijn Huijts, director Bonnefanten, Maastricht, the Netherlands; Victoria Noorthoorn, director Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Alia Swastika, director Jogja Biennale Foundation, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The selection committee was faced with a challenging task, in view of the high artistic standard from the focus region of Indonesia and because of the complexity of balancing the various criteria. In the end, the jury voted unanimously for Melati Suryodarmo.

The jury says, “It is an honour for us to be able to present the award to an artist with a ground-breaking practice, who derives her unique idiom from both local and international experiments with notions of the body in relation to the political space. In doing so, Suryodarmo not only offers us new knowledge of art practices in Indonesia, but also holds up a mirror to how the practice of performance art can be seen and understood from a decolonised, global perspective”.

In agreement with laureate Melati Suryodarmo, the guest curator of the exhibition in the Bonnefanten will be Philippe Pirotte, from Belgium.

Melati Suryodarmo
Portrait Melati Suryodarmo, photo: Harry Hartantio

Melati Suryodarmo

Suryodarmo trained at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, in Germany. A chance encounter brought her into contact with the famous Anzu Furukawa, with whom she studied butoh (a Japanese theatre form that combines different disciplines and techniques, such as dance, performance and movement), following which she took classes in performance art with the renowned Marina Abramović.

Suryodarmo’s performances reflect her own ideas and cultural background, and concern the relationship between the human body, the defining cultural traditions to which the body belongs and the context in which it lives. She focuses on concepts like home, spirituality, family and personal history, interweaving them with socio-political, activist and mainly feminist ideas. Partly as a result of politics and gender discrimination, her work has long gone unnoticed. Through her indefatigable efforts to forge connections between art and artists and society, Suryodarmo has become a key figure in the world of art and performance art in Indonesia. Nowadays, her name is widely known and acknowledged in South-East Asia and elsewhere, yet unaccountably her work has not received a great number of international awards or solo exhibitions.

Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art – BACA

The BACA is the most important international award of the Netherlands for artists from other geo-cultural regions. In 2022, it is being presented for the eleventh time. The focus on exciting, under-represented art practices that exceed or lie beyond the geographical and/or cultural boundaries of the dominant Western canon is in line with the Bonnefanten’s profile. The museum deliberately chooses to collaborate actively with artists and curators who reinforce and underline the diversity of the museum’s programme and collections.

Previous recipients of the BACA were Eija-Liisa Ahtila (2000), Neo Rauch (2002), Pawel Althamer (2004), Bethan Huws (2006), John Baldessari (2008), Francis Alÿs (2010), Mary Heilmann (2012), Laura Lima (2014), Cai Guo-Qiang (2016) and Marwan Rechmaoui (2019).

Header image: Melati Suryodarmo, TRANSACTION OF HOLLOWS, performed at Lilith Performance Studio, Malmø, 2012. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Petter Petterson

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For more information and visual material, please contact Esther Wagemans through or 0031 (0)6 28 63 42 94.