4A Members Program – Dadang Christanto: They Give Evidence

To preface the opening of 4A’s touring exhibition Survivor by Dadang Christanto at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, 4A Center for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to invite its members to an exclusive 4A Members’ floor talk at the Art Gallery of New South Wales with Natalie Siez, Assistant Curator of Asian Art, AGNSW. Framed within the gallery’s current presentation of Christanto’s key work They Give Evidence (1996-97), please join us as Natalie discusses the complexities of the conceptual and working processes of one of Indonesia’s most prominent contemporary artists.

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Event Details

Dadang Christanto: They Give Evidence

Venue:                    Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1 Art Gallery Rd, The Domain, Sydney
Meeting place:     AGNSW entrance steps, 11:20AM
Date:                       11:20AM – 12PM Saturday 6 April
Bookings:              Free for 4A Members. RSVP to sam.zammit@4a.com.au



Images above: Dadang Christanto, They give evidence, 1996-97 (detail), 16 standing figures holding clothes; terracotta powder mixed with resin/fibreglass, cloth and resin. height 200cm (male) 190cm (female) width and depth c100 x 150cm, weight c90kgs each. Collection Art Gallery of New South Wales. Purchased 2003.




Dadang Christanto’s performance, Survivor, will tour to a number of NSW regional galleries throughout 2012 and 2013.

Survivor by Dadang Christanto is a performance by contemporary Indonesian-Australian artist Dadang Christanto and continues his interrogation of disaster and its human impact through a performance based on events in the Sidoarjo region of East Java where hot volcanic mud has wiped out 11 nearby villages. Unrelenting, the mud continues subsumed livelihoods, memories and futures.

In this touring performance and exhibition, volunteers will silently occupy the gallery space, covered in mud from the neck down and holding a photographic portrait. Over the course of three hours the participants will maintain a silent vigil, memorialising this catastrophe and its continuing consequences. The performance is followed by a visual exhibition consisting of detritus from the performance, video and photographic documentation memorialising the catastrophe and its ongoing consequences. As a key part of Christanto’s artistic practice, Survivor continues a line of enquiry that the artist developed in response to his father’s disappearance under the Suharto regime in the mid-1960s.

This project was originally presented as an exhibition and performance at 4A in 2009 and was developed from a previous performance by the artist in Jakarta in 2008.

The exhibition will tour to the following galleries. Please check back for updates on performances.


Gosford Regional Gallery

1  April- 20 May 2012
Performance:  1 April 2012
Watch a video of this performance

Lismore Regional Gallery

21 July – 25 August 2012

The Glasshouse Regional Art Gallery
20 October – 2 December 2012

Goulburn Regional Art Gallery
6 April – 25 May 2013

Pinnacles Gallery
16 November – 15 December 2013




Presented by Kultour in partnership with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and toured by Museums & Galleries NSW. This exhibition is supported by the Contemporary Touring Initiative through Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Government and state and territory governments.





Dadang Christanto’s Survivor brings together local participants from all walks of life, who sit silently occupying the gallery, covered from the neck down in mud and holding photographic portraits of over 100 individuals. The performance was previously  staged in Jakarta in 2007, and this performance in Sydney, is it’s first presentation in Australia.

Originally born in Central Java in Indonesia, Christanto’s work is a powerful reminder of the human impact of disaster – the disaster of war, the trauma of disappearance and now the impact of the man made mud catastrophe in the Sidoarjo Region of East Java. Christanto’s interest in the mud disaster emerges from his previous work which deals with the trauma of his father’s disappearance, who disappeared along with multitudes of other Indonesians during the political purges of the mid-1960s. In the context of the mud disaster, the unrelenting build up of mud in the region, is making villages slowly vanish. As Gallery 4A’s Director, Aaron Seeto explains, “The entire history of a village, its livelihood and future is being buried beneath the mud. On one hand Christanto’s work is politically confronting but also a poetic experience that reminds us of human fragility and erasure in the face of disaster.”

Dadang Christanto was born in 1957 in Tegal, Central Java and studied painting in Yogyakarta. Over the past decade his work has gained recognition across Australia with solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sherman Galleries in Sydney, and at the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory. Christanto has been included in two Asia-Pacific Triennials at the Queensland Art Gallery as well he has exhibited in some of the key Contemporary Asian Art museums in the Asian region including Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Fukuoka of Modern Art, Fukuoka; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Kwangju Biennale (2000) as well as at the Venice Biennale (2003) and at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney. In 1997, in recognition of his long term artistic achievement, he has been a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.