Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett are an artist duo from Jakarta. Their tactical, interventionist approach is developed in response to living in a megacity of 15 million people, and amid large-scale contemporary political power struggles. Their practice frequently intervenes public spaces and bring about sharp social commentaries on urgent issues concerning urban development, ecological catastrophes, political repression, colonial legacies, and the exploitation of human and ecological resources. The lack of institutional support in Indonesia has encouraged Ahmett and Salina to adopt a self-organised and collective spirit.
Ahmett and Salina have exhibited their works in international institutions and biennales such as Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok, Thailand (2020), NTU Centre of Contemporary Art Singapore (2019), Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland (2017), Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark (2016), Asian Art Biennale, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Taiwan (2015), Biennale Jogja, Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2015) and the Singapore Biennale (2013).
Ahmett and Salina currently live and work in Jakarta.
Harvest from Atlantis / 2019
Harvest from Atlantis follows the 7-month journey of mussel cultivation in Jakarta Bay. Amongst the littered and barren village, Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett stage a ritualistic ceremony by parading and planting a monumental bamboo structure used for harvesting mussels out into the expanse of the sea. Over the months, petal offerings bless and foster the mussel tree’s cultivation before finally yielding an abundant harvest and brought home. As household waste and heavy metals from industrial plants continue to contaminate the waters, groundwater extraction pose a huge problem as land subsidence and rising sea levels cause Jakarta to sink at an alarming pace. Amid ecological ruin under unchecked capitalism, these small coastal communities hold on to the sea as a site for collective living and striving as they have for generations. One day, even when submerged, the mussel trees of Jakarta-Atlantis will serve as monuments of resistance and regrowth from below ground.
Cranial Relic / 2020
Tita Salina and Irwan Ahmett take apart the conflict and violence of hegemonic powers in human history in Cranial Relic. Relics — objects that narrate a time of the past are dropped by hand, and with gravitational force strike the body. A colonial Dutch East Indies coin celebrates the expropriation of native Indonesian resources under European rule; a bullet fired in the Indonesian student protests in 2019 silences the desire for democracy and freedom; and an animal’s tooth arouses our instinctual fear against biodiverse coexistence. These relics inflict pain and the vulnerable skin bears it. In a time where fear lingers more than ever, our innate flight or fight mechanisms wired into our primal reptilian brain are constantly triggered in the name of “protection” and “security”. Human nature’s cyclical patterns of rivalry will only render these modern tools of oppression into relics of the same ominous fate, repeating across pre-historic, colonial and post-modern times.