In the Indonesian language, the word shadow speaks about a certain ambiguity of form. The word is related to something that is drawn, that originates from a source of light, but it is also related to the imagination, to daydreaming, to the illusory: imagerial while also apparition-like. It is something in between the tangibly discernible yet abstract, amidst layers of darkness that are unknowable, images of the other, that is seamlessly embodied into pre-existing habits. “Shadows” are the focal point to Mella Jaarsma’s presentation with ROH for South South. She brings her unique vantage point as an observer who has been assimilated into local pockets of culture, and who has embraced as well as become a pivotal figure in its further expansion. This presentation showcases 7 works by Mella Jaarsma that have departed from different moments in time. In 1993, she developed a crematorium for the traditional ngaben ceremony in the village of Munduk, Bali in the work Pralina—A Fire Altar, Square Body— Kanda Empat presents the traditional Balinese held belief regarding the four “brothers” who play a role in shaping and guiding our lives from conception to death. Image of No Dream was created in collaboration with Yudi Ahmad Tajudin alongside clients in a psychiatric ward in Altrecht, The Netherlands. Communicating with The Forces, on the other hand was created and recorded within a domestic environment with family members as performers. Each work presents ideas and discourse in relation to materiality and immateriality, informing each other into refractory reference points, in turn reflecting a certain form of the soul and reality of man in relation to the constellation of life itself. The cracks present in culture, as well as the interactions therein—whether in tension as well as unanimity with human language— has become one of the areas of focus for Mella and her works. By incorporating dimensions of certain rituals and habitual patterns uniquely cultivated to Indonesian society, she raises actual issues that sublimated between body, artefact, perspective, as well as procedural behaviors. These compositions are then incarnated into visual forms that resemble clothing, a return into seeking and formulating meaning the notion of repurposing as well as values in relation to the flow of life. She speaks through those things that relate to the everyday, traversed back and forth in the quotidian. How they then interact with the body, skin, face, footsteps, movement, as well as its furthermost extensions. Activity and performance in the work of Mella Jaarsma becomes corporeal, defining a certain sense of “soul” determined by behavior as well as attitude. Mella’s messages are presented through arrangements of material and form which then form surfaces for interaction and embodiment, also as projections and imagination. There is a certain flow, rite, artefact, as well as performance that develops a certain storytelling analogous towards human nature and conduct within the context of everyday existence. On one end, that which is to be absorbed in relation to the work of Mella Jaarsma becomes a sort of expression regarding the general experience of man in relation to chambers of the soul, the extension of its mind, as well as its embedded power relations. A certain entanglement forms in her work, simulating habits and identities of interactions and contradictions into poetry. These are abstracted and presented to a public environment to be seen and experienced through a plethora of perception and background. - Yacobus Ari Respati (Research, ROH)

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