A seminal figure in the Indonesian contemporary art scene, Writing in the Rain, A Midnight Moment In Times Square is created by FX Harsono. Deeply engaged with social and political issues, including the role of the artist in the recovery of repressed histories, cultures, and identities. Writing in the Rain is a stark depiction of the artist writing his name in Chinese characters with a brush as rain slowly washes the ink away.
FX Harsono, one of Indonesia’s most revered contemporary artists, has been a central figure of the Indonesian art scene for over 40 years. In 1975, he was among a group of young artists who founded Indonesia’s Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (New Art Movement), which emphasized an experimental, conceptual approach, the use of everyday materials, and engagement with social and political issues. Over the course of recent decades that have seen enormous transformations in Indonesia, Harsono has continuously explored the role of the artist in society, in particular his relationship to history. During Indonesia’s dictatorial Suharto regime (1967-98), his installation and performance works were powerfully eloquent acts of protest against an oppressive state apparatus. The fall of the regime in 1998, which triggered rioting and widespread violence, mainly against Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority, prompted an introspective turn in Harsono’s artistic practice. He embarked on an ongoing investigation of his own family history and the position of minorities in society, especially his own Chinese-Indonesian community. The recovery of buried or repressed histories, cultures, and identities – and the part that the artist can play in this process – have remained a significant preoccupation. Through looking into his own past, Harsono has touched on concerns that resonate globally, foregrounding fundamental issues that are central to the formation of group and personal identities in our rapidly changing world.
Watch Writing in the Rain on Times Square’s electronic billboards from 11:57pm to midnight each night in January.