White Work
Various white material, handwritten lists

Proposal: I will collect substances which possess two simple characteristics: white and powdery. This will include talc, salt, sugar, flour, cornstarch, rice, and tawas, among others. I will gather as much of them as I can, mix them together, and install them in the space in the form of a white mound.

A complete list of all included substances will be written on the artwork label. If the exhibition will have no labels, this list will be on a piece of paper and stuck to the wall.

The case of Mary Jane Veloso was all over the news, the internet, and in conversations for weeks, touching on an expansive network of individual, familial, communal, national, and international issues: from lack of employment opportunities, to national poverty, international relations, the international drug trade, and human rights, as well as the more abstract concepts of death, desperation, and gratitude or “utang na loob”.

I want to reduce these matters and focus on (literally) the smallest matter: the identity of the substance she carried to Indonesia, and that this, according to Indonesian law, merited death by firing squad. That the white, powdery substance found on her was cocaine is the smallest element of this large, complex web of problems; it is interesting that it possesses these simple, unassuming qualities and yet can set in motion something so huge and intangible.

This zooming in onto the “objectness” of cocaine is not a dismissal of the issues Mary Jane’s plight brought out onto the larger public’s consciousness but an attempt to look at, reassess, and re-address from a different perspective; using the small and unassuming to scale against the massive and the brutal.

Group exhibition curated by Asep Topan
MAKNA Seni Indonesia, Jakarta
4-31 July 2015