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Melati Suryodarmo: I am a Ghost in my Own House – Bonnefanten Museum (Netherlands) | 12.06.-30.10.2022

Editors’ Choice

The Bonnefantenmuseum presents Melati Suryodarmo (1969, Surakarta, Indonesia) as the 11th winner of the Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA). The opening of I am a Ghost in My Own House, Suryodarmo’s first major solo exhibition in Europe and the Netherlands, will take place on June the 12th. She is a versatile artist, but is best known for her haunting performances. In her work, she translates sharp socio-political issues into poetic, physical imagery. The awarding of the BACA to Melati Suryodarmo is a welcome occasion for the Bonnefantenmuseum to introduce her to the Dutch public and to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of performance art. On the day of the opening, two performances are on the programme, namely the four-hour performance Transaction of Hollows and, in parallel, the performance Sweet Dreams Sweet. The following week, Suryodarmo herself will perform I am a Ghost in My Own House.

Image above: Melati Suryodarmo, I’M A GHOST IN MY OWN, HOUSE, 2012, Photo Courtesy of the artist, Photo: Riki Zoelkarnain

The title of the exhibition I am a Ghost in My Own House comes from Suryodarmo’s twelve-hour performance of the same name. In the course of this performance, she crushes charcoal with a stone mortar for twelve hours until she exhausts herself, thereby also exhausting the charcoal’s energy potential. Suryodarmo sees charcoal as a symbol of a life cycle that inevitably ends in death.

DEEDS NEWS - courtesy of the artist - Melati Suryodarmo - Self Portrait (Tryptich)
Melati Suryodarmo, Self Portrait (tryptich), 2018, digital C-print. Courtesy of the artist

“For Suryodarmo, the crushing of the charcoal symbolises her fatigue and physical exhaustion associated with her uprooting and return to Indonesia following a stay of several years in Germany. This was also the inspiration for the title I am a Ghost in My Own House.”


The works in the exhibition showcase her versatility as an artist, as in addition to performances, the exhibition also includes video installations, photographs and drawings. Suryodarmo’s long performances also serve as inspiration for her other works, which focus on her body and the handling and shaping of time.

DEEDS NEWS - courtesy of the artist - Melati Suryodarmo - TRANSACTION OF HOLLOWS - Foto Petter Petterson
Melati Suryodarmo, TRANSACTION OF HOLLOWS, 2012, Performed at Lilith Performance Studio, Malmø, 2012
Photo Courtesy of the artist. Photographer: Petter Petterson

She sees her body as archive and landscape, her connection to the world. Her body is her familiar sanctuary, which is a greater constant than any physical space. Time and the experience of time play a central role in her work as they transform the performer, the audience and the space into something else. Through duration, inertia, observation, introspection as well as the interactive aspects of her art, she seeks to extend the short attention span of our individual, passive consumerism.

DEEDS NEWS - courtesy of the artist and Singapore Tyler Print - Melati Suryodarmo - Limerence 3
Melati Suryodarmo, Limerence 3, 2018, Charcoal powder on handmade STPI paper.
Courtesy of the artist & Singapore Tyler Print, Institute, Singapore

Melati Suryodarmo studied at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig in Germany. Through a chance encounter, she came into contact with the famous artist Anzu Furukawa and studied “Butoh” (a form of Japanese theatre that incorporates various disciplines and techniques such as dance, performance and movement) and then took lessons in performance art with the renowned artist Marina Abramović. Melati Suryodarmo’s performances fit her own ideas and cultural background and deal with the relationship between the human body, the authoritative cultural traditions regarding the body and the context in which it lives. She focuses on concepts such as home, spirituality, family and personal history and links them to socio-political, activist and especially feminist ideas. Partly due to political discrimination and gender discrimination, her work has long been overlooked. Suryodarmo has become a key figure in the Indonesian cultural scene due to her relentless pursuit of creating connections between the arts, artists and society. Although her name is now well established and widely recognised in Southeast Asia and beyond, her work has surprisingly not been recognised with numerous international awards or solo exhibitions.

DEEDS NEWS - Melati Suryodarmo - Portrait - Foto Harry Hartantio
Melati Suryodarmo, Eins und Eins, 2016, Performed at Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore,
Photo Courtesy of the artist. Photoghrapher: Riki Zoelkarnain

In consultation with laureate Melati Suryodarmo, Philippe Pirotte (1972, Belgium) has been appointed guest curator of the exhibition at the Bonnefantenmuseum. Pirotte is an art historian, curator, critic and dean of the Städelschule State Academy of Fine Arts and of Portikus, a leading centre for contemporary art in Germany and internationally.

I am a Ghost in my Own House is accompanied by an extensive monograph. This publication contains images from Suryodarmo’s oeuvre as well as essays by authors such as Michelle Antoinette, Philippe Pirotte, Hendro Wiyanto and Catherine Wood.

DEEDS NEWS - courtesy of the artist - Melati Suryodarmo - Eins und Eins - Foto Riki Zoelkarnain
Melati Suryodarmo, Eins und Eins, 2016, Performed at Pearl Lam Galleries Singapore,
Photo Courtesy of the artist. Photoghrapher: Riki Zoelkarnain

The BACA (Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art) is the most important Dutch international prize for artists from other geo-cultural regions and will be awarded for the 11th time in 2022. The orientation towards surprising, underrepresented art forms that transcend or lie outside the geographical or cultural boundaries of the prevailing Western canon fits the profile of the Bonnefantenmuseum. The museum therefore consciously and actively works with artists and curators who reinforce and underline the diversity of the museum’s programme and collections.


Avenue Ceramique 250
6221 KX Maastricht-Netherlands


Opening: Sunday, 12 June 3:00 pm
Exhibition dates: Sunday, 12 June – Sunday, 30 October 2022
Opening hours: Tue – Sun, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

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