Melati Suryodarmo
(b. 1969, Surakarta, Indonesia; lives and works in Surakarta)

Ale Lino.

Performance documentation, 15’ 37’’
Courtesy of the artist

In this video documentation of the work Alé Lino we see Melati Suryodarmo standing on a high pedestal, leaning on a long pole that ends at her solar plexus. In the original live performance, she stood in this position for three hours, attempting to “reach a kind of complete emptiness between the physical and mental.” The solar plexus is a very vulnerable point in the human body, a fact well known not only to medical science but also in martial arts and shamanic practices. By applying pressure to it using the pole, Suryodarmo was hoping to achieve emptiness, which she eventually did after the three-hour performance.

Suryodarmo comes from a family of traditional dancers and movement artists, a legacy she explored further in her studies in performative practices in Germany (where she lived from the 1990s to 2002) under teachers such as Marina Abramović and Anzu Furukawa. Her return to Indonesia pushed her to explore her performative practice in relation to her Javanese origins, as well as how spirituality can be achieved through the body without necessarily appealing to its allegedly wholly transcendent nature. As the artist points out, her practice is not about the spirit itself but about the underlying principle behind the making and performing of some of the works, which reveals a sustained practice of spirit.