— Viewing room
Boedi Widjaja: Declaration of
Solo Exhibition by Singapore-based artist

“In making negative drawings that reference political press photos,” Widjaja notes, “I wanted to address memories where the personal and political intertwined.”

Boedi Widjaja: Declaration Of is the first solo presentation in New York of Indonesia-born, Singapore-based artist Boedi Widjaja’s works. The exhibition presents recent and latest works from the artist’s Imaginary Homeland series (2015–ongoing), encompassing drawings, photographs, and installations. Widjaja’s works re-examine press photographs of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno (1945–1967), and his successor Suharto (1967–1998). Having left Indonesia at the age of nine due to rising ethnic tensions, the artist’s perception of his former country is constructed mostly through images and the imagined. Connecting them with ideas of embodiment, gaze, and memory, Widjaja integrates drawing and analogue studio photography methods within his processual approach, reflecting on the power of images in the formation of his own personal narrative.

Declaration of will be accompanied by a catalogue, with an essay by Shona Mei Findlay, who currently serves as curator for Asia Programs at KADIST, and an interview with Annie Jael Kwan, an independent curator and researcher based in London.

Last modified

October 1, 2019


Boedi Widjaja

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Combined with the appropriation of popular culture—borrowing from popular Mandarin songs and familiar press material—Widjaja launders these images through his memories as well as anxieties of displacement. At a new juncture in history, where notions of national and cultural identity are being renegotiated across the globe, Widjaja’s processual practice can be seen as quiet acts of reflection and recuperation, personally metabolizing global narratives, and examining the transformative possibilities that a single image holds. 

— Shona Mei Findlay, curator of Asia Programs, KADIST. In "Specters of History," in Boedi Widjaja: Declaration of

Boedi Widjaja
等著你回來 (Waiting for you)
Graphite on paper
60 x 57 in. (154 x 145 cm)
Boedi Widjaja
Fly me to the moon
graphite on paper
31 1/2 x 47 1/4 in. (80 x 120 cm)
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乖毆歡這樣拳콱 (I like to think about you this way), 2015. Graphite on paper.
Installation view at Boedi Widjaja: Imaginary Homeland, Objectifs Center for Photography and Film, Singapore, 2016.
Image courtesy the artist. © Boedi Widjaja


Widjaja's process begins with examining archival press images of Indonesia's founding leader, Sukarno and Suharto. During the years of the cold war, the first President of independent Indonesia, Sukarno, visited the leaders of the three power blocs of the Cold War: the Western, Eastern, and non-aligned movement. Widjaja appropriates these images, reconstructing them as a series of negative drawings that shift between the modalities of photography and drawing. 

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A new commission for the exhibition, the installation Nine Hundred and Ninety Nine Roses demonstrates the artist’s engagement with camera obscura techniques. Widjaja modified 9 peci (traditional Indonesian headgear, which, under Sukarno, became a symbol of Indonesian nationalism) into pinhole cameras; using these, he created a series of pinhole negatives by exposing photo-sensitive paper to light passing through a small hole made on top of each peci. This series of small pinhole negatives depict images captured during Sukarno’s respective meetings with the leaders of both Eastern and Western power blocs, as well as the non-aligned countries.  

Boedi Widjaja
九百九十九朵玫瑰 (Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Roses)
9 pinhole photos, brass, foam, tripod stand, peci
dimensions variable
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This series of archival prints were produced by putting other negative drawings of Sukarno and Suharto through analogue studio photography processes. Through this process, Widjaja produces a body of images that have been removed from their original contexts, existing separately as abstract and nebulous compositions. These manipulations of his own negative drawings are the result of the artist’s visceral reflections on his relationship with his homeland, which was largely mediated through photography. 

Boedi Widjaja
希望你能對我說你愛我 (Please say you love me)
archival print under diasec
31.5 x 47.2 in. (80 x 120 cm)
Boedi Widjaja
想著你回來 (Pining for you)
archival print on Awagami Kozo Thick White
36 1/2 x 68 in (92.7 x 172.7 cm)
Boedi Widjaja
就是找不到往你的方向 (Can't find my way to you)
Archival print under diasec
47 1/4 x 31 1/2 in (120 x 80 cm)
Boedi Widjaja
Keeping you in my heart
Archival print under diasec (Edition of 4 + 1 AP)
35 3/8 x 23 5/8 in (90 x 60 cm)
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Installed on the terrace of the gallery, this work is the artist’s latest iteration of his outdoor photographic installation, Art is only a continuation of war by other means (2016) that was presented at the 1st Yinchuan Biennale. On each flag is a distinct composition of red and blue graphics which represent an encoding of words. Together, the flags read “Art is only a continuation of war by other means,” a reference to “Diplomacy is only a continuation of war by other means”—a famous Clausewitzian quote credited to Premier Zhou, as reported by American journalist Edgar Snow in 1954. The short and long clicks of the Morse Code are transposed into red and blue wavelengths, forming abstract compositions. 

Boedi Widjaja
Art is only a continuation of war by other means
UV Inkjet vinyl print on steel
31 x 1535 x 2 in.
Boedi Widjaja
Art is only a continuation of war by other means (flags)
Series of 10 dye-sublimation printed flags
Each flag: 47 1/4 x 31 1/2 in (120 x 80 cm)
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Outdoor installation view of Art is only a continuation of war by other means, 2016.
UV Vinyl inkjet print on steel, dimensions variable.
Commissioned by the Yinchuan Biennale. 10 Sep - 18 Dec, 2016. Museum of Contemporary Art, Yinchuan, China. Curated by Bose Krishnamachari.

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