b. 1977, Bandung, Indonesia
Reza Afisina was born in 1977 in Bandung, Indonesia. He studied cinematography—specifically sound recording for film and documentary features—at Jakarta Institute of the Arts, Indonesia (1995–99). He was an artist in residence at KHOJ International Artists’ Association, New Delhi, in 2004. Afisina is a member of the Jakarta-based artists’ collective ruangrupa (est. 2000), a nonprofit organization focused on supporting art initiatives in an urban context through research, collaboration, workshops, exhibitions, and publications. He served as the program coordinator for ruangrupa from 2003–07 and has been the artistic director of their ArtLab since its inception in 2008.
Employing video, perfomance, and installation, and often using his own body in his work, Afisina explores the manifestations and meanings of physical and emotional pain. In his performance and video An Easy Time With Parenthood (2008), a text from Julio Cortazar’s short story “Las babas del diablo” is tattooed on the artist’s arm alongside a biblical text in Latin. Experimenting with word as image, Afisina theorizes that pain is not only indicative of violence, but can also function as a reflection of honesty, freedom, and even happiness. His earlier video My Chemical Sisters (2004), which depicts cosmetics ingredients against images of advertising models, explores pain in a different way. Made mostly from chemicals, the cosmetics here embody a disjunction between our desire for physical perfection and the toxins we employ in the hope of achieving it. Afisina’s later installation, Letters to International Curators (2008), departs from his established thematic to focus instead on the concept of written and personal interaction and the communicative limits of language. The exhibited work consists of documentation of a series of exhibition proposals by the artist that was sent to curators of his acquaintance worldwide.
Afisina has performed and screened his work in such group exhibitions as OK Video Festival in Jakarta (2003, 2010, and 2011); Taboo and Transgression in Contemporary Indonesian Art, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2005); Simple Actions and Aberrant Behaviors, PICA, Portland (2007), Jakarta Biennial (2009); Move on Asia: The End of Video Art, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong (2010 and 2012); Moving Image from Indonesia, ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (2011); and City Net Asia, Seoul Museum of Art (2011). Afisina lives and works in Jakarta.