Art and Religion Exhibition: REIFICATION

Daud Sihombing | CRCS | Article

Desain Thumbnail ReifikasiWilfred C. Smith in his book “The Meaning and the End of Religion,”  defines reification  as mentally making religion into a thing, gradually coming to conceive of religion as an objective systematic entity. In this process, religions are standardized and institutionalized. For instance, there were no “Hindus” who defined their practice as Hinduism until the term Hindu was established by Muslims and later British colonizers who invaded and sought to know and rule India. It was Muslims and Westerners with their concepts of religion who constructed or reified  Hinduism.

Based on Smith’s insight, I am going to conduct an art exhibition which I  call REIFICATION. In this exhibition I  create an imaginary government institution named the Department of Certification. In my exhibition, this fictional governmental institution issues certificates for beliefs that fulfill the requirements to be recognized as a religion. My goals by conducting this exhibition are framing the religious discourse I learned in the Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies (CRCS), Universitas Gadjah Mada, in a different medium and offering new perspectives for seeing religious life in Indonesia.

This project can be considered a reflection of the past or the prediction for the future. What I mean by the reflection of the past is that I am going to visualize the unseen practice of standardizing the concept of religion and recognizing particular religions that happen in the past, especially in Indonesia. In predicting the future, I argue that this governmental institution can exist in Indonesia when the Bill of Rights protecting all religious people has been finalized.

This method of manipulating, imitating, pretending, or camouflaging in order to document an alternate reality has been used effectively by both Indonesian and foreign artists. An Indonesian artist, Agan Harahap created a photo series entitled The Reminiscence Wall,  a compilation of “fictional novels” based on history that combines various realities of what happened in the past. Another example is Robert Zhao Renhui, a Singaporean multi-disciplinary artist. He constructs and layers each of his subjects with narratives, interweaving the real and the fictional. He focuses on the relation between humans and the natural world. Both Agan and Robert Zhao creates new “facts”based on their own fictional narratives.

This exhibition will be held in:
LIR Space, Yogyakarta, from September 3rd to 17th, 2016.
Open 12 pm – 20 pm, Closed on Monday.
It will be curated by Mira Asriningtyas as part of the ongoing Exhibition Laboratory project organized by Lir Space.

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