Born 1949 in Blitar, Indonesia Lives and works in Jakarta, Indonesia
‘At the very least I will demonstrate to the public that there is another version of history that has truly taken place.’ FX Harsono
With a career spanning more than three decades, FX Harsono creates multifaceted research-based works that critique the social, cultural, economic and political histories of Indonesia through the lens of the artist’s identity and experience. Harsono’s works incorporate stories from individuals who have faced oppression, discrimination and victimisation, including Indonesia’s long-persecuted Chinese minority, known as Tionghoans, of which he is a member.
Harsono’s practice embodies the capacity for art to reflect social injustice and to generate change, and for the artist to create a new space for unheard voices. He advocates for the role of the artist as one who probes history, and his works resonate with themes of loss, memory and conflict. Employing a broad range of media, including sculpture, installation, painting, photography, drawing and performance, Harsono frequently uses language as a means simultaneously to create and to dissolve boundaries. He draws attention to the role of language in defining cultural identity, and to injustices that are perpetuated through silence.
Ranjang Hujan (The Raining Bed), 2013, is an installation that depicts a poem in ceramic letters placed on an ornately carved traditional Peranakan bed. The Peranakan are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled in the countries today referred to as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, mostly between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today, these groups are small minorities within their countries, and face cultural, social and political uncertainty. Water cascades from the ceiling of the bed on to the letters. Harsono has used water in many works as a metaphor for cleansing, loss and disappearance. LED text runs across the bedhead in both Indonesian and English, reading:
in my sleep I entangled the past at the tip of the pen history is depicted at the tip of the gun history is deceived at the end of the fountain history washed away.
FX Harsono has held numerous solo exhibitions internationally, including ‘What we have here perceived as truth/we shall someday encounter as beauty’, Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta (2013); ‘Writing in the Rain’, Tyler Rollins, New York (2012); and ‘Testimonies tomorrow’, Singapore Art Museum, Singapore (2010). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Kuota 2013’, Langgeng Art Foundation, Yogyakarta (2013); ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back — Us and Institution, Us as Institution’, Times Museum, Guangzhou (2013); and ‘Rewriting Worlds’, 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011).
 Quoted in H.G Masters, ‘This is History: FX Harsono’, Art and Asia Pacific, September/October 2013, issue 85, p. 123.