Think Big Case Study – Bridging Distance Bridging Generations
Boedi Widjaja is an Indonesian-Singaporean visual artist. Born in Surakarta, Central Java, he moved to Singapore at a young age to escape the ethnic tensions plaguing Indonesia at that time.
Trained as an architect, Boedi’s first career revolved around graphic design, becoming an artist only in his thirties. The methods that he chiefly employs to create his art are drawing, installation and performance. His artistic expressions are often processual and conceptual, ranging from paintings to sculpture, projections and live art.
Identity and Space as Concepts
The notion of identity resonates deeply within Boedi, and is a recurring theme in his body of work. Having lived in Indonesia as an ethnic Chinese, where the Chinese community is a minority, then living and working in Singapore, where the Chinese are the majority. Boedi builds a concept around his own experiences – his own identity, where he lives, the identities of people around him and the interplay of these identities – one artwork at a time.
Unpacking His Personal Library
Boedi’s solo exhibition held at Jendela Visual Arts Space at Esplanade, Path 6, Unpacking My Library 书城, is part of an ongoing series in which he uses different forms of artistic expressions. For Path 6, Boedi uses techniques like drawing, printmaking, installation, video-making and performance to shape “a home in the city”, establishing his sense of place in Singapore, the city-state where he has lived and worked as a foreigner for three decades.
With books being an important part of his childhood, the work features the act of selecting a book from the personal libraries of three generations, Boedi’s father, Boedi himself and his young daughter. The book in question, one of significant sentimental value to the artist, forms the starting point of a personal library, where books take on forms that are both permanent and ephemeral: sculptures, drawings, fleeting utterances, readings, songs and conversations.
Augmenting Performance Art with Canon Technology
One of the pieces featured in the exhibition, an installation piece titled “重见”, or “re-seeing” in Chinese, combines both video and sculpture. Cement-encased books, half excavated with hammers by Boedi and his daughter, lie in front of a video projection of an earlier performance, which also features a projected video. Recorded with Canon XF-205 and XF-305 Professional Camcorders, the video is then projected onto the wall by a Canon XEED WUX5000 projector.
The “video-within-a-video” depicts the artist’s father reading excerpts of Ted Hughes’ “The Iron Man” forming the backdrop for Boedi and his daughter chipping away at the cemented books.
The Canon projector bridges the distance, because Boedi’s father could not be physically present, as well as one of generation. Boedi’s father used to read to him when he was young, and now via the projected film, Boedi lets his daughter experience a slice of his childhood.
Living, Breathing Art
Having used Canon projectors numerous times for his art, Boedi is no stranger to Canon’s state-of-the-art technology, once projecting gigantic images of trees on a canopy of real trees as part of an installation. The clarity of the projected images and the scale of the projection really made Boedi’s artwork come alive, and delighted him. “Canon has really helped me in a very big way, both literally and figuratively,” exclaims Boedi. “Supporting local artists and our craft, and then showcasing our work on the international stage via Esplanade. I think this is the essence of ‘Think Big’.”