Peter, I know these last few months have been hard for you but I’m going to a better place and I’ll be okay and I’ll always be with you. You’re the light of my life, my precious son, my little Star-Lord. Love, mom.
Gazing on Identity / Menewarang Identitas by FX Harsono (胡丰文). 2016.
A founding member of of Indonesia’s Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (New Art Movement), Javanese-Chinese contemporary artist FX Harsono is widely recognized for his performance and installation art as a response to the former dictatorial Suharto regime and subsequent violence against Indonesia’s Chinese minority. Into the 21st century, Harsono’s primary focus has shifted from critique of politics to exploration of identity within the Chinese-Indonesian community.
Gazing on Identity is Harsono’s most recent solo exhibition that examines the controversy of Chinese identity documents and the suspicion that surrounds them. The exhibit’s components range from installations of wooden blocks, digital prints, and LED lights to traditional drawings and oil on canvas. These varying mediums are unified under the theme of juxtaposing documented identity with cultural identity.
“For the Chinese, although they were born in Indonesia, they are still considered as migrant. Apart from Indonesian Citizenship certificate, they must also have other documents, where this regulation is not applied to ‘real’ Indonesians. The dichotomy of real-migrant, free-bonded, is presented in this work.” -FX Harsono.
These pictures are like a queer love story in three panels.
The glove in that first picture reminds me of the poem that the (fictional) bisexual poet Christabel LaMotte writes in A.S. Byatt’s Possession, about her long-term romantic relationship with another woman:
Gloves lie together
Limp and calm
Finger to finger
Palm to palm
With whitest tissue
In these quiet cases
With hands creep
With supple stretchings
Out of sleep
Fingers clasp fingers
Troth to keep
Gloves, especially white gloves, are a recurring image in Possession whenever lesbianism is alluded to. Because y’know, gloves are an oblique way to refer to the hands inside them. And we all know what lady-loving-ladies like to do with their hands. I’ve never looked at a white glove the same way since.