interview#19: Dey Irfan Adianto

Born in Jakarta in 1989,  Irfan was interested in the world if fine arts when he moved to
moved to Bandung in 2003.  The blooming arts scene at the time forced him to roam
around galleries and creative collectives to check out the latest works from
local talents.
Now in Singapore studying fine arts, he likes makes works that plays with the poetics of
the materials itself.  With the frequent use of wood, fabric, and paper,  he takes on
the subject of sensibility, nature, and local happenings. Check out more of his work here and here. Irfan presented a piece titled At Hong Lim Park, inspired by Pink Dot event for his Fine Art Diploma Graduation show at NAFA, check out his work here.

Question(Q): At Hong Lim Park, your sculpture piece at the NAFA Fine Art Diploma Graduation show is about Pink Dot? Tell us more about this work.

Dey Irfan Adianto (Irfan): This is piece is a response to the event of Pink Dot, which is Singapore’s first-ever gay pride.  I think they are doing a good job at introducing the LGBT community to the general public and hopefully it can break many taboos and myths that surrounds the subject of homosexuality.  It’s a  courageous move for organizers to come up with this since it’s the first of it’s kind in Singapore, so I believe this can really go down in history.  With my work I’d like to raise awareness to this event using the pedestal of fine arts.

Q: You have been researching about this event since last year. How has your research brought you to?

Irfan: It made me stumble upon this very good essay by  Russel Heng, titled “Tip Toe out of the Closet: the Before and After the Increasingly Visible Gay Community in Singapore”.  It’s basically chronicles the growth of the gay scene in Singapore from the sixties to the late nineties.  First of all I never knew that Singapore had a vibrant social movement like this so I find this very useful for my research.  After some discussions with my lecturer, we concluded that  Pink Dot might not be as a separate event in itself, but can be seen as a development to this movement, and that I should incorporate this to the piece.  That’s why I added the pink roots as way to symbolize this “underground” movement.

Q: Do you collaborate with the event team for this work?

Irfan: I did interview them last year and found out that Pink Dot’s funding came out entirely out of the LGBT community itself, no corporate back ups or something like that.  I find that awesome.

Q: Why Pink Dot?

Irfan: Maybe because a similar event of that scale could never happen in my homecountry, Indonesia.  The general public is still so closed minded there and I can’t see it happening in many years.  I guess I’m simply proud that Singaporeans are mature enough to allow such event to happen.

In a more personal note, the first Pink Dot was held 10 months after I first came to Singapore. So it feels great to be able attend a historical event right from the very beginning.

Q: As a young artist, responding to a major LGBT event becomes a form of active participation. How do you see your relationship with the subject?

I would see myself as a supporter, and the work is not only a way to raise awareness, but also as a documentation in a form of an art work.

Q: How do you think this work function or perform in local art context? In addition to that, what about LGBT-themed works that deal with body images and sensitive issues?

Irfan: Hopefully the piece can be an addition to other art works that talks about local subjects.  Singapore has lots of interesting local content, and I think more artists should tap into that.

About LGBT-related works, the depiction of body image is great to begin with.  It has that attraction that can lead viewers into the topic of the work.In fact I’m going to experiment on it now that school is over.

I’d just like to add that I hope more artists would explore other ways to bring up LGBT issues in art.  That way, it can prevent viewers from automatically associating LGBT art with sexual content.  It’s not a bad thing, but you wouldn’t want to be generalized.

Q: What are your future plans?

Irfan: Honestly, I really want to be an Etsy crafter.  I have more free time now that school is over, so now I’m just gonna focus on it.

Q: Any last words for LGBT community?

Irfan: Come out, come out whoever you are

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