2016 - Ongoing
Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia; Chicago, Illinois, United States; Maine, United States; New York, United States
Play, Mess, and imagination all touch within the frames of Leonard Suryajaya. There are exquisite disruptions of patterns and people. The fauna of floral printed sheets touch all the sticky sauce labels on tables and surface tops. fingertips buzzing, the colorful leaves of plastics and fruits, and mouths almost always stuffed with something extraterrestrial. Suryajaya photographs, films, and makes art of something equally unexpected, as it is familiar and ancestral. His body of work False Idol (a work in progress) explores themes of camaraderie and theatre, fleeing a homeland and putting down roots. A Chinese-Indonesian immigrant, Suryajaya is ready for powers and authorities that want to question the legitimacy of his every last morsel. "I'm going to make this work over the course of my Green Card application. I want to use this body of work as a way to document, reimagine, and expose that process".
Suryajaya is possessed by navigating respect with pushiness. The rules of government and patriarchy are in place to watch and pry; the works of False Idol fight back with astute dexterity. Why simplify anything? In these works there is bargaining and resilience. Yards of drapery are found in homes of his subjects and around town. Piles and pieces of paper all strung up in layers and folded into lanterns garnish a different view. The world that lurks inside Suryajaya's frames seems both informed by an established visual history as much as it seeks to find a new place in the future on a planet not too dissimilar from this one. Or perhaps that place is still Earth, one where limitations have been outsmarted. Where the bizarre, unexpected, and queer can co-mingle and couple.
We need to see things from a different perspective. It will ennoble us. It will empower societies. It will feed thoughts and minds that need more than business as usual. Intersections fill with everyday use and everything that happens. Suryajaya stands in the middle of streets, collecting, gathering, thinking, and finding all these simple things so they can be exposed for how outlandish they are capable of being. Our world no longer has to be what we've come to expect of its we're better than that, this world deserves better than us if we can't push ourselves towards the discovery that combining opposites will empower us. Our trauma is real and will make things difficult. We will either be for one another or we will be against one another. Suryajaya offers us this confusion as a tool to see possibility.
- Text by Efrem Zelony-Mindell