Breathing Room, 2019

A collaborative project by Woven Kolektif:
Alfira O’Sullivan, Bridie Gillman, Ida Lawrence, Kartika Suharto-Martin, Leyla Stevens, Sofiyah Ruqayah

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Photo Cement Fondu 2.jpg

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Courtesy Cement Fondu

25 May – 21 July 2019
Cement Fondu Project Space: 36 Gosbell St, Paddington NSW Australia

Woven Kolektif have created a warm and nurturing environment that is inspired by shared and individual experiences of loss and love and invites visitors to reflect on the role of art in the processes of healing and resisting.

Featuring sound and video works, text-based and audiovisual archives, refreshments, and a live workshop and performances, Breathing Room offers a temporary gathering space for moments of collectivity, care and solace that reflects the Indonesian concept of nongkrong, or ‘spending time together’.

Woven write: ‘Nongkrong can be considered a kind of subversive activity in that it reframes Western based notions of idleness, and instead places value on “wasting time” as encouraging collectivity and knowledge sharing.’

The exhibition both poses conceptual questions and offers an experience of safety and respite in relation to deeply ‘uncaring’ sentiments that are expressed today within national and global culture wars and discussions of identity politics.

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Photo Cement Fondu.jpg

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation views. Courtesy Cement Fondu


Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation: tikar (mat), guling (pillows), krupuk, bananas, tiger balm, remedial oils, soap, handwritten text, books on care, broom, scent

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Photo Cement Fondu 3.jpg

Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Courtesy Cement Fondu


Leyla Stevens, Signalmasters II 2014, two-channel video, 3:43min loop


Woven Kolektif, Breathing Room 2019, installation view. Courtesy Cement Fondu

Sofiyah Ruqayah, Sutures 2019, textile installation, found fabric, bamboo, natural dyes, ink, lavender oil, blue chamomile oil, ‘Bee Brand’ Minyak Gosok (medicated oil), dimensions variable



On Care an audio archive 2019, collected and edited by Woven Kolektif, Mastered by Tim Bruniges.jpgWoven Kolektif and contributors, On Care, an audio archive 2019, text on paper, audio, 43:24min. Curated and edited by Woven Kolektif. Audio mastering by Tim Bruniges


Ida Lawrence, 5 a.m. 2013, performance and video, performed with Nicole Laux. 28:02min. Documentation by Peter Murphy, Articulate Project Space. This cross-artform project was assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body.

5 a.m. takes its starting point from the daily acts of care of my uncle’s family in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and their unconditional generosity, kindness and acceptance I have experienced. References include my uncle’s daily sweeping of the yard he shares with his neighbours after returning from morning prayers; the two ‘time zones’ we inhabit, even while in the same city; the slowness, smoothness, and minute details of classical Javanese dance; and that strange feeling of being too tired to even go to bed. 

Kartika Suharto-Martin and Alfira O'Sullivan performing Genjer-Genjer, 25 May 2019. Photo Cement Fondu.jpg

Kartika Suharto-Martin and Alfira O’Sullivan performing Genjer-Genjer, Opening night performance, 25 May 2019. Originally performed by Suara Indonesia Dance. Courtesy Cement Fondu


‘Genjer-Genjer’ may be considered Indonesia’s most controversial song. Composed in 1943 by poet and songwriter Muhammad Arif, during a time of severe food shortages in Banyuwangi in  Java, it is a simple tune about picking an edible weed called genjer (growing in abundance along river banks) to sell at the markets, and preparing it with rice and sambal. A song about survival; a mother providing for her family. In the 1960s it was recorded and re-popularised by Lilis Suryani and Bing Slamet and later adopted by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) as political propaganda material. Later, under the Suharto dictatorship the ‘anthem’ of the ‘evil’ PKI was banned, forcibly erasing it from Indonesia’s collective memory, while millions of suspected communists were arrested and an estimated 500,000 people, including Muhammad Arif, were tortured and later killed. Today, ‘Genjer-Genjer’ has been revisited and reclaimed by Indonesian artists locally and abroad. However, the song remains a culturally subversive and highly stigmatised piece of music throughout much of Indonesia. There is an entire generation of the Indonesian community who know the song word-for-word but still cannot find the courage to sing the first note.


Kartika Suharto-Martin and Alfira O'Sullivan performing Genjer-Genjer, 25 May 2019. Photo Cement Fondu 2.jpg

Public Programs:

Furious Care, Saturday 22 June, 3-4:30pm. Facilitated by Alfira O’Sullivan & Kartika Suharto-Martin

In this workshop, participants will collectively create sound, body movement and tactile experiences with materials in the gallery space and look at the negotiations and layers in the different meanings of care, fury, and resistance. 

Lelo Ledung, Saturday 22 June, 4:30pm, following Furious Care. Performance by Kartika Suharto-Martin

Lelo Ledung blends a sound recording of Kartika’s first birthing experience with a live performance of a Javanese lullaby. For Kartika, the lullaby is just as much an act of love for herself as it is for her children. Reflecting on her experience as a mother, Kartika says, ‘It can completely strip you mentally and physically, but you get back up and you continue… It will never stop. I will forever love furiously and I can’t imagine I would ever stop worrying about my babies. Fully. Until I’m dead. I’ve realised that connecting to my culture through song is so important to me and is part of caring for myself. So I’ll sing to my kids, but I’m really singing for myself’.


Woven Kolektif wish to acknowledge the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we exhibit. We pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging, and recognise that sovereignty has never been ceded.