The first exhibition in the Art Gallery of New South Wales' temporary exhibitions space within the new Asian galleries is the confronting and moving larger-than-life sculptures of human suffering by Dadang Christanto.
Christanto's work speaks eloquently for the victims of oppression and social injustice. The sixteen male and female figures in this installation represent displaced victims, mutely carrying the bodies of innocent men, women and children who have been killed - testament to the inhumanity of man, a silent monument to communal grief.
Currently living in Darwin and working as a lecturer at the University of the Northern Territory, Christanto has a significant reputation internationally as well as in his own country, Indonesia. His artistic oeuvre includes painting, drawing, performance, sculpture and installations.
Known as a radical student during his training in Yogyakarta in the 1980s, Christanto became part of a community of artists and intellectuals formed by the famous Indonesian poet W.S. Rendra, which worked in interdisciplinary ways across visual art, music and theatre. After graduation he worked in low-cost media for various community groups, which heightened his critical approach to social, cultural and political issues and greatly influenced his perception of what he wanted to achieve through his art practice.
A recent purchase by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, They give evidence strikes an immediate, primeval chord of empathy, pain and compassion, and is a compelling universal plea against inhumanity.