Performnce Video
29 minutes, 30 seconds

Kiss is the artist’s representation of how western gaze on Asian women and the somatophobia within Indonesian culture have been internalised by her.

She applies red lipstick to kiss the parts of her body my lips can reach, contorting it in uncomfortable positions in the process. Throughout the performance, a photographer obsessively takes photographs of her body. Being filmed in a bare studio the location of the work is unclear, the performance becomes contextualised as it is shown in the UK and Indonesia, garnering reactions that reinforce the politicisation of this female body in different cultural scopes.

Photo taken by Dea Rahajeng X

“These hypersexual or sexually passive representations of Asian women in western media are so commonplace it becomes impossible to address Asian women in contemporary art without associating them to these. I utilise these stereotypes to my advantage, showing owning your own body unapologetically not only caters to these stigmas, but emphasises the rarity of an Asian female speaking up. Hence the reactions received in London was reinforced by western feminism ideas of sexual liberation, the red that I adorned my body with seen as a representation of desire, intensity and power. I was seen as an “empowering, brave Asian”.

In Indonesia, I was shamed for willingly placing myself nude in front of a camera. The overarching perspective I received was how my body was not solely mine to be showing, but also my parents. Being told “Indonesians don’t do that, this what you learned from the west” is the reaction that exhibits the ideology that Indonesia has lost another woman to the west when she does not conform. Contrastingly, red represents the top of Indonesia’s flag, which symbolises the blood of those who sacrificed themselves for the country.

These contrasting views about my body raise questions regarding my body image, and feelings of ownership over my body - is my body mine, is it owned by those who sexualise me, or owned by my family?”