Jakarta June 3, 2017 / Indonesia Media. One of nine younger Southeast Asian artists who attend Mutual Unknown in National Gallery in Jakarta, Tan Vatey (Cambodia) is attracting visitors with her ‘bad cigarettes’ artwork. Vatey, 25, found more Indonesian people smoke cigarettes than in her country. Besides, provincial administrations of cities she has visited do not put much sign which ban people smoking in public areas. Vatey who volunteers to teach art in Phnom Penh sees only a slight difference between smoking habits and junk food. “I create my artwork by displaying stuff including cigarettes, crispy, mushroom that gives interpretation of public awareness towards the ban of smoking (in public places). Besides, my artwork in such arrangement may encourage people to minimize junk food in their daily life,” Vatey said.
Vatey with another eight artists coming from Southeast Asian countries (except Brunei Darussalam) display the art projects. Artists work things out after originating the curators who gather in CuratorsLab. They questioned how a regional project can bring about the effort to create sustainable networking and real discussions on barriers and obstacles between art professionals in Southeast Asia region. Global current situation is the occurrence of communication barriers despite the high technology penetration. Artists use art exhibition which may be alternative solution to counter the barrier of culture and language. The situation needs to be acted upon, especially those derived from differences in culture and language. “I use the stuff to express the idea of how people manage to live healthy. I put the sport shoes among the mushrooms. It means that people can run away from poisonous mushrooms. That is the way of people who need to live healthy without smoking and reduce junk food,” she said.
Vatey reiterates that smoking here in some places in Indonesia is more likely to become fashionable. People smoke in public spaces that they need to exist in modernity. But the situation in Cambodia is different from Indonesia. People will never stay close to those who smoke cigarettes continually. Provincial governments also allocate smoking people in restrictions. “Such as in a shopping centers, people can only smoke in enclosed place, provided by operators. Another thing, is horrible pictures on the cigarette packet, is not helpful. People still buy cigarettes, and ignore the horrible pictures which actually a sign of warning of harm,” she said. (SL/IM)