Arahmaiani, Offerings from A–Z, 1996
Offerings from A–Z, (2)

In her artistic works, Arahmaiani Feisal (*1961, Western Java) questions the contradictions and paradoxes of her country through performances, installations, drawings, poetry, dance, and music, as well as most recently through participative projects developed together with social and religious communities. Her performances amount to protests against social injustice, violence, political corruption, and the woman’s position in Muslim society. Arahmaiani, who openly expresses her Muslim faith, advocates as an artist an Islam that is open and tolerant, fighting to eradicate the violent and military-like interpretations of it in the Western world caused by radical Islamic groups.

Offerings from A–Z is made up of a series of performances taking place at a Buddhist temple in Chiangmai, Thailand, and questions the growing problem of prostitution in Asia. In the second performance of the series, the artist’s body is lying on a stone, distributing pages from pornographic magazines to the audience. These pages are set on fire as a type of ritual offering, thus establishing an unsettling connection between the religious and the profane, between tradition and the social reality. Later, Arahmaiani lies on the floor covering herself with white sheets stained with blood. Lining both sides, there are offering plates and two rows of weapons. The blood represents violence and, at the same time, is a metaphor for the duality that Asian women face: praised and respected for their fertility and, yet, discriminated against for their menstruation by being prohibited access to the temples and holy sites.

Courtesy Arahmaiani

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ritual, activism