Taking traditional elements, myths and iconography from ancient Balinese culture and literature, Sasmita departs from convention and traces the marginalised narrative of women in Balinese society.
Citra Sasmita (b.1990, Indonesia) is concerned with unravelling the myths and misconceptions of Balinese art and culture. She is also deeply invested in questioning a woman’s place in social hierarchy and seeks to upend normative constructs of gender. Due to her interests and research around these themes of identity and agency, the artist’s oeuvre is often peppered with provocative themes that challenges the status quo, whether in its aesthetics or the messages that it conveys. Taking traditional elements, myths and iconography from ancient Balinese culture and literature, Sasmita departs from convention and traces the marginalised narrative of women in Balinese society. In her works, she endows her female figures with powerful agency, which reimagines the depiction of Balinese women against the backdrop of a patriarchal Indonesian society.
For Sasmita, foregrounding women who are aware of their agency means to get close to the image of free-thinking human, Descartes’ “I think, therefore I am.” She rejects the ubiquitous portrayal of Balinese women as passive decorative elements that exist primarily for the gratification of the tourist and male gaze; incorporating mythical references and transforming classical narratives of war and romance to symbolise female resistance instead. Her practice reflects the complexity between the Anthropocene, post-human, and feminism while simultaneously repositioning women within the historical canon – an action that is necessarily urgent in her Balinese environment.
Sasmita has been exhibited internationally at various institutions and biennales, including the Kathmandu Triennale 2021-2022, Nepal; Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta; ParaSite Hong Kong; MACAN Museum, Jakarta; and Redbase Foundation, Yogyakarta. Her most recent solo exhibition, ‘Ode to the Sun’ was held at Yeo Workshop, Singapore in 2020. In the same year, Sasmita was commissioned by UOB Museum MACAN Jakarta to create ‘Tales of Nowhere’ for the Children Art Space; following her recognition as the Gold Winner UOB Painting of The Year in 2017.