And from her navel grew rice: Dewi Sri and her manifestations
Irene Agrivina & Faisal Husni
There are many forms of and images dedicated to the goddess Dewi Sri in Bali and Java, from wooden sculptures to coins and mounds of rice. Faisal Husni will highlight some of these, focusing largely on cili figures (offerings made of woven palm leaves) in the ACM collection. He will explore how bringing these images into museum spaces raises complicated questions about collecting ephemeral objects, as well as those produced specifically for the consumption of non-locals, such as tourism art and commissions for early 20th-century World Fairs.
In addition to Dewi Sri, there are a number of other goddesses of rice across Southeast Asia, reflecting shared beliefs in fertility deities amongst different communities of the region. Irene Agrivina will explore some of these different divine manifestations – from Mae Pho Sop to Nang Khosop – and will highlight the shrines, amulets, myths, and mantras surrounding them. She will examine how Dewi Sri influenced her own art and practice, and how the goddess provides a potent approach to communicating about biology and pseudoscience.
About the Speakers
Artist, technologist, and educator Irene Agrivina works at the intersection between art, science, and technology. A founding member and current co-director of House of Natural Fiber in Yogyakarta, she is engaged in collaborative, cross-disciplinary, multimedia actions responding to social, cultural, and environmental challenges. She co-founded XXLab, an all-female collective focusing on arts, science, and free technology, in 2013. Her projects have been presented internationally at IFVA New Media Art Festival, Hong Kong (2017); 5th Anyang Public Art Project, South Korea (2016); Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria (2015); and Pixelache Festival, Helsinki, Finland (2013).
Muhammad Faisal Husni is assistant curator for Island Southeast Asia at ACM. He holds an MA (Research) from the School of Art, Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University. His research interests include multi-religious and multicultural heritage and spaces of worship, as well as religious art and traditions of Singapore, Southeast Asia, and the Malay world. His main area of study is centred on keramat graves in Singapore and the Malay world, which was the focus of his MA thesis: “The grave that became a shrine: The lives of keramat graves in Singapore.”
ACMtalks brings leading scholars in conversation with curators at ACM to explore our core curatorial themes: Maritime Trade, Faith & Belief, and Materials & Design. These lectures and discussions will illuminate aspects of the museum’s collection strengths in export art and sacred objects, as well as Asian fashion and textiles, lacquer and silver, jewellery, and ceramics. Webinars take place on the third Thursday of every month, from 7 to 8 pm, Singapore Standard Time (UTC+08).
ACMtalks is supported by Kris Foundation
Kris Foundation is a non-profit initiative set up in 2009 by Kris Tan. The Foundation is dedicated to empowering young classical musicians in Singapore and the region through its scholarships, support of arts organisations and signature concert series.