Canadian-Indonesian artist Ari Bayuaji takes the notion of ‘home’ and transforms it into a visual language (mostly sculptural) where reclaimed, personal and at times found objects tell a story of his, and others he encounters on his life-long journey’s ideas of home. Having moved from Bali to Montreal as a young adult, objects from his homeland became emblematic as survival tools in a new city, and later, they were gradually incorporated into artworks. Home is tricky to ground as just physical since whatever one sees, views or tries to recreate is constantly evolving. Home, one might argue, could then be considered as abstract and thus residing in the mind, but open to a variety of interchangeable meanings depending on context, social, cultural and indeed political.

For his most recent exhibition, No Place Like Home as part of Rotterdam Kunsthal’s Light series showcasing international emerging artists, Bayuaji created a site-specific installation in the display window along the museum building’s front sloping walkway. He assembled wooden components from old buildings from Indonesia and Rotterdam, together with paintings, drawings and photographs creating what looked like fragments of the familiar domestic space one inhabits. The viewer was left to create their own image based on their own interpretations of what they saw in fragments alluding to a space that once or no longer exists or one that might be imagined. During the two-week installation, Bayuaji engaged with visitors to the museum who share stories with him as he created No Place Like Home many of which told of their Dutch-Indonesian heritage, family histories, and of living in Indonesia, a place they once called home. A poignant moment of exchange even led to a member of the public donating a personal photograph for the artist’s use.

Importantly, this installation has at its core the prevalent theme of the right to belong and the ability to ‘feel at home’ as individuals choose or are forced to migrate. What then becomes the role of objects we carry with us which also embody alternative home-making strategies aiming to transcend the ‘logic of identities’ where one group’s ability to feel at home comes at the expense of other groups? A passport, letters, parts of a building, old Mexican canvas money bags, indigenous fabrics, everyday materials that create a sense of rootedness in a new country. As curator of his exhibition, Natalya Boender observes:

“We were touched all by Ari’s commitment to making political commentary in his work while being very serious and poetic at the same time. This is a rare quality, and it makes his work relevant,” Boender adds. “The fact that Ari comments on critical global issues in a very approachable manner is a beautiful way to share experiences and ideas.”

Bayuaji’s transforms everyday materials taken for granted and turns them into something more meaningful and aesthetic language whilst at the same time asking viewers to reassess, rethink and reimagine how meanings of longing and belonging continually shift with the times.

Ari Bayuaji is currently completing a residency funded by ‘la Fondation Agnès B. Paris’ and ‘Yves de la Tour d’ Auvergne’ in Sainte Alvère, France where he has created five site-specific sculptures in different historic buildings. He will present new works which are the outcomes a research residency at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts earlier this year in a solo exhibition opening on 23 November 2017 at Conseil des Arts de Montréal.
For further information on the artist visit

by Jareh Das