Leonard Suryajaya

Leonard Suryajaya

Work from False Idol.

“… Leonard Suryajaya’s series False Idols pushes the boundaries of representation of his/our intimate relationships. Using his loved ones as subjects in his bizarre play, Suryajaya creates elaborate scenes that are beautiful, absurd and at times disturbing. He works with several different mediums to stretch our point of view on immigration and culture norms. Suryajaya’s collages are immediately curious and unusual, yet at the same time highlight a tenderness that is very familiar. Along with photographs and video, Suryajaya also uses text as part of his imagery, words appear handwritten in installations, prints are created from his text chains, or emails superimposed into his images. The mix of words and images create an elaborate stage for multi-generational and racially diverse cast who perform his unique visual language. In the end, his work highlights that being different comes at an awkward emotional cost even though it’s something we all understand.

Play, Mess, and imagination all touch within the frames of Leonard Suryajaya. There are exquisite disruptions of patterns and people. fingertips buzzing, the colorful leaves of plastics and fruits, and mouths almost always stuffed with something extraterrestrial. Suryajaya photographs, films, and makes art of something equally unexpected, as it is familiar and ancestral. False Idol explores themes of camaraderie and theatre, fleeing a homeland and putting down roots. A Chinese-Indonesian immigrant, Suryajaya is ready for powers and authorities that want to question the legitimacy of his every last morsel. “I’m going to make this work over the course of my Green Card application. I want to use this body of work as a way to document, reimagine, and expose that process”.

Suryajaya is possessed by navigating respect with pushiness. The rules of government and patriarchy are in place to watch and pry; the works of False Idol fight back with astute dexterity. Why simplify anything? In these works there is bargaining and resilience. The world that lurks inside Suryajaya’s frames seems both informed by an established visual history as much as it seeks to find a new place in the future on a planet not too dissimilar from this one. Or perhaps that place is still Earth, one where limitations have been outsmarted. Where the bizarre, unexpected, and queer can co-mingle and couple.

Suryajaya stands in the middle of streets, collecting, gathering, thinking, and finding all these simple things so they can be exposed for how outlandish they are capable of being. Our world no longer has to be what we’ve come to expect of its we’re better than that, this world deserves better than us if we can’t push ourselves towards the discovery that combining opposites will empower us. Our trauma is real and will make things difficult. We will either be for one another or we will be against one another. Suryajaya offers us this confusion as a tool to see possibility.” – Carrie Levy for CENTER.

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