Melati Suryodarmo in performance (image courtesy the artist via Asia Society)

The Indonesian performance artist Melati Suryodarmo has spoken about he she uses the Javanese meditation practice sumarah to deepen her performances — calling it, in an Ocula Magazine interview published earlier this year, “an element that I use not to control, but to sense my being and also sense the being and presence of others.” Suryodarmo has done immersive performance art for the last 25 years, and this quote is especially interesting given that her latest performance will use Javanese mysticism and modern technology to explore the artist’s dreams. 

On October 18 and 19, the Asia Society Museum will play host to Suryodarmo’s “IF WE WERE XYZ,” commissioned by the museum’s interdisciplinary program Creative Common Ground. Suryodarmo created a “self-devised sleep laboratory” using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine to document her dreams. She then gave the raw EEG files to her collaborator, the artist and technologist Antonius Oki Wiriadjaja, to convert into musical scores and visual representations. The same dream data was then given to another collaborator, the vocalist and composer Jessika Kenney, to create a music to accompany Suryodarmo’s performances.

There are only two chances to catch the performance, but the artist will also hold a conversation earlier in the week as well to discuss her work and practice. It’ll be fascinating to see how she invites an audience’s presence into her dreams.

When: Conversation: Tuesday, October 15, 6:30–8 pm; performances: Thursday, October 17, 3–6 pm; Friday, October 18, 5–8 pm.
Where: Asia Society Museum New York (725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan)

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Eric Vilas-Boas

Eric Vilas-Boas is the former managing editor of Hyperallergic. He has previously worked at Thrillist, Esquire, SPIN,, and his writing has appeared at Vulture, Slashfilm, Lit Hub, Paste,...