Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale #3:
“Coefficient of Expansion”
The theme of the third Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale (JCCB#3), “Coefficient of Expansion”, is indeed derived from a technical term related to a process of ceramic firing. However, at this exhibition, the term is intended as a metaphor describing the diverse and extensive boundaries of ceramic art. The scope of ceramic art might not be immediately considered as part of contemporary art. This is related to the exclusivity of Western modern art paradigm, which has excluded many art forms from being part of modern art. The characters of ceramic art praxis, such as craft/skills, decoration, and function, are not considered important factors in the principles of modern art. In addition, ceramic art is located outside the trajectory of modern art. This is perhaps why ceramic art is usually placed in the realm of craft—known nowadays as contemporary craft—, and often in its hybrid form: craft-art (showing craft sensibilities with art intentions). Although the placement of ceramic art under craft occurs within Western art discourses, its influences have spread around the world. We must acknowledge that in the West, ceramic art is popularly placed under craft institutions, such as a Craft Department (at art higher education institutions), craft councils, craft galleries, craft journals, and craft biennale/triennale events.
The “anything goes” and pluralistic contemporary art scene no longer places emphasis on material hierarchy. Therefore, it is possible for ceramic artists to take part in it. There are now ceramic artists who have gained international recognition, even considered as important figures in global contemporary art scene. Meanwhile, there are many places in the world where traditional ceramic art continues to persist (despite its diminishing number), lending character to local decorative art and traditional art forms. In the context of decorative art and applied art (design), there are many ceramic studios and industries that play important roles in enriching the ceramic art scene. Therefore, it is not easy to pinpoint exactly the boundary of “ceramic art”. It can be connected to either traditional ceramic art, contemporary craft, decorative art, or even design and contemporary art—including contemporary artists who have repeatedly created ceramic art pieces. Ceramic art praxis has undergone quite an expansive development. The theme “Coefficent of Expansion” in the latest edition of JCCB not only maintains a strong relationship with relates strongly to the most recent developments, but is also intended as an investigative effort into the “determining coefficient” that instigate the instigate determines expansion of ceramic art praxis.