Diyan is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Visual Art and Material Practice at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Our Interview with Diyan about her work to be displayed at the Exhibition:
Q: Can you tell me about the work(s) of yours that will be included in the ARO exhibition/event?
A: I believe that Martha is including Camouflagehead, an experimental video I completed in 2000. I made Camouflagehead in response to the May 1998 riots in Jakarta, Indonesia, that led up to the resignation of Suharto (who had been president since 1966).
Q: How do you connect to copyright or the law?
A: I’m very much interested in how copies, and the right to copy, are seen in the law for a number of reasons. I teach printmaking and make prints, and print media is predicated on the idea of making multiples. Also, there is a long history in contemporary art practice of commenting / critiquing / responding to previously existing works, which is sometimes manifested through remaking or copying the preceding works. As our experiences become more mediated, so for many people will the genesis of their works — again, as a way to comment, engage, and critique.
Q: Has copyright ever affected your work?
A: Not yet.
Diyan Achjadi uses print media, animation, and drawing to investigate the ways that the circulation and dissemination of mass-media images in popular culture contribute to the formation of knowledge. Her current work looks at conformity, militarism, and questions of nationalism and identity through the use of seemingly simplistic, brightly-colored prints.
Recent exhibitions include Sugar Bombs (Kamloops Art Gallery, Mendel Gallery, and Centre M-A-I), The Further Adventures of Girl (Richmond Art Gallery, Oboro) and A Little Distillery in NowGong (Centre A, Ottawa City Hall Gallery). Her work has been published magazines such as The Vancouver Review, Fuse, and Front.
Diyan received a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art (1993) and an MFA in Print Media from Concordia University (2002).
From Diyan’s website:
In my art practice and my teaching, I work in print media and its related technologies. Print Media as a discipline includes both the material practice of making repeatable images and texts, as well as the discursive space in which ideas about how, when multiplied, reproduced, and disseminated, images and texts contribute to the formation of identity and community through shared knowledge. I define printmaking in the most expansive way, including a range of processes from potato prints to interactive digital outputs. In taking the notion of the computer – more specifically, digital code as manifested in pixels and vectors – as the matrix, a variety of output methods that seem disparate can be thought of as an extension of the language of print, due to their inherent reproducibility. A digital “print” can exist in still, moving, and interactive forms.
My interest in print media is in its social function as a means of reproducing visual and textual information, especially in the ways in which codes of behavior, power structures, and belief systems are manifested in mass-produced works. Print media, through enabling reproduction and dissemination, can be used as a tool of power by entrenching ideologies in a society, while also providing for the possibility of their dismantling. I examine to popular mass media – women’s magazines, advertisements, mass-produced toys, news programs, and children’s books, for example – and the ways that the images and texts generated by these media, through their perpetual repetition, can form an accepted “truth.”
As such, popular media can be seen as a primary vehicle for normalizing ideologies of power. In response, my current work unpacks the ways that militarism and militaristic activities are illustrated, appropriated and reproduced in material culture aimed at children. I am particularly interested in the ways that symbols of power are made to seem harmless through their use in entertainment and decoration. Their manifestation in children’s toys and printed matter, for instance, relegate them into the realm of play. Mimicking adult objects and situations, toys miniaturize, sanitize, and simplify; coated in sugar-sweet colors, they exist within a veneer of harmlessness, using the guise of play to lull and seduce viewers into participation. I appropriate the visual and verbal language used in these media – overly lush and colorful, almost-cute, and seemingly simplistic scenarios – as a means of commenting on and questioning the many ways that our contemporary society is militarized. Through this process, I aim to uncover hidden readings and provide alternatives to dominant cultural narratives.