Wukir Suryadi

Wukir Suryadi

Wukir Suryadi

Born in Malang, Indonesia, in 1977



Perpetually maintaining his status as a musician from outside the academic tradition, Wukir left his hometown in 1994 and apprenticed himself for five years at Bengkel Teater in Cipayung, led by Rendra (1935-2009). Wukir also studied with the gamelan music maestro and  music deconstruction figure I Wayan Sadra (1953-2001). In 2009, together with Ilham J. Baday, Wukir traveled around East Java and West Java, staging numerous performance art pieces at stations, mental hospitals, town squares, water springs, garbage dumps, and Islamic boarding schools. In 2010, he formed the group Senyawa with Rully Shabara, which is now attracting attention in the alternative music scene, both in Indonesia and internationally.

A world tour including dates in America, Australia, Europe, and Asia in 2016 affirmed Senyawa as a group working outside the mainstream of ​​music – in both pre-music as well as post-music forms. In Washington and Seattle, Senyawa was featured as an opening act at the Unsound Festival (2016). In the same year, a solo concert named “Senyawa Tanah Air” was held at Gedung Kesenian Jakarta.

The idea of ​​”new music” in Indonesia has emerged since the 1960s. After growing slowly, “new music” reverberated again through performances within KIAS (Kebudayaan Indonesia di Amerika Serikat, or Indonesian Culture in the United States, 1993–1994). There, Indonesia’s “new music” was successfully represented by a number of Javanese niyaga (gamelan players) with “new gamelan” instruments (metal pipes, water pipes, broomsticks, and balloons). The soul of this “new music” is now exploding through the phenomenon that is Wukir Suryadi’s music.

For Wukir, as an artist, the most important thing is the awareness of sound, which also involves the elements of sight, hearing, and feeling. Through them, musical instinct can grow as wildly as it wills. For “The Instrument Builders Project” in Melbourne and Yogyakarta (2013-2014), he created the works Akar Mahoni (Mahogany Roots, 2013) and Ekologi Gong (Gong’s Ecology, 2014). The first is of musical instruments based on the roots of mahogany trees mutated into an electric guitar, theremin, and percussion instruments. The second is of musical installations inspired by gongs, hung low over a small pond to obtain new sound resonances.

At the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Wukir Suryadi is composing an experiment on the source and object of sound from a brass plate configuration. The finger-wide plates extend to dozens of meters as if they were giant strings that challenge the potential of sounds. The plates are attached crisscrossing on a wide wall. The interaction between the large wall and the audience itself will determine what sound “composition” is to be produced.

A big wall, for Wukir, holds great and tough secrets, creating segregation; the barriers between “us” and “you”. The sound produced from his work is a representation of something we do not know. The sound echoes of the object create rich and distinctive spectral situations and tones – like a reflection of the divisions and borders that exist within each member of his audience. Wukir named his work Kehidupan di Dinding Besar Kabarnya Keras (Rumor Has It, Life on the Great Wall is Hard, 2017).