Heri Dono’s Bidadari (Flying Angels) are reminiscent of the figures found in wayang golek, a puppet theater tradition native to Indonesia. The artist also cites Flash Gordon and other science fiction characters as an influence, and his handmade angels connect folk and popular culture. Dono created this work during a period of intense political repression in Indonesia, and he chose to engage with the imagery of puppetry because of its long history as a platform where otherwise taboo social and political issues may be addressed through allegory and symbolism. Here, Dono offers us a small moment of personal freedom: you may choose to activate the work—causing the bidadari to flap their wings and make noise— by stepping on one of the two floor pedals. Referencing both traditional and contemporary Indonesian culture, Bidadari (Flying Angels) also functions as a symbol of liberty and the power of the human imagination.
Label from Out of Sight! Art of the Senses, November 4, 2017–January 28, 2018