Using found objects – from action figures and animal toys, to bells, machine parts and pieces from desk lamps – Yogyakartan artist Stefanus Endry Pragusta creates installations that are mysterious, tricky and beautiful. These installations are populated with strange small creatures: his Passenger Ark Noah series (2016) is made up of colourful sheep and ducks with elongated wire necks, cows with gears and motors for heads, and woolly mammoths with tall, spindly legs.
Alongside this menagerie are the entities that make up the set Tolak Bala (2017): short, light-brown-coloured beings, sheets covering most of their enigmatic bodies, with human feet, or sometimes chair legs or deer’s hooves sticking out at the bottom. Some sprout long rabbit ears, others antlers or megaphones. Pragusta’s drawings similarly detail dense scenes of tentacled, humanoid mutants strolling among makeshift houses, an otherwordly reimagining of the experience of walking down a busy urban street. These playful characters make up Pragusta’s troubling fairytale world, what he has referred to as a ‘steampunk surrealism’.
In assembling these ragtag chimera, made up of leftover junk and discarded playthings, the artist creates his own society in miniature, a group of mixed-up hybrids. What starts out as odd, humorous or sometimes grotesque sets of figures becomes a proposal towards the uneasy coexistences of democracy, a commentary on the kaleidoscope of Indonesian politics today and a new set of contemporary myths.
Pragusta lives and works in Yogyarkarta. His studio is located in Laganden Playen Gunungkidul.