“Although Darmawan draws considerable inspiration from people and from his surrounding environment, his approach to reality has never been rooted in typical understandings. His work reflects an attempt to play with rigorous standpoints or categorical divisions, such as religion, science, economy, politics, culture, ideology, history, et cetera, which he considers too narrow, failing to define actual, complex phenomena.”—Agung Hujatnikajennong
Magic Centre, the exhibition and the book by Ade Darmawan, revolves around the Indonesian publishing company of the same name, which was mostly active in the 1960s and rose to prominence with books that promised to enhance the reader’s intellectual abilities. These books proffered “answers” to an audience hoping to lead a fulfilled life and master the challenges of modern capitalism. They reflect the production and dissemination of knowledge and throw the characteristic ideological fault lines of a society undergoing profound change into sharp relief. Making the flea market the primary locus for an artistic project, within Magic Centre a series of secondhand books are used by Darmawan as a manifestation of existing material culture, representing models of knowledge concerned with religion, politics, militarisms, management, economics, and science.