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CHRISTINE AY TJOE (Indonesia b. 1973)
CHRISTINE AY TJOE (Indonesia b. 1973)

Permanently Party

CHRISTINE AY TJOE (Indonesia b. 1973)
Permanently Party
signed and dated 'Christine '07' (lower right); signed, titled, dated and inscribed (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
63 x 70 7/8 in. (160 x 180 cm.)
Painted in 2007

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Mingyin Lin
Mingyin Lin

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Lot Essay

Painted in 2007, Permanently Party occurs at the intersection of two significant bodies of work by Christine Ay Tjoe; Silent Supper and The Interiority of Hope, exhibited respectively in 2007 and 2008.

Similar to the works in Silent Supper, Permanently Party revolves around the theme of sustenance and nourishment, both material and spiritual. Ay Tjoe wrestles with the existential necessity of food entering bodily channels and being broken down within the liminal realm of our physical system. Is our symbiotic dependency on eating considered to be mannaor monstrous? In Permanently Party, this dependency is taken to Rabelaisian propensity with the excess of the feast. Feasting is a sociological phenomenon which has occurred since the beginning of human history. It celebrates the apex of momentous occasions and also leads to excesses of the flesh, especially with the appearance of intoxicating substances, such as the goblets of ruby red liquor depicted within the work.

Inevitably as a Catholic, Ay Tjoe is not impervious to the religious significance of feasting. Within the Bible, the most famous feast of all was the Last Supper, on the eve of the crucifixion of Christ. Reminders of this final feast arise each time the Eucharist is undertaken during holy mass, when the chalice carrying the blood of Christ is raised towards heaven by the priest, much like the figure in the upper left of the pictorial plane.

Herein lies a dilemma of faith. The doctrine of being able to physically imbibe a spiritual host is a subject not easily negotiated, even by the most devout. A central aspect of being Catholic, which Ay Tjoe is keenly aware of, is the ability to believe in the metaphysical transformation which takes place during the moment when the host is raised; that the unleavened bread becomes the actual flesh, and the wine the actual blood of Christ. If belief fails, so does the divinity of the sacrament. The supposed bodily essence of the son of God becomes merely daily food, indistinguishable from other meals. Within numerous works throughout her career, Ay Tjoe returns constantly to the psychological dimension of the act of consumption, and the emotional burdens which it carries.

The question of religion raised within Permanently Party eventually resulted in the full series of works exhibited in The Interiority of Hope. Ay Tjoe's aesthetic and thematic treatment of Permanently Party prefigures these later compositions. Based primarily on the figure of Barabbas in the New Testament - the thief in whose place Christ was crucified upon the wishes of the mob - the series deals with the concept of human folly and blindly satiating fleshly desires against the laws of divine justice, resulting in imprisonment of the spirit and the endless struggle between light and darkness, good and evil. When related to the theme of consumption, the primary example is of course Eve's desire to consume the apple of Eden, setting in motion an apocalyptic chain of events. The oblivious carousing of the figures within Permanently Party also draws parallels with the Tower of Babel, the depraved society whose hubristic enterprise caused their earthly downfall.

Unspoken, but equally present through inference, is the diametrical opposite to the over-consumption of the feast - namely, the spiritual purity of fasting and bodily cleansing. The implicit offer of hope and salvation through abstinence, as posed by Ay Tjoe, is strongly juxtaposed against the inebriated figures and their eternal banqueting before the sacrificial absolution of the following day.


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