Melati Suryodarmo

Passionate Pilgrim

Last week we launched our new exhibition with Melati Suryodarmo, Passionate Pilgrim. Suryodarmo is one of Indonesia’s most important living artists, known for her strenuous durational performances that last several hours, testing the limits of the human mind and body. Through live performances from the artist and “delegated works” performed by over 50 associated artists and community activists, the exhibition celebrates her dedication to pushing the boundaries of her own practice and building performance art networks. “I experience something and the audience experience something else.”

On Wednesday 17 May, for the opening of Suryodarmo’s exhibition, her two-hour delegated work Sweet Dreams Sweet (2013) was performed by a group of young women from Birmingham.

Each performer wore a white costume. In pairs, they walked, lay down, sat and dipped their feet in buckets of water coloured with blue dye. This work signified tensions between individual and collective identity for women in Indonesia and around the world.

Sweet Dreams Sweet also takes places at Handsworth Park, Birmingham, in July. The performance involves Ikon Youth Programme supported by Freelands Foundation.

On Friday 19 May, Melati Suryodarmo performed her 12-hour solo durational performance, I’m a Ghost in My Own House (2012). Suryodarmo inhabited a vast charcoal pit in Ikon’s First Floor Galleries where she continuously crushed lumpwood with a stone rolling pin on a large mortar.

As she physically exhausted herself, the charcoal was exhausted too; the briquettes were crushed into dust, symbolising the expenditure of life’s energy and the potential for renewal. The work reflects Suryodarmo’s feelings of dislocation following her return to Indonesia after living in Germany for many years.

Melati Suryodarmo’s exhibition catalogue is now available for pre-order from Ikon Shop.

More Live Performances

All performances are free, donations welcome:

From 25 May, on selected Thursday and Saturday afternoons, solo performers re-enact Suryodarmo’s Kleidungsaffe performance (2006).

Ikon debuts the first hybrid performance of Passionate Pilgrim (2010) on Sunday 28 May (2-4pm), which the artist performs with UK-based network and activist group Voice of Domestic Workers.

Present to Presence, a performance art laboratory including Indonesian and UK-based artists, runs Wednesday 31 May – Sunday 4 June.



Performance28.05.2023 / 2.00pm4.00pm
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Passionate Pilgrim Extended
Passionate Pilgrim Extended (2010–23) is a new, 2-hour performance based on Melati Suryodarmo’s original work, Passionate Pilgrim. For the first time, she performs alongside 14 women from The Voice of Domestic Workers, a UK-based network and activist group. 
Events/Performance/Artist Laboratory31.05.202304.06.2023
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Present to Presence
Performance Art Laboratory
Present to Presence is a performance art laboratory including Indonesian and UK-based artists. Presented as part of Melati Suryodarmo’s exhibition Passionate Pilgrim (17 May – 3 September 2023).
Events/Talk04.06.2023 / 6.30pm7.30pm
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Melati Suryodarmo and Present to Presence artists 
Panel Discussion
Join Melati Suryodarmo and artists who have participated in the Present to Presence performance art laboratory for a panel discussion, during which they discuss their experience of taking part in the project and their concluding performances.  
Events/Performance10.08.2023 / 4.00pm8.00pm
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melissandre varin
Vivid Projects + Ikon Performance Art Laboratory
melissandre varin performs in Vivid Projects + Ikon, a performance art laboratory (10-13 August 2023).
Events/Performance10.08.2023 / 2.20pm3.00pm
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Emily Scarrott with Ikon Youth Programme
Vivid Projects + Ikon Performance Art Laboratory
Not Lost At Sea is the result of Emily Scarrott’s workshop with Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) which encourages thought about how to unpick performances and think about the ecological components of an artwork through responsive practice. 
Events/Performance12.08.2023 / 11.00am1.00pm
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Rosa Postlethwaite
Vivid Projects + Ikon Performance Art Laboratory
This performance by Rosa Postlethwaite explores tension release through body and breath. 
Events/Performance13.08.2023 / 12.30pm2.30pm
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Samiir Saunders
Vivid Projects + Ikon Performance Art Laboratory
Mind Control Victims Anonymous (MCVA) is an interactive poetry performance taking the form of a fictional mind-control support group.

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