Melati Suryodarmo (born 12 July 1969) is an Indonesian durational performance artist.
Her physically demanding performances make use of repetitive motions and often last for many hours, sometimes reaching “a level of factual absurdity”. Suryodarmo has performed and exhibited throughout Europe and Asia as well as in North America. Born in Surakarta, she attended Padjadjaran University, graduating with a degree in international relations before moving to Germany. She lived there for 20 years, studying performance art at the Braunschweig University of Art with Butoh choreographer Anzu Furukawa and performance artist Marina Abramović.
Suryodarmo later returned to Indonesia and founded Undisclosed Territory, an annual festival for performance art. She was the first woman to serve as artistic director for the Jakarta Biennale. Suryodarmo has been called “one of the most famous performance artists to come out of Indonesia.” In 2022, she was awarded the eleventh Bonnefanten Award for Contemporary Art (BACA) by the Bonnefantemuseum.
Melati Suryodarmo was born on 12 July 1969 in Surakarta, Indonesia. Her mother, a traditional Javanese dancer, died when she was young. Her father, Suprapto “Prapto” Suryodarmo, was a meditative performer and practitioner of Amerta. Melati has been a dancer since she was a childShe learned Tai Chi early on and began learning Sumarah mediation at the age of 11 Suryodarmo attended Padjadjaran University in Bandung. She participated in student demonstrations against the Suharto regime in late 1980s and was part of the underground student association. She graduated with a degree in international relations and politics in 1993. Suryodarmo was involved in theatre and dance performances from 1988 to 1995.
Suryodarmo left Indonesia in 1994, moving to Braunschweig, Germany. She found work retouching photographs and planned to continue her studies in international relations. Following a chance meeting at the city’s botanical gardens with Japanese Butoh choreographer Anzu Furukawa, Suryodarmo developed an interest in performance art. She studied sculpture and performance art at the Braunschweig University of Art under Furukawa, who she describes as her “biggest influence in thinking.” In addition to learning Butoh from Furukawa, Suryodarmo also learned choreography, costume design and staging.
In 1996, she was part of the dance performance Kashya-kashya Muttiku with Yuko Negoro at FBZ in Braunschweig. Suryodarmo later took classes from performance artist Marina Abramović. Suryodarmo received a fine arts degree in 2001 and an MFA in performance art in 2002. She later worked as an assistant for Abramović. Suryodarmo performed as a “living installation” alongside her former professor during the 2003 Venice Biennale. Suryodarmo also studied time-based art with Mara Mattuschka.