In Mulyana’s Fragile Ecologies, two figures cloaked in coral and algae tower over beds of fiber-based sea creatures. The Indonesian artist continues his playful and eccentric approach to marine life conservation in his solo show on view through March 4 at Sapar Contemporary, which brings some of his life-sized costumes and an array of woolen specimens to the gallery. Each piece is knit or crocheted with recycled, brightly colored yarn, which the artist fashions into sprawling ecosystems and immersive installations that dangle from the ceiling.
Mulyana puts a fantastic twist on the natural lifeforms, especially when crafting his signature Mogus character: most recently, the reimagined octopus is outfitted with a mustache in leopard print, innumerable eyes all over its body, and polka-dotted horns. Lighthearted in presentation, the works are rooted in more urgent issues like the effects of the climate crisis, isolation, and how we collectively configure identities that are always evolving. A statement about Fragile Ecologies says:
On a macro level, Mulyana’s profound concern for the eroding environment and our collective lack of care for the natural world parallels the importance of self-care on a micro level. His message encourages a holistic path to self-preservation amidst a chaotic and uncertain post-pandemic world. While Mulyana does not overtly reference gender and sexuality in his intricate installations, the diversity of his colorful environments and spectacular costumes allude to the fluidity of human identity.