Diyan Achjadi: visual artist



I work with prints and multiples, pictures, texts, and objects that can be easily and accurately reproduced through the use of technology, whether a press, a mold, or digital printer.  Prints, (in the form of books, magazines, newspapers, and posters, for instance) have had a crucial role in the normalization of ideologies, while also providing for the possibility of their dismantling.  I am particularly interested in media that is aimed for children (stories and picture books, advertising and toys) and the ways that these media are infused with and perpetuate ideologies. Children’s media is often presented as cute and seemingly innocuous with its simplistic pictures and phrases, yet it is a crucial medium for the transmission of belief systems.


As a child I read a lot of fiction, especially books written for young girls (Anne of Green Gables and Little Women, for instance) where often there is a story that centers around a heroine who gets into and out of a series of scrapes and adventures, defying and breaking expectations. I am interested in the ways that fiction can provide alternatives to dominant narratives, interrogating and subverting our understanding of what is the norm in the world.  I construct my work as a series of fragmentary visual fictions.


The Girl is character that I have worked with over the past few years. When I started working with Girl, she functioned as an avatar to discuss and refer to events that I had only experienced through the filter of the media…accounts of violence, war, and terror that we see and hear on a daily basis through 24-hour news outlets. In the earlier works, she is somewhat passive, detached from the chaos around her. Clad in a simple dress and mary-janes, she is surrounded by a miniaturized pink world, punctuated by bubble-gum cartoon explosions. Armed with plastic guns, it is unclear whether she is the perpetrator, the cause of all this mayhem, a victim, or an observer. In these works, I was interested in looking at the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that militarism is present in day-to-day life, particularly in how objects and patterns that are associated with the military are used in pop culture and fashion, and through their repetition and decontextualization become mere ornaments, seemingly devoid of their original significance. In the more recent works, the Girl surrounded by clones, saluting a flag in their own image. Rallies, marching bands, scout troops, all figure as starting points to question ideas of group affiliations and by extension, definitions of community and national identity.  




The Further Adventures of Girl: Merapi, 30″ x 66″, 2007



The Further Adventures of Girl: Reaching the City, 30″ x 45″, 2007



Dream, Girl, Dream!, 36″ x 90″, 2006



Watch, Girl, Watch!, 36″ x 60″, 2006



We Expected Hysteria (Hark! Listen), 33″ x 96″, 2009



We Expected Hysteria (But I Feel Fine), 33″ x 96″, 2009



We Expected Hysteria (They Expected This), 33″ x 96″, 2009



What Have They Done?, 30″ x 75″, 2008



Listen, Girl, Listen!, 36″ x 90″, 2006



Stadium: Warming Up, 30″ x 60″, 2008




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