Mella Jaarsma has become known for her complex costume installations and her focus on forms of cultural and racial diversity embedded within clothing, the body and food. She was born in the Netherlands in 1960 and studied visual art at Minerva Academy in Groningen (1978-1984), after which she left the Netherlands to study at the Art Institute of Jakarta (1984) and at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta (1985-1986). She has lived and worked in Indonesia ever since. In 1988, she co-founded Cemeti Art House (with Nindityo Adipurnomo), the first space for contemporary art in Indonesia, which to this day remains an important platform for young artists and art workers in the country and region.
Mella Jaarsma’s works have been presented widely in exhibitions and art events in Indonesia and abroad, including: the 20th Sydney Biennale (2016); ‘The Roving Eye’, Arter, Istanbul(2014); ‘Siasat – Jakarta Biennale’, Museum of Ceramics and Fine Arts, Jakarta (2013); ‘Suspended Histories’, Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam (2013); ‘Singapore Biennale’, Singapore Art Museum (2011); ‘GSK Contemporary – Aware: Art Fashion Identity’, the Royal Academy of Arts, London(2010); ‘RE-Addressing Identities’, Katonah Museum, New York (2009); ‘Accidentally Fashion’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2007); Yokohama Triennial (2005), and many others. Her work is part of the collection of the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia and the Singapore Art Museum, amongst others.