• zavé holds two golden fans and wears a beaded fringe mask


zavé martohardjono is a queer, trans, Indonesian-American artist working in performance, dance, installation, video, and poetry. Dwelling in their ancestors’ mythologies, with dreams of a more just future, they make work that contends with the political histories our bodies carry. zavé’s work is concerned with and prompted by inquiry into whether and how embodied healing, anti-colonial storytelling, and political education can de-condition the body, reconjure liberatory memory, and untangle entrenched assimilation. zavé’s dance improvisations, experimental works, multimedia works and writing address and subvert political histories.

zavé has been presented at the 92Y, BAAD!, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Center for Performance Research, El Museo del Barrio, HERE Arts, Issue Project Room, The Kennedy Center, Storm King Art Center, the Wild Project, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Boston Center for the Arts, Tufts University, and elsewhere. They are a 2021 NYPL Dance Research Fellow, 2020 Gibney Dance in Process artist, 2019 Movement Research AIR, and participated in LMCC’s 2017-2018 Workspace Residency. Their work has received mention in Hyperallergic and The New York Times.

Read their full bio and artist statement or check out their artist CV. You can also find writing and press about zavé’s work.

up next

Jan 31 2021 | [virtual] Dance and Democracy: A Symposium for Social Movement 

Please join my collaborators Raha, Ube, x, Julia, and I for a short excerpt of TERRITORY: The Island Remembers. The showing will be followed by an artist lecture on the process and questions that came up as we dug into the Jerome Robbins Dance Division archives to research TERRITORY… This full day virtual symposium includes performances and talks by research fellows Ariel Nereson, Petra Kuppers, Jason Samuels Smith, Huiwang Zhang, and Tommie-Waheed Evans. Focused this year on the theme of dance and democracy, the symposium is the culmination of our work undertaken during a six-month fellowship cycle that began in July 2021. Join us online on January 31, 2021.

Apr 5-7 2022 | territory: the island remembers

It’s happening April 7-9, 2021 at Gibney Dance! My ongoing territory series will culminate in TERRITORY: The Island Remembers, a multimedia installation activated by performance made in collaboration with Raha Behnam, Ube Halaya, x, Marielys Burgos Meléndez, Julia Santoli, and Proteo Media + Performance.

Through Gibney Presents, TERRITORY… will premiere in the spring 2022 season curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Senior Director of Curation and Editorial Director. The season continues last fall’s theme “Rising Up”. Grab a ticket to experience this work in April.

This is the largest production I’ve led. TERRITORY… will be a week-long multimedia installation taking over Studio Y at Gibney. From April 7-9, the installation will be activated with three nights of rituals, performance, and audience-interactive actions. Prior to activations, you can visit the installation at no cost from 12-3pm ET on April 5-9. You are invited to bring flowers, if you can, to leave on the altars, to acknowledge the island, and prepare it for evening activation.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our fundraiser. All  donations will compensate this majority queer, gender-non-conforming, BIPOC creative team. 

Catch my poems in We Want It All

I’m honored to be part of this luscious, powerful collection We Want it All: An Anthology of Radical Trans Poetics edited by Andrea Abi-Karam and Kay Gabriel, published by Nightboat Books. The anthology features over 70 intergenerational artists writing in dialogue with emancipatory political movements, imagining an altogether overturned world in poems that pursue trans relationships to desire, embodiment, housing, sex, ecology, history, pop culture, and the working day.

Imagining: A Gibney Dance Journal | Issue 2
Read article

Over the Summer 2020, I talked with mayfield brooks and Raha Behnam about pandemic crisis, Black Lives Matter blossoming, and how we as community-engaged artists envision a thriving, collective society. We kneaded our hours of talking into this text, A Dream of the Possible, for Imagining: A Gibney Dance Journal with the invitation and support of the illustrious Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Gibney Dance’s Senior Director, Curator, and Editorial Director and Editorial Associate Dani Cole. mayfield, Raha, and I also wanted to share our full conversation which meandered into a lot of corners our text couldn’t capture. You can listen to the audio recording here.

An interview in Buah Zine
Read interview

At the end of 2020, I had a wonderful sit down with Teta Alim, founder of Buah Zine. We talked about the complexities of what our Indonesian ancestry and history means to us and our approaches to art-making. Check out the interview that came out of our conversation and connection. Buah Zine is an incredible archive of contemporary artists, writers, DJs across the globe, each part of the Indonesian diaspora.


If you are interested in chatting about my work, you can email me directly at zave [at] zavemartohardjono [dot] com.
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We can also connect on Instagram.