LOCAL ART SCENES
The birth of young artists also represents the sustainability of the art scene in a city. These art lovers observe what is happening in the art scenes of Yogyakarta, Bali and Jakarta.
as a city of art and the “mecca” to young artists in indonesia, yogyakarta holds a reputation that has been embedded since the beginning of our nation’s independence. in the book by claire holt, Art in Indonesia, Continuities and Change (cornell university, 1967), holt writes that in the mid 1950s, culture in yogyakarta experienced a rapid development and intense dynamics. many artists move to the city to study in akademi seni rupa indonesia (indonesia’s fine art academy, now institut seni indonesia, isi) and also because the government’s branch office of culture actively organizing exhibitions and providing subsidy to artists, was placed in yogyakarta.
over 50 years afterwards, the pulse of this thrilling art life in yogyakarta still remains. the rhythm of art activities is filled with numerous regular events, such as biennale Jogja and Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta (fky) that have been held since the 1980s. other than these big events, variety of independent art rooms, either supported by huge funds or small initiatives, contribute in spinning the wheel of art in its own way. compared to the working characteristics of artists in big cities like Jakarta and bandung, one of the big differences in the activities of yogyakarta-based artists is their instinct to get together as a collective. this gathering strategy reminds us of sanggar system, a communal studying ground for artists - young and old – to exchange knowledge.
the environment contributes to the fact that most of art practices by the young artists in yogyakarta today cannot be separated from the collective culture of the artists from previous generation. many young artists have started a career in displaying their work in alternative art spaces managed by artists, such as rumah seni cemeti, Kedai Kebun forum, Viavia or mes 56 that were established in the 1990s-2000s. as time goes by, naturally these art rooms that were once considered alternative have now become a patron institution in the environment of contemporary art in yogyakarta.
however, we can also witness the emerging of new collective art spaces initiated by young artists like ace house, lir space, ketjilbergerak and lifepatch. several amongst these art collectives and spaces appeared in mid 2000s. they worked collectively and managed the space to hold exhibitions and art discussions. yet, what is interesting is the capability of these new art spaces to reach the youngsters who are not that familiar to the circle of yogyakarta’s contemporary art. challenges in these new spaces are obviously different to the context of the emerging of alternative spaces before them.
lir space was initiated by the couple mira asriningtyas (curator) and Dito yuwono (artist) in medio 2011. lir space has a restaurant and a small shop to support various art activities. they usually showcase young artists who have displayed their first solo exhibitions. lir space runs the exlab (exhibition laboratory) program that gives a chance for two to four young artists to process together, be mentored and attend workshops with senior artists for three months to work on their solo exhibition at lir space.
forms of informal art studies for young artists
Lasting, changing and moving: art practices of young artists in yogyakarta
are also offered by ace house through three musketeers program. for three months, three elected young artists get assistance from ace house’s artists to share and exchange knowledge about the production process of their art. ace house was established in 2011 by a bunch of artists in their 30s who actively started to make art in the 2000s. Works of the artists at ace house use youth culture language to grab the growth of the latest popular culture.
the urge at ace house to become collective appeared after the reflux of contemporary arts in the mid 2000s that dragged along the young artists into the art market bubble. in 2014, ace house ran a non-profit space offering an exhibition program, discussions with artists, and informal art studies. ace house’s awareness to become collective is clearly different to the collectivism nature of the alternative spaces known before. the instability of art market has made young artists feel the urge to work collectively in order to sustain their art practices without having to fully depend on the market.
it looks like the tendency to build collectiveness and alternative space in the young artists today marks the importance of art studies beyond formal institutions. the need of space to learn together comes from the fact that art schools like isi have not really productively generated critical discourses about contemporary art. Ketjilbergerak community, established in 2006, has further on tried to reach school year students to encourage public art activities with the purpose of building critical dialogues about social situations in the society. meanwhile, lifepatch, established in 2012, admits itself as the society initiative in arts, science, and technology. lifepatch focuses on the effort to bridge the collaboration of individuals and community in developing arts, technology for the benefit of natural resources.
beyond the formal and non-formal institutions like alternative spaces by young artists or art galleries managed commercially, there is an interesting phenomena rising lately. since a few years ago, we could see the intense mobility of the young artists participating in foreign art residencies. a few amongst them are timoteus anggawan Kusno and natasha gabriella tontey, who have completed residencies in Japan and australia; elia nurvista in england, germany, taiwan and Japan; rudi “atjeh” Dharmawan in Vietnam; yudha Kusuma fehung in taiwan and Dito yuwono in australia.
residency is a new alternative space for young artists, as we see that right now it is very rare that yogyakarta young artists hold solo exhibitions at art galleries. the wider context of socio-geographic, unfixed by where a person lives, has influenced the method and theme of work that is created in a residency program. for example, timoteus anggawan Kusno discussed a lot about the history and collective thoughts in his work. in 2014, Kusno held the solo exhibition Memoar Tanah Runcuk at Kedai Kebun forum and experimented with the ethnographic fictional method to explore the history of violence in the colonial era. in 2015, within three months of his residency in ibaraki Japan, Kusno explored the memories of the people regarding the history of Japan after the second World War and created a work titled I Forgot What I Remember.
natasha gabriella tontey, an artist whose works often take the theme of fear and horror, explored stories of local ghost stories in her two months residency in yokohama Japan in 2015. Dito yuwono, during his one month residency in Darwin australia, showed the history of space and the identity of asia/australia in his solo exhibition: The Geography of Here and There.
in 2000, the yogyakarta young artists who have the tendency to combine fine art and youth culture are labeled “Jogja agro pop” by curator rain rosidi. the work of this group adopts popular culture as american comics, skateboard, rock music with narrations of local culture to read the social situation and their own identity, so then when an artistic pattern develops, it can be claimed as something that contains the culture identity of “Jogja”.
the active mobility of the young yogyakarta artists lately has shifted the meaning of identity and ideas as residencies create cultural relation that is more interchanging between the local and international. We can see how the works of young artists fluently speak of history, politic spaces and personal narrations in places far from their daily lives. residency programs ideally open chances of dialogue between cultures, demanding artists to be sharper in observing the social situations in the new environment and giving a chance to the artists to compare and reflect situations in their hometown. however, it is not impossible that the project of residency only consists of artificial views that tend to be touristic as it is done in a small amount of time. consistency in ideas and critical reflection of the young yogyakarta artists that offer contribution to the development of contemporary art in indonesia is still something we are waiting for.
Timoteus Anggawan Kusno, I Forgot What I Remember
Ace House, Acemart
Natasha Gabriella Tontey in collaboration with Rafaella Mcdonald, Angkot Alien.
Ace House, Komisi Nasional Permurnian Seni