Harper's Bazaar Art (Indonesia) - - Art Feature -

In­ter­ac­tion be­tween artists cre­ates pos­si­bil­ity of novel and un­ex­plored work to hap­pen. How artists who mar­ried an­other artist or cu­ra­tor live their artis­tic life and col­lab­o­rate with each other? Artist cou­ples and cu­ra­tors Mella Jaarsma - Nin­di­tyo Adipurnomo, Restu Rat­nan­ingtyas - Hen­dra Hehe, and Ir­wan Ah­mett - Tita Salina share their sto­ries and ex­pe­ri­ences on work, artis­tic life and liv­ing as cou­ples.

HB (Harper's Bazaar): Dur­ing the art­work mak­ing process, do you in­flu­ence each other or work in­de­pen­dently?

MJ (Mella Jaarsma): We have worked to­gether in Cemeti, thus when we do other works, we have our own dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­al­ity and iden­tity. This is im­por­tant for us each. Ca­reers in our art devel­op­ment are also dif­fer­ent, so are our views. How­ever, we still dis­cuss about our works, but only to the ex­tent of prin­ci­ple. When the work is fin­ished. We rarely dis­cuss mat­ters dur­ing the work process to avoid dis­trac­tion.

NA (Nin­di­tyo Adipurnomo): Be­cause we are hus­band and wife, in­flu­ence within our art­work mak­ing process is def­i­nitely in­evitable. Even when we seem to be so in­di­vid­u­al­ist and have dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal stand to­wards ev­ery so­cial and cul­tural as­pects. This too is a re­sult of in­flu­enc­ing each other. Since for me in­flu­ence is not as small and nar­row as the def­i­ni­tion of col­lu­sion and nepo­tism. Hav­ing dif­fer­ent views that are con­tra­dict­ing can also be seen as the re­sult of in­flu­enc­ing each other.

HB: How do you keep pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dency?

MJ: I don't feel like I should ‘keep in­de­pen­dency’ since our works are dif­fer­ent and our ex­pec­ta­tions from our works are also dif­fer­ent.

NA: In­de­pen­dence and pro­fes­sion, those are the two things that should not and must not be kept. Be­cause when we hon­estly fol­low our in­stinct and our heart, it will even­tu­ally lead to the need of work­ing pro­duc­tively (pro­fes­sion) and ful­fill­ing the in­fi­nite sat­is­fac­tion and de­sire through po­lit­i­cal seizure of iden­tity (in­de­pen­dence).

HB: How do you over­come dif­fer­ent views at work?

MJ: We take dif­fer­ent opin­ion as a pos­i­tive el­e­ment; we re­spect and also learn from each other. We quar­rel more about our works in Cemeti com­pared to our own works.

NA: The most help­ful method to solve our dif­fer­ences is by talk­ing to each other, even to the point of ar­gu­men­ta­tive con­ver­sa­tion, when needed. I per­son­ally think that dif­fer­ent opin­ion is a pro­duc­tive el­e­ment and should be put on the ta­ble.

HB: Have you ever worked to­gether in a col­lab­o­ra­tive project? Do you plan on do­ing more col­lab­o­ra­tion in the fu­ture? MJ: We have col­lab­o­rated many times and it hasn't been a smooth and easy process, since we are both re­bel­lious and have a dif­fer­ent artis­tic vi­sion. But in the end we have to com­pro­mise and find the mid­point. And when we do, there will be un­think­able ideas burst­ing stim­u­lated by new things.

NA: We still don't have planned col­lab­o­ra­tion in the near fu­ture. In my opin­ion, col­lab­o­ra­tive work is not a trend to build a self im­age or to ful­fill the mar­ket's de­mand. But for me, I re­ally need col­lab­o­ra­tion to help me ques­tion and break my com­fort zone out once again in­di­vid­u­ally.

HB: How do you al­lo­cate time for work and house­hold life?

Hen­dra Har­sono (HH): There is no fixed sched­ule for work. We usu­ally will just take turn on who will work on day­time and night­time. When one of us has an ex­hi­bi­tion dead­line to fin­ish, then the other will not work on his/her art.

Restu Rat­nan­ingtyas (RR): I pri­or­i­tize the house­hold mat­ters. I fin­ish them first be­fore work­ing on my art. Some­times I don't even have time to cre­ate art­works any­more.

HB: Dur­ing the art­work mak­ing process, do you in­flu­ence each other or work in­de­pen­dently?

HH: Per­haps we have in­flu­enced each other un­con­sciously. How­ever, we are still do­ing things on our own dur­ing the art­work mak­ing process.

RR: I don't think we in­flu­ence each other, be­cause work­ing is an in­di­vid­ual busi­ness. We rarely visit each other in the stu­dio.

HB: How do you keep pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dency?

HH: Just believe in our­selves and it will ap­pear in the works we cre­ate.

RR: I think it (pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dency) doesn't need to be kept be­cause it has been there. I work on my own and so does my hus­band. I rarely ask him for help when it is work-re­lated, and vice versa.

HB: How do you cope with dif­fer­ent opin­ion in pro­fes­sional life, and keep it away from your re­la­tion­ship at home?

HH: We don't force our own opin­ion be­cause both of us have dis­tin­guished meth­ods in cre­at­ing art­works.

RR: Hav­ing dif­fer­ent opin­ions on art hap­pens a lot of times. There­fore, in the last few years we rarely talk about our work, since we can't keep it fo­cused on only one mat­ter. Preven­tion is the bet­ter way.

HB: How do you al­lo­cate time for work and house­hold life?

Ir­wan Ah­mett (IA): There is al­most no dif­fer­ence be­tween in­ter­act­ing, work­ing and house­hold life. Some­times we have to set a spe­cific time when the project we are work­ing on in­volves lots of peo­ple. Be­sides, we used to col­labo­brate a lot on graphic de­sign projects in the past, So we don't face any dif­fi­cul­ties in work­ing to­gether in­ten­sively as artists. It is even more dy­namic now, since we ex­press the things we both like, through our art­works.

HB: Dur­ing the art­work mak­ing process, do you in­flu­ence each other or work in­de­pen­dently? Tita Salina (TS): Cur­rently we are col­lab­o­rat­ing on some projects, how­ever we also let each other ex­plore freely in­di­vid­u­ally. We dis­cuss a lot and we are each other's worst critic. We do these things to get a sharper essence of art. Cre­at­ing our own art­works in­di­vid­u­ally ac­tu­ally give us power when we col­lab­o­rate on a project.

HB: How do you keep pro­fes­sional in­de­pen­dency?

IA: I look at in­de­pen­dency from two as­pects. The first is from the think­ing process and then the sec­ond one is sup­port for our projects. For the think­ing process (in­clud­ing the work­ing process), we try to be al­ways in the course of multi dis­ci­plines and try not to be trapped in­side a cul­tural "cage". From the re­search to work-deep­en­ing process, we do many cross dis­ci­plines ex­cer­cise as re­quired by the project we are work­ing on. We haven't even had the chance to work with artists lately be­cause of their busy sched­ules. This makes us fo­cused on try­ing to be in­de­pen­dently self-or­ga­nized, and end up get­ting sup­ports from peo­ple out­side the art cir­cle. The sec­ond thing, the back­bone of our art prac­tice, is net­work­ing. Cur­rently, we man­age to have net­works in sev­eral cities and coun­tries, which has been keep­ing us busy, and au­to­mat­i­cally keep­ing our in­de­pen­dency in do­ing our works.

HB: How do you cope with dif­fer­ent opin­ion in pro­fes­sional life, and keep it away from your re­la­tion­ship at home?

TS: I think it is an ex­cit­ing part of work­ing and be­ing in a re­la­tion­ship. Both has ro­man­tic and tense side to it. I believe that good in­ten­tion and ma­tu­rity can solve it. Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and hon­esty are of course the most fun­da­men­tal parts of any re­la­tion­ship, es­pe­cially in build­ing the feel­ing of com­fort and trust in each other.

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