Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Hectic Indonesian Visual Arts 2005"

In January 13, 2006, Cemeti Art Foundation (CAF) held a small discussion to find out the review of visual arts development beginning from the observation in the area of Yogyakarta in particular and Indonesia in general during the year of 2005. It was managed by Kedai Kebun Forum (KKF), Yogyakarta, attended by Agung Kurniawan, Nuraini Juliastuti, Yuli Andari Merdeka, Mella Jaarsma, Nindityo Adipurnomo, Wahyudin, Kuss Indarto, Iwan Wijono, Pius Sigit Kuncoro, Dyan Anggraini, Aisyah Hilal, Nunuk Ambarwati, and Tovic Dwi Raharjo. The outcome of the discussion turned out to be one of explorative writing materials in this volume of SURAT YSC. Here is the writing compiled basing on discussions and documentation data like articles of mass media, invitations, posters, press releases, statements of artists, photos, videos, and so on received by CAF during 2005. It cannot be denied that the writing materials are largely launched from Yogyakarta. From all the imperfections due to limitation on the observation, may this review can be beneficial to the development of Indonesian visual arts today.

In the early year, many art events like exhibitions to auctions focusing on charity programs and social themes to respond tsunami disaster hit Aceh by the end of 2004. From the data included, the tendency of exhibitions in 2005 was exhibiting art works of the young artists (young in terms of age). On some exhibitions like “Pra Bali Biennale” in Yogyakarta, and a series of exhibitions entitled “Omong Kosong” at Cemeti Art House intentionally had priority over young artists as the exhibition participants. From 222 exhibitions documented in Yogyakarta, 142 events were group exhibitions and the other 78 events were solo exhibitions. There were 87 exhibitions of paintings, 62 of visual arts, 13 of craft arts, 36 of photography, 5 of sculptures, installations, and three-dimensions), 8 of graphic arts, 1 of textile, 1 of video arts, and 9 of graphic designs. The whole exhibitions were still dominated by male artists. From all of these exhibitions, many of them did not occupy curators. According to the data, it was less than 1% of the total member occupying curators in the exhibitions. It can be seen clearly from the data above that painting arts takes over a number of exhibitions in Yogyakarta.

Competion of Visual Arts in the Year
In 2005, the world of Indonesian visual arts was made hectic by many biennale events both in Indonesia and abroad. Eventhough they were not in the format of competitions but emerged competitive condition to artists in Indonesia to have a certain quality of art works and get involved within. Some of these programs noted were Pratisana Affandi Adi Karya and Nyoman Gunarsa Award. On the events of Bali Biennale and Biennale Jogja, “Lifetime Achievement Award” was given to senior artists regarded accomplished and had a lot of concrete commitments in the art life.

Biennale in Indonesia
The Indonesian visual arts seemed to agree that the highlight of Indonesian visual arts in 2005 was the organization of biennales in Indonesia as documented there were 3 events organized by 3 cities with 3 different organizers; CP Biennale, Bali Biennale, and Biennale Jogja. The two biennales of CP Biennale and Biennale Jogja opened large rooms to non-artists to get involved as exhibition participants and considered on a par with international similar events. Citing a statement by Jim Supangkat that biennales in Indonesia today were not concepts of conventional biennale; they were of cutting edges or development outcomes of binnual visual arts but today’s biennale was of art works adjusting themselves with the biennale themes. (Read the complete review on the biennales in Indonesia written by Suwarno Wisetrotomo entitled “Biennale Seni Rupa (di) Indonesia: Apakah Sesungguhnya yang Kita Cari?”)

Issues on public spaces, cities, urban topics, and a variety of problems related developed into the issues mostly talked about in many art events in 2005. These issues were carried out by CP Biennale: “Urban/Culture”; FKY 2005: Kotakatikotakita”; Bali Biennale: “Space and Scape”; and Biennale Jogja VIII 2005: “Consciousness of the Here and Now”; Kedai Kebun Forum: “Radius 1 KM: Jogja Bergerak”; Performance Klub: “PERFURBANCE (Perfomance Art Urban Festival)”, and also “Re: Publik” concepted by a group of young artists of Yogyakarta, among them were Arie Dyanto, Bambang ‘Toko’ Witjaksono, and Marzuki; a collaboration project “Playground” by Popok Tri Wahyudi and his teamwork; and a project “Counter Attract” by Arie Dyanto. The development of mural arts, street arts, and graffiti arts initiated by the group of Apotik Komik from 2002-2005 and its tracks still could be searched although the media and issues had been changed.
Another issue which could also be a highlight was of history. A lot of events such as exhibitions and workshops were started on or concepted from the issue of history. It was also signified as an issue trend in Asia nowdays or in the last two years. Several events seemed to strengthen this conclusion like an exhibition by a group called Klinik Seni Taxu performing the mass-killing occurred in 1965 after a coup publicly known as G 30 S, the KKF held 2 series of exhibitions: “September Something #1 and 2” and “Membongkar Koper Budaya Indis”.
Despite the historical issues, the small discussion forum of CAF also noticed a variety of issues emerged by artists in many exhibitions out of big events like biennales and festivals. From the data collected at CAF, there were about 222 exhibitions held in Yogyakarta with mostly personal issues performed. Unfortunately, these personal issues were less mediated because of losing the mediations of many big events during 2005 and the tendency of curators competing in championing issues. Moreover, it was revealed that the infrastructure of Indonesian visual arts was temporarily incapable of setting a way toward a better direction. It was sharpened by the arrangement of unprofessional biennale as well as the the lack of writings/essays on visual arts critiques in mass media so that it was crucial to examine the issues and find out the solutions.

The forum also learned the performance and role of curators in Indonesia in the present day. These two essential subjects had been a separate theme on the “Visual Arts” magazine, Volume 10, December 2005/January 2006. Curators were deemed inaccurate in electing artists, simply proposed issues, and inclined to public demands (read: market). The initiatives of curators frequently came from the owners of galleries. It was rare to find curators full of initiatives. This circumstance was made even worse as the democratization process and approach to artists were not in maximum attempts. Besides, they often failed to resume local contexts in picking up issues.
Some young curators in Yogyakarta, Bali, and Bandung showed proficient works through the exhibitions arranged like Agung Hujatnikajennong, Aminuddin Th. Siregar, Mikke Susanto, Wahyudin, Kuss Indarto, Rizky A. Zaelani, Rifky Effendi, Hendro Wiyanto, and Seriyoga Parta. Curators from Bandung had a good link and would get themselves involved in international events abroad not like curators from Yogyakarta who seemed uncertain but on the other hand, they had control over the capital level.

Galleries, Auction Houses, and Visual Arts Markets
In this year, an association of commercial galleries throughout Indonesia was formed to coordinate the conventions in running galleries relating to visual arts market. It was aimed to minimize the fluctuation of art works as well. It was Asosiasi Galeri Seni Indonesia but it had not been formally launched yet to public.

The state (government) was less discussed in this forum but one significant thing highlighted was the lack of support from it to the art life either material or immaterial. This issue was actually had been discussed continuously until now. As we know, there was a particular number of sum for the fields of art and culture but the transparancy and allocation (distribution) of the sum was a separate problem. This circumstance then initiated the emerging of spaces and alternative media in visual arts world as an alternative solution in mediating creative process of artists and art infrastructure.
Enin Supriyanto when presented his paper on a CAF-book launching in Bandung, May 26, 2005 stated a related statement:
On the issues sufficiently needed the state power to manage a particular service to the society, in the field of art for instance, the bureaucracy of the New Order state we inherit now is not functioning at all. The state museums, national gallery, funding bureaux in relevant to the development of art is not touched by reformation. No managements, no visions, no programs. From the time Soeharto ruled, the public service relating to art is as bad as today.
When in the era of Soeharto the state power penetrated anywhere, reaching the creative mind of artists, in the forms of censorship, coercy, and repression sneaking around as a nightmare in restless sleeping; so today’s state power was really weak in running its function. Or, even worse, it does not know what its function actually is.

As a matter of fact, the state was considered inappreciative to an artist’s work by capturing Dadan Januarsa in August, 2005 who was accuced of insulting the state by burning the red-and-white flag in his art performance. The government only supported forms of expression solidifying the existence of goverment apparatus in company with its bureaucrats. According to Tisna Sanjaya in a dialogue with some journalists in Bandung, Saturday, January 28, 2006, the forms of art comprising social critics promoted a freedom of expression or questioned the establishment was inclined to be banned, or even oppressed. (Kompas, Monday, January 30, 2006, page 12)

Mass Media
Looking back to the case of CP Biennale, it reminded us on the necessity of the mass media’s role in building public opinion and mediating the organizers to public. Hence, the issue of mass media took a important attention in visual arts world in 2005. From this small discussion, mass media of Yogyakarta had a comparative excellence comparing to ones out of Yogyakarta since it could mediated well almost all visual arts events held in Yogyakarta apart from their content quality. This forum also mentioned that we needed not to expect mass media much for improving art itself. At the most, we could only hope for enlarging social appreciation to art. Therefore, we could merely position media as the continuation hand which was informative and not analytic since mass media had been of its own political interests.

The Implementation of Visual Arts to Social Life
The contacting of visual arts with other branches of science or arts was becoming more intensed like a film-making of “Opera Jawa: Sita Obong” (September) collaborated a number of art media (theater, visual arts, literature, and history) and an exhibition of “Mata Panggung” (September, 2005) collaborated theater, visual arts, and lighting arts. In addition, Biennale Jogja put the issues of heritage and visual arts forward.
A number of seminars or discussions on social science; anthropology, communications, and other branches these days have set up to take a close look and even engage visual arts in their themes. It makes visual arts apply other branches of science to analyze the implementation of visual arts in posing a certain attitude in social life. Then, a slogan of le’art pour le’ art seems no longer in valid use today. On the contrary, other disciplines begin to apply visual arts as the media to implement their purposes into society so that they can easily be accepted and understood.

The Artistic Achievement
The development was evaluated from the artistic achievement built individually and collectively by artists. It means that events like biennales or FKY was functioned as a sketch to be a medium we needed to perceive. The artistic achievement in 2005 in visual arts could not be measured to all art fields instead of having no exact tools to recognize the comparison of artistic achievement until 2005. Besides, this forum also argumented that when a generation appeared and had not fully explored its achievement, thus it had not completed it yet until it was replaced by the next generation. It went on and on that way.

The Young Artists Accomodated in Various Events
As young artists got enough spaces in a number of events like FKY 2005, a series of exhibition “Omong Kosong” at Cemeti Art House and “Pra Bali Biennale” in Yogyakarta had been a special attention. Although those who were involved began their works from a strong tendency previously come out in Indonesia or Yogyakarta that artists who were in command of social ground were ones with good education or in other words, the majority of them were from art schools. The more substantial idea was that the way young artists examine tendencies, styles, thoughts, and ways of thinking correlated strongly to their educational background. So, the deep way of thinking of young artists could be tracked from their educational background; did they have sufficient means to posses a thought not only to see an artist as someone could draw but a thinker, too? It then, began to see some tendencies nowdays where young artists worked on their creations in lighter themes comparing to young artists in the era of the New Order.

The Ups and Downs of Alternative Spaces
This forum also took us to observe the ups and downs of alternative spaces in Yogyakarta in particular. This session signified Rumah Seni Muara which had been dismissed. The appearance of new spaces like Babaran Segara Gunung owned by Nia and Agus Ismoyo, an active start of Museum dan Tanah Liat, and some quasi-public spaces like cafes functioning as exhibition rooms and mediation rooms for discussions. From the observation, it was assumed that the ups and downs of these art spaces would come to light every year. However, it became evident that all the ups and downs of these art spaces were specific and distinctive cohesions. In the era of 1950s and 1960s, the cohesion used to be ideological issues but today it seems to concentrate on ethnicity, similarity on interests, and other related issues. Having recognized established, some artists would usually build art spaces like Affandi and Widayat but today, artists build art spaces to show their confidence and exixtence that they try their best to find the meaning of art by means of themselves and require acknowledgement.

Newsletter SURAT YSC Volume 26, Cemeti Art Foundation, Yogyakarta, 2006
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