Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Inadequate Urban Performance

A Note from the Performance Art Urban (Perfurbance)

A so called festival, simply held but performed foreign performers with even inadequate things was what I noticed from the whole day event of Perfurbance #2 on the last April 30, 2006. Perfurbance is an acronym of performance art and urban. It is an annual festival initiated by PerformanceKlub that is chaired by Iwan Wijono focusing on the development of performance art in Indonesia and managed by a group of youths. It was established on July 31, 2003 in Yogyakarta. Perfurbance presents performance art in public spaces in Yogyakarta and sends out actual issues on urban life.


The theme brought up by the organizer and approved by 27 performers of the event –two of them were foreigners from Australia and Japan– was “Launching: Education Industry in Indonesia”. The event was actually on the precise time which was a day before the ceremony of the National Education Day. It was strengthened by an article on a newspaper saying that,

Education in Indonesia has been distorted from the vision of Wiyata Mandala of which under the principle of Pancasila and UUD 1945, adapting the materialistic and business oriented system of the West. It is backed up by WTO and GATTS that in fact are organizations commercializing education as trade commodity to which Indonesia has ratified the agreement. Education becomes such a profit commodity not non-profit one. Consequently, it does not cause astonishment if education remains to be expensive and impossible to be cheap or free. [Certification for Teachers, Between the Problems, Policies, and Applications, Anton Eknathon, Kedaulatan Rakyat/KR, Wednesday, April 5, 2006, 10]

Unfortunately, the theme was not supported with thorough research by the organizer. I was not satisfied enough with the statement in the proposal presented in opting for education as the theme to this second event. To the core, a concern emerged was similar to the quotation above. As I confirmed this to both the organizer and performers, they did not give out a strong reason for its selection to public spaces. A performer, whom I interviewed with, Ronald Apriyan, preferred to perform his action without being put in fetters of certain theme frame [an interview with Ronald Apriyan, in Yogyakarta, Thursday, June 22, 2006). There was no discourse brainstorming between the organizer and performers on it so that the performance appeared to be unprepared but merely delivered a theme that education had became more and more expensive today. Moreover, some performers showed totally unrelated actions on the theme launched as Seiji Shimoda (Japan) or Sadat Laope & Fullskill Academy entitled “Picnic”.

It seemed that no strict curatorial applied in this event so that the organizer was capable of taking in as many performers as possible to take a part. On the record, the participation is noted great. There were 27 performers in the Perfurbance #2 increasing 10 number from the first event of 17 performers. It appeared to be a separate dilemma. On the one hand, the organizer aims to activate and popularize this art genre (performance art) in Indonesian visual arts so it may open a wide opportunity to anyone who wants to go into performance art. On the other hand, it can boomerang badly as the organizer has to allocate enough time, location, budget, and the most important is screening on the material of the actions.

On some occasions, performers ask for the involvement of public to support their actions like putting something down in writing, splashing paint, tying up the body, and even get involved or take a part in the actions. Yet, such public involvement is incidentally minimized by a kind of limitation with the arrangement of real classroom in the public spaces. The classroom is equipped with tables, chairs, and black/white board and ready to move out in accordance with the location spots utilized for the actions of the performers. Several performers had ever shared their disappointment to me since it was other performers who take a part in their actions not public regarded as common ones by them that are people who are watching or passing by.

As a matter of fact, if we look back at the idea put across by PerformanceKlub in holding this event is how to disseminate the performance art discourse in the art and non-art society, confronting the opinion that performance art is simply the mediation from demonstration activities and re-socialize performance art (contemporary) in public spaces. This event also aims to criticize and stimulate Yogyakarta as an urban city getting more and more incapable of accommodating arts in the public spaces or even the lesser public spaces available for its society. It is also to stimulate the society to think and catch sight of its life in an urban city.
Perfurbance was initiated last year, on March 30, 2005 to be exact. Both the first and second organizer take the same location that is in Malioboro Street but the Perfurbance #2 adds one location that is in the side parking area at Shopping Book Center.

Why is Malioboro? From the press release issued by the organizer, it is opted for its development context regarding the fact that Yogyakarta is inseparable from the growth of Malioboro. Varied images adhered to Yogyakarta in general is identified from the daily occurrences in Malioboro. It is not only due to its site in the city center and as the icon of Yogyakarta but it is because of Malioboro is the central point of many targets from the existing factors. Economic factor is represented by a lot of activities with numerous sellers and stores and political factor is represented by many accessible government offices beside of another considerable and observable factors such as social, culture, and education.

Why does the organizer take the same location for the second event? After being examined from a short discussion with the organizer, it is founded out that the bureaucratic procedure, the easy access to obtain permit to utilize a public space become the reason behind. Several different sites have been the upcoming targets for this second Perfurbance such as Taman Makam Pahlawan Kusumanegara and the porch/front area of Lembaga Pemasyarakatan. However, the organizer should feel satisfied to present it in Malioboro and its surroundings where is relatively easy to get the permit.

The selection on location becomes my question to the organizer as a discussion held in the series of the event a day before the action, May 1, 2006 at Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (TBY)/Yogyakarta Arts Center. A discussion under the theme of “Implikasi Edukatif dari Performance Art di Ruang Urban Publik” presented Jan Cornall (Australia), Kusen Alipah Hadi (Yayasan Pondok Rakyat/YPR, Yogyakarta), dan Seiji Shimoda (Japan) as the speakers.

Do all these performers really need exterior media to present their actions? Looking back at the Perfurbance #1 last year, the organizer gave an option to all performers whether to perform indoor (at that time at Kedai Kebun Forum/KKF, Yogyakarta) or outdoor. Thus, performers were able to consider how and where the actions powerfully presented by taking into account the rooms provided. At this time, the actions are all outdoor. In my opinion, some actions performed like one of Group Retorika entitled “Buying Money” is not powerful to be performed outdoor. On some occasions, Iwan Wijono acting as the organizer, performer, as well as master ceremony at that time asked public to get closer to the performers since they were wearing properties needed to be seen in detail.

Several questions come to my head after having the explanation above. One to raise is related to the organizer which could not be answered properly and might not be answered by the time. How can we measure the indicator of material achievement presented through the performance art media understood by public? How do the performers comprehend the awareness on public spaces after having two same events which utilize the same space or location? What are the issues faced by public in the urban public spaces as Yogyakarta today? What is the improvement or concern changing and issue to be learned from the last event in the public spaces such as Malioboro? It might be as what Jan Cornall conveyed in his paper for the discussion,

Performance art is generally more mysterious and inexplicable. In fact its impact is greatest when it cannot be explained. It's impact then, is to WAKE UP urban space. The audience experiences a kind of shock which radically affects for a spit second or more, the way they view the urban space around them. The imagery created by the performer enters the viewers dream consciousness and will be processed like a dream: understood, interpreted or simply left to its own devices, to surface later in another dream or action. This is the way performance art educates. [ Dreaming the Urban Body The Impact Of Performance Art in Urban Space, by Jan Cornall, Yogyakarta, May 1st, 2006].


Performers: Yustoni Volunteero “Menabrak Tembok Tak Kentara” - Danny Stamp “Mind War” - Garis Merah “PT. Kerajinan Ijazah” - Buyung Mentari “Tabur Tengah” - Elyandra “Ceremony” - Bocor Alus “I Want Candy” - Lashita Situmorang & Tere “Ayo Sekolah - Instant” - Group Matjam (Yoyojewe & Kholik) “Time Is Nothing” - Coklat “CBSA (Cara Belajar Siswa Aktif) Malas, Miskin” - Ronald Apriyan “Magazine” - Yayan Hariansyah “Boneka Neo Liberalisme” - Sadat Laope & Fullskill Akademi “Piknik” - Alim Bakhtiar “Pelajaran Ruang Kelas” - Iwan Wijono “Rock Education & Roll Money” - Hamzrud “So What” - Made Suryadarma “Instant Education” - I Kadek Dedy “Rupa Kata” - Group Retorika “Membeli Uang” - Ismanto & Suku Gading Mlati “Konyol” - Oentoeng, Sentot, Kris Toples “E=MC 2 – Relativitas - Whatever That Means” - Pitut & Group Bim Sala Bim “Pelajaran Menulis” - Soge Ahmad “Pedagogi Statis” - Santo Klingon “Melody Darah – Belajar Bermain” - Shiori Shimizu “Di Atas Orang” - Jan Cornall “Bulls Eye Mudra” - Seiji Shimoda “………………..” - Cutter “School Make Up”


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