Sunday, April 29, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
HONF's exhibition at LAF in Yogyakarta until 15 May, 2012.
Nevertheless, isn't it the truth that our dependence—and the rest of the world's dependence—on unrenewable fossil fuel has grown to such a large extent? Isn't it the truth that fuel prices will continually increase as supply grows scarce? Also, how long can the Government keep subsidizing fuel with its ever-increasing price? At the moment, with fuel subsidies in place, the important, urgent matters of fuel availability and fuel dependence are gone from public discussions; not deserving of public attention, let alone thoughts.
Amidst such circumstances, the House of Natural Fiber (HONF, Yogyakarta, Indonesia) have been cooking up ideas and experiments to discover alternative ways of obtaining alternative energy sources, which comprise the substance and the socio-economic-political context of the MICRONATION/MACRO-NATION project development.
HONF's presentation at Langgeng Art Foundation (LAF) is their starting point to introduce these ideas as well as the technical-practical implementation possibilities. The presentation—as a sustainable design prototype—consists of 3 core components: a) Installation of a fermentation/distillation machine to process hay (raw material) into ethanol (alternative energy to substitute fossil fuel); b) Satellite data grabber: to obtain data related to agricultural production (weather, climate, seasons); c) Super-Computer: to process data (weather, seasons as well as ethanol production capacity), which is also capable of predicting when Indonesia can reach energy and food independence if this MICRONATION/MACRONATION sustainable project design were to be implemented as a public strategy and policy to achieve the condition of energy and food independence in Indonesia.
This presentation is a good opportunity for us to reassess basic performative premises of various practices combining science, technology and arts. HONF's project—as with their previous projects—actually blurs the boundaries that have thus far been setting apart science, technology and arts. They combine all three, which to us brings home the question: where is the boundary between aesthetic experience and function? What possibilities could the relationship among science, technology and arts bring when confronted to actual problems in today's communities?
Compared to various other fine arts practices involving elements of social activism which have hitherto been tested and conducted by a number of artists in Indonesia, HONF’s current project actually proposes something new and different. They no longer practice the “taking to the streets” or “teaching/utilizing arts to raise mass awareness” kinds of activism, nor do they practice arts that involve local environmental/community issues . Instead they view social-political issues by assessing various strategic areas, which are not solely based on the “people versus corporate” or “people versus the State” axes.
By widening our acceptance of various dimensions of relationship which exist between the artists and the public today, we can see that HONF still employs ‘aesthetics’ in their work, although their chosen strategy of visualization naturally no longer focuses on the ‘fine arts’ conventions. For instance, data processing and presentation in their work—be it related to nature, environment or various calculations—will be shown in various forms of visualization. But this time we need to take it as visualization that may not necessarily always serve as representation (art).
Faced with ecological issues, HONF choose to activate their creativity to render such ecological issues more open and accessible by the public (creative ecology). Data which are unfamiliar—or perhaps even concealed and made secret from the general public’s knowledge—are presented in an easy-to-undertand visualization. In other words, data pertaining to public interests and public life are returned to the public (hacktivism, open-source, democratization of information dan knowledge).
Furthermore, the use of science, technology and arts in HONF’s projects should no longer be viewed through a conventional formalistic aesthetic perspective. If we can accept that this project is a design which involves a number of systems (physics, biology, mechanics, digital data-processing, and so on), what HONF have been doing is equal to the system aesthetics once proposed by Haans Haacke, a German-born artist who used to focus on issues of environmental system and social system in his works.
That way, MICRONATION/MACRONATION is a practice which may possibly bring various new elements into the practices of fine arts that have been taking place in Indonesia. Through HONF’s works so far, we are in fact presented with the opportunity to re-formulate basic relationships which can exist between the art(ists) and the public. Is this not a truly relevant issue, considering how the faster, more complex public (social, economic, politic, cultural and global) reality keeps on changing?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Ivan Karp and Fred Wilson write in ‘Constructing the Spectacle of Culture’: “The first rule for understanding the human condition is that people live in secondhand worlds and are aware of much more than they have personally experienced. […] Our own experience is always indirect. The quality of our lives is determined by ‘received’ meanings […]. What we know about the world is not only conventional, it also appears to us to be natural [in/by museums] (in Thinking about Exhibitions, p.187).”
Lawangwangi Art and Science Estate organized the second edition of the Bandung Contemporary Art Awards (BaCAA for short; http://www.artsociates.com/BaCAA/). These awards give young and emerging artists from Indonesia (below the age of 40 and with some exhibitions under their belt) the opportunity to gain a head start in their professional careers as artists by providing financial rewards and the opportunity to participate in residencies abroad and make an exhibition.
Carla Bianpoen reviewed the exhibition of the 24 finalists in the Jakarta Post (“Art awards break new ground once more,” 13 April 2012; http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/04/13/art-awards-break-new-ground-once-more.html). However, sometimes questions are raised by what is not stated. A member of BaCAA’s jury wrote this review essay, which Bianpoen and her editor did not mention, and a disclaimer could have avoided questions.
Bianpoen writes that Lawangwangi appointed “a Board of Jurors, deviating from the usual format of curators only, and consisting of a mix of artists, curators, collectors and a journalist.” Bianpoen is this juror cum journalist. That we play many different roles in society is one thing, but it raises questions if we try to combine those different – and perhaps conflicting – roles at the very same time.
In her review essay, Bianpoen-the-writer seems to say something different from Bianpoen-the-juror. The jury awarded Yusuf Ismail’s video installation ‘Eat Like Andy’ the first price. However, in her essay Bianpoen dedicates far more space to the runner-up: Eddy
Jørgen Leth (‘66 Scenes from America’, 1982), information Ismail did not mention.
The contemporary art community is relatively small in Indonesia; it is, therefore, out of necessity that individuals in this community have to improvise and perform several, different roles. That being said, it is important to disclose information about overlapping roles to avoid the notion that conflicts of interests could be at play. This is vital since contemporary art is starting to have a certain image: it is supposedly all about the money, so it is often claimed.
The exhibition of the 24 finalists will be shown in Ciputra Marketing Gallery, Jakarta, on April 17 before the works will be auctioned the next day to be able to finance the next edition of BaCAA. The works on show give a very good indication of the recent developments in the contemporary arts in Indonesia. This exhibition certainly provides confidence in the future. And while financial sustainability is important to be able to continue BaCAA, we should not forget that these awards are about the artists and their artworks. And finally, if BaCAA aims to provide opportunities to artists it should also be in the form of increasing general appreciation for the arts, which means that we should deal honestly with issues of jurors’ multiple roles, artists’ work ethics and the art market.
The public relations officer of the gallery should announce the auction through a press release. This is not the job of an art critic when writing a review of an exhibition. Carla Bianpoen, though, champions a passion for the arts through her many writings for, among many other publications, the Jakarta Post, C-Arts Magazine and Tempo Magazine, a passion we all should share. And to increase the audience for exhibitions, the media in Indonesia should dedicate more space for contemporary art without seeing art merely as a form of entertainment or life style (and not every art review needs to be polite or positive).
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Daniel Buren writes: “all the talk in the world, all the possible texts, will end up saying very little about what is essential to the visual domain. […] Because if we admit as a possible axiom that to be an artist means showing the invisible, we can also claim that as soon as the invisible is seen it becomes unsayable. We can also admit that if visual ‘saying’ is fundamentally and essentially ‘silent’, that doesn’t stop us talking about it […] (Daniel Buren, “Why Write?, Art Journal 42, no.2 (Summer 1982): 108-9; see here).”
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Patrick D. Flores
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Catherine Elwes writes in ‘A Parallel Universe’: “The juxtaposition and re-contextualization of individual works can substantially manipulate and alter meanings and the grouping of works into thematic screenings also tends to narrow the attention to particular aspects of a work. A kind of internal dialogue is set up between the works, a dialogue that creates resonances or even dissonances that would not occur under different conditions (Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance, p.110).”
Art critic JJ Charlesworth writes in ‘Curating Doubt’: “If critical approaches to curating today draw on the radical legacies that in their day opposed the hegemony of bourgeois cultural elitism and its discursive and institutional orthodoxies, simply do not hold sway today. Recurrent expressions of reflexive speculation about the nature of curating, the artwork and the institution by those who constitute it become ritual observances, not radical contestation, inasmuch as they might, in reality, only signify this: that uncertainty, provisionality, open-endedness and deferral are now the preferred orthodoxies of contemporary culture. [… In conclusion,] the self-reflexive preoccupation with the identity and status of the artist, curator and institution plays on the symbolic negation of these positions, but paradoxically can only do so only by sustaining them in practice. [… And, therefore,] a less self-reflexive discussion about institutional power, cultural freedom and artistic value is essential (Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance, p.98.).”
What is good for individual artists, curators, critics, collectors, gallery owners, etc., is not necessarily beneficial or constructive for the art world as a whole. For structural sustainability – financial sustainability, organizational sustainability, and sustainability of practices and ideas – an infrastructure for the arts is needed (of which a public art museum is one, important, component).
Sunday, April 1, 2012