The Assembly in Indonesia brought together all of the participating organizations for the first time in this phase of Arts Collaboratory. Hosted by ruangrupa in Jakarta, and KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta, the formative Assembly took place over a week and consisted of a series of working groups considering common concerns and visits to local arts organizations.
As a means of getting to know the various practices of each organization, the participants brought one object or artwork that together formed a free public exhibition, on show for the duration of the Assembly, at the RURU Gallery in ruangrupa. The introductory talks of each organization consisted of an exhibition walk-through where the participants spoke about their object in relation to their organization’s methodologies. These talks provided an illustrated account and opportunity to share the practices of artists, with whom the organizations collaborate, to the rest of the network and local public.
The working groups unfolded as intimate meetings between the participants on a diverse range of topics, developed through a questionnaire given to each organization prior to the gathering. The themes included: Community, Participation, Ethics and Aesthetics; Developing Curatorial Tools, Exhibitions, Residencies and More; Addressing Crisis/Post-Crisis/Censorship and the Role of Arts Institutions; Alternative Pedagogies, Youth, Professional Support; Organizational Matters and Sustainability; Urban Intervention: Questioning Public Space; and Commons: Future of Arts Collaboratory.
Beginning Collaborative Projects
Over multiple sessions the participants shared their ways of engaging with these issues through art, community and organizational practices, helping to build a common knowledge pool to draw from for future collaborations. Based on the experience of the working groups, the Collaborative Projects emerged which were selected in a method chosen by the Assembly participants, a jury picked by lot, which after the Assembly discussed each proposal and decided on the final projects. In this context, discussions unfolded on how the future form of Arts Collaboratory, as a site of collaborative practices across the network, could be further developed and what tools might be necessary to bring this into being. It was the beginning of thinking of Arts Collaboratory as a potential commons, where the sharing of values, resources and knowledge emerged.
Learning from local practices
Inspiring the Assembly throughout were visits to the diverse art ecology of Jakarta and Yogyakarta, including a special stop at Jatiwangi Art Factory in central Java. A playful relation between formal and informal, friendship, horizontality and a deep engagement with the community was a common thread across the spaces, while the diverse methodologies helped to enrich everyone's knowledge of Indonesia and its unique art scene. The spaces visited included: Trotoart, Jakarta Arts Council, Serrum, Ace House Collective, Cemeti Art House, Lifepatch, MES 56 and the Indonesian Visual Arts Archive (IVAA).
Deepening the group's knowledge of contemporary Indonesian history and the social struggles that brought about the end of a military dictatorship and a new era of reform. Historian Rudolf Mrazek's talk and discussion toward the end of the Assembly provided an insightful reflection on the potential for change through broad horizons of working together.
For more reflections, images and accounts of the activities, working groups sessions and visits, see: http://artscollaboratory-assembly.tumblr.com
The Assembly Indonesia blog also has entries by participants in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.