In the Expanded Field of 'Artist-run-space'

When I was a sophomore years ago, a foundation class called Pengantar Seni Rupa or Introduction to Art (World) introduced me to the term 'artist-run-space', which the lecturer described as an art space operated and managed by an artist/a group of artist. I never thought that I could actually contribute to one. In the early of 2015, it was rather a quiet, vacant time when I started working for an artist-run-space named Ruang Gerilya. Perhaps I just wasn't so aware of my new surrounding but I do remember that besides Ruang Gerilya, there were other spaces like Platform3 (now called 'Platform+'), S14 (now going on a hiatus), Omnispace, Salian (now closed), Spasial, Galeri Soemardja, Rumah Seni Sarasvati, Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, and Lawangwangi Creative Space. At least, these spaces were active at that time though I think most of the people were still preparing and figuring out their own stuff. Months passed, by the end of the year, things changed--more events were initiated, it was more lively, basically, there was always something going on in a month, whether it's an opening or a talk.

Eventually, I rarely heard people using the word 'artist-run-space' anymore but started to use 'alternative space' since more and more people from non-art-making background worked for the art spaces. This has become conflicting, at least for me. 'Alternative' as opposed to what? The programs were not that different, especially for Ruang Gerilya that one of its main program, called Beta Test, is similar to another art spaces program to give an 'opportunity' for a young artist(s) to present their works. If labeling 'alternative' only means that no commercial transaction without any improvement on the program itself, wouldn't it be somewhat irresponsible?

2018 started off with a not-so-shocking news. At least, two art spaces decided to transform itself into a new formation. After deciding to close down its physical space, Ruang Gerilya now focuses on its group of artists, Gerilya Artists Collective, who are preparing for their first group exhibition in Bandung sometime this year. The building where the art space used to be is still there, they're using it as a "home base" for them to present their works when guests coming over. Meanwhile, Platform+ seems to break their physical boundaries by making exhibitions outside their previous art space in Cigadung area, the recent exhibition they presented was Start. Link. Point. that took place at Kolekt, an exhibition space in Gudang Selatan area. The exhibition showed works by four recent-graduates from ITB: Dewi Fortuna Maharani, Galih Adika, Gofan Muchtar, and Wildan Indra Sugara.

This new 'trend' can be merely perceived as "the year of artist collective", Ilubiung, Sarang Penyamun, Klub Remaja, and Fat Velvet to name a few. Plus Gerilya Artists Collective, Omnispace, and maybe Platform+ if they categorize themselves as one. Also, most of these collectives aren't just a group of artist. Sometimes, they also have someone to do the managerial part (project manager ish), someone to 'guide' their artistic-aesthetic-philosophical discourse, and someone to do the lay-outing if they need to make a proposal or a poster. The way I see it, they are quite 'self-sufficient' and the members are usually about the same age (not talking about generation XYZ, but literally age age).

At first, I thought this phenomenon arose with the fact that Bandung is lacking of art spaces. But when I think about it again, it's not like we don't have any option at all. As per today (3/27), Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Nuart Sculpture Park, Kolekt, Titik Temu, Orbital Dago, Omnispace, Dago Tea House, Spasial, IFI, Galeri Hidayat, also Galeri Idealoka, Galeri Soemardja and Galeri 212 (both are university gallery) are still active (-ish, some of them). Program wise, only a few that still have regular programs (e.g. Omnispace with its Getok Tular, Selasar Sunaryo Art Space with its Bandung New Emergence, and Lawangwangi Creative Space with its biannual Bandung Contemporary Art Award).

Perhaps that's the reason why these collectives were formed: because it takes more than one head to execute a project idea. Most of the art spaces don't have a regular monthly program. For an artist, it's either you do a solo show and rent the whole space on your own, or you can team up with some other artists and make a group show (plus share the expenses too). In terms of these collectives, it also doesn't have to be an exhibition of the group member. They can also be an organizer, so in a way, if we all refer to scoring guide of Liplap Book*, at least these artists can be scored for ACTV (Frequency of Activities: Involvement in at least seven art events), IN.PART (Institutional Participation: The artist's role and involvement in initiating or running (daily operational or incidental) institutions related to art activities throughout their career), and CO.PART (Communal Participation: The artist's role and involvement with a more general public).

This phenomena shows us that artists-run-programs now in Bandung. They don't gather for one show only, they keep creating more and more, generating new projects/events. Ilubiung did some community-based projects in Dago Pojok area. Later on, they did a project called "Lembaga Pendidikan Gunakarya" where they conducted an alternative pedagogical approach in a public school by inviting some young artists to share their own practices. On the other hand, Fat Velvet created a project called "Marka Samcara: Magnifying the Mind through the Body" that was held at Spasial. The event (and pre-event) featured tattoo booth, tattoo discussion, photo exhibition, music performances, movie screening, and art performances.

Moving Class showed a similar practice to those collectives mentioned above, though they claimed that they're only a "platform". Now Moving Class is preparing for their next group show, along with some other selected artists after some registration process. Same goes for Temperxtantrum, a group based in Sukaresmi, in the northern part of Bandung. They are also preparing for a group show sometime this year. Then, what makes a group categorized as an "artist collective"?

What I noticed from working for Ruang Gerilya, the collective was formed as a habitual result after spending time together. It was mostly artists who were working together running programs, but not everyone is in the collective now. So there must be some kind of 'relationship' aspect and 'compatibility' too, it's not just the matter of time. Generally speaking (applies to other collectives as well), all members need to agree that they're in the same boat, having a particular value, and going to a certain direction. Also, being in a homogeneous group (all members are artists/art workers) in a way boost up the survival rate (thanks to peer-support within the collective) but it has risks too. Some might be overshadowed by other members, so it's important to keep individual practice developed and maintained simultaneously.

A collective work--working together in a group, arranging an exhibition or an event--doesn't necessarily mean that it'll become an artist collective. It takes determination, endurance, and perseverance, like any other things in life. So we'll see, which collectives that make it to the end of the year. Otherwise, maybe this has been mistakenly read as a significant phenomenon in Bandung art scene.


(3/27/2018 - 10:59 EDT; it was written "but not everyone is 'selected' and 'accepted'" on the second line, second paragraph from the bottom. I rephrased it to prevent misunderstanding.)

*LIPLAP: 35 Bandung Artists Under 35 -- Published in October 2017, written by Adhisuryo, Doni Ahmad, and Enin Supriyanto with forewords by Edwin Jurriens and Santy Saptari. ISBN: 978-0-6481819-0-3 -- https://www.instagram.com/liplapbook/

Special thanks to: Sabiq Hibatulbaqi, Doni Ahmad, Akmalia Rizqita, and Ayda Khadiva.


Posisi Menentukan Prestasi

Couple years ago, the first time I set my foot in Singapore was when the National Gallery just opened. People were talking about it, they were excited to see the museum. I didn't go there at that time. Only when I had a chance to stay in Singapore again for some time last month, I finally got to visit as a tourist. The National Gallery of Singapore was having a temporary exhibition of Impressionist painters, also Raden Saleh, and Juan Luna. They have various kind of museum tour, from the building tour to exhibition tour. I participated in the Siapa Nama Kamu and Century of Light exhibition tour. The first tour I took for Siapa Nama Kamu was great, very informative and the docent was very knowledgeable. Too bad the second tour wasn't really satisfying, it was rushed and the docent didn't seem to be prepared (or maybe she was afraid it'll take longer than it was supposed to be so she kind of rushed through and just briefly described the artworks).

The Social Table, you can choose your favorite works from the Siapa Nama Kamu exhibition and send the pictures to your email.

The most exciting part for me was the Keppel Centre for Art Education (well, some would go for the Century of Light exhibition, it was cool too) and the "additional" areas/facilities to enhance the visitor's experience when visiting NGS. Now I can see why some people in Singapore go to the museum for their family weekend activity and how it can be a fun experience to visit a museum.

Last January, Keppel Centre for Art Education was partly renovated. I only visited the Children's Gallery, Children's Museum, and Children's Museum Workshop. Children's Gallery is an area on the hallway to the entrance of Keppel Centre for Art Education where they displayed the children's creation, depending on the themes they brought up at that time. Children's Museum is an area that looks like a ceramic studio whereas Children's Museum Workshop is the place where you can try making basic printmaking using stamps.

Children's Gallery

Workshop room in Keppel Centre for Art Education.

Stamps station.

Children's Museum, ceramic studio-alike room.

Okay, so. On the same floor as the Century of Light exhibition, you'll find this area where you can do: (1) color mixing based on the impressionist paintings; (2) creating image by making scribbles on top of acrylic plates that has images carved on it. Basically, the idea of activity #1 is to stack up the translucent tiles that has part from the impressionist paintings printed on, and it will sort of create a different image. Activity #2 is quite different than the one in Museum MACAN. Here, you sort of "build" the composition by scribbling on different plates. One acrylic plate only have one or two subject/object so once you're done with one plate, you can move on to different one to create the whole image.

The image on the acrylic plates was 'debossed'. It wasn't raised like the metallic plates from Museum MACAN's Floating Garden. The image is also a lot simpler, not too many details on the plates, quite easy to identify too.

Art Corridor is an area before the Keppel Centre for Art Education on the first floor. I think they changed it over time but this one is inspired by an artwork by Han Sai Por from the Siapa Nama Kamu exhibition. There are colored-magnetic prisms that you can move around the installation to create your own composition. The color reminds me of Axiata's logo, actually.

Here's my #1 favorite!! *drum rolls*
This mobile art station was equipped with simple tools and materials that were in sync with the Chinese ink painting exhibition on the 4th floor. I think it's a great idea to introduce a method of making artwork in a friendly, easy approach. I guess depends on the exhibition, you can change the topic/material/activity on this mobile unit so it's a practical way to engage more people at the gallery/museum without too much "renovating work".

After spending a whole day at NGS, I realized that there's similarities between one activity to another. For example, constructing images based on "cut-out" image sources as seen on the basic printmaking (stamp) workshop at Keppel Centre for Art Education and the scribble station (near the impressionist paintings exhibition. We were asked to choose one "starter" image, and then move to another section to complete the whole picture, it seemed like we have the "freedom" to create anything we want. Color wheel and color blending were seen here and there, indeed it's an easy approach to introduce art to young visitors.

I guess NGS's public programs and activities are still my favorite. Next time, I should check out Playeum and maybe participate in Art Outreach's program, they're all in Gilman Barracks area. As for Indonesia, I've only heard about Ganara Art Studio (they usually do art fair tour during Art Jakarta in Pacific Place, SCBD) but never actually check out their physical studio. Hopefully sometime soon.


When I was still in elementary school years ago, I remember there was saying that defines how students who sit in the 'strategic' position can get a better grade. This saying was called posisi menentukan prestasi, literally meaning 'your position defines your achievements'. I think it applies to most aspects of life, not only in school, including public programming. Depends on where you 'put' public programming on your priorities, it affects the outcome.


Art Turned, World Turned

I was glad I made this third visit happen just before the exhibition closes on March 18 (which is tomorrow). Some things are improved, especially the varieties of the public program, from music events, live drawings, and kids activity on the weekends, and a proper signage for the Children Art Space (FINALLY!!). Some other things that I'm-not-too-sure-if-they-were-different-because-I-didn't-really-notice-them-on-my-previous-visit are the video projected in the first room which now is also talking about the artwork and not only the profile of the museum. I think I had waited until the video was finished and looped on my last visit, but I could be wrong. Anyways, I was happy to see the explanation of the art works, not only just the museum profile.

Second is the descriptions on the wall (I notice a slight difference from the shape of the foam-board, where they glued the paper onto. Maybe they added some more information about the artwork? Or maybe I was wrong?)

I didn't take the museum guide, assuming that maybe it's still the same. But now I kinda regret that decision, maybe they printed-out the revised edition.

The video on the first room to the left after the entrance. This is a part when Aaron Seeto, Museum MACAN's Director, is explaining why Yukinori Yanagi's work is important.

Some visitors...

Some visitors again... Honestly, I remembered I took some pictures like this with Emily, TJ, Andie, and Gracie when we visited Philadelphia Museum of Art. Like, you know, posing in front of the artwork or mimicking the gesture.

It says "please take your work with you". You know, sometimes I think handwritten notecards are thoughtful, but not with this signage. I mean, you could always print it...

Stacks of used paper, still like the previous visit. I feel sad that the 'used and forgotten' museum kids guide (the green stack next to the used paper) was put like that. 

They put up the sign on every table, all of them are handwritten.

Kudos to the team that finally put up a proper sign.

Okay, considering the entrance is from the escalator (which is behind me when I took this picture), wouldn't it seem like "Children Art Space - Floating Garden, Entang Wiharso" is the exhibition after we passed the signage? You know what I mean?
Yes? No? Maybe?

There was a music performance when I took this picture, it was by UPH Conservatory of Music if I remember correctly.

I visited the museum with a friend who was amazed at the crowds, the display, and the building interior. It was his first time. He didn't expect that people would get out of their house to go to a museum, line up for the tickets, and some of them actually read the information on the captions--trying to understand the art works. He was also curious, did this museum trigger any other museum to at least have a similar quality? I told him, there's one that might show some resemblance, in terms of the design identity, to Museum MACAN.

However, there are some downsides of the museum. The queue was a little confusing. The ticket queue was alright, if you want sign up to be a member on the spot, just go directly to the information counter (near the museum shop, next to the ticketing counter). Don't wait in line, because apparently you can skip the line on that one. The queue to the entrance was super-super-super long, even if you're a member, you wouldn't know where to go unless you ask someone to check you in. The sign that shows members can go directly and which way to take was blocked by the queue. When I went there today, there was only one person in charge for checking in people to the museum and she was already overwhelmed by the crowds, she forgot that there are people on the other line (the member line) who waited to be checked in. I had to ask someone else (I think his name was Ubay?) to sort of cut the line and use the machine to scan the barcode (there's only one machine available).

Ever since my first visit, I noticed that before you can go in, you have to "read" the rules first. Which I think created a jam because you have to stop for some time (let's say 10 seconds), and 10 seconds multiple 1000 visitors... equal to 166 minutes, around 2.5 hours. I wonder, what if this process happens when people were lining up for the tickets, for example? I mean, clearly, they have some time to kill when they were waiting for their turn.


Lastly, there was a weird 'set-up' near the exit door from the exhibition hall. So apparently, there were a lot of people taking pictures near the Damien Hirst's works, which was a blank white wall, a door with some stairs. The security guide put an upside-down chair there, I asked him why he did that and he answered: "that's for the volunteer to sit".

I asked him again, "why is it upside-down then? So people won't sit and take pictures there?"

He said, "yeah, that one too".

I found this conversation amusing.


Does The Garden Even Float?

As promised, here are some pictures from the used papers I took from the Children Art Space at Museum MACAN. Sorry it's a little crumpled and there are a lot of thin lines (trust me I didn't fold them, I rolled them and seems like they got crushed in my bag). If you asked me how did I choose these samples, honestly, I tried to find as many variations as I could, as diverse and as random as possible, so then we can see different types of people responding to Entang Wiharso's work, presumably by a various range of age.

Those pictures above are from the metallic plates we are supposed to rub off colored pencils on the paper. You can see those were done differently, some were double-layered (one color on top of another color), some barely finished the drawing, and most of them were sort of divided into 'segments' by the color, reminded me of Neapolitan ice cream. But, can you tell the actual picture from these drawings? Personally speaking, I couldn't recognize what's on most of those paper, let alone Entang Wiharso's work. I can see there's monkey (the fifth picture from the top, left one) and an object resembles like lotus flower (fourth picture from the top, right one). My personal judgment is that these plates are too intricate, too detailed that you need extra effort to 'transfer' the image onto your paper.

...and it's tiring, and you have to be super patient because there are no instant rewards in this. I couldn't see the result of my drawing, couldn't tell what's on the paper, my arm felt sore, and I got bored after a few minutes. Maybe it's just me, some people might've experienced it differently.

Moving on, these pictures below are supposed to be the headband. We can take one headband, choose the decorations (the cut-out objects), and then glue them to the headband. This is better than the other one, at least you can see that the paper is turning into something once you add the color. It's also a nice gimmick if they have a school group visiting the museum. Like, it's a souvenir already (if the kids keep it safely).

Reminds me of the coin press machines in museums in the States. All you need is 3-5 quarters (depends on the machine) and one shiny penny, then you put all those coins into the slots, crank it, and voila! Your elongated coin is ready! My friend who lives in LA told me that now we don't need to crank anymore, just press the button and our souvenir tokens are ready. But then that's kinda missing the essence, you know. I remember from ages ago, the one near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia was so hard to crank I thought I would break my arm if I keep going. 

Sometimes I thought to myself, "why do we need to facilitate the public, 'the commoners', in a museum or a gallery? Is that the heart of public programming?" and then I remembered, in Bandung, near Gedung Merdeka, there are people wearing costumes like Iron Man, or Hello Kitty, or Masha from Masha and the Bear. A lot of people take pictures with them, they're familiar with the icon they're taking pictures with, while on the other hand people who visited Museum MACAN actually took one step closer to learn about the art, culture, or whatever it is and maybe... they're still not familiar with it. Which maybe also the reason why some visitors behaved improperly in galleries or museums and were 'bullied' online by others who indirectly/implicitly/unconsciously claimed that they knew better (I might have done it as well, I really regret it and I'm so sorry).

Yes, they can simply ask the gallery assistants.. but still.. that doesn't mean we can screen-capture their pictures from their social media and share it with our friends.

Another thing is that when we 'dedicate' a space for the public, it's better to communicate the artworks too, not just hoping they would look it up online and then have their own a-ha moment. I think it's our responsibility to do that, to explain and to make sure they know what they're experiencing (not only seeing).

Anyway, I didn't mean to preach here. Lastly, I just want to tell you one thing I noticed from my job as a tour leader for school field trip. One time, I went to Jogjakarta with a group of students from a public school, most of them were 7th-9th graders and their teachers came along too. One of our destinations was De Mata Museum (yes, really), their stuff was like optical illusion installations, 3D paintings, statues and replicas of notable figures, and stuff like that. The group was so, so excited to take pictures of the installations. They could touch the printed display so it would look more promising that they're a part of the 'scene'.They pretend to be on the scene. Maybe, their idea of an 'art museum' is something like this, so no wonder if we found people 'responding' to the installation or the room layout. It's interesting, really. You should check it out if there's a '3D museum' in your city. Maybe it can give you some insights on facilitating the public.