jogja highlights: Blueprint for Jogja


It's been inspiring to see all of the new contemporary art spaces in Jogja that have opened since the earthquake. One of these is Tembi Contemporary just south of Jogja. We attended the opening for the current show Blueprint for Jogja last week. Openings in Jogja are welcoming community events with food and drink (generally tea and water - alcohol is only served later in the evening, if at all), and music (either live or DJs).

Jen, Mie, and Wati

(21 April - 9 May)
Mella Jaarsma, Lenny Ratnasari Weichert, Samuel Indratma, Arya Panjalu, Sara Nuytemans, Heri Purwanto, Oetje, Marsoyo, Imam Santoso, IndieGuerilla, Agus Baqul, MES56.

Jorge and Jen

Curator's statement:

Blueprint for Jogja

What can a foreign curator say about Jogjakarta? How can an outsider with probably a very romantic idea of what Jogja is, and doesn't even know what reality is Jogja possible is, put up an exhibition that is all about the city? There is no way that he could ever profess an intimate knowledge of a city, which largely resides in his imagination, as a utopia of creativity. It is an imagined space that bears little passing resemblance to its real life counterpart.

The disadvantage I have, as an outsider, was something that I had to overcome. If this is the case, I thought perhaps I could help organise an exhibition that lies on the intersection of my ideal and ideals of artists living in Jogja. Maybe it's not so bad if I can get a group of artists to show us what they see in Jogja and why this city has a special place in their hearts. This is how the exhibition, 'Blueprints untuk Jogja' came about.

But is this ideal imagination of mine so different from the visions of artists who live and work in Jogjakarta?

I like to think of the show as an opportunity for artists to challenge the naivete of my curatorial scope. It features Jogja artists who look into the concept of mapping a city that is often considered as the cultural and creative capital of Indonesia. Jogja is a place that has different meanings for different people. Artists are invited to consider the process in which we can visually represent a place and space and how it can help us understand a particular locale - its history, culture, geography, politics - from both macro and micro levels of engagement.

The word Blueprint often suggests something more than a map. While maps are often considered as 'a visual representation of an area-a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions and themes', the blueprint further suggests itself as a working and imaginative plan for the future. The term is borrowed from disciplines such as architecture and urban planning, and it is used to highlight the role that artists could play in how we can use art to think about how the future of a city can be.

beautiful installation by Mella Jaarsma

The blueprint in this sense is less of a scientific plan; it encompasses playful, imaginative and emotional responses. More importantly, it underscores the inextricable ties Jogja artists have with the city they live and how they can contribute to its continuous significance as a creative communal space for making art as well as fighting, talking, debating, discussing, bitching about art.

great eco-friendly bike work by Arya Panjalu and Sara Nuytemans

If the idea of 'going native', of become a local, is not an alternative that is sincere enough for an outside curator, it is then through a conversation with Jogja artists, to see how they relate to and want to improve on their lived environment, that one could complicate the imagined picture that one has of a place and time not of one's own.

But even this conviction of being an outsider is challenged by an artist I spoke to. He told me that 'later when you've come here more often, you'll become a Jogja resident too'. I’ve never imagined that artists whom I've worked with can speak about community in such an inclusive manner. Then it struck me as I remember that Jogja itself draws its talent pool from all over Indonesia. Many came to study here and never left. The idea of a local identity is not something fixed, one becomes local by participating in its communal life. Jogja as a community is more open than I have imagined it to be.

-- Simon Soon