IN JANUARY 2017, Cemeti’s 30th year, founders Mella Jaarsma and Nindityo Adipurnomo stepped aside from the day to day running and handed the organization over to a new team, who changed the name from Cemeti Art House to Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society. The new subtitle took as a starting point the idea of “instituting” as a collective social process in which we find forms for shared urgencies, whilst “art and society” is meant to express the organisation’s socially useful focus. Instead of immediately rolling out a fully developed programme, the new team used their first year to try and think through alternative possible futures for Cemeti together with its publics via Maintenance Works; a program of exhibitions, workshops, redesigns, assemblies, working groups and residencies, that envisioned Cemeti as being “down for maintenance” (like a website), whilst being open to the public. By conceptually taking the organization offline, the idea was to make time and space to ask basic questions about where we were and where we wanted to go, beginning with:
“What are the key social and political urgencies in the city, the country, the region today?”
“What is the social and political agency of art practice?”
“What can institutions (of art) do?”
“What is a gallery for?”
“How do we work together?”
Maintenance Works became an 18-month programme divided into two drafts. Maintenance Works 1st Draft: Propositions included an exhibition of the same name with various artworks, projects, interviews, archival materials, working spaces and editorial groups inhabiting Cemeti’s gallery and domestic spaces; a three day Assembly entitled Forms of Exchange: (Re)producing Residencies that explored the problematics and possibilities of the residency model (one of the main forms of artistic production in Indonesia); an occasional film club; the redesign of Cemeti’s entrance space and public facilities by design duo Collective Works (Karin Mientjes and Peter Zuiderwijk); and the beginning of a two year collaboration with design cooperative TUHANTU to redesign Cemeti’s logo, visual identity and website to fit with its new focus and direction.
The Maintenance Works 2nd Draft ran from July 2017 to July 2018 and consisted of an exhibition series entitled Berbagi (“sharing” in Indonesian). For this second draft we invited six artists, groups or cultural practitioners, experimenting with different forms of collaborative working, to realise a project at Cemeti. The aim was to give them space to experiment with new models of practice, whilst also allowing Cemeti to learn from their varied ways of working. The Berbagi exhibition series included: Museum of the Ordinary Things (Barbagi #1) by Eko Prawoto with Eko Prawoto Architectural Workshop and the Laboratory of History, Technology and Design Studies, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Duta Wicana Christian University; Ruang Politik Pertama Bernama Rumah (Berbagi #2) by Dito Yuwono with Barasub, Laras music research collective, RAR Editions, Studio Batu and Sewon Screening; Artist Job Fair (Berbagi #3) by Wok The Rock with Videshiiya & friends; In a Hard Place Apply Soft Pressure/s (Berbagi #4) by soft/WALL/studs; MASS (Berbagi #5) by Auto Italia with Marianne Forrest, Edward Gillman, Friend in French (a.k.a. Ahmi Kim), Pablo Jones Soler and Natasha Tontey, and ALMANAK (Berbagi #6) by artist Natasha Tontey in collaboration with curator Syafiatudina.