THE PROGRAM-THREAD Bodies of Power/Power for Bodies was a platform to support and publicly reflect on the practice of artists, collectives, cultural workers and community initiatives that are invested in rethinking the civic role of art. The practitioners involved either work directly with communities through DIY civic action, or use the space of art to critique dominant social and political systems. The aim was to explore the social role and political agency of cultural practice; asking how can we can speak to (bodies of) power, as well as directly support our individual and collective bodies.
As these practices are often centered outside of a gallery context and located within specific communities, we wanted to ask how we might connect with the communities these projects are engaged with. To see what possibilities they offer for changing the role of the institution itself to become a site of civic action. With 2018 marking the launch of campaigns for a key presidential election (taking place in 2019), as well as the 20-year anniversary of Reformasi (the process of democratization initiated after the fall of the Suharto regime) we felt it was a crucial moment to think together about the possibilities for grassroots community and social action and the potential for socially and politically transformative practice.
The programme evolved to include a group exhibition of the same name, developed with Assistant Curator Khairunnisa and including Arahmaiani & Tritura and young people from Yogyakarta; Anang Saptoto; Elia Nurvista; HONF Collective; Julian Abraham “Togar”; Kerjasama 59; Lifepatch – citizen Initiative In Art, Science And Technology; M.N.Qomaruddin & Performer Studio Teater Garasi; Serrum & Kelompok Kurator Kampung (“Urban Poor Curators”); a film program curated by researcher Fiky Daulay; a two-day symposium entitled IS IT WORKING?* *Whose TERMS? On what CONDITIONS? How does it APPLY?, co-curated with Jogja based collective Hyphen (Grace Samboh and Ratna Mufida) and Khairunnisa, that brought together various self-organised communities with academics, researchers, artists and curators to collectively reflect on the working conditions of various forms of social practice; ~IIINNNGGG~, a solo exhibition by artist Julian Abraham “Togar” focusing on the physical, technological, historical and socio-political aspects of sound; and finally Choreographed Knowledges a project by Julia Sarisetiati, curated by Grace Samboh building on Julia Sarisetiati’s long-term research and engagement with Indonesian migrant workers.
From March 2019, Bodies of Power/Power for Bodies will continue as a independent platform.