"Exhibition", BODIES OF POWER / POWER FOR BODIES_, Choreographed Knowledges_

Choreographed Knowledges

Julia Sarisetiati Solo Exhibition

Curator: Grace Samboh

January 19 – February 9, 2019
Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society

English | Indonesia


Saturday, Januari 9, 2019, 19.00 WIB

Series of activities

  • Guided tour
    with Julia Sarisetiati
    Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 11:00 WIB
  • Performing Knowledges
    screening of documentation material of a theater work by Verry Handayani, followed by a discussion, and karaoke session with songs made by Indonesian migrant workers abroad.
    Saturday, February 2, 2019, 3:00 – 20:00

Choreographed Knowledges is a project by artist Julia Sarisetiati, curated by Grace Samboh, building on the artist’s long-term research and engagement with Indonesian migrant workers. Choreographed Knowledges aims to explore how bodies of power such as state and corporations, “choreograph” bodies across the globe as a migrant workforce, focussing particularly on what comes before: education and training.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Starting from childhood, we are taught to answer this question with a particular profession: a doctor, an astronaut, a teacher, a soldier, a police(wo)man, a painter, etc. This shows that humans are workers. If you are a doctor, wherever you will go, people will ask you questions about health. Even if you are a dentist you will be expected to be able to answer questions about stomach disease. Our work has an affect on our roles in our social lives. In fact, what do we accomplish by working? Does your job match your ideals? How do you choose the path of education you will travel? Does education limit or expand your choice of occupation? What is the attitude of the state towards education and employment to guarantees the continuity and welfare of the lives of its people?

Since 2011, Julia Sarisetiati (Sari) has engaged with a variety of migrant worker communities and organisations from Indonesia, including migrant workers in South Korea, academics in the field of employment and labour, migrant workers preparing to return to their hometown, as well as with prospective workers who are about to embark abroad. In 2016, Julia Sarisetiati started developing a digital smartphone application called IndoKWork offering a platform for migrant workers to exchange experiences and knowledge, from practical information or tips needed for survival (concerning language, food, ways to overcome cultural differences, etc.) to stategies to develop their lives once they return tot heir home country (for instance: what businesses could they start up?). Based on the ongoing friendships that Sari has built with these communities, the artist attempted to trace the topic of human (as) resources in Indonesia, asking: In this vast and rich country, why do so many people decide to work abroad? Is this an informed or a cornered decision? and “What national educational systems and policies exist and how are these implemented?”. Sari particularly focusses on the relation between migrant labour and education.

Choreographed Knowledges can be seen as a pause in the artist’s artistic practice, which consists of longterm research and community building. Sari will share her notes and questions about the policies and various interests that underlie the migrant workforce. How are migrant workers trained, educated and managed? In what kind of industries do they work? Who or what creates the demand for the migrant work force? And how do the state and corporations stage and train workers to meet this demand? By means of video and photo installations, a resource room, a timeline and other research findings, this exhibition looks in-depth at how future migrant workers are taught to embody knowledges relevant to the industry and country they will travel to while questioning what politics underlie the need to work abroad. Choreographed Knowledges furthermore invites all of us to consider our working conditions and its relation to education.

In 2018, Grace and Sari also worked together in the context of the Equator Symposium (Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation) and POLLINATION (The Factory Contemporary Arts Center & SAM Fund for Art and Ecology). Some of Sari’s artworks presented in this exhibition are also exhibited as part of the group exhibition We’re in this, together at The Factory, Ho Chi Minh City (14 December 2018 -27 January 2019).

This exhibition is part of Bodies of Power/Power for Bodies, Cemeti’s ongoing programming thread that explores the social role and political agency of cultural practice; how we can speak to (bodies) of power, as well as directly support our individual and collective bodies.

Biography of Artists and Curators

Julia Sarisetiati (b. 1981, Jakarta) graduated from the Arts and Design Faculty of Trisakti University with a major in Photography. She is a part of ruangrupa (e. 2000, in Jakarta), an artist collective that now co-runs Gudskul—an informal educational platform for art practitioners. The subject that Sari teaches in this new school is titled “Collective Sustainability”. A big part of her artistic practice indeed focuses on Indonesian migrant workforces sustainability and ecosystem. Some of her recent exhibitions includes TACTICS Jakarta Biennale, Indonesia (2013); Hacking Urban Reality Series, Copenhagen (2016); 11th Gwangju Biennale, Korea (2016); We’re in this, together, The Factory Contemporary Art Space, Saigon (2018). In 2017, she became a curator for the media art festival OK.Video, where she exhibited works on the theme of “pangan” (food), developing ideas into laboratory-based research projects to demonstrate and explore economic and social sustainability. Currently, as a curator, she is working towards RETURNS: Migration Narratives in Southeast and East Asia with the Goethe Institute.

Grace Samboh (b. 1984, Jakarta) is in search of what comprises a curatorial work within her surrounding scene. She jigs within the existing elements of the arts scene around her for she considers the claim that Indonesia is lacking art infrastructure especially the state-owned or state run as something outdated. Her recent research looks at contemporary practices outside the existing centers of Indonesian art scene and slowly reconnect them all with the past and central narratives. She believes that curating is about understanding and making at the same time. With Hyphen, her concern is to encourage Indonesian arts and artistic research projects and publications. With the Equator Symposium (Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation), she explores the possibility of connecting equatorial countries through current life situation with an admiration to the past and optimism towards the future. She is currently working in between Medan, North Sumatra; and Yogyakarta.

Exhibition documentation:


Cemeti – Institut untuk Seni dan Masyarakat (sebelumnya ‘Galeri Cemeti’, kemudian ‘Rumah Seni Cemeti’) adalah platform tertua seni kontemporer di Indonesia, didirikan di Yogyakarta tahun 1988 oleh Mella Jaarsma dan Nindityo Adipurnomo. Cemeti menawarkan platform bagi seniman dan praktisi kebudayaan untuk mengembangkan, menyajikan, dan mempraktikkan aktivitas mereka lewat kolaborasi bersama kurator, peneliti, aktivis, penulis dan performer, serta komunitas lokal di Yogyakarta.