Curatorial Essay for the Ambangan Art Project.
ENCOUNTERS BETWEEN VARIOUS LIVING SYSTEMS, including the system of knowledge, often do not merely result in a dichotomy. Perpetual interactions between these systems that make life possible have developed a dialogue so that the process of negotiation becomes a necessity. There are times when such things lead us to a situation of in-between, similar to how a doorstep threshold adjoins one room with another, an indefinite zone that leaves the door open to opportunities for possible transformation.
This situation is present in our everyday lives. In a society that lives through the very idea of communality, personal and organic relationships, between humans or between human and their environment, are inherited patterns that continue to emerge in various aspects of our lives. It applies in the system of knowledge, way of sharing, the system of exchange (economy), supported by many concepts and traditions in the community that bind the relations between people in a circle of closeness, almost like a kinship. Regulation arrangements are set according to the pattern of life that builds the basis of sustainability through the idea of togetherness.
Interestingly, this pattern works together with the modern system, which tends to require corridors of rules and boundaries. They adopt each other and give birth to modified forms in various aspects of the life that we know. Sometimes, the encounter between these two patterns results in tension because of their different nature. Sometimes, these encounters and mutual adoptions can even bind this organic space of play. However, sometimes a bargain was struck, producing opportunities regarding the system design that bridges the clashes of legacies from the encounters that had happened, from the past to the present.
In the context of the art scene, a similar situation is taking place. Collective lifestyle becomes a method to overcome the obstacle of system and infrastructure. An existing pattern in our daily life is contextualized in a system in our art scene – initially, as an attempt to overcome the problem of education and access. Together, the results of the individual pursuit of knowledge are exchanged and practised in a collective. The space for developing knowledge is expanded by involving more individuals. Making friends, learning, and making art together are the first steps to build a collective-based method of working. The quality of communication in exchanging knowledge and experience becomes essential to accelerate the shared knowledge in a collective body, especially to accelerate the lack of criticism in our society. The lack of critical articulation is also the impact of the long-term, structural wedges that have taken root while we raced to chase modernity.
On a small scale, Forum Lenteng has opened an alternative education space since it was founded in 2003. The practice continued until it was manifested in the learning platforms that it initiated – Milisifilem and 69 Performance Club among them. The foundation of collective work: making friends, learning, and making art together becomes more connected to specific practices, which are artistic practices or art education in general. Bodily experiences and knowledge of art are communicated to the young learners through simulations of events that usually happen in the art scene. The personal act of artmaking, mutual criticism, and mutual curating becomes a mode of learning. It allows the exchange of perception to take place horizontally, with multiple layers of interpretation, when everyone is learning to articulate their criticism. It is a simulation of the practices in the art scene that has been modified by a method of collective work.
These small simulations will be brought into the Ambangan project. They will be summarized into a performance in the form of 72-hour simulation (three days), presented as an amalgamation of ideas such as the performativity of daily life, artistic practice (sketching), residency, gallery, and exhibition. In this simulation, the seven artists involved in it will perform activities in a scheduled pattern, inside of a gallery.
72 hours is the icon of the target set to frame the duration of the performance. This idea is stimulated by Andi Rahmatullah’s work (2006), “Hypomania”. This work is part of “JEDA” photography exhibition held at the Galeri Cipta III (August 22-28, 2006) and Cemeti Institut (September 24 – October 3, 2006). Through his work, Andi tried to expose a myth of himself, related to one of the symptoms of hypomania that he had been experiencing. The exposition was done through the search of his bodily threshold, by withholding sleep for 72 hours while taking a photograph of himself every hour while jotting down personal visual notes about the conditions he experienced. 72 hours became Andi’s target to determine the threshold of his body, as well as the number of pause moments that he had to select to represent his entire work process.
72 hours also refers to the general agreement on “weekends”, which in this performance is framed as the duration for simulating a collective-based art scene. Instead of letting it flow as our daily life in the art collective, time in this performance becomes an encounter of various conventions in the form of activity schedules. These activities would not be just about the daily routine, but the performance also includes sketching as an artistic practice. In this case, we attempt to borrow one weekend to reconcile the measured time with the momentum when it exists in the frame of intense practice of sketching each other.
The artistic process of sketching in this performance is not merely a recording process, but rather to build proximity with the visuals recorded. The process of getting acquainted will be accelerated through the intensity of activities, the limited space, and the extensive time spent. It will also become a study of each artist involved in this performance – a way of getting acquainted more closely to them, departing from what meets the eyes, all to the subtle invisible details. When this process is done continuously, the captured reality begins to meet the maker’s personal imagination, allowing visual speculation to take place.
Rather than doing the artistic practice separately from the exhibition space, where the work is usually met with public and officially becomes a part of the discourse debate in the art scene, this performance would instead put the artistic process in the same space as the exhibition space. The gallery would be treated like how one would treat a space for artistic practice, residency, exhibition, and daily living using the icons of the activities that occur in the lives and work process of an artist. Therefore, the entire simulation presented in this representation space also functions as a presentation that cites a jumble of events that shows how a collective-based art scene system works. It is a position, an offer, or part of reality — selected and reorganized in such a way to discuss a greater constellation on a global scale. It is a means to talk about the mutations in the system design we live in, which is always in an equivocal condition to be able to question many versions of its truth and to continue to exist in the threshold zone.