Affirming the Crisis: signifying the impossible
Proyek GEM (Gagasan Estafet Mustahil)
Oktober 30th – November 30th 2021
Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society
Affirming the Crises exhibits the artworks from seven artists invited to respond to the theme “impossible”, offering diverse approaches, mediums, and techniques. The forms of artworks displayed include paintings, prints, collages, objects, audio recordings, photographs, videos, visual mapping, archives works, and performances.
The curatorial of “Affirming the Crises” tries to stimulate a Nietzschean sense to rethink various crises that humans encounter. It’s about how to say “Yes!” (Ja Sagen) to the things we face, in any circumstances, to affirm not only ourselves but all of existence. Affirmation is an acknowledgment that can be metaphorical, literal, or factual.
The concept of affirmation is also the basis for understanding the curated artworks. The artists in this exhibition have artistic attitudes that echo the joyous affirmation of their environment and social conditions. Their practice brings a perspective that sees the world without fault, truth, and origin. Their creative manner is not about negating but “celebrating” the crisis to offer a Derridean active interpretation and participation.
This exhibition is the final presentation of the Proyek Mustahil (‘Impossible Project’) that CEMETI has run since June 2020. Initiated as if it were a response to the pandemic, the perspective of this project expands and examines issues about the crisis more broadly and in various ways. In a time of crisis, some things are impossible to do. Framing that fact, Proyek Mustahil tries to understand, embrace, and use the “impossible” as a concept and mode of languaging and actuate artistic experimentations to talk it over.
Affirming the Crisis also exhibits objects that are part of the “Impossible Relay Ideas”, an experiment facilitated by CEMETI during the realization of the Proyek Mustahil. This experiment has involved many art activists and enthusiasts in the process of visual communication and collaboration mediated by notebooks.
Saturday, October 30th 2021 | 6:30 – 8 pm
*Limited to 35 person via registration.
November 2nd – 30th 2021
Tuesday – Saturday | 11 am – 4:30 pm
4 sessions per day | Limited to 10 person per session via registration.
Artworks Descriptian & Artist’s Biography
MUSEUM OF LASKAR MATARAM
Bawah Skor Mandala
archives (letters, clippings, etc.), videos, and
memorabilia of former PSIM football players
Video durations variable
Museum of Laskar Mataram is speculation. However, archives and objects in this museum contain their specific actual truth. As speculation, this museum can be called a museum about museums. Bawah Skor Mandala places the ideal of the tradition of archiving local football issues through a vernacular point of view as a trigger to expand crossdisciplinary creative exploration. Departing from their need to record, document, and interpret archival findings, this group arrived at artistic experiments that have a place in the art scene. In the context of the Museum of Laskar Mataram, research is not aimed at getting accuracy but as a way to build a narrative that favors the interests of the subjects who are actively involved in the phenomenon. The idealization of a museum may not be an impossibility. But, in reality, considering the context of our society and the country’s infrastructure crisis, it is almost impossible to imagine and realize. This museum is an affirmation, an acknowledgment, a criticism, and a hope for conditions that still hinder the development of football discourse in our country.
About Bawah Skor Mandala
Bawah Skor Mandala (commonly known as Bawahskor; fronted by Benardi Iriawan and Dimaz Maulana) is a collective of football fans in Yogyakarta founded in 2010. As a literacy-based group of PSIM fans, since 2013, this collective has been conducting historical studies on football in general, regionally in Yogyakarta, and nationally. They collect archives through digital clipping activities and interviews with former PSIM players. Unlike other football-fans groups, which are usually identical with location bases, Bawahskor has a more fluid form. They encompass various groups into a solidity that eliminates boundaries between groups and generations.
Prioritizing an educational vision and utilizing social media as a tool for content production and distribution, this collective cultivates knowledge about football from a vernacular point of view by elaborating “nongkrong” (hangout) approach into creative work in the online and offline realm. They also adopt various artistic strategies in presenting information to the public, such as organizing an exhibition about football history.
Frequently encountering mass-based events, Bawahskor has conducted several experiments to realize their program activities, especially during this pandemic when social distancing is one of the obstacles in holding crowd events. Indeed, their efforts were not always successful. A sports exhibition they had planned in early September 2021 has been canceled. In the framework of their participation in Proyek Mustahil, Bawahskor will present a speculative scheme on how the exhibition would be if they organized it successfully.
Object, mural, digital-internet audiovisual content, performance
Variable dimension and duration
Through this <previous-next> project, Extended.Asia makes the endeavors of reenactment of working space and working conditions a performative process. The tradition of “open studio” is redefined as a situated event rather than a face-to-face event between artists and the public that pursue communication opportunities.
The digital elements and activities equipped with the internet are part of the main artistic happening in the context of “performance art”. In fact, the communication between the audience and subjects on the computer screen —that is made possible by the situation and construction of the space of “Extended.Asia studio”— is directly framed as artwork. Interactivity is not merely an extension of the artwork’s value, but it is the core substance of the artwork. Extended.Asia also does not intend to situate the internet in the <previous-next> only as an apparatus to enhance the public’s possibilities in reaching the “footnotes”—contents that are generally outside the gallery. They actually glorify it; the audience’s act of internetting itself is the principal of the showcase happening. It is perhaps a cult that represents such a form of celebration of the phenomenon of the latest media society.
The mural that lies as the background of this “situated studio” is eventually the concretization of the cybernetic framework offering a constructional visual language to clearly show that the concept is basically the work in itself. The concept is not merely something behind or preceding the appearance of artwork. From that standpoint, Extended.Asia is on the path of aesthetic activism that conceives “production process” rather than output as their main work.
About Extended Asia
Extended.Asia is a platform run by four artists (Andang Kelana, Aditya F.H., Theo Nugraha, and Nissal Nur Afryansah) who work remotely via internet connection. In the form of an online terminal that can be accessed on the website https://extended.asia/, this platform brings together audio-visual artists and art connoisseurs from various regions in Asia to expand collaboration across genres. To respond to the current digital-internet era, especially during the pandemic that requires us to minimize physical encounters, the Extended.Asia platform is organized to become a discursive site, artistic channel, and practicable space relevant for the sustainability of art productions and exhibitions. It offers the experience of watching on computer screens and gadgets as the ritual in enjoying artwork presentations.
Extended.Asia positions digital-internet technology as a vehicle to celebrate limitations instead of solutions to overcome the crisis in the new social interaction phenomenon that is increasingly widespread in the 4.0 era. Redefining the concept of liveness by blending physical orientation with the technological way of thinking and prosumer logic, this platform organizes and curates the content of the works of collaborating artists to discuss current issues related to technological prejudices. These issues are also interpreted based on the actual social, economic and political context. It becomes a method for framing the poetic imaginations of the language phenomena raised by media technology. In affirmation of the chaotic character of the nowaday information flow, the platform echoes the logic of arbitrary language as a style of expression that is useful, not only for representing something but also for generating a new kind of presence.
In Proyek Mustahil, Extended.Asia will present a mapping of their aesthetic orientation, artistic ideas and work methods, complemented by curated footage from the archives of the collaborators they have worked with, and several interactive sessions that allow face-to-face encounters via computer screens between exhibition visitors and the people behind this platform.
Video (two-channel) and objects (book and flags)
Variable dimension; 60 x 80 cm (flags)
Video duration 3 min 26 sec & 3 min 40 sec
Fajar made new developments in the photographic project “Dihadapan Harapan” that he has worked on before for his second solo exhibition. In the Affirming the Crisis exhibition, Fajar elaborates the techniques and concepts of moving images (video) to present a subversive imagination and artistic speculation regarding the current situation in the area “mepet” inside the fort of Yogyakarta royal palace. This new exploration highlights the site’s ongoing crisis and stimulates sensitivity to the factual risks that still haunt our days as city dwellers. In addition to the video, a new work, Fajar also includes two objects in the form of a book, entitled “Buku Doa” (English: “The Prayer Book”) and flags containing quotes from residents about their hopes regarding the location. His exploration in this series is a strategy in production, materials, and events due to the pandemic that delayed direct execution at the location. Moreover, this strategy lays a more subtle idea, as it refined the concept of “protest” into a poetic process. Resistance, perhaps, becomes a presupposition. And presupposition, in the end, emphasizes the need for self-criticism. The new phase of “Dihadapan Harapan” is no longer intended to frame external morality but places morality as something that leads inward, to ourselves, to assess social facts more wisely.
About Fajar Riyanto
Fajar Riyanto (born 1984) studied photography at the Indonesian Art Institute, Yogyakarta. His practice explores everyday life through the media of photography, video, and performing arts. Currently, he is an active member of Ruang Mes 56, a Yogyakarta-based artist collective specializing in photography and motion pictures. He received the Julius Bär Next Generation Art Prize, Singapore (2021). He had two solo exhibitions; “Re-Plating Mooi Indië” (2017), was held at Kedai Kebun Forum, Yogyakarta and “Dihadapan Harapan”, was held at the Mes Room 56 in 2020.
“Dihadapan Harapan” is part of his photography project exploring the routines and expectations of residents in the area “mepet” inside the fort of Yogyakarta royal palace, who live at risk of eviction planned by the Regional Government. Instead of sharpening the conflict through protest movements, Fajar recorded the facts and social situation in the location from the residents’ perspective to frame an affirmative behavior and attitude that became the inner sources of the local community to survive. The photographics record created by Fajar stimulates a critical reflection to look at the changing cities and the power relations that operate within them. This photography series also encourages us to look further into the metaphoric imagination of survival through people’s domestic spaces, personal objects, and everyday sounds. The point of view of this project is the process of citizens being able to exist and speak out amid the uncertainty of the social system that harms them.
In the Impossible Project, Fajar will carry out a new development of the photographic project that he has worked on for his second solo exhibition. At this moment, Fajar will elaborate the techniques and concepts of moving images (video) to present a subversive imagination and artistic speculation regarding the current situation inside the fort of Yogyakarta royal palace. This new exploration will not merely highlight the ongoing crisis at the site but also stimulate sensitivity to the factual risks that still haunt our days as city dwellers.
Objects, texts; blue flags and declaration certificate
Various dimension; 21 x 29,7 cm (certificate)
Liminal Declaration is a concrete affirmation effort through objects. This artwork stands in the realm of concept materialization – in which the affirmation itself – through the way, presupposes public participation to “own” and “embody” ideas that the artist brings into the work. The mobility of the certificate contradicts the mobility of the flag. The first one is in a fixed position, occupying the presentation space; the second will move following the audience’s circulation who will carry it. However, these two different mobilities still manifest the idea of a flexible representational space, which extends beyond the gallery’s boundaries. With such physiognomy, Liminal Declaration represents —and also questions— the essence of the act of remembering, the act of promising, creating a monumental event, which reflects daily criticism to affirm facts—crisis conditions— which are interpreted in various ways.
Watercolor on paper
The most important about Jemaah Asing (literary translation: Foreign Jama’ah) painting is the exploration of visual characteristics that go back to the language basics. Regarding the material treatment, this work is an interesting outcome from how the artist interprets the concept of affirmation through the Derridean perspective. It places the acceptance of circumstances into the language logic that allows diachronic processes, starting from the artwork to the public interpretation space, and potentially become a discourse for the historical movement towards the future. Jemaah Asing offers the audience an opportunity to decentralize the functions of each visual element, allowing a deconstruction process of the painting’s established auratic regime by stimulating the public to assess the construction of painting materials. Jemaah Asing appears to move from representative boundaries by rejecting escapist narratives. We could see how this painting has framed the material as a trace of “ the process of becoming “ that leaves a mystery, affirms a disrupted narrative, yet evokes spatial events in the audience who observes it, either from far or near.
About Jayu Juli
Jayu Juli (1988) was active in several art collectives in Jakarta when she was in college until she finally decided to be an artist. In the 2010s, she was active in activism and media literacy together with Djuanda Community, later became a member of Forum Lenteng, and once worked as one of the managers at Gudskul. Currently, she is a member of ‘Peretas’, a network platform for women artists in Indonesia that engaged in feminist solidarity politics.
Jayu’s art exploration covers various kinds of media. Together with Ricky Babay Janitra, she initiated the Plusminus+_ art project, a platform to explore performance art and multimedia practices. Yet Jayu’s main focus is painting with watercolor as the medium. The subject matter in her works is women and body representation. Jayu often experiments with watercolor characteristics to create layered spaces in color and surface composition. To some extent, her experiments represent the taxa figural construction of the body. The unpredictable shapes that often accompany her struggle with watercolors become Jayu’s starting point to think about the concepts of “fringe”, “liminal”, “mobility”, and “the process of becoming” in material and social discourse.
For the Impossible Project, Jayu interprets the theme of “impossible” based on her belief in the endless process of moving (whether it be from one location to another, from one identity to another, or from one state to another) as an affirmation of liminal motion that is absolutely experienced by humans throughout life. Without assuming a single goal as the final process, this perspective relies on the absurdity of an endless cycle of changes in the quality of circumstances. Jayu’s visual exploration then targets the materialization of the “liminal” concept through experimental compositions of watercolor itself. Like a constructivist, Jayu will present paintings and objects that evoke the way of seeing and expand the spatial potential of the spectator.
Collage series, paper; videos
Various dimensions and video durations
This collage series entitled Mantra is a collection of collage series, each of which has a specific title, and three video works related to these collages. Mantra series is a visual interpretation of bagak (Indonesia: ‘berani’, English: ‘brave’) mantra – consisting of three line mantras, namely “ilmu basi” (Indonesia: ‘ilmu klasik’, English: ‘classical knowledge’), “pidareh” (Indonesia: ‘ilmu berlari kencang’, English: ‘run fast spell’), and “pacah batu” (Indonesia: ‘pecah batu’, English: ‘stone breaking’). Those mantras came from a place called Aripan in X Koto Singkarak subdistrict, Solok. Kamartkost.ch interprets the mantra by drawing comparisons to an allegorical work by Franz Kafka entitled Die Verwandlung (or Metamorphosis, 1915). Some keywords obtained from the comparison process are used as a basis to explore visual imagination in reviewing the psychosocial aspects of society who live in the absurdity that emerge in times of crisis, whether it is specifically in the cultural context of Minangkabau society or global society. Through this collage series, Kamarkost.ch transforms the text into different styles of expression to speculate on “the impossible” as language.
Kamartkost.CH is an alternative space in Padang, West Sumatra, organized by young artists, and aims to become a center for experimentation and appreciation of art that is close to the community. This space started from ‘kamar kos’ (English: boarding house) for students at the State University of Padang (UNP) and has been activating cultural activities since 2014, covering various artistic disciplines, ranging from street art, drawing, collage, performance art, and photography. They also organize many workshops and artist residency programs.
Fronted by Mardi Al Anhar, Anisa Nabilla Khairo, Mia Aulia, and Puja Ilahi the alternative space of Kamarkost.ch also conducts studies on tradition and culture of Minangkabau literature, especially oral traditions in the form of mantras. This study is elaborated with a visual art perspective. They also interpret the content of mantras by using written literature, including works of world literature, as a comparison to draw keywords that will be the basis for the construction of visual language. During the pandemic, Kamarkost.ch has organized collage workshops (with a limited number of participants and implementing health protocols) in their internal neighborhood. Departed from this workshop series; the collage technique became the focus of their artistic exploration. The interpretation of the mantra is then implemented into a process of creating visual works in the form of collages.
For the Impossible Project, Kamarkost.ch interprets bagak (Indonesia: ‘berani’, English: ‘brave’) mantra – consisting of three line mantras, namely “ilmu basi” (Indonesia: ‘ilmu klasik’, English: ‘classical knowledge’), “pidareh” (Indonesia:‘ilmu berlari kencang’, English: ‘run fast spell’), and “pacah batu” (Indonesia: ‘pecah batu’, English: stone breaking) – that comes from Aripan, X Koto Singkarak District, Solok Regency. The interpretation is carried out by drawing comparisons with Franz Kafka’s allegory writing entitled Die Verwandlung (or Metamorphosis, 1915) to explore the visual imagination in reviewing the psychosocial aspects of society who live in the absurdity that emerge in the time of crisis. They transform the results of the analysis of these literature elements into a collage series to speculate on “the impossible” as language.
BALE DATA LABORATORY
Archives, videos, objects (computer hardware),and video editing software
Video duration 41 min 49 sec
Bale Data Laboratory carries two premises: experimentation (which is represented by the notion of “laboratory”) and mass engagement (which is represented by “bale”). These two premises recontextualize approaches, attitudes, and behaviors to data. Pasirputih Community’s presented work —as the representation of a platform envisioned as a cultural movement— represents ideas, frameworks, samples of processed results, and the creation of conditions for public involvement in all data processing. Taking one aspect of the most recent phenomenon, namely the new normal society in a pandemic situation, Bale Data Laboratory reflects the behavior of today’s society, especially in a specific scope, that is Pemenang Subdistrict peoples. The interpretation of data was conducted without directing to a particular narrative but relied on the rhythms—in a visual context—of the social phenomena themselves. Thus, in this work experimentation, archives are deconstructed as a style of public expression, an offer of counter to the institutional definition of archives.
About Komunitas Pasirputih
Pasirputih (established in 2010) is the most progressive collective in North Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Located in Pemenang District, close to Bangsal Harbor, they organize various activities, such as media literacy movements, art workshops, artist residency programs, exhibitions, and festivals.
Pasirputih combines artwork production and curation activities in the routine of community organizing and collaborates with the residents. Their annual festival, Bangsal Menggawe (since 2016), involves almost all components in North Lombok, including stakeholders from the neighborhood association to the regent. Another program, Aksara Tani (since 2018), has pioneered the local agricultural literacy movement in Pemenang District.
Since 2016, Pasirputih has been collecting and curating the citizen’s audiovisual archives. It started with the “Saling Gitak” project (initiated by their artist collaborator, Gelar Soemantri); this project had evolved into “Kanal Pasirputih,” later became “Berugak TV.” Now it has its new face called “Bale Data: Museum Audio Visual Kebudayaan Lombok Utara.” This current program strives to collect, map, and study citizens’ audiovisual archives. It also documents and develops community strategies for archiving and documenting in North Lombok. They have also built digital archiving facilities and infrastructure, and activated these digital archives into various forms of projects involving the community.
For the Impossible Project, Pasirputih (represented by three members: Muhammad Sibawaihi, Muhammad Rusli Oka, and Hamdani) will present a film created from a community video archive and a collection of curated audiovisual archives that the audience can respond to. They collected these archives during the pandemic. Thus, we will be able to draw a context about the representation of society’s current situation who live their lives in a new normal.
Yahya D. K.
Etching, objects (melee weapon), dan audio record
Yahya brought back the tradition of printing and collecting objects as part of the action and recording process. Images printed by Yahya in the Fafifu series are anthropologic recordings taken from the subject’s point of view who are directly involved with the axis of the issues – crime, delinquency, and social deviation in the world and street culture. Images printed by Yahya in the Fafifu series are anthropological recordings that came from the subject point of view of who is directly involved with the axis of the issue— crime, delinquency, and social deviation in the world and street culture. The collecting and framing of weapons objects as part of the art object echoes an adoption of archaeological traditions to draw new contexts for the finding from everyday life in the immediate environment. Looking at Yahya’s artistic practice, we can see that the implementation of the Anthropological and Archaeological approaches merge into studies of actual materials and events, examining the present rather than the past. The subjects’ voices in this work are framed not as information but as an expanse of poetic elements to drive an empathy contingent upon the need for aesthetic appreciation. Then, we can appraise social phenomena differently, look at alternative aspects to not subordinate the facts, and move to a philosophical level, such as using the concept of “aesthetic of crime” as a perspective to interpret social crises more subtly and equally
About Yahya D. K.
Yahya Dwi Kurniawan (Magelang,1992), usually called Yayak, also well known by his instagram account @gengxenggol (taken from his first solo exhibition in 2016 “Geng Xenggol”, at Juara Dunia, Yogyakarta). He is a visual artist based in Yogyakarta.
His art exploration covers various kinds of media, such as drawing, prints, photography, videos, objects, music, literature, and art-based research with an ethnographic approach. He explores street subculture issues, club culture and the mixing music trends, and contemporary vernacular audiovisual archives. His creative outputs offer an empathetic perspective to understand the phenomenon of crime, social deviance, and juvenile delinquency.
@prontaxan_ is a platform that he has developed with his five colleagues (Uji Hanan H., Lana P., Rangga S. E., Bagas O. A., and Dito Satriawan ) since 2018. It is a spectacular project that utilizes digital-internet technology and maintains the content-sharing tradition. Agreeing on the practice of reusing, remixing, adapting, and developing original content into new, fresher, and more contextual outputs, PRONTAXAN applies a curatorial approach to hundreds of audiovisual content to frame the phenomenon of funkkot (abbreviation of Funky Kota, local-funk music) and its relation to social class construction. This platform also popularizes a style of social language (narrative and poetry) that deserves to be studied as the latest literature product.
In 2020-2021, he worked on “The Museum of Lost Space” project to frame the klitih (violent crime among youngsters) issue in Yogyakarta. Collaboratively, Yayak made mapping, dozens of etching prints, object works and photography, which were constructed as visual essays about the phenomenon. For the Impossible Project, Yayak will present the development of this project with an expanded focus and perspective, namely the street subculture, which is understood as a critical aspect that is impossible to dissolve from social life.
GAGASAN ESTAFET MUSTAHIL
Books; digital print on sticker
Impossible Relay Ideas (GEM) is an experiment in the Impossible Project series. This experiment started in June 2020. At that time, CEMETI sent a notebook to each of 20 cultural activists. They were asked to respond and forward it afterward to another person who is considered reasonable and interested to continue the process of responding to the GEM notebook, and so on until the book is fully filled and/or the last responder sends it back to the Cemeti office.
To reflect on the process of the Impossible Project, CEMETI will organize an exhibition “Affirming the Crisis – Signifying the Impossible” (open on October 30th, 2021). The GEM notebooks are some of the objects that will be shown in this exhibition.
CEMETI has been withdrawing the notebooks from their circulation temporarily to be displayed at the upcoming exhibition. Indeed, not all of these notebooks will be back. As far as the notebooks withdrawal process (continue until October 20th), twelve books have arrived at CEMETI.
The GEM notebooks that Cemeti has received will be exhibited along with artworks of the invited artists of the Impossible Project, with the hope that the exhibition visitors can come to see, experience the physical manifestations of several GEM notebooks, and imagine the process that has taken place from the journey of these notebooks, moved from one to another hand of the responder, across locations.
The GEM experimentation aims to create a space for collective reflection while continuing to encourage art production and communication among cultural practitioners. The circulation of these books is intended as a way to collect and simultaneously record experimental ideas of cultural practitioners offline in order to stimulate cultural activity and criticism that transcends current boundaries.