Turning Targets #5 – Dobrak!

Dobrak: Taking matters into their own hands

In Bahasa Indonesia, the word dobrak means, “to break down” or “to smash”. The act of breaking can be read with negative connotations – as destructive and violent, or in a positive sense as a necessary step in the process of renewal and progress. In line with the aim of Turning Target, Cemeti’s 25th Anniversary programme, Dobrak implies breaking with tradition, breaking down with pre-conceived perceptions, stereotypes and boundaries as Cemeti Art House moves ahead into the future.

Focusing on collaborative processes and team work as an alternative to the individualism that is typically characteristic of the art world, we invite artists to partner with specialists from the fields of anthropology, cultural studies and social sciences, come up with a working brief together i.e.pick a topic or subject matter which they might be interested, research on the subject together,and produce a work or project that corresponds to the scope of their research either as individuals or as a team. It probably comes as no surprise that a number of the participants working together for the very first time in this exhibition are in fact long time friends or are familiar with each other’s interests and practice.

How one communicates is fundamental in every collaboration. Each process involves negotiation, agreement and disagreement, deliberation and compromise. The 5 projects presented in this exhibition is the result of a 6-month development process and their interests run the gamut from religion as a spectacle to the changing perception of tradition in batik-making, from to second-hand objects and markets to the precariats and 4d gamblers, and the advent of social networking in a rural agrarian community. The way each team chooses to work differs; certain teams have chosen to share information and resources but produce works separately while others have chosen to work together to produce a work as partners.

Is collaboration a better method and produces better results? We are aware that collaboration sometimes “sort of works” or in some cases “doesn’t work” at all. A lot of it is dependent on the collaborators and the context, being at the right time and the right (head) space as there are other forces that determine the success and failures of collaborations. What is clear is that this exercise has taken us to places where we’ve have never been and to do things that one would otherwise not do.

Ade Darmawan & Nuraini Juliastuti
‘The trajectory of what we have always thought as the afterlife of events and things’

With the question “can a life be recycled?”, Ade Darmawan and Nuraini Juliastuti set off on a unique journey to speculate about the parallel lives of a set of objects and events through an installation that combines awkward, and at times incredible fact with fiction. This project focuses on the precarious instances when particular objects in our immediate surroundings reach the end of their lifelines. Do their fates carry them towards that singular endpoint? Or are the ‘lucky’ few able to traverse onto parallel routes and continue to live on or re-begin anew in new territories and homes?

Ade Darmawan & Nuraini Juliastuti develops this installation by welcoming and incorporating a series of interventions in their layered process to echo the unexpected routes that some of the objects from this installation might have taken before appearing in this exhibition. These objects presented are inspired by a selection of news and articles trawled from various print media sources, which have been transformed into fictional texts by a guest writer. Meanwhile, the objects in this installation, ‘excavated’ from various second-hand markets in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, have also undergone various sorting processes as they exchanged hands – from first-hand owners to hoarders, scavengers to other second-hand/used-goods traders, etc. – before finding their way to the markets. The provenance of each object remains unclear; they are subject to the seller’s stories and other people’s recollections. The installation invites the audience to contemplate the fates of the objects and the stories presented before them and to take a moment to appreciate the many “lives” these objects and stories might have experienced.

Ade Darmawan (b. 1974) is an artist, curator and the director and co-founder of Ruangrupa artists’ initiative in Jakarta. His latest solo exhibitions include “Human Resource Development” at Ark Galerie, Jakarta (2012) and “Home Theater” at artclub1563: contemporary art center, Seoul (2013)

Nuraini Juliastuti (b. 1975) is the co-founder and director of Yogyakarta-based KUNCI Cultural Studies Center. She is a PhD student at Leiden University. Her research is about popular music and is part of Asian Modernities and Traditions project.

Iswanto Hartono & Aryo Danusiri
‘Kitmir’

“Even dogs can go to heaven if they are loyal to their bosses, like Ashabul Kahfi. Why is it so difficult for humans to be faithful?”

The Seven Sleepers refers to a group of young men who fled the city and found refuge in a cave to escape persecution as non-believers of state-supported religion. Also known as Ashabul Kahfi (the People of the Cave), the Islamic interpretation of The Seven Sleepers mentions Kitmir (or Al-Rakim), one of the young men’s loyal pet dog who kept vigil at the cave entrance with paws outstretched, watching over his Master and friends for over 300 years. Kitmir and 9 other creatures – such as the hoopoe, the she-camel and the cow – are favoured animals that have all earned places in heaven for their sacrifice and loyalty as obedient servants or followers.

Aryo Danusiri and Iswanto Hartono research the recent phenomenon of the spectacularization of Mawlid observances in public spaces in Jakarta organised by Hadrami-descent (Habaib) led groups. Through the process of fieldwork, they encountered the comment broadcasted by a famous Habaib from Jakarta who compares the loyalty of Ashabul Kahfi’s Kitmir with human followers. Presented in the form of a diorama and a live-show transmitted straight from ‘heaven’ featuring the 10 sacred animals, “Kitmir” is an imaginative exploration of the relationship between the Master and his follower and the emphasis on loyalty and obedience, and also articulates the way in which this particular community envisages power, hierarchy and religion as a form of spectacle.

Aryo Danusiri (b. 1973) is a video artist and anthropologist. At present, he is doing his Ph.D. in the Media Anthropology program, with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice at Harvard University.

Iswanto Hartono (b. 1972) is an artist and an architect. He is a Research Fellow and member of ARTLAB ruangrupa since 2009. His work was recently exhibited at “Market Forces: The Friction of Opposites” in Osage Kwun Tung, Hong Kong (2013).

Leonardiansyah Allenda
‘The Art of Speed’

Inspired by Dr. PujoSemedi’s research on wild boar hunting in Petung Kriyono as a symbolic ritual to reaffirm the male community’s manhood, Leonardiansyah travels to Petung Kriyono earlier this year with the hope to understand this unique ritual further only to find drastic changes have overtaken the community. He discovered that technological developments and new infrastructures have taken over the village and enabled the people of Petung Kriyono to access information, communication and transportation with sudden ease. This sudden access and the rapid pace of information exchange have caused major shifts in their perception of self and their surroundings, transforming their lifestyle and the way they communicate and interact with one another. This form of transformation is nothing new; it is a global phenomenon that has affected many rural areas around the world.

Leonardiansyah presents his observations and experience of Petung Kriyono in the wake of rampant technological “advancements “as cross-platform mobile messaging, mobile handphone and/or smartphone uploads and downloads of texts, pictures, videos and mp3 tracks, facebook and the myriad forms of data-based information communication and networking have become a norm out there. The artist examines the resulting quirks and peculiarities that information technology has impacted on the individuals lives and collective consciousness of the people of Petung Kriyono, an agrarian society, through a catalogue documenting his fieldwork, made in collaboration with a Bandung-based graphic designer, as well as a photo-based work inspired by the landscape of Petung Kriyono.

Leonardiansyah Allenda(b. 1984) completed his BFA majoring in sculpture in 2008 from Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB). He is interested in the relationships between man and his surrounding. He presented a solo exhibition “Made in Heaven” at Inkubator in Jakarta (2012).

Dr. Pujo Semedi Hargo Yuwono, M.A is the Dean of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences (FIB) at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta.

Restu Ratnaningtyas & Leilani Hermiasih
‘Clouded Vision of a Dying Tradition’

Working together with visual artist Restu Ratnaningtyas, cultural anthroplogy graduate/musician Leilani Hermiasih expands on her Bachelor thesis on the social changes and its effects on the tradition of batik-making in Yogyakarta. They embark on a partnership to further understand the assumptions and questions surrounding one’s understanding of tradition and traditional in batik-making in Yogyakarta, a revered art form that is deeply entrenched in Yogyakarta’s rich culture.

“Which one is considered ‘traditional’ batik?”; “How is ‘traditional’ valued?”; “Who holds the legitimate right to label  something ‘traditional’?” and “Can the traditional be made contemporary?” are among the questions that were consistently raised throughout the course of their investigation from the centre of production to the various market places. As they uncover the shifting understanding and definition of ‘tradition’ or ‘traditional’ (in the context of batik-making), which has been affected by social and economic changes in contemporary lifestyle as well as technological developments and has resulted in new motifs and production methods in Yogyakarta, Restu Ratnaningtyas and Leilani Hermiasih interprets the results of their research by creating “contemporary (yet) traditional” forms through batik, hand-drawn video animation and musical compositions.

Leilani Hermiasih Suyenaga (b. 1990) graduated with a degree in Cultural Anthropology from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM). She is also active in the music scene through her singer-songwriter project “Frau” and is part of a band surf-rock “The Southern Beach Terror”, and gamelan group “Sekar Jindra”.

Restu Ratnaningtyas (b. 1981) is an artist and illustrator living in Jogjakarta. Recent group exhibitions include “Personal Project” at Dia.lo.gue (2012) and “Domestic Stuff “at Galeri Salihara (2012).

Julia Sarisetiati & Budi Mulia
’Sharing Strategies of Uncertainty’

In Guy Standing’s “The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class”, he posited that globalizationhas led to a new emerging social class who are not only suffering from job insecurity but also identity insecurity and lack of time control, not least due to workfaresocial policies. Inspired by their reading of “The Precariat”, Julia Sarisetiati & Budi Mulia’s research began by looking at the precariats in Indonesia and later led them to question how, not only the precariats, but all human beings in fact, live, deal and struggle with insecurities and uncertainties in our daily lives.

They find resonance in the uncertainty and insecurity of our everyday existence with that of 4D gamblers (penjudi togel), as a gambler’s reality is filled with uncertainties and insecurity albeit of a different nature and is based on predictions and speculation of events, and hope (of striking the right numbers). The project invites 4-5 gamblers to share their individual strategies, methodologies and anecdotes of their gambling experiences. Presented as an installation of video and objects, we witness the gamblers divulge and compare their respective betting strategies, explain the logic and reasoning behind their own formulas in their attempt to gain an edge over the system and hit jackpot.

Julia Sarisetiati (b. 1981) is an artist who works mainly with photography and an artistic committee member of RURU Corps – a visual communication agency founded by ruangrupa, Forum Lenteng and Serrum. She was involved as part of the curatorial team in “The Sweet and Sour Story of Sugar”, Galeri Seni Kunstring, Jakarta (2012) presented in collaboration by ruangrupa & Noorderlicht.

Budi Mulia (b. 1967) graduated from the Roman Department Study Program of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) with a major in French Language & Literature. He is currently completing his Masters at Universitas Indonesia (UI) majoring in Social Welfare Studies.

Curated by Adeline Ooi and Mella Jaarsma.

Dobrak – Cover

Dobrak – Introduction

Dobrak – Nuraini Juliastuti & Ade Darmawan

Dobrak – Aryo Danusiri & Iswanto Hartono

Dobrak – Budi Mulia & Julia Sarisetiati

Dobrak – Pujo Semedi & Leonardiansyah Allenda

Dobrak – Leilani Hermiasih & Restu Ratnaningtyas

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