The Indonesian art sphere is still regarded as lacking curatorial infrastructure that is crucial in supporting the development of art. Compared with the position of the artist, curatorial work in the Indonesian art world is currently remains in its early stages. A regeneration of curators is needed to balance out artistic production and the proliferation of young artists. In response to this, Cemeti Art House and curator Alia Swastika organized a Young Curator’s Forum (YCF) at Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, las 9-12 January 2013.
At the YCF, 16 young curators were selected, who were then asked to create a proposal. Out of these, 2 proposals will be chosen to have their projects realised towards the end of 2013. The young curators are originally from Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogyakarta, with a large percentage from this last city.
By gathering this group of young curators from three cities, the forum does not only serve the purpose of creating discourse, but also in building a network. “The Forum is important because it was a meeting space and an opportunity to create a network among young curators, as well as producing a curatorial discourse that remains neglected in Indonesia,” mentions Mitha Budhyarto, one of the participants from Jakarta.
An interesting discussion came up in YCF surrounding the topic of “The Role and Position of the Curator in the Domain of Indonesian Art.” Through the material provided by Agung Hujatnika(jennong) and Enin Supriyanto, moderated by Alia Swastika and Sudjud Dartanto as responder, the participants were invited to gain in-depth knowledge about the history of curatorship, the position of the curator in Indonesia, as well as its development, which was not previously widely known.
Agung Hujatnika(jennong) was able to draw attention when delivering his paper, within which he elaborated on the history of curatorial practice in Indonesia. From the discussion, a fascinating idea came out about the relationship between curatorial work with the space in which the art event was held, as well as the development of curatorial discourse that grew outside of academia.
Other topics of discussion organized within the YCF was Curator and Artist: Power Relation, Intervention, and Discourse Products with speakers Agung Hujatnika(jennong), Mella Jaarsma, and Herbert Hans; Art Market and the Influence of Economic Systems within the Domain of Contemporary Art with speakers Titarubi and Heri Pemad; as well as Internationalism in the Domain of Indonesian Art with speakers Enin Supriyanto and Jompet Kuswidananto.
Aside from engaging in discussion, participants also visited several art spaces such as Indonesia Contemporary Art Network (iCAN), Heri Pemad Art Management, House of Natural Fibres Laboratory (HONFablab), and Agus Suwage’s studio. In addition to getting to know gallery and instutition owners, they also met artists from different generations such as Wimo Bayang, Arahmaiani, Titarubi and others. During the event, YCF was an opportunity to gather, discuss, exchange ideas between senior and younger curators, as well as the participants. “Regeneration always happens, that’s why I created the forum, so there’s knowledge exchange and sharing experience between the seniors and juniors,” as Alia Swastika says. With the event, it is hoped that the younger generation of curators would drive to strive more than what is already achieved by senior curators.
YCF was held at Cemeti Art House, which used to be Galeri Cemeti, in relation to their 25 anniversary on 31 January 2011. In their silver age, Cemeti Art House is organizing nine programs throughout 2013, titled “Turning Targets 25 Years of Cemeti”. The final program in December 2013 will be contained in a book. The book will be made up of the nine events, aiming at contributing to the shaping of an intellectual critical culture.
As such, Cemeti Art House that was founded in 1988 is a source of inspiration for the art world, as they focus their attention on building an alternative infrastructure for art activities. The 25th anniversay becomes a moment to reflect upon what the Indonesian contemporary has achieved so far, as well as a constructive effort through the planned programs. “We have taken the opportunity to celebrate our 25th birthday by inviting art activists to engage in a reflective response about our attitude towards culture through the arts,” Nindityo Adipurnomo, artistic director of Rumah Seni Cemeti, expresses.
From the nine programs that they are organizing, YCF is the second program in Turning Targets, created from the desire to provide a space for discussion, an opportunity for young curators to gain more knowledge about curatorship as a profession, as well as a discourse in the domain of contemporary art.
Nindityo also explained how the program was initiated so that the participants have a forum to dig deeper and develop their own potentials in a shared manner. They are hoped to realize that the practice of curatorial work is akin to the wilderness, unlimited to the usual territories of the gallery, the museum, or the market. It is also not always about deciding over layout, lighting, and display, but also so that the participants gain a broader picture of other academic disciplines that correlate with the arts, from the context of politics, economic, philosophy, social sciences, and so on.
In the art world, curators have a large role in building a discourse and shape the directions for the arts. They create bridges that unite the artist with the broader public, in conveying the artist’s ideas. At the same time, there is currently very limited number of institutions that are aware of the importance in providing training and developing curatorial practice.
With this event, YCF is hoped to establish a sustainable platform for discussion among art practitioners, and breed future generation of curators who may provide alternative solutions in format art education sectors in universities. Eventually, participants is expected to further explore curatorial practice and become inspirational pioneering figures for those who did not participate. Nindityo also expressed his hopes that the participants become creative players who take unique opportunities through art. “So, not market players, but those who hold unique and creative cultural keys through art. Because art may be seen through the context of culture,” he states.