There have not been many facts known about fine arts in East Java. Through Jatim (Jawa Timur) Biennale, fine arts community is expected to be able to find answers of the fine arts identity in this region.
East Java is a region supported by various splotches of cultures. Culturally, East Java has three kinds of dominant cultures, namely Mataraman culture, Arek culture, and Pandalungan culture. Arek culture is located in the north area, comprised of Surabaya, Gresik, Lamongan, Tuban, whilst Matraman culture is influenced by Solo and Yogyakarta, and comprised by Blitar, Tulungagung, Kediri, Ponorogo and Madiun. As for Pandalungan culture, it is influenced by Madura culture.
The diversity of culture in East Java is supported by the environment, such as coastal, mountains, and rivers, also the close proximity of East Java with other regions like Madura, and Bali. The influence factor of the combination or blend of various cultures will be the curatorial concept titled Re-publik carried by the 5th Jatim Biennale on December 2013.
Agus Kucink as the curator will be accompanied by M. Dwi Marianto from ISI Yogyakarta that will act as the selectors. Different from the previous East Java Biennale which invited 90 artists from East Java, regional and international, this year Agus Kucink plans to invite 50 artists only. Agus expresses his plan to invite artists from East Java who resides out of East Java, namely the artists who currently live and work in Bali, Bandung, or Jakarta.
To those artists, Agus asks a curatorial question as such, are they working in the same way as the way they work in East Java or are they not? If they preserve the previous kinds, why? If it changes in line with their life movement, to what extend they absorb and influence their artworks.
Those questions are also given to the local East Java’s artists. For instance, the questions given to the artists from Tulungagung. What is their response to modernism that influences the community’s life?
What are the expressions given in their artworks? When choosing contemporary art, what comes on their mind when seeing the thousand-year-old tradition which is the foundation of East Java’s culture?
For that reason, Agus Kucink’s curatorial conduct is not limited to contact the artists then sending the curatorial concept. As a curator, he goes directly to the areas where they reside.
He has an intense dialogue done with the artists regarding the issues appointed by the curatorial line. He goes to Tulungagung, Jember, Banyuwangi, Malang, Jombang, and the cities in Madura.
“By going directly to the area where the artists live, I will know directly the artists’ project and capture the atmosphere around the artists,” said Agus Kucink to Sarasvati. As a curator, he will gain a lot by going directly to the artists’ residencies. Besides getting the artists’ information of creative process, he also supervises the development of the artists’ creative process regularly.
Whether the artists conduct the continuity or discontinuity, as in continuity in a form of how the artists maintain his working line and discontinuity which is measured from the changes done by the artists.
For him, this is important to discover the fine arts map in East Java. Besides that, Agus Kucink also plans to write a book regarding fine arts map in East Java as a reference to fine arts in East Java. It is caused by the fact that to present time, there is no satisfactory reference for the people out of East Java or even the East Java’s people who would want to know what and how the fine arts in East Java are.
East Java Biennale is truly not as announced as Yogyakarta Biennale or Jakarta Biennale. Many questions surface when the talk about this biennale appears.
From the limited fund from the regional government, the limited private sectors’ donation, or even the inexistence of support, up to the artworks produced from the region of East Java.
Continuous efforts regarding who and how the Jatim Biennale will be held is taking place regardless of the obstacles. Jatim Biennale shall be continuously held since this biennale will be the standard used to discover the development of fine arts in East Java.