The entrance to ecosystem understanding in the village
For what purpose does the people do rain harvesting if their wells around it still flowing? If people can still rely on others why bother being self-reliant and caring for other things? It may be the nature that gives the most valuable lessons. In my mother’s village, I never know about rain harvesting. People naturally make use of rainwater because the water from the wells are salty and the source of fresh water was far from access. It can be ensured either the dry season or the rainy season, the need for freshwater for the villagers is inadequate, so when the rain comes people make use of it as best as possible. The memory may be inherent in my mother’s consciousness, so when the first rain came in the village, she let herself getting wet gathering the rain water and bring them to the bathroom. The thing that irritated me, why do I have to let my self getting wet, don’t she afraid of fatigue and eventually fell ill. Later I regret this thing when remembering the long history of her bond to the water that I do not understand because of the abundance of water resources in my place now, Semarang.
Later, the global warming impacting the rise of sea level and also uptake of the land around the coast and attracted many people. This condition is also getting worst because of the use of groundwater that is quite massive especially in industrial areas. Semarang, in certain cases has a fate like Jakarta for water problem. The threat of ground surface declining makes people sought various solutions. Discourse about giant sea wall development and reclamation through NCIICD program in Jakarta, and also toll road that extends from Trimulyo to Demak start to rise for the public. There is no exception to various breakthroughs for campaigns to reduce groundwater use and surface water utilization.
Different from the previous event, Penta KLabs II this time take an area in the district Randusari, Nongkosawit village, Gunungpati District which is in the region of Semarang. Many has known that Semarang is divided into two part, the top and bottom part. The top part of Semarang has Gunungpati, Mijen, Tembalang, Banyumanik, and Ngaliyan District. Nongkosawit is in one of the sub-districts mentioned earlier. Not for no reason why this biennial event was held here. Previously, Penta KLabs I, which took the title “Narasi Kemijen” focus on the bottom part of Semarang and the theme was the village endurance. This year, the activity was pulled downstream, Nongkosawit with the title “Sedulur Banyu” which focuses on the issue of water and its ecosystem. Speaking the city as a unit of both the village that is located far apart it must have connectivity, although not always directly. Gunungpati Sub-district entered the upstream Sub Das Garang which functioned as a water supplier with good quantity and quality especially in downstream area of Semarang. In general, this region has the issue of critical land prone to disaster and landslide. This critical land spread, for example, around Sukorejo, Sadeng, Sekaran, and Pongangan.
Based on Regional Regulation of Semarang City No. 14, 2011 about RT-RW of Semarang in 2011-2031, Gunungpati District is designated as a conservation, agricultural, and forest park area. But the increase in human populations who require living space makes this land much more became over function, meaning that this water catchment area is threatened. In recent years each rainy season around the state University of Semarang we usually see the water overflow on the highway, either because of the absorbing ability of the land is reduced or because of the poor draining system. Surely, if this issue not being resolved, it will become a time bomb someday. Similar to the development of settlements around the large rivers (Garang River and Kripik River) in Sukorejo and Sadeng, if there is no significant action would become a disaster as well. Some of these points are the basis to talk about water issues and the changing of land use, and these are important to talk about, because they will all affect the water cycle.
So where is the story of folklore and also art in the harsh debate on the issue of water itself? Precisely through folklore we can reconstruct the past and consequently today. In some series of other writings, it has been reviewed quite mainly related to the history of Randusari and Nongkosawit. The difference of customs that turns out if we trace the source about 500 years ago, the tradition of treating the Wangan (irrigation channel) is lost with the ritual of rafting or buried the head of buffalo because it is considered heresy and others bad opinion.
Through ethnographic data, we can also know how easy it is to campaign “goodness” from top to bottom such as the story of the rain harvester that in some places in the area of Gunungpati finally abandoned because the process was not meet the pragmatism element of society. In this region, the population relies on the “community-based drinking water and sanitation supply program” (Program Penyediaan Air Minum dan Sanitasi Berbasis Masyarakat = Pamsimas), instead of using PDAM waters that have not yet reached all regions. The story of Shaykh Hasan Munadi and Ki Ajar Buntit is also become a distinctive cultural marker between the village of Nongkosawit and Randusari village.
Initially, if we talk to some young people, they say each other two of these villages often do not get together. It turned out its roots in the past century, then no wonder in Randusari basic education is filled with Madrasah Ibtidaiah, while at the Nongkosawit has a more secular State Elementary School, but in this writing, we will not talk about the length of the folklore as it is presented in different pages.
The choice of using artistry as one of the mediums for information distribution is not without reason. Of course, there will be theoretical debate, why the chosen artistic language of collective Hysteria like this, e.g. orientation on the process and even art artifacts is not the finished result. Work is the whole series of activities itself. This, of course, requires another discussion. For sure, the researchers and artists involved are aimed at responding to local knowledge in the village and also bringing it to the abstractive level so that what happens in the Nongkosawit can be a “kaca benggala” (a huge mirror) for the villages that may have the same typology.
Artists responding to sites and issues
There are about 13 artists both for the show and the visuals involved in this event. Each artist, try to respond to the local history that the research team has gathered. In its development, it is not only the issue of water that became the concern but the complexity of the village itself that all relate to each other. In general, the preparation of activities to strengthen the content, begins with the research of folklore about the origin of the village and the daily conditions of the citizens. In addition to oral history research, in collaboration with the Sultan Agung University represented by Mrs. Mila Karmilah and Luke Ley of Heidelberg University, the team also prepares panelist discussions on related issues. About the discussion content will be released separately. This paper will only focus on curatorial notes on the works of artists during their residency in the village.
Three types of works respond to the village’s toponym. First, STO aka Dibyo, who made a mural in one of the walls of the house near the Randusari mosque. “Weling” is a mural that tells the story of the past the formation of Randusari and Nongkosawit, the iconic objects such as Beduk, Dome of the Mosque (Randusari’s landmark) and Bende (Nongkosawit’s landmark) that originated from the disputed story between Hasan Munadi and Ki Ajar Buntit. A whopping of Ajar Buntit’s followers made them run to the area, now called Nongkosawit. The defeat did not make the process of Islam mission go smoothly, although the mosque was built and prepared, the residents of Nongkosawit still difficult to abandon old beliefs. It is said that the beduk was finally moved in the current area called Randusari, its origin when the beduk was hung in the tree of the big time struck and give it’s sound (sari). Syiar also went smoothly and the trail still feels until now in the event of religious activity in Randusari that still quite active. Until now, their basic education has accommodated in Madrasah Ibtidaiah rather than elementary school which is considered secular. While in Nongkosawit, no less sense Hasan Munadi use bende (a kind of small gong) to call people worship in congregation.
The strategy turned out to be successful, until now even the majority of residents do Islam but they relatively more loosely against old traditions. No wonder that the carnival Bende is much more massive done by the citizens of Nongkosawit. The character difference about 500 years before through folk story was found to be used to see the social reconstruction until now. STO or Dibyo responds to the story by making a mural on the main street of the village so everyone can easily see it.
So, as well as the story of Wayang Ringit and Wayang Angkrek which was conducted by Kang Warsono. Since the beginning it was created telling about the village’s chronicle. It is certainly interesting considering many of the Semarang toponym only stored as folklore or history books that are rarely read. The staging effort becomes an interesting approach as the entire elements, audial and visual, is optimized. Other than Kuver and Sueb. They reinterpret this story by using a theater medium with actors from of the youths and Karang Taruna of Randusari. Kuver – or Aristya Kusuma Verdana – which is set in the theatre and Sueb Andy which set visual artist and also experimental music make the show become quite mystical. Exercises and preparations didn’t take to much time, not more than a month the actor from the villagers is pretty slick mastered the stage and improvised.
Because it responds to theirs space, it’s certainly a festival that uses the available spaces in the village, ranging from a guard post, an abandoned house, terrace, garage, street in the village, and anything else that can be used for displaying and as a stage. Hence the response is not only the issue but space also becomes important. As pointed out by Cut and Rescue, the collective art from Jakarta is using the guard post for the presentation of their work in the form of video. Titled “Essence of Kapok: The Breeder” Cut and Rescue (CnR) hung out with dairy farmers who were every day at the guard post to supervise dozens of dairy cows there. The existence of dairy cattle in its era is considered potential for tourism and has previously been branded as part of the tourist destination village. But this objectification which is uncommon, makes the farmers uncomfortable. CnR trying to get in, understanding the misunderstood and following the work rhythm of the farmer there, presented in the form of video and response to space there. Having previously been with two other villages, Wonolopo and Kandri are designated as tourism village, Nongkosawit began to perform their potential mapping and one of them is the dairy production. Farmers, who often feel for being used, complain about the visits that do not give them a direct benefit. My experience while entering other farm areas, the residents have asked the intention of our presence. Because we are so reluctant to explains, we told them that we are students that doing some practical study and spontaneous one other citizen shouted from a distance, “It’s just another theory!” he said. No doubt this makes the team startled but roughly like that was the initial acceptance of others due to many years of misunderstanding. CnR for a few days not only hang out in the guard post but also join the villagers looking for fodder and hang out with them. The results are then narrated using videos played in their guard post.
Tries Supardi with “Video Home” have a slightly different perspective with CnR. Rather than parse the problem, Tries invites citizens to practice promoting the village by making a simple video. Tries also make a photo and video exhibition on the house lawn of the villagers that depicts the daily activities of residents in the village. Still not far from the area of dairy farms, Demak Komunal maximizing the house of the seeding, and transformed it into a gallery. Demak Komunal repainted the house and gave the exhibition some lights to make it more artistic. A guard post, not far from the seeding house, is also used for showrooms as well. The work on display is the result of their workshop at Madrasah Ibtidaiah Raudhatul Athfal, Randusari, Nongkosawit. It was titled “Ruang Sempit”, more than physically we can see it as a really narrow space, is also metaphorically intended to be children’s imagination in understanding its village that has certain geographical boundaries. The result is a simple depiction of the village. For Demak Komunal, the efforts to recognize the village will be easier by relying on visual elements. The efforts to involve the diversity of the population are intended to make the festival accommodating to various circles, no exception for the children.
Similar strategies also taken by Valeriana Grajales (Colombia) and Cristina Rodriguez (Mexico) who chose to work with students at SDN Nongkosawit 01 and SDN Nongkosawit 02. The two artists of this residency invite students to identify species both animals and plants in the village. Some types of fish and fruits presented in the work as an effort to rise the children’s awareness of their environment and represented in a mural titled “Species” at the wall of Madrasah Ibtidaiah there.
Responding to the issue of water, Andi Ramdani (Yogyakarta) presented “Water that Grows”. The idea he made was a giant faucet with about 3 meters high and 8 centimeters in diameters, that was laid facing the sendang (fountain). The water issue in Nongkosawit village triggered Andi’s own concern. Although it used to be abundant in the springs, in the fact that Nongkosawit has a shortage of water in the dry season. The installation of water taps using bamboo material wants to remind people to save money on water usage considering the scarcity in the dry season. Interestingly, the majority of installations made of bamboo are planted with bamboo seedlings together with works that are expected to grow, such as the expectation of better conditions for accessing the water. The different termination of water is presented in the GSRB (Gerakan Seni Rupa Bogor = Bogor Art movement) in “Kios Urip Nongkosawit”.
GSRB in the last few weeks tried to explore the Randusari and Nongkosawit areas through wangan (the irrigation channel). In this way, GSRB finds some interesting things that are finally being made as village’s souvenirs. In addition to souvenirs that are typical of tourism, GSRB also–through video–finds things that are quite alarming for example a critical irrigation tract if not immediately resolved, it will inevitably be broken, so that the water flow will return to Gribig River. The river itself can be crossed by car, but now because the place around the site is used for paddy fields, only motorbike and bike that can only pass it with alarming conditions. What is photographed by GSRB is another phenomenon which is the paradox of the tourism village itself.
Still about water and the spring, Direct Performance Up, a performance art group that has recently grown in Semarang chose to do “Rumat” around the spring. The idea of man as the most powerful creature on earth can be determined just about to make anything functional as he desires. From day to day, the earth lost its strength and resources to sustain life. The garbage spilled by humans, the advancement of technology that is not directly proportional to the sustainability of the nature, will eventually damage and eliminate all the inhabitants of the earth. Bagus Taufiqurrahman as head of Direct Performance Up focused his work in the spring and asked for the participants to swim in the spring and depict the chaotic scene theatrically. As for F. J. Kunting, an artist from Yogyakarta, is doing art performance alone with the title “Ringin Gendong”. Kunting was inspired with the story of local people, about the existence of a spring that never dry long time ago. Since the banyan trees in the spring chopped down, the water discharge in the spring never overflow as it used to be anymore. Very reasonable, because banyan tree become a water bank. When it rains, its roots can save water and then remove it during the drought. During the process in the village, Kunting saw the phenomenon of reluctance of people planting non-fruit trees. In addition, there is also fear of villagers if banyan tree will bring the haunted atmosphere around the spring. Kunting walk around the village knocked on the door and approached the people he met, introduced himself and asked for permission to plant the banyan in the spring. Through this process, Kunting tried to recall their memory of the banyan tree that was once a water bank for the people’s spring. Banyan that was carried to open the memory of the citizens to bring to the feeling of the past (pleased with the abundant water, as well as afraid of the genie that is said to wait below the banyan). Various feelings make it happen again to the feeling of misgivings if there are more banyan planted around the spring.
Meanwhile, the water contestation is displayed in the puppet tent, entitled “Berburu Sendang di Luar Angkasa”. When life on earth is no longer worth the hunting begins. No exception about the springs, the main source of life. In the hunt, it turns out humans are not the only creatures. In the sky there are variety of creatures that also need water. Then the fight begins. The story is presented lightly by the Wayang Tenda which is indeed in most of the girls are prepared for the children. Another artist who worked alongside with the children, Widyo “Babahe” Leksono, who took young children to revive dolanan (the childhood games) of the past instead of dissolved. What was responded to Babahe so did the last artist that I reviewed after this, i.e. Riska Farasonalia not always and do not have to respond to the water issue, but the daily phenomenon also needs a place to be declared. If Babahe had a network concern after the postevent networks, Riska chose to work in the kitchen with PKK ladies in Nongkosawit whom he considered lack of concern. “Memasak Bunyi Dapur” is a voice record in the experimentation and improvisation sound along with the ladies by responding to the sound of cooking activities in the kitchen with various types of kitchen tools such as paper cutting and onion upon the slicing board, mashed seasoning using a mortar, squeezing coconut with grated, fry the fish using a frying pan, boiling water using a kettle, cut cassava with a cutting machine tool, make fruit juice using blender then everything is collaborated with traditional toy instruments such as tambourines, small gamelan, maracas, bamboo flute, cowbelt, snare drum, and so on. Also included is the sound of splashing water when the ladies washed the dish, there too when sweep at the beginning of the recording. Then spontaneously continuing these ladies responded to each other’s voice. Riska seeks to create domestic activities for housewives who are often considered not working as artistic sound activities. The silence itself is a representation of domestic work that is no less severe than the office works as usual carrier ladies.
In addition to the work of invited artists on display, there are also works of citizens welcoming the Prophet’s Mawlid. These items are parsed around the village every year with different shapes according to the creation of each of RT. Hundreds of residents gather, light a torch and hand lamp, walking around and some of them using their own vehicles commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Hundreds of years ago, Islam entered the village and left a lot of artifact which its spirit is always celebrated yearly. In the lively carnival of villagers, this artifact can be a statue of a camel, a Kaaba, masala, giant bamboo puppets, and many others. This artifact along with the work of other artists displayed, form a circular pattern on the sides of the village covering approximately 1.5 hectares.
Does art give solutions?
Of course, for myself this is not the primary goal because such a thing often makes the process became a huge burden. It is not uncommon for us to hear complaints about enduring and working hard rather than saving others, but saying that the artwork does not give anything is nor less a misleading and underestimate our efforts. Focusing the problem of the village, which I face often our society is too poor in imagination. No wonder in the Musrenbang (Musyawarah Perencanaan Pembangunan = Development Planning Committee) from the level of RT to the city, construction only revolves around the improvement of public facilities and training that do not give a positive influence to the local situation. Art gives a pause on the reality that flows continuously to rethink the daily phenomenon of mechanical life. Including the ceremonies that again lifted the values that were obsolete because of the bustle to support the family. The celebration in the Penta KLabs is about to give another viewpoint in understanding the village, not only through folklore but also the daily knowledge that is considered ordinary. The massive presence of massive work and activism in Nongkosawit gives a little disruption to reality. Then we can see the warehouse of seeding and security post became galleries, the home lawn became the stage of the show, and the people who come to see the village revisit itself as something who have value and special. In addition, the festival also unveils the tension between villagers on viewing the village brand, which its content is still empty and the frustration of the citizens for facing the government that gives the commandment with no program.
In practice, Pierre Bourdieu who carries the theory of modalities not only economically but also culturally, social, and its true symbolically events such these, enrich anyone who involved with the last three capital in the arena (the region where these capitals are exchanged) which used in the most for social mobility. No wonder if in some places in the festival (e.g. Bustaman, Kemijen, and now Nongkosawit) some political figures are present, many sponsors interested, and the actors involved in it can use this event for their own interests.
For me it is much more important, not on this event itself, but whether the whole process can be qualified for the actors who involved to maximize their potential so that the growing capacity can be used to advocate themselves. In the context of the city, the citizens would echo themselves as part of a city that contributed to the creation of a sustainable city. Of course, there are risks the art become a mere tool. Precisely the tension between being a tool and looking for aesthetic desire is this is a nonnegligible discourse that can probably enrich many people.
Contemporary Art, Ecosystem of Ideas, and Suburban Contexts
How is the contemporary art of Indonesia as an idea being accepted, adapted, and practiced in the context of cities that have been considered insignificant in the cultural field and discourse? At least in the timeline of Indonesian art history compiled by Enin Supriyanto in the Europhalia, also the National Art Development Plan 2015-2019 compiled by Mia Maria, Asep Topan, and Dila Martina Ayu, the cities which considered a representation of Indonesian art was only dominated by Yogyakarta, Bandung, and Jakarta. In such conditions, how the position of the non-mainstream cities in determining the strategy or more specific for the perpetrers is either personal or communal.
As a group, Kolektif Hysteria was declared since September 11th, 2004, but it was in the year of 2006 Hysteria intensely involved in the events T-even other fine arts and disciplinary events. Contemporary art as an idea is not yet being studied in a class but from accumulated meetings, discussions, views, practices, pieces of knowledge, and practiced in the flow of time. Term Art project became common place to refer to the practices of arts that emphasize the process chain from the end result of art artifacts only. This collage of ideas and absence of standard assessment are the things that makes the working field fun to be explored as the other art collectives in Indonesia which grows at that time. Complaints about the lack of ecosystem support does not make the art collective in many places give up, moreover there was arts’ booming in 2008 that give an overwhelming enthusiasm. An alternative and collective art meeting scope in FIXER in Jakarta in 2009 marked a new spirit of many strategies that being experimented rather than condemning the art infrastructure in each city. After the market made a new correction one by one, these collectives began to fade and even closed. Kolektif Hysteria that does not join into the mapping section, survived until now. It is precisely our presence that is neither here or else left a great question from the collectives, what kind of things we are.
Accusations of this group are not specific, because the art community usually takes on a special form. We know that Mes 56 is a group that focuses on photography, Garasi Teater, House of Natural Fiber, and Lifepatch New Media, and citizen science, Ruangrupa formerly known artists who process video. These specific formations seem to be the only model if the art collective wants to succeed in its field. Hysteria fails to be identified, perhaps because we never stand in any specific group. Lately, this specific formation is what I questioned, considering the cities with simple art structure and anyone should be ready to become an amateur. Artists, brokers, collaborators, invitees, documentary, display teams, and marketing! There is never provided an adequate museum in cities like Semarang. Complaints about the need for national caliber writers, mainstay curators, art media, and many more art infrastructure chains have lasted for a long time. As if only by completing it we will come to the same status. It was just in Semarang, how about the other cities such as Demak, Kendal, Cirebon, Pasuruan, Kediri, and many others. Since which year these cities are considered always lacking of supportive things so there is nothing interesting that can be read from friends who are active in those area. Lest not all of this lack of supports that became the cause, but the wrong point of view.
The theories of cultural evolution, as if requiring the change, are always gradual and step by step. From A to B to C to D and so on. People forget about modernism, post-modernism, and many other -ism coming to the third-world countries simultaneously. Disruption in many places, as if people understood in those places, to achieve the same position in the relationship of power must be taken gradually. They think that it is a must to have galleries, art museums, critics, art institutions, media, collectors, and so on to achieve a plenary art society. People forget that politics in Indonesia is the commander, imagining the small towns to have it all and ignoring the political process that often makes depression for me, just a waste of time while we continue to age over time. In a lame relationship of power, how contemporary art in Indonesia is practiced primarily by small towns that always bear the imperfections of infrastructure. Of course, if we adhere to the various ISO standards of contemporary art world, please just continue the political representation that is played on this recent decades. But in the context of country and indonesianism, this biased view will not only impoverish a growing practice but also scatter the budget if it is based on data and assessments that are not familiar with the context. As a result, the program can be initiated by the country in the form of a spirit of modernism in a single taste.
Art Expression of the Poor: A Symbolic Adaptation on Poverty, written by Tjetjep Rohendi Rohidi is a good study of how the aesthetic of a particular group of people is inseparable from the cultural field where they grow. It’s no wonder that Rohidi’s art in Kendalini District characterizes rapid expression of art, limited duration, money orientation, and is also easy to adapt. In the poverty culture, the values were adopted and used by the villagers and transmitted if needed, and the results are amateur and meaningless art expressions. We can certainly argue for times about high and low art value differences and how to have own strengths. An interesting reading precisely happened when we see the related artistic expression with the cultural terrain that live and being lived by its adherents. In this context, the reading by anthropological point of view using is more adequate than using the theory of art itself that approached in terms of shape, although there is also a theory of relational aesthetics. In cultural relativism, there are no cultural peaks, but one and others are working within the same field to contribute each other. This point of view may be difficult to shift the system’s values that has been stabled by decades, but I think this perspective can enrich and become an alternative for small towns that have never been considered significant in cultural field.
So, what happens if the dominant value is continuously enforced? James Scott researched perfectly the poor farmers in the Sedaka, Malaysia in his “Senjatanya Orang-orang Kalah” (Weapons of the defeated). They no longer taking weapons or massive calls, instead their attitude became indifferent, ignorant, defame, and reluctant to participate. This became a real obstacle over development slogans. They never feel that they are part of the movement, so what’s in it? In such condition, the improvement of communication must be accomplished by many parties, if people still want the contemporary art to be really grounded in Indonesia, not just a privilege of some cities.
Penta KLabs, Sites Specific Art Project Biennale
(Biennale a la Kolektif hysteria)
Hysteria begins to realize its existence in this field not long ago, starting from 2012 when almost all the collective members graduated in college and understood that no money could be generated from the art activism at that time. The choice is to stop or continue, but if we continue, what basis should we take? Awareness about the urban space is actually triggered by particular study because it is related to many NGO, for example with LBH Semarang, Rujak Center for Urban Studies, Pattiro (Pusat Telaah dan Informasi Regional = Regional Study and Information Center) Semarang, LBH Apik and many more which make Hysteria for long time never merely dealing with artistic production. The research in Tugu and Bustaman is a turning point in seeing urban phenomena and community existence. I realized, although since 2008 we have initiated the program in the village and involved within the village event, in fact we are not really understand the village and the life of its villagers. We begin to question the work of artistic works.
Debate about the role of art whether to serve the community or for the sake of the art itself has been going on for a long time. In Indonesia, LEKRA (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat = The People’s Cultural Institution) and the Manikebu (Manifes Kebudayaan = Cultural Manifest) group argue fiercely about it. TURBA (Turun ke Bawah = downward) movement, initiated by LEKRA, encourages artists to internalize their role in cultural works, primarily seeking the identity of Indonesia as well as the usability of their work. While Manikebu, who is driven by the spirit of Surat Kepercayaan Gelanggang (October 22nd, 1950), feels as a part of the universal culture without faltering in practical political interests. This debate was stalled halfway through the bloody G30S (1965), which placed the PKI as the only defendant. LEKRA accused of being affiliated with the ideology of communism and close to PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia = Indonesian Communist Party) was depleted. After the power of Orde Baru (New Order) established, normalization of campus life began. The honeymoon of Orde Baru and college students ended after the events of Malari in 1974. At that time, students rejected investments from the Japanese government. The action that ended in chaos, led to the rise of NKK/BKK (Normalisasi Kehidupan Kampus/Badan Koordinasi Kemahasiswaan = Normalization of Campus Life/Student Coordination Committee) regulation.
Art activism includes as the victim that wants to be kept away from the political reality. On the other hand, there are many innovations in other areas of aesthetics such as in the theater of “Bulan Bujur Sangkar” by Iwan Simatupang, in the dance there is a concrete poem of Sutadji Calzoum Bachri, Danarto, etc. Nevertheless, it does not mean there was no resistance. In the field of fine art, there was Black December, later became GSRB (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru = The New Fine Art Movement) to accommodate many other expressions, not only just stuck on two or tri dimensions art. Other forms of artistic expression began to be practiced, one of them was Moelyono, who famous for its art project named “Kesenian Unit Desa” (Village Art Unit), namely art activism in Tulung Agung where its process is presented in the Bachelor Degree at ISI (Institut Seni Indonesia = Indonesian Art Institute) Gampingan at the time. The presentation was rejected but became an ideological path for Moelyono to develop the art of awareness of his struggles with the daily reality he faced in the village with the ideas of Paulo Freire.
Toward the collapse of Orde Baru, more communities grew. Art Happening and performing are almost always present in moments of demonstration. Taring Padi (Paddy’s Fang) was one of them who carries this type of demonstrative art in Yogyakarta. The year of 1990’s also marked the birth of many collective arts in Indonesia, including groups formed in the early 2000s, many of which were exposed from euphoria on the overthrow of Orde Baru regime. Shortly thereafter, the law of regional autonomy was legalized and the imagination of shared enemies at the central government collapsed. Regional autonomy makes the area takes their own policy and frequently create “little kings”. Sadly, awareness to the more local context, according to my observations throughout the years 2004-2012, did not grow much in the art community. Cruelty narrative of Orde Baru known indirectly because my generation does not experience it directly, moreover in a small town like Rembang where I grew. It certainly made a perception about the regime. The mode of movement had its own variation. On the other hand, Dadaism from which Duchamp has gained a huge resonance in the Fluxus movement also has a collage of ideas that I learned from many places. Including Beuys social sculpture, especially his project in Kassel in the documentary event. The expansion of the art as a practice in society that creates impact and sculpt the social and the city structure itself, gave a fresh direction over anything that eventually initiated by Hysteria. Originality since ready made art enter the gallery is not significant anymore plus the absence of academic aesthetic authority makes everyone become anyone. That is what I love about the art of freedom which approaches the banality. Nevertheless, any ideas are relevant to our anxiety about the cultural practices what should fit in our capacity and in the context of where our art lives in it, Semarang.
Honestly, Semarang has only one authoritative art gallery that is Semarang Contemporary Gallery (usually called Galsem). Although Semarang has an art campus, very rare names are currently spoken in the field of discourse. Rumah Seni Yaitu (RSY) which is active since early 2005-2010 becomes an oasis of young people who want more diverse practices. His short lifetime allowed many people like me to gain knowledge and networking and shape the idea of what kind of art we want to be. After the closing of the Rumah Seni Yaitu, practically only Semarang gallery that regularly held an exhibition. As a commercial gallery, of course, they have their own standards so the artist in Semarang that is considered not yet worth to sell has a minimum opportunity to exhibit there. I do not care about such phenomenon. We started re-reading our capacities and resources. The art in the village as a manifestation and idea hooked up is slowly executed and find the most suitable format. So, we held Tengok Bustaman I (2013) and Tengok Bustaman II: Bok Cinta Project (2015). This start up makes Hysteria initiate a similar model but using a site or village that is always different from each event. Our first Biennale art Project was a program called Penta KLabs.
Penta KLabs or “5K” is a meeting between you/we/us- class- campus- community/village- city. This Sites specific art project Biennale used a specific place to implement the program with special issues. The first year in 2016, the event was held in Kemijen, East Semarang, with a focus on the issue of village resilience. Hysteria conducts ethnographic research and uses this data to be responded by invited artists. The artists will live and undergo residency for several days or weeks and create work with the citizens at the site. Cooperating PWK (Prodi Perencanaan Wilayah Perkotaan = Urban Area Planning Study Program), we received paper with related issues that being raised and presented in the village. That template is what we developed in several other villages with different types of issues. Of course, not all of them are fulfilled but more or less the same approach. It can be seen in other project, for example Nginguk Githok (Rembang), as well as the Festival Bukit Jatiwayang (Semarang). I also don’t want to get stuck in the history of Semarang as a big city while we have never participated in large scale events in the context of the city. Instead of being burdened with the history of Semarang, Hysteria conducts a specific and intensive approach. As well as the collective art of resistance, the entrance to the site is potential and could give a positive vibe. This may distinguish from other participatory arts that have been promoted by several groups in Indonesia that still treat the community as a laboratory but not part of them. It is this base that makes Hysteria activism either at the time of funding or not, keeps our work continued.
Our bond with various city issues and the local context made Hysteria learn the local political situation and how to link it to other global issues. The readability of the context seemed easy but the layers became a lot when it was about hacking power relationships. The pioneering contemporary art group activities from Semarang with successful residencies in Germany is not separated from the strategy of reading against the global context that is drawn to the local. We aware that it has never been easier, for example the fund snatching from the Ford Foundation, Hivos, even Djarum for specific issues of the arts, because the power relation is real and not easy to conquer. On the other hand, there are programs that utilize funds from local villagers or citizens such as Sekararum or in Tengok Bustaman IV. While we know, the world of contemporary art still keep distance with the country or not directly related to public affairs, Penta KLabs takes the opportunity to expand the context of art in society and especially in the cities with nastiest infrastructure.
Unfortunately, reading model to this phenomenon is still approached in the category of shape or form. This makes what is attempted in the Penta KLabs is often regarded as a derivative or more severe plagiarism of existing forms, for example what is already initiated by Moelyono. Or often, it is also called the ways of NGO to outsmart arts funds. Though almost from 2004-2017 only 15% of the funds we can get from art sector. The rest comes from the crowd funding and last credits savings from outsmart tactic in proposing non-art programs that can always be articulated as an art expression. That categorial system also reduce the culture work that does not offer new discourse. Come on, if the way to read them is just about shape or form, so what is offered even in the work of Raden Saleh in the presence of the painter Romantic in his era in Europe? In this context it is important to discuss how the ecosystem of this notion is supported and lived by its adherents in a distinctive context. Perhaps, because in it there is another future from contemporary fine art of Indonesia which is mainly embraced by other insignificant cities and later offered their own discourse.
(Ahmad ‘Adin’ Khairudin, exhibitions’ curator)