Between September and November, Goethe-Institut Indonesien in cooperation with Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society has invited German artist duo Das Archipel from Hamburg, which consists of Finn Brüggemann and Nuriye Tohermes, to spend three months in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, together with Bandung-based Indonesian artist Arum Dayu.
Aiming to encourage an open process of research and knowledge exchange, the Residency Programme brings together the artists with local craftsmen, curators, academics, as well as various institutions in Yogyakarta. The guiding idea of the residency is for the participating artists to interact directly with local communities and to deal with central issues of the local context and beyond.
Cemeti’s team acts as discussion partner throughout a weekly “Breakfast Club”. The artists also take part in several public events, including Kamar Tokek (“gecko room”), which is a platform for artists-in-residence to share anything from films, books, artworks, recipes and ideas. The residency will culminate in a final presentation.
How did you first hear about this Residency Program and what made you decide to participate?
(DAS ARCHIPEL) We found out about the residency programme at Cemeti on the Goethe-Institut website. We were browsing for residency opportunities and thought the programme of Cemeti sounded exciting. Their wish to address societal issues through art matches our approach of working.
You have been in Yogyakarta for a couple of weeks now. What is your daily routine, and what does the Residency Programme entail?
(DAS ARCHIPEL) Every day is different but there are weekly routines. During the Breakfast Club, we discuss new ideas and our next steps, but we also have passionate discussions about education, religion, history and - of course - art.
(ARUM DAYU) I’m very familiar with this city. I have some good friends here and often visit Yogyakarta. In the first month, I mainly reconnected with some old friends. But I also try to get out of my comfort zone and am open for any kind of invitation and to participate in events and activities, especially with new friends. I recently started a new music project where I play music and an instrument I have never played before, drums. It is good to experience new things. One time, I accidentally met some women who were playing music to celebrate Yogyakarta’s anniversary. I asked them if I could join the parade. We didn’t know each other but they let me become a part of the group and walk and play with them in the parade.
What were your expectations before joining this Residency Programme?
(ARUM DAYU) I am always looking for opportunities like this. I like the concept of a residency - it helps me to learn, develop and reflect about my interests. I knew that Cemeti has a good reputation for managing art residencies, and I feel very lucky that I can be part of this residency. I didn’t have particular expectations before, I only know that I want to be open to any kind of possibilities and enjoy the process. I also don’t want to push myself just for the production of the final project. Maybe in this residency, I will come across a new idea that I will use as the basis for future art projects. My practice, similar to Das Archipel, is really process-based. Luckily, Cemeti gives a lot of freedom to the artists.
What have you learned from one another so far? How have you connected between each other, but also with the local community?
(DAS ARCHIPEL) We learn from each other every day. Arum is well connected in Yogyakarta. In the first weeks, she showed us around and introduced us to interesting people. She has an approach to her work which involves a lot of communication with people she doesn’t know. In this communication she has an incredible easiness. Her work seems to develop in a flow. We are living and thinking together.
What’s the local community? So far, we are well connected to people with an artistic or academic background, as well as activists or socially engaged people of Yogyakarta. We are also starting to connect with some people of one particular kampung by joining an evening school. We are also learning the process of batik-making and became friends with our co-workers, who we want to continue to work with.
(ARUM DAYU) We talk a lot and share our ideas. Thanks to Finn and Nuriye, I had the chance to see a different point of view of Yogyakarta. I needed that perspective to create some distance between me and this city.
I also connect with the local community here, mainly through music performances. In Yogyakarta, it is quite easy to be accepted.
Why do you think Residency Programmes like this are important for artists? How does it influence your creative progress?
(DAS ARCHIPEL) We feel very gifted to have the chance to be here. Coming here as an outsider creates a complex set of relations as well as social hierarchies. It can be fruitful to work in a place you don’t know. We never want to work alone in a studio by ourselves. Any creative process is deeply influenced and shaped by the place we live in and the people we live with.
(ARUM DAYU) I agree that residencies are very important for artists who want to develop themselves. Leaving our daily routines behind and staying in a new place will refresh our way of thinking. Residencies are a short getaway to learn more and test our creative process with new people.
What do you think will be the outcome of the Residency Programme for the final presentation? Could you already share some of your ideas with us?
(DAS ARCHIPEL) At this point, it is still very open what the final presentation will be about. One thing we are pretty sure about, is that we will not present a final object. Our practice is very much process-based, so we will present what we know and have done so far. Ideally, the process that we start will not end with our departure.
(ARUM DAYU) I have an interest in the relationship between people and their gadgets, especially how they see things through their camera phones. I already have some plans revolving around this.
Firstly, I will invite some people to have a one-on-one conversation but they have to look at each other through their camera phones. Afterwards, we will engage in a discussion about the situation: did you feel comfortable, or did it feel like something common, something you do regularly?
Another idea is to create music gigs as a medium to illustrate the idea about the relationship between people and their devices. We will invite people to come to the our gigs, but the real show is actually the audience itself. I will spark some curiosity among the people by creating a new band. When they finally come to see the show, they will be asked to come inside a gallery, and the audience will see us through their smartphones. I will invite people to record us, and that video will be distributed to the audience. During the gig, we can see how people respond to that idea. If the battery of their phone dies, or they don’t have any internet, they will struggle to see the performance and have to interact with others in the crowd.
Through this gig, we can perhaps see the anxiety of the digital society in a gallery space. This is something we actually often see in daily life. The audience itself becomes the performance that represents our digital society.
Photos courtesy of Goethe-Institut Indonesien