Time to challenge the hierarchies
Arts Professional Magazine
Article by Adam Pushkin explores the art scene in Indonesia and the lessons to be learned from their models of collective practice. The West Java West Yorkshire Cooperative Movement is highlighted alongside interview with George Clark and Ismal Muntaha.
For Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF) the approach of Let’s Create would sound familiar. Jatiwangi is a small town known mostly for its ceramic industry. For decades it produced the roof tiles that were used across Indonesia and JAF’s work engages with the changing industrial and social landscape of the town. According to Ismal Muntaha, based there since 2009, JAF is “not working for the community, it is part of the community”. The vibe is that of an extended family: everyone lives together, eats together, creates together.
UK artist George Clark has been to Indonesia twice in the last three years and has forged an ongoing relationship with JAF. He was fascinated by what he saw as a horizontal structure rather than the hierarchical structure present in the UK. This structure isn’t just about decision-making – although Ismal tells me that when decisions are needed, they are usually made collectively – it’s about a fluid way of working: “artists need to be community organisers, cooks, carpenters… and those skills are not held hierarchically”. Or as Yuki Aditya of Jakarta-based collective Forum Lenteng told me, “everyone’s job description is something fluid, where everyone can fill any position depending on the needs of the program or of other people”.
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