It’s been inspiring to see all of the new contemporary art spaces in Jogja that have opened since the earthquake. One of these is Tembi Contemporary just south of Jogja. We attended the opening for the current show Blueprint for Jogja last week. Openings in Jogja are welcoming community events with food and drink (generally tea and water – alcohol is only served later in the evening, if at all), and music (either live or DJs).

Jen, Mie, and Wati

(21 April – 9 May)
Mella Jaarsma, Lenny Ratnasari Weichert, Samuel Indratma, Arya Panjalu, Sara Nuytemans, Heri Purwanto, Oetje, Marsoyo, Imam Santoso, IndieGuerilla, Agus Baqul, MES56.

Jorge and Jen

Curator’s statement:

Blueprint for Jogja

What can a foreign curator say about Jogjakarta? How can an outsider with probably a very romantic idea of what Jogja is, and doesn’t even know what reality is Jogja possible is, put up an exhibition that is all about the city? There is no way that he could ever profess an intimate knowledge of a city, which largely resides in his imagination, as a utopia of creativity. It is an imagined space that bears little passing resemblance to its real life counterpart.

The disadvantage I have, as an outsider, was something that I had to overcome. If this is the case, I thought perhaps I could help organise an exhibition that lies on the intersection of my ideal and ideals of artists living in Jogja. Maybe it’s not so bad if I can get a group of artists to show us what they see in Jogja and why this city has a special place in their hearts. This is how the exhibition, ‘Blueprints untuk Jogja’ came about.

But is this ideal imagination of mine so different from the visions of artists who live and work in Jogjakarta?

I like to think of the show as an opportunity for artists to challenge the naivete of my curatorial scope. It features Jogja artists who look into the concept of mapping a city that is often considered as the cultural and creative capital of Indonesia. Jogja is a place that has different meanings for different people. Artists are invited to consider the process in which we can visually represent a place and space and how it can help us understand a particular locale – its history, culture, geography, politics – from both macro and micro levels of engagement.

The word Blueprint often suggests something more than a map. While maps are often considered as ‘a visual representation of an area-a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions and themes’, the blueprint further suggests itself as a working and imaginative plan for the future. The term is borrowed from disciplines such as architecture and urban planning, and it is used to highlight the role that artists could play in how we can use art to think about how the future of a city can be.

beautiful installation by Mella Jaarsma

The blueprint in this sense is less of a scientific plan; it encompasses playful, imaginative and emotional responses. More importantly, it underscores the inextricable ties Jogja artists have with the city they live and how they can contribute to its continuous significance as a creative communal space for making art as well as fighting, talking, debating, discussing, bitching about art.

great eco-friendly bike work by Arya Panjalu and Sara Nuytemans

If the idea of ‘going native’, of become a local, is not an alternative that is sincere enough for an outside curator, it is then through a conversation with Jogja artists, to see how they relate to and want to improve on their lived environment, that one could complicate the imagined picture that one has of a place and time not of one’s own.

But even this conviction of being an outsider is challenged by an artist I spoke to. He told me that ‘later when you’ve come here more often, you’ll become a Jogja resident too’. I’ve never imagined that artists whom I’ve worked with can speak about community in such an inclusive manner. Then it struck me as I remember that Jogja itself draws its talent pool from all over Indonesia. Many came to study here and never left. The idea of a local identity is not something fixed, one becomes local by participating in its communal life. Jogja as a community is more open than I have imagined it to be.

Simon Soon


We were awed and inspired by Nano’s first solo exhibition, Sign Fiction at Langgeng Gallery in Magelang. Nano never ceases to amaze me with his dark narratives delivered through seemingly cute, upbeat characters and his unflinching skill — brilliant!

Nano & Dani in front of large MURAL at entrance to show


As always Jogja’s art scene is booming! We have been lucky to see (and participate in) a variety of really great work. I’ll be sharing the highlights in a series of posts. The first week we were here we were lucky to be invited to be a part of Octora’s Makeup Workshop that was a part of her residency with the Cemeti Art House (Cemeti has been at the foundation of the contemporary arts community here in Jogja since 1988).

About Octora’s work for the Cemeti Art House residency:

‘Project of Intimacy’ (OCTORA)

The body is the prominent subject of almost every thought and idea that serves as the foundation for Oktora’s creative works. In considering the sequence of her creative work, the stages of her creative process, we can not ignore the factors of her personal experience. For example, once she studied how to illustrate the human body or torso in the department of painting and sculpture; always with a unique and personal method encouraging, pushing forward her characteristic expression; in the form of perceptions, interpretations, reflections, or revisions of her conceptions of the body. In a very personal way, Octora contemplated her revisions by exploring Yogyakarta on her bicycle for three months. Reclaiming her ability to ride a bicycle in the midst of the busy-ness of the city, after more than two decades of driving a car in Bandung, Oktora expressed her rage like a small child who was continuously adjusting to the physical changes in her body. How the human spirit becomes susceptible when our car places us as a moving shell that is often overprotected while driving. Thus, during the three month residency, Oktora contemplating while bicycling through the urban Yogyakarta neighborhoods; imagining a free body, ‘naked’, unimpeded, knowing her potential and recalculating her strength. Meanwhile, the body became the shell that protected her spirit.

Workshop in progress

The Landing Soon residency is a period of production, contemplative production, idea production. Often the artists make use of analysis and experimentation to review their entire creative process.

Oktora revised her ideas about the body beginning with the questions: Why must it be continuously protected and defended? Isn’t it tiring, weakening and often silly? Why don’t we ever ‘celebrate’ the body? Free it from the social constructions, the indifference with the political, social and economic norms of this country?

Octora collected dozens of kinds of action dolls (dolls that had become bridges for physical personification) from the owners. Oktora wrapped and shaped them one by one with love that was very fashionable and stylish. She collected several women’s pants and affixing fashionable, protective accents. Oktora’s works leap far away from the discourse of craft fetishes towards craft as a discourse and expression of experience and provocation of norms.

Nindityo Adipurnomo, 2009
Cemeti Art House

Nindityo Adipurnomo and Mella Jaarsma


Ned Branchi

Ned and Benny

baby, baby, baby



Return to Via Via with Mie and Ingville

awwwwww my reunion with Jogja ashtrays

Great performance by Frau

Our shimmering pink bike

On safari in the mall …


Ubud Bali Indonesia

Back in Indonesia … it’s been three years since my last visit here … hard to believe! Eliza and I arrived on Bali a week and a half ago to the scent of incense and diesel, and a rush of heat that settled in our bones, making us very happy… and very sleepy (or rather snailey) – not to mention the jet lag. We spent four days in Ubud and three on the coast in Amed. This is my usual routine here – to spend a week on Bali before making my way to Jogjakarta. However, I think next time I’ll break the routine and come straight to Jogja. While Bali has the perception of being a relaxing transition space, it’s really more like being dropped off at a large tropical outdoor mall. Though I also understand the necessity for it being this way – it’s completely tailored to tourist demands and expectations and it’s become critical for Indonesia’s economy and survival of the island’s residents, and those on neighboring islands.

So here we are … grateful for the opportunity to balance …

Agung Cottages, Ubud

Eliza after her banana pancakes



Amed … Scrabble tournament … thinking, thinking, thinking

still thinking …

still waiting …

and the drum roll … please … no really … REALLY! … SNAILEY????!

Really! … Notice it’s now dusk

I’ll write more about our arrival in Jogja tomorrow. We’re off to Sam and Ade’s now.