Urban Being and Becoming: Indonesian Artist-Initiatives on City Space Experiences


Tags: urban development, education, sociopolitical reality.

SERRUM runs an open collaborative space for artists in Jakarta and its activities ranges from organizing alternative arts educations, collaborative murals and gallery exhibitions as well as arts-based urban development critiques. The Jakarta based collective initiated in 2006 fills in a refreshing outtake in the scene of urban-artistic engagement in Indonesia, as they apply community building approaches through experimentations, organic and practice-based ways to look at the issues that it seek to problematize.

This artist-initiatives carries valuable imports to the development of models on how artists-civic participations engage with the shifting sociopolitical realities of today through everyday languages , convivial forms and local appropriations. The group’s concerns and practices (the group members are predominantly students and graduates of a university which concentrates on teaching methods and curriculum development) haven been largely transmedial, probing the possibilities of exploring non-pedantic mode as well as alternatives forms of public education.

Their most recent project includes the street visual intervention campaign named Propagraphic Movement and an exhibition series aiming at community support entitled Project_Or.

Irwan Ahmett

Irwan Ahmett has been an avid social campaigner through communicative and playful visual arts approaches. Many of his works and activities are revolving around issues of urban and environmental condition, strategic graphic design and public communication processes. Through populist and playful manners, Ahmett develops a visual-focused body of works that touches the fundamental issues of human relations in local urban settings. This is demonstrated by his mid to long term design-based campaigns which managed to attract strings of followers among Indonesian youth such as through Change Your Self, Hapiness and Urban Play.

Irwan Ahmett and his wife Tita Salina founded ahmettsalina (, a strategic graphic design communication services in Jakarta. Irwan and Tita are both currently in their one-year nomadic travel to Europe and beyond to expose and calibrate their experiences with different fabrics of urban life as well as the practices constituting the international arts scene.

Aryo Danusiri

Aryo Danusiri is an Indonesian video artist and visual anthropologist who is currently doing his Phd. in the Media Anthropology program, with a secondary field in Critical Media Practice at Harvard University, USA. His works have been exploring the circulations of new keywords, violence and memory in the sociopolitical landscape of post-authoritarian Indonesia after 1998. The reason that I am recommending his name, despite the fact that he doesn’t define his practices under the field of visual arts, is his transdiciplinary and experimental attempts in broadening the discursive boundaries of documentary practices. His delicate and subtle treatment (via sensory ethnography which is being developed in his independently-run laboratory of moving image, called Ragam Media Network – in his body of works for me has been a courageous effort in testing the fuzzy boundaries between video art, experimental film and documentary. His latest production made in Manhattan, NY, in 2011, On Broadway ( testifies to the artistic imprints in dealing with complex issues of urban space formations and its relational tensions between the sacred and the profane, the collective and the individual, the everyday and the political. One of the many versions of On Broadway, entitled The Fold was presented as a single channel during ruangrupa’s OK Video festival in Jakarta and NGBK, Berlin, both held in 2011.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Cemeti Art House

Jompet Kuswidananto (born in Yogyakarta in 1976, lives in Yogyakarta and Bali)

detail of NEXT JAVA 2006, Video & Sound Installation.

Jompet Kuswidananto participated in our residency program ‘Landing Soon #4’.  He continued his research on Javanese culture and studied about the form and practice of Java's royal soldiers as a portrayal of how Javanese syncretism try to merge divergent beliefs and cultures that come to Java.

Since the middle of the 18th century, when the Dutch had already intervened in cultural and political affairs of Javanese kingdoms, Java's royal soldiers didn't have a military function any longer. Until nowadays their existence in processions and rituals only serves symbolic prominence.

War of Java, Do You Remember #3, 2009

Restu Ratnaningtyas (born in Tangerang, in 1981, live in Yogyakarta)

Restu Ratnaningtyas, Connection no.1, 2010, 170 x 300 x 100 cm

Restu Ratnaningtyas plays in her work as a storyteller. She likes to tell the story of the everyday life by creating sceneries with question marks.

Restu Ratnaningtyas fancy-frenzy-3, 2011, 30 x 30 cm

Like her work, “The Dining Room Tragedy”, featured a figure lying under a dining table with many objects and food scattered on his side.

Restu Ratnaningtyas,The-Dining-Room-Tragedy, 2010, 400 x 250 cm

This work, made from watercolor on paper and attached to the wall, invites visitors to interact by asking them to their worst imagined scenarios based on this work.

Restu Ratnaningtyas, Connection-no.2, 2010, 180 x 120 x 40 cm

Wimo Ambala Bayang, (born in Magelang in 1976, lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Wimo Ambala Bayang, Fourteenth Troop, 2008

Wimo Ambala Bayang works mainly with photography and video. His works reflect unique perspectives towards culture that are not made under pretense to criticize, but to make us re-think the habits that seem ‘to have always been there’.

Wimo Ambala Bayang, Ninth troop, 2008

History and facts, minor and major, are important aspects that to be considered in the creative process.

Wimo Ambala Bayang, sixteenth troop, 2009

He invited selected groups to pose with plastic toy weapons. He names these groups “Troop Six”, “Troop Seven”, etc., in reference to “Troop Five”, which in its heyday, was the Communist Party of Indonesia.

Wimo Ambala Bayang, Twelfth Troop, 2008

Eko Nugroho (born in Yogyakarta in 1977, lives in Yogyakarta)Mella Jaarsma, Nindityo Adipurnomo

"Hidden Violence” , contemporary wayang performance,2009 at Cemeti Art House

Eko Nugroho collaborated in this performance with: Ki Catur Kuncoro (dalang), Ign. Sugiharto a.k.a. Pak Cling (lighting), Yenu Ariendra (music), Andi Seno Adji (stage) & Jonet Suriatmoko (script).

Eko Nugroho well known for his comics, murals, paintings, drawings, and embroideries, started to work with ‘wayang’, or the shadow play in 2009, exploring collaborations with different disciplines.

The wayang puppets for this performance are transformations of Eko Nugroho’s figures which were created before in his comics; like stone-headed man, diamond-hearted man, and pincer-handed man.

He is commenting on the social and political circumstances with a lot of ‘hidden violence’ in the past and the present.

Mella Jaarsma, Nindityo Adipurnomo
Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

30 June 2017 / by / in