13_1108 post 8
Since I quit the proper Architecture (notice the capital A) world in 2010, after ± 5 years working for it in Bali + Cambodia, I’ve been thinking about whether one still can call themselves an ‘architect’ (or ‘artist’) while not producing buildings (or artworks). By chance, the opportunities offered to me were all back in my hometown, Jakarta, filling positions that popularly considered as ‘supporting’ ones: assistant teacher in an architecture department of a university, + an editor for a journal published by an artists’ collective. Although it suit my idea of what a dreamjob would be at that time (I only wanted to have all the time in the world just to read + write, nothing else), while I was in the middle of practicing this way, I began to ask myself: could I keep my practice this way, but take more responsibilities in what’s considered ‘cultural production’, + therefore calling myself a practicioner still?
I haven’t found the answer.
“Those who can’t do, teach.” So goes the popular saying. But I’m looking for ways to reverse that (at least in my own head) to “those who want to do more, teach.” Today’s a case in point. By having a one-on-one with all of my 9 students, I found the joy in listening to other people’s inspirations, intentions, + confusions, instead of being busy with my own thoughts + problems all the time. You can call my teaching as escapist, but I found it to be rewarding. It’s so clear in my head to see problems (that sometime bear similarities to my own’s, but more often than not it’s not the case) when it’s being faced by another person. I learn more by teaching—a cliche statement, but if a lot of people around me learn by doing, I prefer the kind of knowledge I gain through teaching.
One that could be most useful for RFAOH’s frame of interrogation: I consider the greatest asset for architecture is its capacity to enable people. To grow together with students, seeing them push their own envelopes, achieving things they didn’t know they’re able to when they started, therefore liberating them from certain limitations (they usually set up for themselves), is being true to that capacity. Sometimes I think it’d be fine for me to never design any object anymore, as long as they do. I create through their agency. I know it’s not fair, but I hope it’s sincere enough I could be forgiven. Am I using them? I think so, but I help them to feel good (or at least better) about themselves through being used by me. Isn’t this the essence of every social relationships?
I’ll touch on editing (+ also writing) in another post.