Farid Rakun, Indonesia

Residency Period: 1 November 2013 - 30 June 2014 (withdrew as of April 29, 2014)


Taking more than ten years to finish his formal education (BArch, University of Indonesia, 2005; and MArch, Cranbrook Academy of Art, 2013), Farid Rakun operates slowly as a strategy within this fast-paced, growth-obsessed society.  Saying no to nothing in order to question everything, he has designed and built buildings, products, installations, and interventions, as well as writing and editing books and various publications.  His experience working with a number of cultural and educational institutions—such as the University of Indonesia, Tarumanagara University, Cranbrook Academy of Art, University of Michigan, Hongkong University, Goethe-Insitut, Centre Culturel Francais, ruangrupa, and RUJAK Center for Urban Studies—solidifies his belief in productive coincidences brought about by the collaborative nature of his practice.

On-hiatus Proposal Summary

Farid feels that two crucial things in his work relate to RFAOH’s mission statement: his never-ending battle against the notion of the artist as a single-genius, and the meaning of the terms "labor", "productivity", and (cultural & economical) "value".

Using RFAOH’s open call as an inspiration, he will suspend every artistic endeavor he has between November 2013 and June 2014. During this time, he will instead focus on supporting others through every educational means available at his disposal while simultaneously investigating whether suppressing one's own voice can enable an artist to be an invisible force, a puppet master with hidden strings, ‘a soldier-hero on whose uniform decoration is in absentia’?   Similarly, he will pursue the supposition that if his ideal artistic practice exists as a mode of knowledge production, this educational route may be seen as a method of knowledge dissemination.

To do so, he is preparing to retreat behind-the-screen and starting in October will revive the currently-defunct Karbonjournal.org, as well as begin lecturing in the Architecture Department of Universitas Indonesia full-time.  Additionally, as a member of the artist collective ruangrupa, Farid will oversee the group's plans to constitute its own pedagogical wing under the working title ‘Akademi RURU’.   In order to fully commit to these duties, Farid has decided to put his career as a solo-artist aside.

Farid anticipates that RFAOH will force him to put structure to this effort by publishing it to a wider public while collecting as much feedback as possible.  In doing so, he hopes to reevaluate  his efforts and answer some of his remaining questions: “How can he enrich and re-inform his artistic practice through publishing and teaching?”  “Can he strengthen the collaborative & social aspects of his own work through cultivating these alternative paths or by considering them as productive, instead of mere supportive, undertakings?”

Final Report

As someone who likes to produce time-based pieces, the (we)blog form of RFAOH (where Shinobu + Matt asked us to make our “reports”) was the main element that form what I did during my residency in RFAOH. The decision to try to make a single post every single day (the reference to Tehching Hsieh's “Time Clock Piece” is shameless, rendering it a much-downgraded version of the seminal piece) was made by experiencing this provided format.

My original intent to delve more into writing + teaching as productive media, as opposed to merely supportive ones, was proven to be challenging, especially with our constant failure to revive Karbonjournal.org up until my withdrawal. Teaching, on the other hand, served as an omnipotent force underlining (nearly, if not) all of my posts.

The privilege of not making any work is proven to be fruitful for my personal development. Not surprising, I have no problem being an artist not known to have produced any kind of art work in any kind of artistic medium. Surprising, I finally can call myself an artist now, without a flinch.

But art wins in the end, all the time, in my world. No matter how hard I try to evade it (by choosing architecture as my subject, to despising the term “artist”), it always finds a way to break and make itself a big part of my life. Future? Who knows, all I can say right now is because of RFAOH I am getting more comfortable to embrace the fact that most of the time I have no fucking idea what I'm doing. Little calculation, a lot of luck, and undying willingness to have fun get me this far. I hope they're taking me even further, to dwell on the unknown.




recent comments

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.

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