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?”
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.
On May 1 2014, farid commented on 14_0429 post 158: Shinobu, glad you asked. Would the fact that it looks really different depending on whether you're o[...]
On Apr 29 2014, shinobu commented on 14_0429 post 158: a lovely farewell, Farid, thank you, but you know we'll follow you (; (BTW why have you decided to u[...]
On Apr 29 2014, Matt commented on 14_0429 post 158: Thank you for everything you brought to this project Farid; We'll miss you, Its been awesome having [...]
On Apr 25 2014, shinobu commented on 14_0425 post 154: You're not sorry, Farid (; it's your job to break rules for the aesthetics and ideas[...]
13_1130 post 30
Doing Nothing, installation view in SIASAT Jakarta Biennale 2013, Davy Linggar, via IndoArtNow
It’s officially been a month. Honestly, after thinking that this ‘residency’ was going to be a piece of cake before it started, I never thought I could last this long when it did. I was wrong, not ‘working’ is tough. A lot of questions + restraints.
Although I’m not ‘working’, doesn’t mean I’m not working. In my standard, I’ve been working my ass off this month, my second month back in Jakarta (this time finally ok re-calling the city as my home again). I might not necessarily produce (art)‘work’, but I’ve been writing, teaching, reviewing, speaking + meeting a bunch of people who forces me to think more. I can imagine some of my friends back in gradschool who would roll their eyes so far up to the back of their head, mumbling, “As if you have not been overthinking everything already.”
Finally, I have a little time to really sit back, relax, + compose this post. I’m using this last post of the month to make what I consider as a proper report. Reflecting back to my original ‘proposal’ for hiatus, which a lot of people translate into ‘doing nothing’, I decided this morning to use this framing in order to put what this month brings into writing. So, for better or worse, here we go…
On teaching: there is two types of approach I see in education as I know it—the first is to utilize + the second is to create. I have seen more of the first approach lately, where one goes into education route, treating it as a means to an end. That end could be her personal agendas (career, research subject, other interests, money, or even sex), or more altruistic purposes, but students, for this approach, are always seen as subjects—of research, of cheap labor, of minions—in whose hands the teachers’ intention will bear objective results.
In my experience yesterday, I saw the possibility of the other approach, where actually the school (together with the students within) as the work itself. Education is not means anymore, it takes all the stages (back-center-+-front) as a unity. There might be no end in this approach, it’s a constant work-in-progress, as the factory never stops receiving raw materials, different everytime, who don’t only come for free, these materials even pay the factory to process them! The job of the factory then is to constantly reinvent the processing based on many more parameters external from these raw materials. Pedagogy then takes the center stage here, focusing more on the how (then the what + why of the first approach) questions of education.
Please note that I’m thinking out loud here. I don’t have any qualitative judgment (yet) on this matter.
On writing (or more specific, Karbon): I might have to put a break on my writing. I am nowhere near becoming a good writer (in whatever genre there is), I still have to learn a lot (a reason I cannot wait until January, when Karbon will start giving workshops for editors + also future writers), but in order to sustain this effort, there’s been talk about Karbon changing its operating models + we (at least me + the head editor) must take our function as schemers more seriously. It might means big reduction of properly written pieces for both of us (I don’t count editorials + curatorials as a proper piece—they’re vital + sometimes are the most important thing in the world, but they’re still supportive).
We want to be able to see the bigger picture. We’re planning to broaden the agency of this journal into a platform, undertaking the home- + dirty-works a lot of media in Indonesia are not willing to take. In our view, there is two main sections of writing in this country: academic + journalism. One is on its ivory tower smoking their fancy cigarettes, while the other is busy chasing bombasts while being continously chasen by deadlines. The gap between this upper- + under-world is being left wide open. We are willing to fill that gap. How? You still need to stay tune to find out.
All images were taken from my short stint as a guest reviewer at Arch Dept UPH. I only post ‘moments’ here, not necessarily the best ones, but more not to get myself into trouble publishing these photos.
Spent the whole day meeting people, having discussions on Karbon. Roadmapping, brainstorming. Excited for February 13 relaunch. Stay tune.
Visited Kalibata City again, after my first visit to a friend’s unit in 2010, when the complex was not fully built up + running right now. It surprisingly felt more positive this time. The complex seems heterogeneous, although not that inclusive but there are options available for a wide range of activities for different spending capacities. Please keep in mind that those pictures shown in the website above are mostly computer renderings. In reality the complex looks so much grim + grayer. Cookie-cutter birdhouses, as most of us call it. But I’m questioning right now, maybe it’s the society’s unfair judgement based on our conventional living habit. It’s a prejudice that we must actively fight against. Probably.
Also went to Serrum‘s new space. RuPaMatikA, their first exhibition in the space, was up, showing high-school level vocational school students’ work that were produced during a class designed to make them learn about mathematics through artistic means.
Decided to end this semester’s studio with an internal review on the 10th + an external one on the 17th. Will try to show the students how to make proper portfolio photos. We’ll see. What will I make up in order to fill this column with posts during the break??
This always happens when I try to hibernate: light insomnia. I became restless + anxious, I could not really sleep last night, ending up staring at the ceiling up til 5. Woke up felt a lil bit substandard.
Anyway, below is a video I made partly after seeing Tarkovsky’s nostalghiaclip, first seen on MomenTech’s post. Partly, because originally recording this I just wanted to reiterate one of my housemates’ comment when he first heard that another of our housemates was starting doing yoga religiously. He said to her, “Why do you need institutionalized yoga? If you want to exercise your breathing technique, physical endurance for uncomfortable slow position, + therefore, you patience towards everything you do, why not practice the Jakarta yoga: walk and/or get on our city’s public transportation everyday. You’ll sweat + do all of the above in no time!” I don’t think he had any strong ground for this argument, but I think (as always) he touched on something funny.
I do that “Jakarta yoga” everyday. Walk for 5, wait, jump on a busride for 10 , another walk for 7, wait, jump on a trainride for 30, last walk in the forest for 10. Lucky me, I usually travel in anti-commute directions, as the university is in the southern edge of the greater city.
That’s it that is not art. Why? Just because I say it’s not. If an artist have the power to say that what she makes is art, than the other way around also holds ground, yes?
Finally I can say the following words: I’m tired. Super-tired.
A night in my parents’ solidify this. It’s funny how coming back to your mental crib gives you a license to rest, no? I was doing fine up until I hit that house one more time.
I accompanied my father getting his brand new Fuji camera’s bonus extra battery, got reminded that I have to update the firmware for my own X-Pro 1 (together with its 3 lenses, each with its own update), + had a very big lunch. Free lunches, I’m thankful that in my world they still do exist.
Got driven back home (such a luxury), realized so many things to catch up (I haven’t touched my RSS feeds for weeks, I depend on e-newsletters lately), finished a big part of it (the Guernicas, + the Fast Company‘s, with a new realization how much I can’t stand the tone used by the latter’s majority of articles), + got really exhausted with texts (the fact that I sprint through the last half of Collectivize! in just a couple of hours, as I need to return it to the owner, didn’t help), I can’t even start reading the X-Pro update instructions.
It has become too much. I’m going to a phase of hibernation. I don’t know for how long. Maybe a couple of hours, maybe a couple of days. You can’t plan this kind of things. Can you?