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?”
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.
This is it. In order to answer a lot of questions/comments on my abundance of posts ‘while on hiatus’: what I’ve done since I started this residency is devising a way to trick myself by the way of daily posts obligation, no matter how ridiculous it is. This structure of blog-post report has afforded me a non-productive state by illusion: a feeling of being productive, while in reality I’m not actually working (in my understanding). Learning from the illusion emails + meetings have, I can manage my restlessness this way, affording myself a leeway for non-productivity.
I am totally aware of the weirdness of it all. In order to level with those comments/questions, I have found a strategy for the month of January to keep on posting everyday, but with less ludicrous rubbish. Stay tune to find out what I have in store. I am not excited at all with this plan—just to give you a teaser.
Happy new year y’all.
Oh, + I just remember a PS: this transcript of a TEDx talk republished in The Guardian is awesome. Just to relate this post to my #58 post.
Another series of judging competition entries. Also two undergrad thesis that I need to review on the 6th, bearing the words such as “nightclubs”, “augmented reality”, “behavior” + “future” in their titles.
I am being social again today. A colleague + good friend of mine, Adam Bobbette from Hongkong, is in town for a short visit.
It helped my bitterness. Oh, + I finished scoring a design competition for which I am one of the judges. First time judging. It’s super weird. I don’t really like it, but thr process gave me insight on how judging works. I’m wondering why anyone is still interested in taking part in design competitions.
I’m glad I didn’t have anything worthwhile to report today, so I clicked on posts made by others.
My reaction on Sagmeister’s TEDtalk I gladly saw posted by Karen Zalamea is knee-jerk. Everything is so correct about this talk it has proven to be wrong over the years. From seeing it as a really inspirational talk to just another Fast Company-y campaign, I rewatched the whole thing + realize that he (+ a lot of his supporters) is putting the concept of sabbatical (or ‘hiatus’, if you like) back in the productivity scheme of things. Basically underlining the oxymoronic cylical fact: people who have more time for themselves are happier, therefore produce (as well as consume) more. It is also known as the leisure concept, invented by capitalism, utilizing desire as its driving force. I succesfully refrained myself to namedrop in the last sentence + I’m really proud of it. Curators, take note.
Getting back to the subject at hand, I am questioning this understanding of productivity being offered by Sagmeister in the talk through the notion of ‘use’. If all he talked about his sabbatical was how it was really useful + valueable for his personal development as an active subject, will I say the same about what I am doing right now with my residency-disguised (as a) hiatus? Will it be a failure if all of this turned out to be a useless act, not by design but by chance, denying my own authorship by throwing away the importance of my intention as far out of the window as possible? Unlike Sagmeister, will I (better) be a loser, not a winner?
This brings me back to what has become so clear about the education system I’m working for: it’s made to single out needles from hays. It’s a gold sieve, that only cares about the yellow nuggets + leaving the rest behind. Like Sagmeister’s career, it is exceptional, not (trying to elevate standards into) the new normal. Consequently, in this imitation culture I am operating within, instead of inspired individuals Sagmeister wanted to touch, knock-offs are what we ended up producing. Click here for proof. See?
“Andy Warhol once said that to make money is an art; if only to ask for it was an art that I mastered.”
—Eva Franch i Gilabert, in the Storefront for Art + Architecture’s end-of-the-year e-blast 2013: Dramas, Dreams and D…, received December 26, 1:26 AM WIB
On money. These last few days have been about end-of-the-year meetings, formal + informal. In Universitas Indonesia (UI), most of them are casual with colleagues + prospective collaborators. In ruangrupa (RURU), yesterday was the official evaluation, although it happened to be more relaxed than what I had with those educators. One thing those meetings have in common: mullah as a responsibility (translated as numbers in report sheets) + means for sustainability (future funding strategies). Things that used to drive me crazy have begun to be endurable. Positive sign or corruption’s on the horizon?
I might be a retard here, but why can’t I find a way to automatically embed vertical video anymore on Vimeo? I can’t even find a proper tutorial to do so. My being a retard is still a more believable argument.
1. The official letter stating that I’m staying in Jakarta, not going to be relocated to Palembang was finally issued today.
2. Please excuse me touching a subject suddenly feels so close to me these last few days: death. A 40-something year old son of a close friend of my parents, first. One of my housemates’ father, second. A close friend’s grandmother tomb removal, third. Is it because Christmas? Finally read an article about the danger of cigarettes that could make me think about quitting (I’m an accutely heavy smoker), fourth. Final fifth: a heighten sense of environmental catastrophe (the melting of the Arctic icebergs, the diminishing wild forest area, all the Al Gore’s nine-yards). I’m going to sleep so well tonight, + it’s not even a sarcasm.
Totally lost today. I slept all day, only woke up to have some meals.
Tetangga Pak Gesang
Bonita & the HusBand
Spent the night watching the final screening of Jejak Bang Ali (Arum Tresnaningtyas + Dhyta Caturani, 2013) with music performances by Tetangga Pak Gesang, The Extra Large, + Bonita & the HusBand who sang a lot of covers. The whole event strengthen my opinion that our culture value archive + history (footages in movies, cover versions in music) mainly only for its nostalgic possibility. Criticality so far comes only to the extent of how things were done better back in the days, compared to the tumultous today.
In one hand I’m glad finally archival works gain traction + becoming trendy, but on the other hand I really wish we could do (so much) better, push (really) harder in the near future. Just my hope.
I’m celebrating my 50th post with posting this picture of my super-dope photographer housemate Paul Kadarisman taking picture of one of my students’ model earlier today. Compare it with the following picture, made around the first time I met him (about 8-9 years ago). How time flies.
First, dealing with bureaucracy is my kryptonite. I had to deal with it all day yesterday for some vital issues (the education directorate wanted to relocate me from Jakarta to Palembang). It’s not all resolved up until the time of writing. I needed the earlier half of today to recuperate + got back on my proper two feet. I really hate the feeling of waiting + powerlessness, like you need to change something but it’s beyond your power. Instead, it’s in the hands of some (mostly corrupt) process. So, there you go… Another great project of non-productivity: dealing with (only Indonesian?) bureaucracy.
Second, I learnt this week that there are three types of writers + their writings:
a) Writers who write for a living. They depend on the income they got from writing from day to day basis.
b) Writers, mostly really young, who can’t support themselves by writing alone. They are ambitious on learning to write + willing to find their own voices, in order to be able to position the act + result of writing in their lives.
c) Writers who write for self-actualisation. Most of them are institutionalised + are not dependent on writing in order to eat. The majority of them are in the academia circle.
It’s really silly to just realize this now, but these are the writers we want to invite to write for Karbonjournal.org (that’s changing its URL into jurnalkarbon.net, as we’re no longer striving for being bilingual—the pieces will be in its original version, whether Bahasa or English, we’ll translate them on a case-per-case basis). The division is bringing different financial model + schemes for each type of writers. We are being something unprecedented in our context: not strictly a journal (who don’t pay + sometimes even charge their contributors), nor a fully-fledged mass media (who put a price for every kind of writing there is). We’re celebrating the in-betweens, the uncomfortable, + the misfits.
Meeting people everyday finally bears its fruit this week. Exhale.
1.30pm – On a train going from Sudirman to Tebet. The AC is off. One could only guess why. “Isn’t it nice to be able to go home around this time? So we can have more time… for… uh, family and stuff”, I eavesdropped. A middle-aged male passenger said the line to the person next to him while sitting down after getting on Manggarai station.
It got me thinking on when I last saw my biological family. It seems like months the last time I saw my parents. Yesterday Mom called, asking whether I had the time to join her + Dad for lunch. I was in a different part of town. She continued by forwarding me this birthday party invitation of a distance relative closer to where I was. It was in an area I always avoid. It’s not easily reachable using public transport, + on weekends, the traffic around it is cray as a result. I didn’t even reply.
This is mumbling, but reflecting back my decision not to start a family of myself (at least not in the near future—a decision still considered strange here) was induced by my not having time other than for myself. It’s a productivity-based decision. I honestly can’t remember when I came up with that decision. Following this trajectory of thought, maybe it’s the best on-hiatus proposal ever: to raise a family. That could be an interesting (art) project. Ha.
I’ve been surrounded by history this weekend. Indonesian Press Photo Service (IPPHOS) Remastered book discussion on Saturday, & an Architectural Excursion concluding exhibit by the Arch UI students today–an annual tradition when students come to a certain village in the archipelago to do a quick study & documentation. This year: Waka Tobi. They were results of going the roads less traveled. Quite nice.
As a part of an event called Pasar Rakyat, I attended an “informal economy tour” in Bukit Duri-Kampung Pulo, informal settlements on the bank of Ciliwung, the main river that crosses Jakarta from south to north, that constantly face the threat of eviction, in the official term of ‘normalization’. I got the invitation from Ciliwung Merdeka.
Tofu, beansprout, + oncom factory
Meanwhile, articles like “The Art of Letting Go: How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating” in Fast Company clearly shows the contemporary trend of taking a series of stepping back in everyday live (‘micro-hiatuses’, if you will) in order to regain productivity, the final battlefield in all of this, if you asked me.
I’m feeling like a proposal labor in this last couple of days. That’s taking the majority of my waking moment right now. For future classes, development road map for the fabrication lab I’ve been put responsible for, research + other projects. They all have one common conclusion: grants.
The majority of proposals I’m doing is for grants from the university (range between ±7k-30k USD + honestly, their standard is not that high), but the book pictured above is a gift for my head editor in Karbon. In our calculation, with our full plan ahead, we can only sustain ourselves for another 6 months (by cross-funding some leftovers we secured from our previous grant to make a research-publication/book project). We desperately need to secure some more fundings in a very short time. I’m going away to Bandung, a city 3-hour away from Jakarta + going to spend most of my January there. We’re publishing the revived version of ourselves in February. We’re planning to go full steam ahead right after. Yes, we’re under a deadline. Your crossed fingers would be much appreciated.
Talking about grants + funding, though, I think it can be useful to post some of my thinking about the subject here to discuss it in RFAOH context.
As we all know, crisis in (global) funding for art + culture has created this existential crisis for this sector. How does art function in the bigger picture? Is it actually valuable? Where does this value lie? The list of questions go on, that are being brought up in order to defend the position of art + keep on securing the support (taking the forms of finance + acknowledgement, or finance as acknowledgement?) from the bigger system. This is totally a first-world problem. For us in Indonesia, we never had a big public-funded support system for art + culture that actually works anyway. Andres Serrano is a case we never had the privelege to experience. Ever.
It doesn’t say that we’re not facing any problem. First, it creates a condition where we are dependent heavily on foreign funds. Either from the first-world’s ‘cultural missions’ through their national institutions (Goethe-Institut, Centre Culturel Francais, the British Council, USAID, AUSAID, Erasmus Huis, etc.) or their private philantrophy scheme (Ford Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Soros Foundation, etc.). The colonial model repeats itself naturally this way: we tailored our projects (therefore creating a body of precedents accumulated over the years) to meet these institutions criteria. Bandung’s ‘Creative City’ label can be considered as the latest manifestation of this development. I don’t need to argue how it’s unsustainable + destructive, as it’s not the time nor is it the place to do so, but unless we recognize + tackle this problem, we would never be able to be truly independent. That’s assuming that we want to make it as our common goal in the first place. Maybe we don’t.
But the most important thing: it doesn’t answer the bigger question we are actually still facing after all this time: where should we put art + culture in our own context? Those foreign fundings only gave us the alternatives when the bigger global condition is alright. It’s no longer the case. So what should we do? Should we sustain art + develop it towards becoming an industry—therefore strengthen the connection between artists, art schools, galleries, with its most vital stakeholder: the collectors? That seems like a plausible way out. Or should we fight the nature of art as a space where an alternative mode of thinking is possible, to counter the mainstream hegemony that actually is losing its power anyway? If the second condition is preferable, then how should we strive for it? Should we rely on our own public fundings (our government is getting better at ‘handing out’ money, without actually do any proper mapping to form + criticize their long term goal, if there’s even any—a model they learned from whom?), or should we as artists, creatives, + cultural workers (I’m aware of the connotation some of these words actually have, but excuse my limited vocabulary that I decided to keep on using them to regain their actual meaning back) create a model that actually for once works, for us, in our own contexts, facing our specific constraints + challenges?
For the questions above, I have picked my own answers + am putting a fight to make them happen. If it means I need to be a whore for the time being, toiling away creating fully massaged + tailored proposals that make me cringe in more times than once… As long as I still can make that much-fought-for finish line visible, so be it. I’m a schemer, + I’m still proud calling myself so.
From: farid rakun<firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 2013/12/10 Subject: Review Studio Perancangan Arsitektur 3 Kelas Internasional UI To: cecil mariani <email@example.com>, Paul Kadarisman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cecil + Paul,
Selain silabus kelas yang terlampir (mengambil tapak di SCBD Jakarta), di bawah ini foto + keterangan untuk referensi review + objek-objek foto minggu depan (supaya ga kaget atau kecewa dengan level para mahasiswa ini). Studio ini adalah Design Studio 3 untuk program Kelas Khusus Internasional yang berbahasa Inggris. Makanya cuma 9 orang, yang berdasar abjad nama panggilan:
1. Adi: pavilion2 ‘spiritual’
2. Chandra: gerbang cermin
3. Fiska: treadmill pejalan kaki (prototip 1:1)
4. Hatta: shooting range sebagai monumen teror
5. Jo: bangunan reklame elektronik
6. Okti: bila transporter a la Star Trek diterapkan pada komplek bangunan
7. Risti: instalasi pembuat disorientasi
8. Talitha: bila Pacific Place berubah menjadi arena belanja daring
9. Yudhitia: SCBD sebagai permainan Monopoli campur Ular Tangga
Sebagai informasi, ini gambaran kasar studio yang akan kita pakai untuk sesi foto nanti. Terang benderang walau biasanya AC-nya dingin banget. Ada juga buku yang bisa gw kasih liat buat referensi gaya foto yang dianggap representatif buat portfolio arsitektur, walaupun gw terbuka untuk ide namines lo. Kalau lo pikir butuh kain hitam kami bisa sediakan. Lo pikir perlu pakai lampu/reflektor?
For non-Bahasa Indonesia speaking reader, excuse my use of language above, but it’s silly to write to my friends/future reviewers in English. For you, Google Translate has provided you with its translated version.
Extra: found a new hobby which I’ve decided to share here overtime: taking pictures of hands pressed onto public transportation glass door panels. Again, I don’t consider this as art… it’s a hobby.
I’m using this ‘free-er’ time to write proposals, for ideas + elective classes I’m planning to do. I want to do three drafts, I’ve only tackled one. Although not 100%, I’m back. It’s hard to get back on track after a forced break. For me, postponements create panic + overwhelming. Working on it.
Somebody’s learning something new, BTW. I’m so proud of this (also very ashamed that I haven’t learned Norwegian any bit).
From: farid rakun<email@example.com> Date: Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 8:27 PM Subject: Places to live To: Sigrid Espelien <firstname.lastname@example.org>
So here’re some updates on living spaces:
1. Bandung, for when you’re here. I’ve called the person, she offered me a place downstairs (the one pictured here is upstair rooms) with its own bathroom. Its monthly rate is Rp1mil. I think I can afford + will take it.
2. On the Jakarta apartment (Rp3mil/month, + 3 months payment/lease with 1 month fee deposit). The building/complex itself is about 2 years old. Some part of it is still under construction. This is our typical middle-class social housing. It’d be great if we can rent one of the commercial unit downstairs instead of the residential one, no?
What do you think? I think it’s not for us, but maybe you can change this opinion.
Can’t wait to see you here in January in person!
Luv, miss + kissez,
PS: I’m posting this in RFAOH too. I know you’re reading my updates daily, yes? ;-p
From: farid rakun<email@example.com> Date: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 10:05 PM Subject: Re: How’s it going? To: prachi kamdar <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: etienne turpin <e**@a**.org>, etienne turpin <email@example.com>
This is my final report regarding your gifts.
I’m really sorry that those sweets are bootless, but everything else are great. Nothing beats how many bags you’re using to wrap the wrapped wrapping fabrics. Layer after layer of pattern richness.
I finally went to Ancol today, + by retelling you what it brought me, I hope you’d forgive me for the unpleasant sight above.
1. Mangga Dua (the area I have to pass in order to get to Ancol by bus), was flooded. It was not even raining one drop today. Jakarta has been raining cats + dogs lately.
2. The hotel is inside a themed beach park (never even try to go here with this method during the weekend). Not only it’s unreachable by public bus , you have to pay an entrance ticket t just to go there, + take their shuttle bus. These are the vistas from inside that ‘free’ facility.
3. On my way back, the bus engine started to burn. It wasn’t as bad as the picture shown above (taken from merdeka.com), but you understand the risk I’m taking.
4. Although theoretically it could only take 2 hours to do this trip, it literally took me a whole day (I was starving + upset after the bus incident, I decided to devour myself with a portion of a legendary pork noodle near the location… Blessing in disguise?) this time. Lately, a whole day is a price I hardly can afford.
But of course, as always, it all turned out fine. I am very thankful for your presents (my housemates are chewing your exotic snacks with their guests right now… Tonight is an exceptionally socially busy night in this house…) + I’m sure Etienne will be too, as soon as he lands back in this g*dforsaken place.
One final question: what is this exactly? Is this how it’s supposed to look?
+ I just found this to be really funny (seen on my final taxi ride home during the infamous Jakarta’s rush hour, so excuse my sense of humor):
I was interviewing this group of Christian monks in this dream. They told me about the concept of work celibacy: to chase an idea up until the very last point, then suspending the finishing act in order to ‘let it go’ + ‘let it be’ what it wanted to be all along. Thinking about it, it’s like foreplay without coitus, let alone orgasm. I think that’s why those monks in my dream called it ‘celibacy’.
Guess this residency is getting into my head.
Accidentally watched Highway(James Cox, 2002) on TV. Wished I could write about drugs here. Wished internet could (+ would) forget. Wished the subject is safe.