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

14_0228 post 104

Getting sick. I taught two classes nevertheless: a morning Theory class for 4 Design Masters students (one person missing, one person didn’t even bring his work to discuss, with the other two tried, but boy how much homework they still need to go through) for which I gave the Twelve Lectures by Salingaros, & the studio (they’ve worked hard… But because of that they were such on a low-energy throughout the class). My sickness took a little toll, I couldn’t boost their energy up.

I’m dropping one big proposal I have to do (it’s a prestigious travel grant) from my plan, because I’m reshifting my priorities. Teaching should be given more focus (though according to some I’ve wasted too much time already on it), which means Lab stuffs, research cluster to-do’s, & 3 classes this semester. With Karbon & ruangrupa’s preparation meetings, my hands are full. I need a make-over. Maybe I should start with rearranging my room.

I’m still reading Original Copies.

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14_0227 post 103

Called in sick. Read all day. Finished Causing a Scene. Hoping to finish Original Copies today.

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14_0226 post 102

Reading Charlie Todd + Alex Scordelis’ Causing a Scene: extraordinary pranks in ordinary places with Improv Everywhere, as well as Bianca Bosker’s Original Copies: Architectural Mimicry in Contemporary China. All to prepare myself for another application. This rat race, no?

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14_0225 post 101

Nothing to report really, other than grim financial condition kicks-in again, when it’s time to pay rent. Ha.

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14_0224 post 100

One-hundreth post!!!!!!! Damn me, I missed another post yesterday, for no apparent reason (I really just found out that I missed one, thinking I did write something yesterday). Total negligence.

But, today actually serve as a great thing to post as my 100th post: some questions + comments from Shinobu + Matt, resulting from a series of email conversations between us, made me think about something I had forgotten about for a while. To elaborate, below is a part of that email I just sent them:

[…] when + where would banal productive acts done by everyone (such as blogging, Instagramming, tweeting, taking selfies, etc.) could be considered (elevated?) as art, and therefore elevating the person who do these activities as artists? Can it be done? (of course, the answer is yes, as it’s been done so many times before) Does personal career trajectory matter (in your well-used Duchamp’s case)?
When I was asked when I was attending school on whether something is actually art or not, my answer was, “Does it matter?” Decoying practice as something else was my interest at that point. Actually, it still is. I want to be a property investor (if only I could) to transgress people’s experiences, learn from it to understand the system inside out, in order to strip the myths around it. Qualitative judgment can be suspended, let alone morale. I always have difficulties calling myself as an artist. It might be for a strong reason.
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shinobu wrote on Feb 25:

wow, congratulations! are you really on hiatus?


14_0222 post 99

The last post with 2 digits. Can’t believe that my 100th post is coming up shortly, no?

Rain as an urban threat is here again. In the worst points, water has reached the 3 meters height. Evacuees (is this the right word?) are an urban entity for the n-th time this year.

On the other hand, I haven’t been working on anything at all this weekend, refusing at least two opportunities to be productive with rain as an excuse for my laziness (I didn’t even go to the charity event for my dead friend, in the end). I have been reading some books on Hongkong, though. Portraits from Above – Hongkong’s informal rooftop communities & Invisible Logic – Hong Kong, as Asian culture of congestion, respectively. Settlements, maybe you can say that’s where my interests lie right now.

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14_0221 post 98

Missing my computer a lot. I succeeded to get a hand-down one on my desk in the university, + it’s sufficient for writings, emailings, and text based stuffs. But for more serious things, it doesn’t even have Photoshop (or is fast enough to handle the new CS’s… Handed down, remember?).

The charity event is still on today. Might drop by after checking machines in UI.

I’m hooked on House of Cards. Season 2, all 13 episodes has leaked.

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14_0220 post 97

Setting up machine. I kind of love this kind of work.

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14_0219 post 96


A newly-built terminal nearby to be officially open next week, which I pass through nearly everyday. Popular media has called it the embodiment of our current governor’s dreams in the form of a building. I agree that it’s indeed dreamlike, but it’s uncanny quality torn me to figure out whether this is a wet dream or actually a nightmare. If dreams are to be interpreted, this one is not too difficult to do.


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14_0218 post 95 (dedicated to Ibnu Rizal)

A friend just passed away. Cause of death: a complication of meningitis, hepatitis c, liver failure, and toksoplasmosis. He was 25-year old. Main cause of death: late diagnosis. He was so sick for days + peed himself before he was hospitalized. The ‘jagal/act of killing’: financial condition. His family just simply could not afford the treatment bills. As he was someone who worked in wide cultural spheres, through ruangrupa more than Rp40million (± USD 4,000) was collected through donation in no time. There is a charity event scheduled for him this Saturday. Another case of too little too late: a case that would likely not happen if he was working ‘properly’ (direct translation from Bahasa Indonesia, which refers to having a corporate career). Grim is indeed the word of the week.

I was planning to post some pictures of the funeral. But from what I gather (with little help from close friends) the web is full of them already. At least the timelines, feeds, and (e-)walls of my social reality. So I digress to do so. In the most of precious times, words are proven to be more than enough.

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Matt wrote on Feb 19:

We are very sorry to hear of your friend Farid; and want to extend our sincerest condolences.

This discourse that certain "work" has more value than other types - (or even no work) - is a kind of social construction; not too far flung from some of the questions we are poking at with this project. There IS value in nonsense, as a legitimate, and really the only place, where these kind of questions can emerge beyond the cliche right/left dialectics of market centred politics. Social empathy should also be recognized for the value it brings on par with if not beyond market forces. Sadly it rarely seems to.


14_0217 post 94

My second experience judging. This time around, it’s for Understanding Body: Architecture in Fashion in a space that’s under constant struggle for revival, Galeri Lawang of Universitas Tarumanagara (Untar)–a short (4 days, give + take) exercise on modularization, folding, & bodily approach, trying to relate fashion with architecture. A promosing premise, but falls short in deliverance. In the end, all the groups of students made what looked like a paper-model of Gaga outfit. Not sufficient to be considered seriously as neither fashion, nor architecture.

It was good to be back in Untar again, nevertheless. No doubting that.

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14_0216 post 93

Darn it. Missed another post yesterday.

Spent the entire day at Property Exhibition 2014 in Jakarta Convention Centre today, visiting each of the stands available pretending either to be either an interested investor, or somebody working for one. I begin to see how tempting + addictive it is to be rich. According to official reports, Jakarta just got voted to be the  number 1 ‘hottest’ place for property investors. Some of the products raised their value 25% on paper only in two months, propelled by soft-openings + pre-turn-key events. For those who want to play it safe, security-backed property-based investments guarantee 200% cashback in 8 years. Some developers even guarantee full-refund if anyone doesn’t feel like holding their product anymore as soon as s/he finalize the mortgage payments. Yaddayaddayadda… Inflation + bursting bubble alarms, I know. But compared to how these products hold the popular imagination, Architecture (notice the capital ‘A’) suddenly feels so lame. Knick-knacks, boy-toys: B-I-N-G-O parlors compared to high-rollers’ roulette. Too slow, too little, too small. I’m planning to make these visits regular in the future.

What to do with this newfound interest of mine? Have no idea yet. Anyone wanna chip in?

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14_0214 post 92












V for Valentine’s Day.

First studio presentation of the semester. I personally think this group’s dope. It’s really significant how different these guys are between seminar + studio classes.


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14_0213 post 91

As promised, Karbon updates:

There is a big possibility that we’re going to shut the whole thing down. After months of preparation, countless (most of them informal) meetings, remodeling, planning, workshop sessions + (especially from us the editorial team, really high) excitements, it might have come to the final element that makes all the equation might sum up to nil: finance. We played with at least 5 possible financial configurations, from all-paid to all-love (ha), but until the final budget meeting with ruangrupa (our host organization) is said + done, all we can do right now is only wait.

Grim as it may look, this is a partial portrait of that condition where publishing/writing is seen as only something supportive, often forgotten in the bigger picture of an (artistic) organizations’ roadmap.

Further, what it means to my everyday life is that my financial condition is pretty dire (I just found out my temporary but significant earning cuts for the next few months by the university as a consequence of my national Masters’ scholarship contract).

And by that the struggle continues…

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shinobu wrote on Feb 13:

there's a lot to talk and think about, cross-nationally, in relation to this post, this whole discipline and its system -- maybe grim, but quite curious..


14_0212 post 90

First day of Teori & Metode Perancangan Lingkungan (Environmental Design Theory & Method) for the regular class (I’m teaching my first seminar class not in the ‘international’ program!). It was just a intro session, given mainly by my colleague. There’re 4 of us facilitators for the class + 2 assistants. Why so many? There are 80 (give or take) students in total! I have never dealt with a class in this scale. I was nervous.

Gotta go, as I have to finish the syllabus for this one. They’re waiting.

See you tomorrow with a little explanation on what’s happening with Karbon.

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14_0211 post 89

The course description for Design Studio 2 International Program UI I am coordinating is below.

Course Description

The work for the semester is to critically designing dwellings for human beings as urban individuals and the smallest unit of community (kelompok sosial inti).

Living in Jakarta, we are constantly facing challenges. These challenges are not only annoyances in our everyday life, but also a source of creativity. One of these huge challenges (both in scale and scope) constantly facing Jakartans is the annual flooding. By using water inundation as an entry point to reflect on our urban dwelling modes, it is the goal of this course to develop a design methodology based on multi-scale context analyises, typological approach, and ground-up sensibility.

There are two projects for the semester. The first projects is understanding and communicating dwelling through the phenomenon of flooding. It introduces a way to develop architectural ideas through on-site deep observations manifested in visual recordings (drawings, photographs, videos) as both research materials and methods. Students will be introduced to the value of sensual sensibilities in gaining knowledge through paying attention to everyday phenomena. The specifics of the second project depends largely on the result of this first project.

The second project is to design a dwelling based on the findings from the previous project. Students will understand the potential of design for intervention in everyday life. This part is an elaboration of spatial contestation, with an understanding of materials/structures that can give form to our idea of dwelling. The students will speculate their interventions done on a specific site. Programs will be developed by further understanding of kelompok sosial inti(KSI). 

PS: My 4-year old laptop is fucked. It’s just dead.

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14_0210 post 88

First day of the new semester. Prepared the syllabus for the International Program Design Studio 2 I am coordinating. Despite everyone’s doubt, I’m still pushing the agenda to use flooding (as a recent & historical phenomena) to enter these second-year students’ consciousness in discussing urban dwelling.

Other agenda will be to properly introduce them to architectural typology design method. Not just copying what they’ve been seeing in design blogs ignorantly, but copying critically by celebrating uncreativity, to steal the words of UbuWeb’s Kenneth Goldsmith.

On the other hand, things with Karbon is looking grim. I’ll update when the time is right, now it is still too uncertain. It’s too soon to actually dwell on it. I’m waiting to see how things will unfold.

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shinobu wrote on Feb 11:

so how do the semesters go in Indonesia, (or at your school)? I'm looking forward to "back-to-school" hiatus reports! -- I think quite a few "teachers" reading this


14_0209 post 87

Girlfriend’s gone. I’m back alone in this place. Writing this post on the airport bus returning downtown, sitting next to a woman with a full-covered burqa.

Holiday’s over. Full-steam ahead again tomorrow.


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14_0207 post 86

Just a quick report, since cafes have 20-min wi-fi limit here: Bi-city Biennale (HK-Shenzen) is dissapointing at best from the HK end, but their Asian Art Archive & M+ Architecture Museum collection (currently showing under the title BUILDING, revolving around their projected 2017 building designed by Herzog & de Meuron) is really impressive. In HK, from my impression so far, archiving is done better then speculating.

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14_0205 post 85

Wi-fi is a luxury for my HK trip, so excuse my absence.

This is a little bit ‘spur-of-the-moment’ trip, as we got a chance to see their Bi-City Biennale (HK together with Shenzen). We’re going to start visiting it today, after just holiday-ing yesterday.

Out for now. Wish I can find a better internet scheme in the near future.

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14_0203 post 84

In the airport, going to Hongkong. In our way here, the rain was pouring scarily. And I thought I’ve seen it all by being born & raised here.

Facilitated some brainstorming in ruangrupa, for their future exhibition ideas. They just need some help in translation, if you ask me. Why can’t more artists work more this way, where ‘there’s no I in a group’? Although it’s not professional relation either, so hierarchies can be minimal. Things seem easier this way. Just saying.

I’m not sure about daily internet connection in the next few days. Why do I feel more creative in foreign settings? Why can’t I be content in living in one place all my life? Why do artists need residencies (as we’ve grown to know it) anyway?

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14_0202 post 83

My first time judging a (supposed to be architectural) competition. Part of it was done through Skype. That Skyped-in participant was the winner of the biggest prize. Strange.

Other strange thing: I’ve felt like I’ve lost my reporting sensibility. Need to get it back.

Windows Phone (through its IE) sucks in its capacity to post here. Just FYI.

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14_0201 post 82

Finally hi again.

A lot has happened in the last two weeks. Summing them up:

1. My girlfriend is visiting from Oslo. She’s leaving February 9.

2. During this school break, last month I relocated to Bandung—a smaller city 4 hours train ride south east of Jakarta. I didn’t have access to internet access all the time here.

3. I lost my phone to a pickpocket. Internet became more difficult.

4. I missed my first RFAOH post on January 15, a day after the pickpocket incident.

5. Jakarta got flooded (again). I experienced it again after not living in Jakarta while this annual disaster happening. I didn’t get affected badly (most of the people I know somehow lives in a higher area) as a result of the Bandung relocation. Officials still warn about the worst is still looming on the horizon this year, so it’s too soon to consider this condition has passed.

I decided to be absent from posting at all after I managed to spell ‘i-n-a-b-s-e-n-t-i-a” for the second time. It had indeed become ‘work’ for me. Time to stop it was. After all this, I’m writing to inform that I’m back. In Jakarta, with a new downgraded phone but nevertheless one with an internet connection. I’ll try my best to fulfill my intention to write in this column, one post everyday. Does anyone miss my posts?

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shinobu wrote on Feb 2:

we do!