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_0308 post 112

Caught Odyssey by UK’s The Paper Cinema at Komunitas Salihara tonight. The hipster side of me was really entertained.

Watching them ‘performing’ animation with one screen taking the mainstage, with the animators (they call themselves “puppeteers”) playing with their paper figures in front of cameras to animate them real-time, while the musicians playing live, all facing the main screen + their backs towards the audience, it got me thinking about the value of transparency. By opening the kitchen of animated movies to the audience, rendering them as performance, they question the form of animated movies as products, recorded + spread out effectively. Instead of designing, recording, producing, syncing once + reaping the most of out it by selling it to anyone who is willing to consume it, they ‘perform’ their animation, only once at a time. If we understand art as a one-off exclusive phenomenon, then their practice could be understood as artistic. After watching all of the process as audience, it’s not difficult for anyone to do what they do. In this case, they are demystifying animation. Not surprising, a friend commented after the show, “Ok, let’s do what they do, no?”

Problems arise when these understandings were no longer the norm. If we understand movies not as objects, but as an innovation that already democratized entertainment industry—so now anyone can watch an opera—then what they do can be seen as a relapse. If we understand art as no longer a one-off exclusive object, their practice reintroduces high-cost economy into the stage one more time. The object is no longer special but the makers artists behind them are, so there is value in flying 5 peformers + crew members for two nights to Jakarta for anyone interested in what they are offering with a price of a ticket (if I’m not mistaken, they are going to continue their tour to Yogyakarta after this). It can be considered as the revenge of performers against major capital-owners: by playing live. But can it be done without offering exclusivity in return? And finally back to the notion of transparency: by making the meatgrinding process visible, does it actually demystify the sausage itself? Is it not another marketing gimmick? Letterpress printing in publishing, pinhole technique in photography. It’s like using morse-code as a form of protest against GMail privacy policy. Painstaking process introduces back high-cost economy.

Further, nothing in their set tonight can be said to be original. The story is an adaptation while their music + visuals are referential. I loved them for this, but then where is the irony? This, I realized, is bricollage in human spatial temporal scale, being done after Gaga did Dada. With so much stuff going on in one stage at the same time, this is entertainment for people who live with + for distraction. If entertainment today is comfortable distractions, art today needs to be entertaining in order to be popular.

All these are issues I am struggling with in my writing myself. Is there any value by making my writing method transparent? What kind of transparency am I talking about? On how things actually were made + work in order for people to built further on it (open-source Linux style) or as an aesthetic so people can cruise + moving on with what they really want to do with/on/in/at it (Mac’s iFascism)? I like the former as a concept, but I really appreciate the later as an experience. Does being clear that creating solely with affordable smart devices actually says that now anyone can create? Or is it still true that creation (+ therefore being creative) is indeed a luxury, to be achieved by those who have their basic needs fulfilled? Maybe, I know when I see it.

Leave a Comment (2)

farid wrote on Mar 15:

Matt, yes. tX for the link. It's a great piece, summarizing a lot of difficult stuff + serving it as a really digestible form.
That bring the ‘popular’ question home. The base of my question is actually impact, I think. The populist imagination being reproduced by the channels Chris Hedges touched upon are the reality that has the biggest impact. How can we operate within these structures to expose how it works + reach that ekstasis? How can architecture operate in a condition where real estate exhibitions form the popular imagination? Should it oppose this by turning it back against the reality? I am trying to see that this is not the case. How? I'm still trying to find out. Maybe that's where I am right now. tX for the discussion. Keep it coming!

Matt wrote on Mar 11:

hmm, I wonder if art really needs to be popular, or rather, if being popular really serves art's best interests. Questions are often more interesting than answers. This also reminds me of the Chris Hedges quote. Gaga quoting Dada is nostalgia more than art - I think