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_0429 post 158

This is it. The last post.

While I’m packing + preparing my devices to take this long trip, I decided to jot down what’s been on my mind lately: money, outsourcing, luxury, + the freedom to not do something.

As someone living in Jakarta, I am forced to deal with constant unpleasantness. From getting from one point to another under certain time limits, to moody weather that can change from super sunny to rainstorm in a matter of minutes, to floods, electric outage, slow average internet connections, dealing with civil servants + public beuracracies, etc.

It’s public knowledge that inequality is getting worse in this city (I think it’s a global trend), + I’m wondering, how do people more than me deal with these unpleasantnesses? It’s easy to see the physical fortresses they’ve built to protect them from these, but if they hit even the most basic urban infrastructures, they must spend at least a fraction of their precious lives experiencing these phenomena, which are everyday facts for most of us. How can they cope with it?

Throughout history, luxury (and therefore wealth) is expressed not only through things you can do, have, and acquire, but also by things you can afford not to do, have, or experience. Fashion is one of the best examples: frills are not made for those who had to wash their own laundry, neither were those fancy dry-clean only designers’ dresses + suits, made out of delicate materials. What about high-heels? They’re certainly not made for walking on our (non-existent) trotoar.

The logic of this expression of privelege done through showing the affordance of being able to not do something leaks through everything else in this city: as long as you are willing to pay, you can have someone else do something for you. This is the poison of outsourcing. Roads are terrible? Have a driver that could take you anywhere you want to take your car with you. Paperworks are just not worth your valuable time? Secretaries, ojek drivers, middlemen, and preman are here to assist you by doing it for you. The non-efficient anxiety-inducing systems are made exactly for this. You can find any kind of assistant service this way. In a system promoting middlemen services, a lot of untraceable financial flows can be made. That’s the whole point of the system: to make you give up. But as long as you have the funds to back you up, that’s the only way to get things done around here.

Other best example for this logic of not-doing is the latest case where the biggest public bank in Indonesia somehow managed to pay nothing for their tax report back in the early 2000’s. It’s in Javanese system to show your power + prowess not by doing, but exactly by not doing certain things (that’s why our culture really value silence), and by successfully evading tax, BCA showed how powerful their grip was on the state.

Thinking for myself, I twisted all of the perspective above by asking one question: what if + how can I free myself from making money to sustain my life in this city? Would it be the ultimate subversion act to question the basic building block of all mentioned above? I’m challenging it by really making a minimum wage amount (a little less than USD 300), with no other extenral support, and still living decently in the last few months. By not having to support my parents (I’m going to come clear here, they, both un- + fortunately for me, can be included in the top 5% population of this country by wealth), I can live + experiment with my own life, up until now (early thirties). By not having anyone burdening me, as a male, I can achieve the freedom of men promoted by feminists 100 years ago. By sharing, I don’t have to own some of the daily stuff I need (I do this both in my house + ruangrupa). I’m not campaigning anything in my everyday life. I just simply live with others, quietly making my own choices based on my antagonism against money (at least up until I wrote this post).

All the counter-cultures successfully created their own counter-aesthetics, and it’s working against their purpose. They become reducable into fronts, styles, fads, poses. These aesthetics differentiate, saying us + them, really effectively. This, I consider, to be a fallout.

Lastly, I want to relate it back to RFAOH. By being an artist who’s not doing art, in my reflection I am not exercising a constraint to show my protest against art-making (although I really found those who did it for this purpose in the post-war avant garde era really inspiring + liberating). What I have done is exercising my power to be able to afford it at all. MomenTech, can this be zen? If artist is a profession, stopping being a professional is a privelege, not exactly a challenge. I am fighting for this privelege, not unlike neoliberals fight against their being taxed. For this insight, I want to thank RFAOH for giving me the space, forcing me the time, and challenging me enough in these last few months.

Without you, I am nothing.


PS: case in point: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/silvercar-luxury/361001/

PPS: I’m leaving with my second draft of the document I’m preparing for Sharjah Art Foundation (scroll down + down + down for more details on this)…

Leave a Comment (4)

milena wrote on May 2:

I will miss you too. All the best1

farid wrote on May 1:

Shinobu, glad you asked. Would the fact that it looks really different depending on whether you're on desktop or mobile device enough reason? 😝😜

shinobu wrote on Apr 29:

a lovely farewell, Farid, thank you, but you know we'll follow you (; (BTW why have you decided to use this goofy font for your last couple reports? You know, I'm just curious..)

Matt wrote on Apr 29:

Thank you for everything you brought to this project Farid; We'll miss you, Its been awesome having you involved!! Best of luck in Brazil!