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[...]
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 premanare 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.
My last Sunday in this space. I want to use this one to inform how, on paper, I’m living around great people in my house. I dedicate this post to them (I’m not putting their names here for privacy reasons, but just following the links, those who wants to know could easily look who’s whom here).
1. The “floor” manager of Komunitas Salihara, (this is not a real position, this is just the term we think explains her job description better) an art establishment focusing on literature, performing + visual arts.
3. A film festival producer, whose latest effort is being the Manager for Europe on Screen, opening next week.
4. An art administrator/reporter who is currently unemployed after recently quit her job in Jakarta Endowment for Arts & Heritage (JEFORAH) + grant-giving foundation Kelola. She’s looking for job in advertising next.
5. Just moved out: an activist working for Rutgers WPF, “a renowned centre of expertiseon sexual and reproductive health and rights”, as Program Manager.
See, on paper, these people are superb. But I’m not friends with them because of any of the above. Those are misleading representations on each of them. I never know or value them for those things, but more for things that are really difficult to put on paper.
Again, this is a post dedicated for them, but this dedication is done through not writing about the most important things about them. I’m trying not to reduce them to abstractions like what would the rest of the world know them as, like written above.
Another book I’m planning is on architecture of the publishing house Komunitas Bambu‘s new headquarters, designed by Yu Sing. It’s under construction, and might take another year (at least) to finish.
What interests me in this project is how the dialogue between client-architect, despite the toughness, can result in something entirely surprising for both parties. The fact that it’s a new twist on Betawi house (the original ethnic of Jakarta) doesn’t hurt.
This is an ambitious project, I just can hope to assist in the process by keeping up the steam ahead, so it can meet some (if not all) of its potentials.
This is the post supposedly announcing my Sao Paulo trip, as I picked up the visa earlier today. But, I guess it’s for better, as when I tried to take picture of the visa, it seemed to me that it’s not a wise thing to do, displaying something like that on the web for everyone to see. So, excuse my not fulfilling my intention. But, yes… I’m going.
Below is just some cinemagraph I’ve been taking after some time not posting them here…
PS: Shinobu, sorry to mess up the layout again… with the oversized image.
“Seeing the situation as low comedy is a way out of the bind. I would propose that the first practical step towards laughter is to un-art ourselves, avoid all aesthtetic roles, give up all references to being artists of any kind whatever. An un-artist is one who is engaged in changing jobs, in modernizing. It is quite possible to shift the whole un-artistic operation slyly away from where the art customarily congregate. To become, for instance an account executive, an ecologist, a stunt rider, a politician, a beach bum. In these different capacities, the several kinds of art discussed would operate indirectly as a stored code, which, instead of programming a specific course of behavior, would facilitate an attitude of deliberate playfulness towards all professionalizing activities well beyond art.”—Allan Kaprow, The Education of the Un-Artist, Part 1, in Art News, February 1971.
Above is another glimpse: (a quote I found begging to be inserted into RFAOH while I was reading materials for) ruangrupa (RURU) school. Today is the-monthly-meeting day at RURU, with people being really excited about Karbon (that’s next glimpse), + my first ever discussion about the plan of RURU opening up a pedagogical wing to celebrate its 15th anniversary next year (passed that date, + we’ll be the longest living cultural organization in the country, beating the communist LEKRA who were forcefully disbanded in 1965—their 15th year—by the New Order government) for which I am responsible for. At this early stage, all options are there still to follow, whether being formal/informal, targeting middle-schoolers/university students/graduates, as a separate entity/unified with RURU as it is right now, + most importantly interrogating the effect it can have to RURU as an insititution and collection of individuals. First preliminary presentation of proposal will be done late May, when there’s a big international group congregating here for the Arts Collaboratory meeting. Among them (hopefully) will be someone from Ashkal Alwan, whose Home Works program I found inspiring (I remember Christine Tohme stated that this educational program was a “curatorial act” instead of an educational one during her panel at Sharjah March Meeting). This can be huge, but it’s not only up to me. So we’ll see, shall we?
Another day, another glimpse. Below, is just the very first draft of a cover of a book I’m doing on the students’ works in my latest 2 studios. Nothing on this picture is final. Not the image, not the title, not the font, not even sure how I’m going to have it printed. Self-published is most likely, let me know if something come up on your mind this instant.
Another surprise: because of my Cipta Media grant support purpose, I browsed my girlfriend’s Facebook wall (I hope I get this right, since I never have been in Facebook ever, so please understand) + found this post by RFAOH which consists of this line:
RFAOH sadly bids farewell to Farid Rakun, our beloved (and most industrious) on-hiatus artist who will be terminating his residency at the end this month. He will start working for the São Paulo Biennial 2014, where his collective Ruangrupa has been invited to exhibit by Charles Esche — Huge congratulations!! Farid says he’ll give us a glimpse of what his post-RFAOH life will be like on his page – be sure to check it out!
Ha. I couldn’t make a better announcement myself. To be put that way, it just feels bigger than life. Yes, ruangrupa is invited to be in the Bienal this year. Yes, I’m going there in the end of this month to do preliminary research for this for two weeks. Yes, Charles Esche (the curator this year) is the one who invited us (consequently me) because we’ve been part of other biennales he curated. But to be put in a paragraph like that would never cross my mind. Below is my trial to write my own version (which supposed to be posted after I pick up my Brazil visa Friday or even Monday):
The end is here. I have to bid farewell to RFAOH which has been an omnipresent part of my life for the last 6 months. As the picture shows, I am going to Brazil, departing Tuesday, April 29th, for a research trip I’m doing for the artists’ collective (head host of Karbon) ruangrupa, as we are planning our project for the 31st São Paulo Bienal. Excited, of course. Super-nervous, absolutely, as personally I have never take part in any art biennale (not in a million years I would guess I would be anywhere near participating in them, if you ask me 5 years ago) + this virginity will be taken by one with the scale of São Paulo (second oldest biennal in the world, only to be topped by Venice) when I’m travelling alone. Inside, I’m a shipwreck. I’m going to miss this space.
Am I losing every surprise I need to tell you for the post-RFAOH life glimpses? You wish. Some more things are coming. You just need to wait + check back this space every day until (exactly) next week.
Oh + for anyone who wants to follow my useless twitter/Vine/Instagram (as I’m really selfish in my posts), my handle is @rakunteur for all.
Whattttt!!!!????? 150th post! I honestly didn’t see it coming up until I wrote the title above.
To celebrate, I think I have to be honest. I think my term in RFAOH has to come to an end soon. I can’t contain limiting myself anymore. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the post #200 (after a really simple math, I could only reach 200 if either I had not missed any post up until my 6th month in the residency: April, or if I made it into June like the original plan), it’s just impossible.
For the next 10 days or so (at least I still have the decency planning to finish this month), I’m going to give a glimpse on what’s my post-RFAOH life will look like. I don’t really know exactly how it will be myself, so glimpses are the only thing I can give. By then, I think my reason/excuse of ending RFAOH sooner than planned would become clear as well.
First glimpse: petajakarta.org
As written above, please visit petajakarta.org for more info, both in Bahasa Indonesia + English.
After that, I would be really grateful if you kindly visit our Cipta Media grant page–http://www.ciptamedia.org/269–in which you can support the project by sharing it through your Facebook + twitter with the facilities given on the top of the page. You can do this up until May 10, 2014.
If we got this grant, I would be swamped with work + no longer deserve the title to be on-hiatus. The jury will deliberate the shortlist not until June 20, but with this in the background, I still think the title “on-hiatus” is just too much for me to bear.
Questions from Shinobu (in the comment section on my last post) made me realize that I owe some explanations:
1. What I did (like the emebdded twitter timeline two posts previous) was capturing what’s been recorded of SAF’s March Meeting 2014 by following the official hashtag #MM2014, on the meeting dates, March 13-16, in both platforms, Instagram & twitter. Those made the material limitations of what I can use to make my contribution to SAF blog. What you saw was my first try on how to make all of it more digestible, readable if you will. It’s not successful in this sense yet, but after a Skype meeting with SAF, I had some idea & inputs on how to make it work.
2. Usually, my answer would be the latest, “Why should we care? What’s the difference? Like one favorite McLuhan quote of mine: if art is about doing the best we can, then Balinese don’t have art because according to them they always do the best they can in everything they do.” The irony on how I knew this worldview held by my fellow countrymen through a Canadian is something else to discuss in another time. But, for the sake of RFAOH, I’d like to entertain this question further, as I think this is a space where dwelling on this question can actually be productive. It is art or writing, in my opinion, depends on the context. The fact that this is originally made with the intention to just become one post in a (rather conservatively understood) blog, surrounded by other pieces easily understood as writing, makes my intention to make a piece of writing logical. It can easily considered to be an art when it’s put next to a sculpture in a white box gallery, presented as a flippable iPad presentation, of course, but even a book which is agreed upon as a writer’s creation, would fall into this fate under such treatment. The questions raised here would be for RFAOH itself then, what actually we mean by the term art then? What’s the container we’re talking about here? Why aren’t zen meditation, gardening, & posting senseless craps each day inside this container? A (rather ancient) Balinese would consider all those things as not different than art (if you met her in the seventies, it’s certainly not the case any longer). This is taking an interesting turn, no?