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

13_1212 post 42

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.

Leave a Comment (2)

shinobu wrote on Dec 15:

omg, this long comment sounds like a grant writing

Matt wrote on Dec 13:

The funding dilemma.
Canada, comparatively, is pretty well funded, and within Canada, Quebec is even more funded. That being said I don't think any artist can actually live off grants alone; In addition, once the government wades into arts funding then your project becomes public domain for criticism and a lot of people can't see the value of taxes going to some crazy project with no stake in the economy - even though it does. I always champion the gentrification along Queen street in Toronto and the spike in property values as proof of art fundings worth. It's completely a consequence of the Canada Council giving grants to artists to make work or open small storefront galleries - 10 years later its all bars and Starbucks - unfortunately - and the artists have moved on to a new area where rents are still cheap. The downside I feel is that it can seem innately political in terms of what gets funded and what doesn't and in Quebec at least, there is a feeling of prioritizing an "official" culture which may or may not be as in the best interest of art in general. Plus nobody buys art, its kind of taken for granted.

I guess its not a dilemma, certainly funding is better than no funding - Canadian artists really can't complain when we compare other countries (but sometimes we still do)