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_0318 post 121

All flight. That’s why I missed yesterday’s post.

Report on March Meeting 2014 is brewing on the backburner.

And for Matt: another Chris Hedges’ piece I just read in Truthdig. On academia, refer to the very last sentences. I assume you’ve read this.

Leave a Comment (3)

Matt wrote on Mar 23:

I’m not too familiar with Peter Schjeidal though ironically there was just an interview with on him in yesterday’s Globe and Mail. I agree D H can is a bit of a crank, but I enjoy his prose, and I think basically his critique; that nothing too mind blowing artistically can happen within the rigid and conservative politics of an institutional bubble is on point. (Whether it’s a mistake to assume that’s their role or not is another thing) It true though, he is very American in his market centred perspective. In Canada, since we share this long border with the US and are perpetually under this tsunami of US media, and pop culture we tend to vehemently (embarrassingly) define ourselves against that at the same time as we happily consume it - its a little schizophrenic/pathetic. We are also comparatively demographically minuscule, there is not the same support form the business sector or even a comparable market – we are a small pond. Consequently we have always favoured a robust social safety net relative to our behemouth neighbours to the south – health care, government support for arts and culture etc. In Quebec that is amplified even more as the provincial government steps in to prop up a distinctly francophone culture. Thus artist’s are perhaps freer to pursue work with no or little regard for the market. The downside of all this – whether its arts funding or healthcare – is it always seems to be on the verge of collapsing under its own bureaucratic weight. We’ve encountered this in our attempts to get funding for this project - the reaction of individuals with in the system has generally been positive but nobody knows which box to put us in or where this type of practice fits within the inherently conservative institutional framework of granting agencies. Institutions are cruise ships (or perhaps battle ships) with specific vectors and that do not (can not) turn on a dime.

I just finished reading Grant H Kester’s book, "The One and the Many" which I really enjoyed. He discusses some fascinating examples of how artists are inserting themselves into and redirecting institutional structures to positive ends; working with communities to empower them against dominant capitalist or market interests in really fascinating and unorthodox ways -- it's brilliant! You should check it out.

farid wrote on Mar 22:

I put Dave Hickey in the same category with Peter Schjeldal as speakers: bitter old men. I am changing the question a lil bit for myself right now (as I wrote in another post, so sorry for repeating myself): is the role for institutions to create better artists, better (art) works, or better discourse? The context he attacked (with NEA + its relation with museum + power, for example) is really different with the reality I am seeing (SE Asia, or the gulf context) where museum and/or commercial gallery structure is not that strong to start with. As the relation with power is different, different mapping of strategies (building institutions, the media for criticism, + educational entities) is very different. It's not Nixon who said, “Let's build this structure to control these uncontrollable hippies.” It's the underground themselves who has tried to formalize themselves with different levels of formalizations. I'm a lil bit curious, how is it in Canada? I know from my Canadian friends that state support is bigger than in the US, but back to institutionalization, what's the role this process plays in your context?

Matt wrote on Mar 20:

I hadn't but thanks. These questions around the role of the institution are even more interesting with regard to arts faculties. Would better funded and/or otherwise independent arts faculties create better artists? Dave Hickey seems to think not. http://bit.ly/1kN6vjy -- at the same time, is some form of instituion not enivitable? Glad UAE was a valuable experience for you. Thats awesome!