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_0420 post 149
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?
Below is the first draft of what I’m doing for SAF (look at previous posts for more info on why). By mining twitter + Instagram for materials to form my piece of writing (+ testing my discipline only to “touch” them as minimum as I can), I’m attacking two questions I’ve had in my mind for awhile:
1) Can ubiquitous mobile gadgets (I’m talking actually only about phones + tablets) be utilized to their fullest extent to become productive tools, instead of only consumptive ones? I use the term productive here in a more broad, intellectual sense, not only economical—in a sense as tools for knowledge production, to use the popular term, which I am always hesitant to do these days. Thinking like big-data owners, there are certain form of data can only be gathered by these gadgets. They are giving birth to a certain new aesthetic that we can reflect on what reality we are experiencing today. These tools are totally ideological. They are (at least trying their best to be) transparent on everything but themselves.
2) Is there any value on making certain research process transparent to anyone who’s willing to see? Will it foster happy accidents + discussions, replacing the burden of individual authorship with commons, and in the end let a new form to emerge organically (in this sense, I’m arguing for my consideration of what I’m presenting here right now as an unedited piece of writing)? Isn’t then social media channels are the best to do so? Wouldn’t then we’d be asking different questions on privacy, unlike what we’re struggling with today? Can it be that we’ve been sharing the wrong stuffs (personal data) + hiding the important ones (ideas) for so long?
Again, these are questions I find difficult to answer, therefore worthwhile to dwell on. Some of you might find them ridiculous, but I hope you still can enjoy this work in progress.
Testing using twitter search to data-mine with certainities. This is for my contribution for Sharjah Art Foundation’s March Meeting 2014 which I went last month + where Batool works. How is she, BTW I’m wondering? She’s done with this residency, so is she back being productive… No more “on hiatus”? What’s post-hiatus life like?
Went to see a writer friend who is building a complex to house his publishing company, house, + residences. He’s having a little problem on how this project are unfolding. After seeing the drawings + ongoing construction, I advised him to stick on his plan + these pains he’s going through (budget + time, what else?) are worth the idea. It’s (going to be) amazing.
Oh, + I think I might use this columns to do a little experimentation on ‘blog’ format. More of it coming soon.
By that, I realized something, that the Internet is not unlike art in my world. They’re not ideal environments, but through them I understand stuffs so much better. I still don’t know why I’m so smily today.
One thing that could prove to be an interest of RFAOH in my life lately: the notion of “doing something” with your life.
Being an ambitious (although lazy) person, I’ve struggled with this all of my adult life. Adoration, acknowledgement, fame + fortune, are excess, I found out a little while back. What’s important is the interior feeling of actually “doing something” worthwhile in my life. Lately, I’ve been questioning this notion even further.
Last night my girl had a breakdown. She didn’t feel like she has accomplished what she wanted to do in life. This is an irony, since like what I always tell her, her greatest quality that made me fell for her in the first place is that she didn’t give a damn about these worldly stuffs. She’s somewhat pure in my world, + I adore her for that quality. As long as she can support herself, + do what she wants to do (she’s a maker + shaker), she’ll continue feeling awesome. Those two things—life support + life itself—can be mutually exclusive. Diving deeper to this, we found out that no matter how ridiculous this stress was, she still could feel it’s there. It’s a by-product of looking at + buying the things people say on their Facebook status. A lot of them are boasts, telling the world that s/he just got this/that grants for this/that how much dollars to do this/that (better be solo) exhibition that is taking place in this/that gallery located in this/that cultural capital of the world. I told her she’s better than that. I thought she was beyond that. And she was, up until she started meeting these boasters either in person or online (I told her to go to some architects’ public events since I couldn’t be there myself, + the first reason I stopped hanging out with architects is because they are the worst in this kind of ego-boosting, therefore ego-crushing, games).
In a quite recent heated argument I had with my 1-year younger brother (who lives in the States with his family), he finished his arguments with the sentence, “being middle class, productive, and working are not something to be ashamed of.” My answer to that was those were the exact things to be critical about. Those notions are ideological constructions. The exact opposite of those are poor, parasitic, and unemployed, a.k.a. the groups society gives its consent to get rid of. Those are the reasons behind our prisons, hospitals, zoos, and mental wards. It’s a blatant violence, + we should look at a closer look of the notion of unproductivity as a political stance, but I must add—without falling to The Situationists’ trap.
Staying at home working. Planning for this year’s Rookie Competition for Asian architecture students (its super-weird website can be accessed here), as UI is the Indonesian partner of the competition. I don’t know why I’m doing this for the department or the students. Maybe out of love? I don’t think so.
Election day! I feel like this is the first time I got excited about election. Today is for the representatives, while presidential one will be held in July. For better or worse (it’s clear now that this nation is still under the shadow of the New Order), it’s democracy. It’s supposed to be a mess.