“‘Dobrak!’ is a continuation from an earlier exhibition [where we] presented a collaboration between artists and researchers. This time, we wanted to build on that idea and to continue to push artists and researchers out of [their] comfort zones,” explained Adeline Ooi, one of the curators of “Dobrak!,” which runs until Tuesday at Cemeti Art House in Yogyakarta.
Mella Jaarsma, co-founder of Cemeti Art House in 1988, and co-curator of the exhibition continued, “[In the previous exhibition] we let the artists choose a paper from historians related to a certain subject and then do their own research along the theme and subject of the historian; this gave the artists a whole new perspective and different angles,”
“Dobrak!,” which is derived from the Dutch to mean “break through,” involves a different style of collaboration between artist and researcher. The former can choose who they want to collaborate with or let the curators choose for them.
Artists Leonardiansyah Allenda and Restu Ratnaningtyas were set up with anthropologists Pujo Samedi Hargo, a dean of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences at Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Leilani “Lani” Hermiasih professor of anthropology at the same university, respectively. Pujo’s work on wild boar hunting provided the inspiration to pair him with Leo.
The curators knew of Lani and her research on batik design and brought her together with Restu.
The two pairs did not know each other before starting out on the exhibition.
There are many kinds of collaborative practices in this exhibition in which artists and researchers followed their own methods.
Leo’s interaction with Pujo was limited: “I sent emails back and forth [to] his assistant to clarify some points, based on my observations of his paper about boar hunting in Pekalongan,” he said.
He adopted the research methods of an anthropologist when he went to the villages.
The result of Leo’s work is a multi-part installation involving digital images in a slideshow, a sound installation narrating elements of the outcomes of his research and a projection onto one of Cemeti’s walls.
Restu, on the other hand, said it wasn’t the collaboration that changed her perspective, but the research itself. Her work involves an animated drawing on batik cloth; two bodies merge from and into one another.
Lani’s music, which lies between the traditional and contemporary, is played through two sets of headphones.
This collaborative work, involving the practices of music-making, textiles, drawing and animation, was developed through short meetings and quick lunches in between their other commitments.
Of the difference between research and making art, Lani said “after several discussions with Restu, I realized that an artwork does not have to be too articulate in describing a situation. In fact, it shouldn’t — [in order] to give room for the viewers to interpret the situation themselves.”
At “Dobrak!,” visitors are greeted by a spinning sculpture and video installation of bright and kitsch plastic toys. The spinning sculpture is filmed with CCTV cameras and projected on two large screens in the foyer. The kitsch and plastic artefacts contrast with the noble and theological origins of the artwork’s conception.
Aryo Danusiri, a video artist and anthropologist, and his collaborator Iswanto Hartono, an artist and architect, state how the work relates to the story of the “Seven Sleepers” in which a group of young men are forced to leave a city along with their loyal animals. The work is an “imaginative exploration of the relationship between the master and his follower an emphasis on loyalty and obedience” and how religion relates to spectacle.
Julia Sarisetiati and Budi Mulia’s work, “Sharing Strategies of Uncertainty,” is perhaps the most engaging work as it hinges most clearly on the borderline of being art and anthropological research. Sarisetiati and Mulia investigate the ways in which a group of gamblers come to make their decisions about choosing numbers in order to win themselves a fortune.
A mathematical table that has been deduced from the conversations is drawn on one of Cemeti’s walls.
The more engaging aspect of their work, however, is a documentary video that shows the gamblers in conversation — explaining to one another how they come to their conclusions.
The video zooms in the idiosyncratic speech styles, gestures and body language of the gamblers.
It is engaging as an esthetic and research product. Regrettably, there are no subtitles — the language used is far from standard Indonesian and much is muttered quickly under the breath.
There is much variation in the mediums used and the results created. The exhibition shows the artistic and esthetic results of the collaborations. What remains to be fully explored is a critical inquiry into the practices each artist and researcher pairing used to produce their work. Dobrak!
Cemeti Art HouseJl. D.I. Panjaitan 41, YogyakartaUntil Aug. 20The exhibition is supported by The Asia Foundation and Hivos Detail of an untitled multi-part installation by Leonardiansyah Allenda, left, and ‘Coal and a Microphone’ by Ade Darmawan and Nuraini Juliastuti part of an exhibition called ‘Dobrak!’ at Cemeti Art House, Yogyakarta. JG Photos/Andy Fuller