“Building awareness on archiving takes time,” Putu Sutawijaya answered when being asked to respond in a discussion held by the Indonesia Visual Art Archive (IVAA) last 17 February 2012 at IVAA House, Yogyakarta. The discussion was a part of a series of Souvenirs from Book Tour IVAA Data Catalogue Series 2011 events, consisting of Book Presentation, Book Tour IVAA 2011-2012 Results, Online Archive Preview, and “Artists’ View on Archive”.
Since September 2011 to January 2012 IVAA did a series of Book Tour as a part of Data Catalogue Series (Seri Katalog Data/SKD) IVAA 2011 launching events starting from Surabaya in the C2O Library. In the launching of the first book volume titled “Rupa Tubuh: Wacana Gender dalam Seni Rupa Indonesia (1942-2011)” IVAA invited the academics of Surabaya to discuss about the book. A month later, the second volume titled “Reka Alam: Praktik Seni Visual dan Isu Lingkungan di Indonesia (Dari Mooi Indie Hingga Reformasi)” was launched in Bali by inviting environmental activists as discussants. And then early January 2012, the third volume titled “Kolektif Kreatif: Dinamika Seni Rupa dalam Perkembangan Kerja Bersama Gagasan dan Ekonomi (1937-2011)” was launched in Padang Panjang and invited students and lecturers in the discussion.
The fourth volume titled “Interkultur: Pengolahan Gagasan dan Ekspresi Seni Visual serta Media Alternatif dalam Konteks Keberagaman (Identitas) (1935-2011)” was launched on 20 January 2012 along with an archive exhibition titled COPAS! at ruangrupa, Jakarta. In conjunction to it a series of Book Discussions for the four book volumes were held in various places in Jakarta and invited several experts as discussants.
Farah Wardani, IVAA Executive Director opened the afternoon discussion with brief description on their activities as part of the SKD IVAA 2011 book launches and the results of the book discussions that had been held. She also explained the reason for inviting discussants not from the visual art scenes was to gain inputs and to educate the society that visual arts aren’t only about fine art, it’s not exclusive, it also includes a wider areas of life. On the other hand it’s also to introduce IVAA to a wider audience as up to know not many people know what IVAA has been doing.
Yoshi Fajar Kresno Murti, Program Research and Development staff from IVAA, added that by inviting people from various background to be involved in the launching of SKD IVAA 2011 books they gained different perspectives in perceiving an issue. Yoshi gave an example on environmental issues included in the second volume of SKD IVAA 2011. The environmental issue is not always about what happened to the environment, but the environment itself could be seen as a perspective, the environment changes from time to time. From it we could see the repetition and addition on environmental issue.
That afternoon IVAA also invited two artists from Yogyakarta to respond on the book SKD IVAA 2011; Putu Sutawijaya who’s also the owner of Sangkring Art Space and Wimo Ambala Bayang, the director of Ruang Mes 56. Putu Sutawijaya had the first chance to tell about the efforts being done in Sangkring in regard to archiving. Little by little they tried to collect archives in relation to Putu’s activities, Sangkring and visual art. But unexpected problems always arise. Within two years, Sangkring was burglarized twice and each time the external hard disk drive used to keep the archives were also stolen. This experience made them appreciate the importance of an archive and realizing that archives are expensive.
Putu continued on how SKD IVAA 2011 is amazing and he himself as an artist is glad with what IVAA is doing. With an institution like IVAA, people could gain more understanding about visual art. And for artists, these archives are very useful because their existence can help in tracking or knowing where their artworks are going to. On the other hand, artists can learn to be responsible on what they had created.
Wimo had the next chance to say how glad he is with SKD IVAA 2011 because of its good design, affordable price and the package is good. He thought the book design is good because he could easily read the text inside, unlike most art books, which according to Wimo have tiny fonts that makes it difficult for him to read, especially if it’s a lengthy text.
On archiving work, Wimo said it is not an easy thing. For example Wimo describe the problem they always have to deal with in Ruang Mes 56. As an art photography collective, they always keep their photo art works. But there are no further information on the artworks. That is why IVAA is considered to have a crucial role. What IVAA has done is hardwork because it isn’t easy to give context to so many visual art events happening especially in Yogyakarta.
Farah expressed that during the book discussion in Jakarta, the discussion was not about archiving as it is expected. This perhaps because they only had just reached the stage of being informed and was shocked upon finding out that there’s an institution doing archiving like IVAA. The discussion was more to how visual arts and it’s relation to political issues or public issues. Whereas the SKD IVAA 2011 according to Farah is more about history and is a medium in bridging Indonesian visual art issues. The book was also meant to capture phenomenon to gain new strategies in documentation.
Yustoni Volunteero, one of the co-founders and the first president of Lembaga Kebudayaan Kerakyatan Taring Padi, when asked for his opinion, stated that he’s yet to be satisfied with SKD IVAA 2011 and a more intense study is needed. According to Toni, IVAA also needs to keep data on modern or contemporary art phenomenon in the context of locality and also not always about what happened outside Java. The locality context is needed because outside Java the contemporary dynamics are going according to their own paradigms. Toni also criticized that in the books IVAA does not see the phenomenon like what happened in performance art in the post 1998 era, whether by the community or by individual sporadically.
Toni then said he appreciates what IVAA has done because IVAA can give a context on what is going on in Indonesian visual art. Toni said the awareness for documentation in Taring Padi came a few years a go. The documentation in Taring Padi is really bad. For one event alone they need a year to compile the documentation, and even then it’s incomplete, moreover to phase of giving context.
Responding to what Toni had said, Farah stated that IVAA has difficulties in completing data. Even for Java alone, it is difficult to complete the data. Currently they’re trying to convince Galeri Nasional in terms of the annual Nusantara Exhibition involving artists from all over Indonesia. Also they tried to connect with the Taman Budaya in other areas because it is one of the most important cultural center in the said area. In this occation Farah also requested help to anyone to help IVAA by giving information or link to an art activity or a visual art institute they know.
And then in responding to Satya Brahmantya regarding the opinion of several artists who felt they’re not regarded as contextual because their works aren’t included in the SKD IVAA 2011. Farah responded that the book makes people to expect more. Farah explained what she meant with context in this case by giving example on the gender discourse. Each year to commemorate Kartini Day for example, many organized visual art exhibitions with women as the theme. But not all of the artworks on women has a gender perspective. In this case the artwork is not the context. With the books, IVAA means to uncover the practice of visual art through cultural studies, so what’s included in it aren’t the best or contextual artworks, but artworks considered to represent an idea.
Farah admitted there are details not included because they are missed and or because they have no data on it. It was also because in working on the book they became too absorbed in cultural studies and ended up focusing on statement and became conceptual.
The last session in the discussion was closed by the question from Terra Bajraghosa, an artist and lecturer in FSR ISI Yogyakarta. Responding to Satya Brahmantya previous statement that expresses his astonishment that this kind of books are produced by IVAA instead of ISI, Terra said it’s like a slap in the face for the Sewon Campus, another name for ISI Yogyakarta. There are a lot of desire to produce the book, but lecturers have so many activities. Aside of lecturing, it is compulsory for them to create a private archives on artworks and essays. Also because of campus bureaucracy and the lack of synergy between the Community Service Institution and ISI Yogyakarta Gallery.
To close the afternoon event, Pitra Ayu, Archiving and Documentation System staff from IVAA, introduced the site @rsip IVAA, a new version of IVAA online archive that will be officially launched in April. The site @rsip IVAA has been prepared by IVAA for two years in an internal process. With this new site IVAA invites artists to actively uploaded their private archives and documentations and to help completing the existing information data. So, different with the current IVAA online archive site, which later would still be available, where the content is up to the activities of IVAA staffs and visual art scenes activities, the new site will depend on the activities of art activists and artists. The new site has simple navigation but with highly efficient query matrix so easily we could gain the data of an artwork complete with the list of events where the artworks had been displayed along with the curatorial essay and other supplementing media.
@rsip IVAA site address is http://oa.ivaa-online.org/.