ModCon 2016: Q&A with Andang Kelana
ModCon (short for Modern Conference) is a competition in which students and emerging artists from Australia and Indonesia submit their original digital artworks. The ten shortlisted artworks will be featured on the Australian Embassy’s Instagram account (@KedubesAustralia) for public voting. Winners will win a trip to Indonesia or Australia to meet professional digital artists, participate in workshops and have their artwork exhibited in galleries.
ModCon is a collaborative project between Jakarta 32ºC (a forum and biannual student arts festival initiated by arts collective ruangrupa in 2004) and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. AIYA caught up with Jakarta 32ºC Coordinator Andang Kelana to find out more about this innovative new comp.
Tell us about ruangrupa and Jakarta 32ºC.
ruangrupa was initiated by six artists in Jakarta in 2000. It focuses on contemporary art discourse, staging exhibitions, workshops, seminars, festivals, collaborative programs, and many others including an art merchandise store and online radio. Komplotan Jakarta 32ºC (komplotan meaning ‘gang’ or ‘group’ in Indonesian) is one of its divisions. It acts as a platform for networking and empowerment of college students (young artists 19-35 year old) through visual art, and consists of two mains programs: the Forum (discussions, workshops, talks, network building, etc) and the biannual Festival, which was started in 2004.
How did the relationship between the Australian Embassy and Jakarta 32ºC begin?
The relationship began with the ModCon idea from the Australian Embassy a few months ago to collaborate with ruangrupa. As ruangrupa has Jakarta 32ºC which focuses on networking and building platforms, especially arts platforms for university students and young artists, this focus correlates with the idea of ModCon itself. Also it’s the same time as the Jakarta 32ºC biennale this year. So for this instalment of the Jakarta 32ºC Festival we have a Supporting Program from the Australian Embassy (ModCon). Two years ago we had a program from Willem de Kooning University students in the Netherlands.
Has ruangrupa/Jakarta 32ºC collaborated with Australian artists/Australian arts organizations before?
ruangrupa artists were involved in the 7th Asia Pacific Triennale at the Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art (Qagoma) in 2012. Our artwork for this project was acquired by Qagoma. In 2013, ArtLab (one division of ruangrupa) had a collaborative project with Australian artist Keg de Souza and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney called Vertical Villages. In the same year, ruangrupa was invited to the Asia-Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art in Brisbane as group artists. In 2014 we were invited to the Darwin Festival to make a project called Temporary Territory, a public art installation in bus shelters across the streets in Darwin. This year at Sonsbeek ’16 in Arnhem, the Netherlands, ruangrupa curated the quadriennale events there and invited Fintan Magee (Sydney) and Richard Bell (Brisbane) to exhibit their works.
We also often work with some musicians/bands from Australia. For example, Empat Lima from Melbourne [read a Q&A AIYA did with band member Sooji Kim here]. We made a project together comprising a workshop, a ladies night market and live performance. It was part of WANITA (Women’s Art Network Indonesia-Australia), which was supported by DFAT. But for Jakarta 32ºC, this is the first time we have a project with the Australian Embassy here in Jakarta.
What do you think ModCon can bring to the relationship between our countries? Why do you think ModCon is important to strengthen the relationship?
I think both countries have a common misconception of the other. We already have media full of information, but we have a lack of understanding and many biases. But mostly, it’s also because of the lack of activism (in my opinion activism in art and culture especially). Many of us know about the education exchanges, but it’s a formal method and when it’s finished it’s just done, there’s no more which we can talk about later. It’s just different if we work on art and culture, in collaborative ways and continuing programs. Not just one-at-a-time project. I am happy for this ModCon project. I believe it is one way to build a strong relationship between two countries through art and culture, and most importantly the young artists, the soon-to-be artists, and university students who have the will to make a change for the better. Students who are still fresh, still ‘naughty’. This is also why Jakarta 32ºC started in 2004.
What is your greatest hope for ModCon, and the potential connections that could be made between Indonesian and Australian artists?
I hope it will continue and that it will grow, not just as an event-based program but also in terms of activism in both regions, especially for university students and young artists who have capabilities beyond our imagination.
Entries for ModCon are open until 30 August. Voting on the Australian Embassy’s Instagram account (@kedubesaustralia) is open from 15 September-15 October. Shortlisted artworks will be exhibited from 8-22 October at Jakarta 32°C Festival at Gudang Sarinah, Pancoran, South Jakarta. For full information, head here.