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 previously heard from Jakarta 32° Coordinator Andang Kelana, and today shares an interview with Alison Purnell, Counsellor (Advocacy and Outreach) at the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

What role does the Australian Embassy play in organising ModCon?

The Australian Embassy is committed to forging closer ties and understanding between Indonesians and Australians through arts, culture and technology. There is a range of public engagement and creative collaboration already underway between our two countries, and we want to build on that. Therefore, together with ruangrupa and Jakarta 32ºC, the Australian Embassy established the ModCon digital arts competition, which encourages participation from young Australians and Indonesians. We will also work together to facilitate exhibitions, art work collaboration, networking and capacity building opportunities for young people in both countries.

What are the main benefits of collaboration between the Australian Embassy and ruangrupa?

The Embassy partnered with ruangrupa due to our similar interests in helping build the creative sectors in both countries. Certainly, ruangrupa has established an extensive network and built a strong reputation in Indonesia.

In Australia, ruangrupa has been involved in many projects including the Ilmu Festival Performance 2010, the 7th Asia Pacific Triennale 2012, Artlab collaboration with 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney in 2013, the Darwin Festival in 2014 and the WANITA program.

How does ModCon benefit the creative economy of Australia and Indonesia?

According to Central Bureau of Statistics Indonesia (BPS), Indonesia’s creative economy represents 7% of Gross Domestic Product. It’s a similar figure in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – at around 6.9% of Australia’s GDP.

ModCon provides a platform for students and emerging artists to showcase their talents and gain valuable experience. The winners’ program will include professional development sessions that will help these young artists understand how they can commercialise their art, and therefore contribute to the broader creative economies of both countries.

What are some ways Australian and Indonesian youth can engage with and benefit from the creative economy?

As a starting point, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta runs a number of programs, including ModCon, Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program (ACDGP), Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships (AAS) which offer professional development opportunities. For example, we’ve recently announced new short courses in International Business Readiness (Jewellery Design, Fashion and Textile, etc), Museum Management, and Taking Business to the Next Level for entrepreneurs and innovators of technology-enabled start-ups.

ACICIS has also established a Creative Arts and Design Professional Practicum (CADPP), which exposes Australian students to contemporary Indonesian arts and cultural production. Students and emerging artist may also be interested in participating in the New Colombo Plan (NCP).

Is the Australian Embassy involved in any other cultural/creative endeavours?

The Australian Embassy is involved in a number of cultural and creative endeavours in film, fashion, food, performing arts, jewellery and much more.

Recently, we supported a co-production between Ballet.Id and Western Australia Ballet (WAB) called Once. The tour incorporated a number of professional development programs which involved Australians sharing their expertise with Indonesian theatre technicians.

In the past few months we also launched an e-learning game, Next Door Land, which is a fun way to learn about Australian and Indonesian history, music, sports, architecture, culture and mythology. AIYA was involved in this project, which allows players to take a virtual adventure in either Australia or Indonesia. The game has been a big success and was made possible by the Embassy’s partnerships with the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture, Asia Education Foundation and AIYA.

For a full rundown of ModCon, head over to the website. The ModCon submission deadline is 30 August. Voting is from 15 September to 15 October.