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ULAH TANAH (Mischievous Earth) – A Solo Exhibition by Julian Abraham “Togar”

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Published by Sugar & Cream, Thursday 15 August 2019

Text and images courtesy of RUCI Art Space

August 16, 2019 – September 15, 2019

Curated by Arief Yudi Rahman and Grace Samboh“When Togar and I speak about the cup, we are simply sharing our excitement, fascination, and questions on what we do in our lives. Of course, many of these conversations happen in the first place because I am a curator and Togar is an artist. But, really, not everything we do need to be immediately is claimed as art or art projects.” – Grace Samboh, Curator.

Jatiwangi Cup – an annual bodybuilding competition, initiated in 2015 with Jatiwangi Art Factory and Museum Genteng Jatiwangi – first began during the time when Togar and Grace were living in Jatiwangi for a year. They wanted to experiment whether as art workers they could live and work in a different context to cultural centers in Indonesia such as Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

Now in its fifth edition with major national televisions covering the event every year, Togar states “The media spectacle that has been created by the Jatiwangi Cup has enabled communities living and working in the region regain confidence that their traditional industries are something to be proud of. This is an important goal of the project, as so many people in the region have been moving to major cities in search of new forms of work.

This takes us to one of JaF’s aims, as Director Arief Yudi Rahman says: “Usually, people need to go abroad in order to be able to appreciate what they have back home. Before we can afford to send everyone out, let’s borrow the eyes of these outsiders. Hopefully, by socializing with other citizens of the world, people in Jatiwangi appreciate the good side of their livelihood.” in an interview with NERO.

With this in mind, Togar, Arief, and Grace want to extend their practice by probing the notion that if this method (behind the Jatiwangi Cup) can be established and theorized as a form of artistic practice. In order to pursue such a notion, the three of them works with RUCI Art Space in experimenting whether this of the method can work elsewhere, out of its initiation, be it by geography as well as its social context.


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The aim of this approach is very much within Togar, Arief and Grace’s core artistic process, to experiment the trial and error of a method, where if there is a success, there are opportunities for new independent theories regarding these arrays of practices that are around us that does not necessarily have to be borrowed from the west or translated from a different language.

At the same time, a different form of the Jatiwangi Cup is currently being exhibited at the Auto Italia South East, in London, UK until 9th of September 2019. Titled Unorganised Response, the exhibition displays the very first calendar that was made out of the first Jatiwangi Cup 2015. The exhibition explores the ways in which artists mobilize critically and collectively to resist being reduced to their various identity markers, through a series of projects that explore advocacy and self-organization through personal and often celebratory experiences. The exhibition comes with a zine publication that documents the conversations amongst artists and arts practitioners regarding artistic production as a tool for influence by organizations engaged in international cultural relations and diplomacy. Bringing together artists, activists, and community organizers, this project asks how creative workers navigate local and international cultural infrastructures when commissioned to build connections, engender trust, and respond to complex geopolitical events.

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