Earlier this year, visual artist Kin Chui spent a month in Yogyakarta, Indonesia as part of Objectifs’ reciprocal artist residency programme with Cemeti Art House.
Objectifs spoke with Kin about his research on political figures and movements during Indonesia’s decolonisation period and his learnings about organisational forms and relationships with the community in Jogja’s arts scene, at a time when his own host organisation was in a period of change.
What led you to apply for the reciprocal Objectifs Artist Residency with Cemeti Art House?
There were varying reasons for my application, but a couple of them were my wanting to learn more about the forms of self-organisation, how collectivity has contributed to a more dynamic landscape in the arts in Jogja (Yogyakarta).
But I am also of the belief that there needs to be stronger relationships between arts workers and practitioners in the region, so being able to spend time in Jogja, getting to know individuals in a different context was rather beneficial. One can read about it, one can encounter it in a short trip, but an extended period of time is always needed to learn and understand in detail.
What were the highlights of your month-long residency in Yogyakarta?
My research on Tan Malaka was rather eventful, since it started with a visit to an individual who was incarcerated, but also being able to speak with members of Lekra and individuals who were sharing their knowledge and experiences on the non-aligned movement and the role that art had during that period of decolonisation was rather momentous.
Your work Performing Coloniality (2014) was exhibited at Cemeti together with Mardijker Photo Studio (2014) by Agan Harahap, who was Objectifs’ resident artist earlier this year. How was the exhibition, and how was your work received in this space?
I understand the exhibition Unsettling Time was also accompanied by a discussion series on postcolonialism. Could you share more about how this was conceptualised, and your involvement in the process?
The exhibition went well; we got feedback that the curation and juxtaposition of the two works was largely appreciated and enjoyable. But it was the discussion series around the post-colonial that was particularly insightful for myself. To be able to hear and be in dialogue with individuals who largely write in Bahasa Indonesia and learn of the discourses that are of importance in Jogja, was an access I appreciated thoroughly.
The discussion series mostly came from the interests and knowledge of the staff at Cemeti. We had sat together one afternoon to discuss the possible points and tangents the discussions could take and their contributions to and around the exhibition, but also what was necessary to reflect upon within the arts in Jogja itself. There was of course a limitation to my contribution, not being all too familiar with the discourses within Jogja, but Cemeti as a whole is a very attentive space, allowing me entry points to re-contextualising my interests within the frame of Jogja.
What are some of your takeaways or learnings about? How has the residency has impacted your ideas about art and society, especially at a time when the organisation is turning 30 and has rebranded itself from Cemeti Art House to Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society?
Notions of sharing, care and attentiveness also in relation to spaces and institutions. The notion of home is something quite prevalent within artistic spaces in Jogja, since so many of them are within residential neighbourhoods. But how this in itself also contributes to the organisation of spaces, people and the relationships with one another and the immediate and extended communities they belong to.
Was there anything that you wish could have been accomplished during the residency that you didn’t manage to?
Stronger relationships, but that is partially due to my own mismanagement of time and the lack of it, a month isn’t too long a period. And connections always require time.
Any advice for artists interested in applying for residencies?
Don’t go for a residency with work that still needs attending to.
Read a recap of artist-in-residence Agan Harahap’s sharing session at Objectifs here.
Applications are currently open to Australian artists working in photography and / or film for the Asialink Global Collaborator Exchange, for which Objectifs is a host. Apply here by 22 Oct 2017.