The Jakarta Post
Heri Pemad (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)
When ArtJog, the boutique fair began some 11 years ago, it was introduced as an art fair from artists for artists — it was a new form that excluded gallery participation. Little did its founder know that it would serve as a model for the future.
Apparently the future has arrived. Amid the struggles of conventional art fair models, Art Basel Hong Kong becoming too crowded to evoke enjoyment, Art Stage Singapore crumbling while Art Stage Indonesia remains in limbo, ARTJOG is blooming and consolidating its position as the “Model of Now”.
In an interview in the backyard of the exhibition venue at the Jogja National Museum, Heri Pemad, ARTJOG founder and CEO, explained the key to success.
“From its very inception, ARTJOG has been about inclusion, togetherness, collaboration,” he insists. “Its about dreaming together, working together toward a mission to make a quality performance, its about passion, its about a happening, an arts movement.”
Heri thinks about ARTJOG as an artwork that is realized taking the above elements as a basis.
“Its never a one-sided decision,” he emphasized. “At all stages in this endeavor we discuss together, deliberate and find consensus.”
From an observer’s point of view, there is no doubt how ARTJOG has fared, notwithstanding financial crisis and other obstacles. From year to year, the fair takes a next step of excellence; to reach its 11th iteration is a moment to cherish.
Many emerging artists participating in ARTJOG have been able to step up their quality, even reached their peak, like Mulyana whose commissioned work Sea Remembers is taking him to an elevated level of artistic achievement.
“ARTJOG is an artwork shaped by us all in the spirit of inclusive togetherness,” says Heri, emphasizing it’s not about him, yet not denying he is the driving force.
Of course, as he says, ARTJOG is not about commercial gain. “We even suffer losses, every year,” Heri says.
“Every time its only about three months before the actual date that some light shines in the tunnel,” he says.
He added that it should not be like this. “If finances were fine at the beginning we could have achieved better quality of presentation, both in the physical presentation as well as the art presentation,” Heri says.
So how does ARTJOG manage to make it every year?
“We [ARTJOG team] work hard, in fields beyond the fair, and our friends in the Yogya community chip in: businesses, suppliers, construction firms, restaurants, hotels and personal friends. This is Yogya, and I don’t think it could happen elsewhere the way it does here.
Focusing on the art and the artists, ARTJOG is proceeding on its path of excellence.
The next step will be Art Bali.
When he was asked to create an art fair to be held during the World Bank/International Monetary Fund international conference, Heri obliged and as had in fact already made preparations for Art Bali in the spirit of ARTJOG.
“In fact I have been playing with the idea of an art fair in Bali, and have for the past two years been occupied connecting to my Balinese friends in the arts, even traced the possibilities of finding a place where to hold the fair,” he revealed.
Given the absence of a proper place for an exhibition of this kind, a special place will be built by the sea, on the rocks of Peninsula Island, at the Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) area.
“I have made a design, but it’s up to the architect what to make of it,” Heri says.
He was referring to architecture firm Laboratory for Architecture and Gestural Objects (LARGO) with leading architects Stephanie Larassati, who received her master’s degree in architecture from the University of Technology in Berlin, and Gosha Mohammad, who completed his master’s in architecture and performative design from the Staedelschule Architecture Class in Germany.
Possible participants in this prestigious exhibition in Bali include Indonesian artists Yani Mariani Sastranegara, Melati Suryodarmo, Handiwirman, Theresia Agustina sitompul, Agus Suwage, Heri Dono, Masriadi, Mahendra Yasa, I Made Wiguna Valasara, Damian Hirst, Jeff Koons, the internationally renowned Japanese TeamLab, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Justiniani, and many more.
In total, Heri said there will be about 40-45 participants, but selection is still ongoing.
The exhibition will be curated by Rifky Effendi, a seasoned curator who co-curated the Indonesia Pavilion for the Venice Biennale; and Ignatia Nilu, ARTJOG’s current co-curator.
Again, Heri insists, the project will be owned by Bali. “I have told I Made Aswino Aji, [Balinese counterpart], this is your project, though it was my idea and the ARTJOG team will be all out to make it happen.”
It sounds like a unique, though challenging event. Lets wait and see how it all works out.