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ARTJOG’s new curator offers fresher looks, concept

Tarko Sudiarno

The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta  /  Thu, August 15, 2019  /  02:37 pm
ARTJOG’s new curator offers fresher looks, concept

For the love of art: ARTJOG curator Agung “Jennong” Hujatnika poses with an art installation entitled 'Bubu Waktu' by Sunaryo in the background. (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

The new branding of ARTJOG as a festival – no longer as an art fair – was initiated by its new curator Agung “Jennong” Hujatnika to fit its true identity.

ARTJOG’s initiator and director Heri Pemad said the new brand came from Jennong, who considers that the term "festival" best describes what it is all about. “Since from the very start, ARTJOG was always rich in festivity,” Heri said.

Being a newcomer in the month-long festival, Jennong seems to have injected fresh air into the event, which was held for the first time in 2008 with no curator.

From 2009 to 2011 Aminudin T. H. Siregar served as its curator and he was replaced by Bambang “Toko” Witjaksono, who curated the event from 2012 to 2014. In 2015 Ignatia Nilu joined the event as Bambang’s assistant.

Together with Jennong, Bambang and Nilu are now the board of curators of this year’s event – officially named ARTJOG MMXIX – which is to be held at the Jogja National Museum (JNM), using “Arts In Common, Common | Space” as its central theme.

“In ARTJOG we are not organizing an art exhibition involving galleries but an art festival that grows organically to find its identity and runs independently without intervention like in a biennial,” said Jennong, who is also a lecturer at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

He said “Art in Common”, which is to be used as ARTJOG’s umbrella theme for the next three years, came from the spirit of togetherness, openness and mutual cooperation it has had since it was first set up.

Through “Art in Common, Common | Space”, he said the organizer wants all the relevant parties to respond to the world as a shared space, especially from the environmental point of view.

“Next year we may take "Common Time" as a subtheme or others, depending on what will be the public's interest globally,” Jennong said.

He expressed hope that ARTJOG would in the next three years become a collection of things that would unite diverse expressions and creativity of various individuals with different social, cultural and national backgrounds.

Curator Agung “Jennong” Hujatnika looks into Handiwirman Saputra’s work entitled 'Taman organik Oh Plastik' (Organic garden of plastic) on display at the month-long contemporary art festival ARTJOG, which runs until July 25 in Yogyakarta.

Curator Agung “Jennong” Hujatnika looks into Handiwirman Saputra’s work entitled 'Taman organik Oh Plastik' (Organic garden of plastic) on display at the month-long contemporary art festival ARTJOG, which runs until July 25 in Yogyakarta. (JP/Tarko Sudiarno)

With regard to the displayed artwork, Jennong said most of them could meet and respond well to the theme.

“Some maybe cannot be easily understood by visitors, but a longer look will make them eventually understand the message behind the artwork,” said Jennong, who had previously taken curator residencies in Japan, Australia and Vietnam.

Regarding the museum as the festival’s venue, Jennong said it was time for Yogyakarta, renowned as a city of culture, to have a more representative exhibition building to host big art events like ARTJOG.

He said the museum – a former campus of the Indonesian Fine Arts Academy (ASRI) Yogyakarta –was not that suitable to exhibit artworks as the rooms were separated from one another.

“With such rooms, the displayed artworks are not in unity with the whole theme,” said Jennong.

Born in West Java city of Tasikmalaya, the 43-year-old Jennong received his doctoral degree in art from ITB’s School of Arts and Design in 2012. Since 1997 he has been active as a curator, observer, lecturer, writer and researcher.

In his early career, he curated Jajang Supriyadi’s solo exhibition "Between Walls and Doors" at Barak Galery in Bandung, West Java and later was involved in various exhibitions and art events, including Heri Dono’s “Nobody’s Land”, Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2, Shanghai Biennale in 2012 and Passion/Possession at the Hong Kong Art Center. He also worked as curator at the Selasar Sunaryo Art Space in Bandung from 2001 to 2012.

In 2014, Jennong was nominated for the Independent Vision Curatorial Award by the Independent Curator International in New York, the US.

Through his curatorial works, he said, he wanted to take people through fine art education to respect the values of freedom of expression and tolerance.

“Fine art education is capable of giving insight into the dynamics of the people’s social life and culture,” said Jennong who grew up in Pekalongan, Central Java, and initially could not get his parents’ permission to study art.

“I was finally allowed to enroll after having a gap year upon finishing my senior high school,” he said, adding that his aunt was finally able to convince his parents that having a career in the field of arts could also be promising.

Through a learning arena like ARTJOG, Jennong wants to make people become more open minded in living in the global world – just like his nickname, Jennong, which in Sundanese means having a wide forehead or broad insight.

“With a broad insight we will be able to act wisely in life, to others and to everything else on Earth.” (ste)

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