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Interview with Bambang 'Toko' Witjaksono

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Interview with Bambang 'Toko' Witjaksono
Image courtesy of ART|JOG 2015

The Artling interviews ART|JOG 2015′s curator, Bambang ‘Toko’ Witjaksono, to find out more about this year’s fair and how ART|JOG has progressed since it was first launched in 2008. 

What is the story behind this year’s theme, “Infinity In Flux”?

The theme of infinity in flux was partly inspired by visitors of the previous ART|JOG who incessantly took selfie snapshots with the artworks they find appealing. Although this behaviour may seem ‘disruptive’ to some – it also shows their need to be ‘close’ to art. Then we have an idea to present the artworks that could interact with all of the visitors and inter media (we tried to reduce the conventional artworks). After all, we also had a plan to present Yoko Ono as our special presentation, due to her participation in a Fluxus movement. We saw the common thread and here it is.

image
Image courtesy of ART|JOG 2015

 

How has ART|JOG grown since its launch in 2008?

ART|JOG has had excellent growth that could even be said to be quite rapid. In 2008 we were just beginning, with name Jogjakarta Art Fair (JAF) which was part of the Festival Kesenian Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Arts Festival), so it did not have a special theme and display of the artworks was still very usual, as well as the exhibitions in general. Starting in 2009 Jogja Art Fair had a curator and chose special themes, the same year we started to choose the artists as Artist Commissioned to convert the façade of Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (as a venue of the exhibition). In 2010 the name of this event began to be replaced to ART JOG, because we want this event as an international event. We invited Lorenzo Rudolf (Director of Art Stage Singapore) to officiate this event and held a focus group discussion with mainly the theme/subject: ART JOG in the future. In 2011, more and more visitors from abroad came, as ART|JOG became more publicized. In 2011 we invited international artists to participate in the Special Presentation program, namely Ashley Bickerton.

At the 2012-2014 editions of ART|JOG we used parallel themes, based on post colonialism theory and historical context about Indonesia and Asia. We tried to focus mainly on our theme as a foothold. We chose some artists as our special presentation, from 2012: Wim Delfoye, 2013: Stefan Sagmeister and 2014: Marina Abramovic & teamLab (Japan). ART|JOG is widely known throughout the world, mainly because of its unique as an artists’ art fair (because there is no gallery representation in the booth) or some call it a biennale fair (because of the strong curatorial theme). In 2015 ART|JOG wants to increase the level and choose the curatorial theme based on the type of the artworks, so that it can reflect contemporary art and can more freely invite foreign artists to join.

Are the majority of your visitors from Indonesia? Have the number of international visitors to the fair changed over the years?

Yes, the majority is dominant from Indonesia. But year by year maybe now the number between local and foreign is same. As our database list, this year most of the foreign visitors come from Singapore, Australia, UK and Hong Kong. Total number of visitors last year was 100.000 for the three weeks period of ART|JOG. And for this year, at the opening, more than 1.000 people came. 

image
Image courtesy of ART|JOG 2015

 

Have you seen an increased interest in Indonesian art from abroad in recent years?

Over the years the number of art lovers is increasing, not only from Indonesia but also from foreign countries who have bought artworks from Indonesian artists. I think it is related with the strong art scene phenomena in Indonesia and the friction of the attention from China to Indonesia. 

How were the works selected to be included in this year’s edition of ART|JOG?

The artworks are selected based on the curatorial theme and innovation aspects. So many good artworks were submitted, but just a few artworks were selected which are relevant and suitable with the curatorial theme. This year we emphasize artworks which has inter media, interactive and innovative aspects. We also rejected the artworks from invited artists because the characteristics is too conventional. This year, we just selected one painting (on canvas) to be displayed at ART|JOG. 

image
Bambang ‘Toko’ Witjaksono (left) with ART|JOG 2015′s Director Satriagama Rakantaseta. Image courtesy of ART|JOG 2015

 

How did the audience and collectors respond to the works included this year?

This year we presented the relations between art and technology and their characters which have no boundaries with the audiences. We got positive responses, they said it’s peculiar. The new characteristic of artworks need a new way for appreciating, and also the new way for collecting. 

What do you see as Indonesia’s role within the broader Southeast Asian art ecosystem? What about within the global art scene? 

The Indonesian art scene is very strong and I think we could be dominating in South East Asia and this also remarks on the international art scene. It’s because Indonesian art has their unique characters and the different themes from the artists. It is also supported by the dynamics art atmosphere in Yogyakarta. 

 

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16 June 2015

Any views or opinions in the interview are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.


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