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Interview with 'Wok the Rock'


Interview with 'Wok the Rock'
Wael Shawky"Al Araba Al Madfuna," 2012black-and-white video with sound21’ 21 “Installation on Biennale Jogja XII.Photo by Dwi Oblo. Photo courtesy of Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation.Caption

The Artling interviews 'Wok the Rock,' Curator of the 2015 Jogja Biennale, to find out more about the collaboration between Indonesia and Nigeria for this year's edition.


The 2013 Biennale included five Middle Eastern countries – what brought you back to the single-country model of collaboration?

The Biennale Jogja is actually a small institution with limited budget. Basically we intended to work with only one country from the Equator per edition. The Middle East edition (the second edition of the Equator series) is an exception because we could not work with only one country to represent the Arabian contemporary art scene at large. But then we faced many difficulties especially on logistics. In this third edition (Africa) we want to focus on one African country that already has stable diplomatic within the country. This will make our collaboration easier and intense.

Ahmed Mater, Human Highway ( Mina ) (Dessert of Pharan Series #2), 2012
Ahmed Mater
Human Highway ( Mina ) (Dessert of Pharan Series #2), 2012.
fine art latex printer and matt 200 gm, unbleached printing paper
140 x 200 cm
Installation on Biennale Jogja XII
Photo by Dwi Oblo. Photo courtesy of Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation.

Can you elaborate on this year’s theme, “Hacking Conflicts”?

The basic idea is to find a similar contemporary discourse between Indonesia and Nigeria. It goes to the democracy issue. An issue of both countries experienced after the fall of military regime in 1998. Both of us are experimenting the most ideal system of democracy. But we forgot that conflict and chaos is absolutely an existing part in the democracy practices. Conflict, chaos, diversity and opposition should be seen as positive resources, a gems that we can manage to create an unpredictable harmony.

5. Segun Adefila - Kongi's Harvest by Wole Soyinka, play, July 28th, 2015 at University of Lagos
Segun Adefila - Kongi's Harvest by Wole Soyinka, play, July 28th, 2015 at University of Lagos

The theme, “Hacking Conflicts,” suggests an inherent engagement with technology in today’s world. How do you see artists addressing this in the works that will be presented?

The term 'Hacking' is not referring to computing/technology practice. It's more into social hacking. My curatorial direction is not only to use the theme as a narration but also for a working method. That's why the exhibition is project-based. I invite participants from various backgrounds (visual art, dance, theatre, journalist, design, music) to work collaboratively. Collaboration practice is an exact way to implement conflict naturally. A monthly forum is designed for me and the participants to discuss the ideas altogether so all the works are intertwined. Most of the works produced are interactive, performative and activity-based. We want to engage the visitor to be actively involved, so that the issue can be widely delivered. We produce an exhibition that is thinkful, lively and fun.

5. Joned Suryatmoko - Margi Wuto 2013
Joned Suryatmoko - Margi Wuto, performance, 2013

You’ll be using various public spaces for this year’s edition – how do you anticipate the local community reacting to and engaging with the Biennale?

In this year's edition we mainly use one venue at the Jogja National Museum. There are only two works in public spaces and 2 works on the internet. We have 2 other main programs (Parallel Event and Equator Festival) working directly with the local communities in various places in Yogyakarta.

Punkasila - Acronym Wars - Monash University Museum of Art - 2011 - Courtesy of MUMA
Punkasila - Acronym Wars - Monash University Museum of Art - 2011 - Courtesy of MUMA

How were the artists selected from each respective country?

I invite artists who are progressive, experimental and that has been working collaboratively. Most of them are young and emerging artists who have a lot of time to work intensively.

4. Elia Nurvista, Mimbar Budaya, live performance, Exhibition 1x25 Jam, 2014, image courtesy CAH (3)
Elia Nurvista, Mimbar Budaya, live performance, exhibition 1x25 Jam, 2014, image courtesy CAH

What similarities do you see between Indonesia & Nigeria? How do you think these aspects will interact within the biennale?

Both of us live in tropical continent. We eat similar food, feel the similar heat, enjoying life in a highly corruptive state. Honestly, we know nothing about each other. By sharing similar discourses, we could learn each other closer and can dismiss the stereotypes built by the international mainstream media.

6. Anggun Priambodo_artwork documentation in Lagos
Anggun Priambodo at Makoko, Lagos (July 2015) – working on Voice of Equator, site specific installation and video. Photo taken by Maryanto.

How do you see this dialogue continuing after the biennale ends this year?

The equator series is a 10 years project and under the Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation we don't work only for the festival. We have artist exchange program and symposium with previous partner country every year. Just to give one example, we organize a video art workshop and exhibition in Lagos, Nigeria in February 2016, 2 months after the festival.


About Wok the Rock

Woto Wibowo aka Wok the Rock (born 1975) is an artist interested in developing experiments in collective space, interdisciplinary work and contemporary culture interventions, using design aesthetic and speculative platforms in his artistic practice. He is now the Director of Ruang 56, an artist-run-space focusing on contemporary photography. He is the Curator for the 2015 Jogja Biennale. 



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

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