Nurrachmat Widyasena, also known as Mas Ito, is a Bandung based artist who primarily works around printmaking, installation, and drawing. He has recently arrived back in Indonesia after “spending time addressing concerns around space travel and the national myths surrounding the history and future of space exploration”, as quoted from his curatorial text for the “After Einstein Rosen Bridge” exhibition, that culminated his one month residency at the Bluecoat Liverpool.
In November 2017, British Council Indonesia welcomed eight UK curators on an introductory visit to Indonesian Arts scene. This has brought Adam Smythe, a head curator at the Bluecoat Liverpool to the Biennale Jogja, during the same time Mas Ito exhibited his work, “PT Besok Jaya.” A couple months after that, Adam reached back to Mas Ito with a residency offer—which then followed by fruitful correspondency between the two where they pinned down early 2019 as the start date of the programme.
“For the residency, I was asked to structure the programme and schedules independently, and was given a privilege to do anything I wanted to do.” says Mas Ito, realizing the two countries’ distinctive artistic approach. To him, Liverpool arts scene appear to be more relaxed compared to Indonesia, as they stress less about digging deep into the concept, and instead, focuses more about medium or technical exploration that often leads to abstract final works. To explain the contrast, In Indonesia, where he often encounters artists discuss about social realism, the importance of a work often weighs on a thorough conceptual elaboration.
The list goes on as he explains further about the differences between the two countries’ arts scene. According to Mas Ito, in terms of infrastructure, the UK is leading with well-established galleries and national museums—not to mention a more diverse and eager arts enthusiasts. In a country where “artist fee” is commonly practiced, Mas Ito found that, with the existing infrastructures, it’s easier for artists to access public projects and sponsorship programmes.