Luck to the Community © Sarah Colson
Those who are familiar with Indonesia will know that Jakarta is the capital. They might not know, however, that Bandung - a city of leading universities and independent designers - is home to Indonesia’s cultural and creative industries.
Many of the city’s cultural initiatives are spearheaded by Bandung Creative City Forum (BCCF), an organisation founded by current Bandung Mayor, Ridwan Kamil - a Young Creative Entrepreneur winner back in 2006.
BCCF focuses on creativity, education, community and the city through a range of programmes. One such programme is their annual design thinking conference DesignAction.BDG (DA.bdg), which has just taken place for the second year running. This year, British Council Indonesia partnered with BCCF and DA.Bdg to create a residency programme for a British designer specialising in social-design, allowing them to live, work and collaborate with Bandung citizens.
Following the theme DA.Bdg: “Identity in the City”, the residency focused on the Pulosari neighbourhood and Rumah Cemara community. Hidden beneath one of the major highways, Pulosari is a self-built community and an appealing site to a social designer as the area has witnessed violence, poverty and drug abuse for a number of years.
For the residency, BCCF and British Council sought a UK designer who could collaborate with local communities in creating a creative project with a focus on identity. We decided to choose Sarah Colson.
Sarah’s application stood out for its approach to community collaboration, and her proposal for the residency to build stories through space, place and cultural identity - very relevant in the context of Pulosari and to the DA.bdg programme generally.
We were confident in Sarah’s past work and her proposal, but we were truly mind-blown at what she achieved in the short span of her residency – interacting with hundreds of people, creating three different projects and lining up potential connections.
Four weeks is a short time to dive into a new community and make an impact, but an awkward and overwhelming first week pushed Sarah into overdrive. Sarah became an impromptu speaker at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) SMEs Clinic event and at PDF Discussions. She also collaborated with Bandung artist Panca Dwinandhika in both Pulosari and at Rumah Cemara, a local organisation setup for the welfare of ex-drug addicts and HIV/AIDS carriers. Working closely with Rumah Cemara, Sarah organised The Meal #4: No Stigma, a gathering where guests cook together and discuss issues around stigma of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.
The culmination of Sarah’s residency was a birdcage installation titled “Luck to the Community” and a film, VideoMapping Happiness in Pulosari, created in collaboration with students. The launch and screening was attended by almost EVERYBODY in Pulosari, layar tancap (outdoor cinema)-style.
As for the Residency, the pilot proved to make an impact not only on Bandung communities, but also on the artist herself. Although Sarah has returned to London, we don’t think this will be the last of her Bandung visits. Sarah has also been looking into manufacturing some of her commercial products (Fibula Lux – a lighting collection that has been receiving much success) in Bandung. If successful, Sarah will be able to return to develop more social design projects in Bandung.