By Azarine Arinta, Programme Officer, UK/Indonesia 2016-18

20 March 2017 - 11:42

Transmission (2016) by Abi Rama. Through this artwork, Abi tries to describe gesture and relation between humans and devices (camera phone) and network (internet). He uses applications in two smartphones which are connected to two laptops and two projectors that then show the image of his body on the screen. With his body movement, he creates a sound effect and visual of his body on the screen.  ©

Forum Lenteng

The residency continues to become our primary focus for UK/Indonesia 2016-18. In addition to the upcoming residency of eight UK creatives in Indonesia and residency of three creatives from Yogyakarta, Indonesia to Birmingham Open Media, currently, one of Indonesians artist, Abi Rama, is also doing a residency in Brighton with artist collective, Blast Theory. This residency starts with one of Blast Theory's Nick Tandavanitj's visit to Indonesia during Digital Culture Visit program last year. 

Abi Rama arrived at Brighton two weeks ago, the Jakarta-born artist first introduction to contemporary arts was during the time he joined Kampung Segart, a community that engages with visual arts in public spaces. Now, he works as a journal administrators for Visual Jalanan, a journal initiated by Forum Lenteng to record visual activity that occurs on the streets. We talked with Abi Rama about the effect of technology in the current art scene and what he hopes from the residency programme.  

UK artist Nick Tandavanitj talking with local Indonesian artists in Bandung.
Discussion during the prototyping session in Bandung. 
"Eye Contacting Myself" , performance art from Abi Rama which was showcased in Forum Lenteng in 2016. ©

69 Performance Club

Why are you interested in arts?

Since I was a child, I've always been interested in visual, whether it's painting, photos, design, sculpture, or architecture. I also spent hours looking at different pictures whether in books or magazines. I also like to observe people. 

In your own word, how does technology impact art? 

It's become quite common to see people deeply engrossed in their smartphone during an exhibition or performance. This could serve as a distraction in the activity of enjoying arts, but, I think it's also possible to see it in a performative perspective. We can observe the change in human gesture and social interaction with the arrival of the smartphone. Nowadays, more arts activities organisers focus on marketing and promotion instead of the curation process. Also, with internet access, everyone can be an artist, but at the same time, it's also easy to become an audience and even the role of a journalist can be replaced by the audience, even the role of art critic. So I think it becomes more important for the artist to craft the ideas better before processing it into an artwork whether physically or in the digital realm. The artists have to understand the impact and effect their artwork might causes.

Do you have any favourite artists? If so, who is it?

So many people inspire me, and I can't mention it one by one. I think everyone can inspire me; everyone has a unique potential within themselves. 

What themes do you pursue in creating artwork? Is there any particular theme? 

Lately, I've been using the internet as a medium of artistic presentation. I try to cultivate possibilities that might occur between the interaction of a person with their smartphone and internet. 

What are you expecting from the residency? 

In this residency, I hope to discover a new medium for an artistic presentation that I've never try before. I also hope to get resources and data that will inspire me to create something, from archives to the latest local issues. 

What makes you interested in doing the residency in Brighton, with Blast Theory? 

I think it'll be amazing to spend four weeks in a seaside town, surrounded by great people who will inspire me to create my future works and also to learn many new things. 

What is your dream project? If money is unlimited and there are no boundaries in creating your art?

I want to build a museum of contemporary art development in Indonesia, complete with data of the artworks information and collection.

What do you think about the arts scene surrounding you nowadays?

I'm grateful to be surrounded by people with developed critical thinking, from artists, curators, writers, researchers, journalists, musicians, and architects. I learned tremendously about arts and how it could have a positive impact on society. 

Last question, why do you think art is important? 

Because creativity keeps us alive. 

About Abi Rama

Abi Rama was born in Jakarta, Indonesia in the late 80's. His introduction to contemporary arts is when he joinedKampung Segart, a community that is engaged with visual arts in public spaces. Now he works as a journal administrators for The journal was initiated by Forum Lenteng to record visual activity that occurs on the streets. In 2008, he participated in a video workshop as part of Jakarta 32 º C (A Student Biennale held in the National Gallery of Indonesia) which is organised by ruangrupa. Since that time he was often involved in various ruangrupa’s programs, such as Jakarta 32 º C, Ok Video Festival (Jakarta International Media Arts Festival), RRREC Fest. (Ruangrupa Records Festival), Holy Market (Flea market that sells art goods), and many other projects.

In 2013, he initiated Klub Karya Bulu Tangkis with his colleague in Visual Jalanan. Klub Karya Bulu Tangkis is a space for experimentations and explorations of technology, visual, cultural, and urban youth. Their first project was "Petualangan Nasi Uduk" (Nasi Uduk Adventure) which was displayed at ARTE Indonesia Arts Festival. In this project, they observed and created a map based on locations of Nasi Uduk sellers in Lenteng Agung, South Jakarta.

For the first time, in 2014, he had a solo exhibition titled “Graphic Interchange” at Awanama Art Habitat, Jakarta. The title was taken from Graphics Interchange Format (better known by its acronym .GIF), a very popular file extension on the web because it can serve animation with a tiny file size. The main idea was people today give so many attention to the internet. Particularly for the artist, the artwork itself sometimes looks better virtually than in the real world. In this exhibition, people come to the gallery filled with artefacts that represent the process during preparing the exhibition, labelled with QR-code that directing the audience to the real artworks that only available online using their smartphone.

Di tahun 2013, Abi Rama dan rekannya di Visual Jalan menginisiasi program Klub Karya Bulu Tangkis, eksperimen ruang dan eksplorasi teknologi, seni rupa, budaya, dan budaya kaum muda perkotaan. Program pertama dari Klub Karya Bulu Tangkis adalah 'Petualangan Nasi Uduk' yang ditampilkan di Festival Seni Indonesia ARTE. Dalam program tersebut, Abi Rama dan rekannya mengobservasi dan membuat peta berdasarkan lokasi penjual nasi uduk di Lenteng Agung, Jakarta Selatan. 

Abi Rama's latest activity was in early 2016, where he was one of the founding members of 69 Performance Club. They do activities such as conducting workshops, monthly performance, discussion and research on the development of performance arts in Indonesia. This initiative is open to observers, enthusiasts and performance artist to engage actively and be part of the 69 Performance Club programs.

Follow Abi Rama's residency journey in Brighton with Blast Theory through his Instagram: @lykerex

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