By Shakia Stewart, Digital Content Manager

19 October 2017 - 15:56

Rituals for Change by Emma Frankland

We caught up with UK performance artists Emma Frankland and Jo Hellier about their experience of working in collaboration with 69 Performance Club in Jakarta ahead of their performance at the UK/ID Festival 2017 this week. 

On Jakarta

Jakarta as a city is quite full on. It’s quite an assault on all of the senses, all at once. I’ve been to a lot of major cities before but never one that is this big, and this hot, and this noisy, and this relentless. I’ve kept waiting for it to stop, and for their to be a moment of pause, and it just hasn’t happened, regardless of the time of day, or what day of the week it is! But it’s awesome for that, its full of life. – Emma

I’ve found Jakarta extremely chaotic and fun and interesting. Everything is different here. All the systems work differently, and the pace is very different as well. So I’ve found it absolutely fascinating to find out how people here operate, and how you get around the city. It was a big culture shock when I first arrived, but now I’ve got used to it a little bit. - Jo

On working with creatives in Indonesia

I think it’s so important to work with people from different cultures. You have so much to learn every time you work with someone from a different culture, a different place, with a different set of experiences. I think Indonesia and Jakarta is particularly interesting for me  because I’ve never been to this part of the world before, so this was an opportunity to have a whole new set of influences. I was also really interested in the history of collectivism in Jakarta and in Indonesia, because it seems like there is a really strong culture of collectivity here which I think we have in the UK but maybe isn’t as old and established. We’ve been working with an art collective who’ve been established for quite a long time, so its really interesting to see how they work and how that’s part of the culture here. - Jo

I think it’s really important that we broaden the scope of people that we collaborate with. I’d never been to Asia before, never been to Indonesia. This collaboration is with people who are living in a very different way to what I’m used to, so I think that’s really rich, going in both directions. There’s kind of a different performance culture over here, and different languages. So that’s been really exciting.  – Emma

Jo and Emma from Forest Fringe
Jo Hellier and Emma Frankland outside their rehearsal space in Jakarta. 

On collaborating with 69 Performance Club

I’ve realised since being here that people in the UK are quite connected with structure and rules. And even when you’re making an art work, a piece of performance, you set quite tight structures and rules. Here, everything is much more free and experimental. Everyone is interested in play, experimentation and action, rather defining necessarily what’s going to happen in a space, so that’s really inspiring.  - Jo

In terms of our collaboration with 69 Performance Club, just spending two weeks every day in each others’ pockets and being taken around and shown places has been exciting. We’ve gone to visit islands, we’ve been on these crazy scooter rides, and we’ve been just together in a very dark, hot room making work. So all of its been exciting, and very stimulating.

I think what’s surprised me most in the collaboration is their complete lack of self doubt that 69 Performance Club, and that’s quite radical compared to a similar collaboration in the UK. I think we might spend a lot of time apologising to each other before getting down to it, and these guys just have no fear, so that’s cool. - Emma

On collaborating with people from other cultures and countries

Something that’s been very important to me is being here as a transwoman, and connecting with the trans community here. We haven’t been directly collaborating, but I think there’s such different politics around LGBT and queer issues at the moment. So I’m currently working in the UK, and here, and South America as well, and I'm actually beginning to draw some threads between what can be quite isolated communities between each those places. That’s really bringing out some very good results and some interesting stuff. So I think its really important to work across cultures because sometimes you can make connections that can be made virtually online, but to actually sit in a room with people and talk, and share food, is a connection that you can’t make virtually.  -  Emma

Finally, three words to sum up the experience?

Inspiring, radical and full-on – Emma

Chaotic, hot and inspiring - Jo

Check out all the events happening this week in Jakarta as part of the UK/ID Festival 2017!