By UK/Indonesia 2016-18 team

17 August 2017 - 18:36

Curator Emily Gray with artists Eldwin Pradipta, Panca DZ and Ackay Deni.
Curator Emily Gray with artists Eldwin Pradipta, Panca DZ and Ackay Deni.  ©


Emily Gray is a curator currently based in Scotland who predominantly works on curating projects outside of the traditional gallery space. 

During the month of July, Gray was in residence at Platform3 in Bandung, an arts organisation that provides space for artistic and thematic exploration and experimentation.

She worked with three Bandung-based artists - Eldwin Pradipta, Panca DZ and Ackay Deni - to curate an exhibition called 'a new day came'. We spoke to Gray about what it means to be a curator and about her time spent in Indonesia. 

Why did you decide to become a curator? 

I love working with artists and facilitating their work. The variety of practice, subjects and contexts never cease to amaze me.

The beauty of working in curation is being able to see an overview of such diverse practices and subjects, bringing them together and exploring alternative approaches that bridge between the artist, art work and audience. 

Both Bandung and Glasgow are dubbed as ‘creative cities’. What do you think the similarities are between Bandung and Glasgow? 

Neither Bandung or Glasgow are capital cities, and are both destinations that have tourism but with a more domestic emphasis.

In terms of art, this sets them in what I view as a privileged position: small enough to enable a greater connections across and within the cities themselves, and also a certain freedom for experimentation - outside the pressures of being in a major capital while still holding key positions within the global art scene.

In both cities this has lead to some important artist-run spaces and collectives, and there is a strong emphasis on the curatorial. 

How important it is for a curator to do a residency programme?

I think as the role of the curator has changed over the last decades, the importance in having space and time to develop new ideas and experience different environments is vital.

Also making connections and expanding networks allows the development of new opportunities of exchange between people, places, cultures.

In a globalised art world, I think the connections we make to the diversity of places, people and cultures is even more important, finding common ground as well as the opportunity to shift perceptions and ideas through direct exchanges. 

'a new day came' exhibition in Bandung
From left to right, work by Eldwin Pradipta, Panca DZ and Ackay Deni. ©


Eldwin Pradipta's art work of projected images.
Eldwin Pradipta's work projected images onto a colonial map of the Chinatown district, reflecting on contemporary regeneration and tourism in the context of Bandung becoming and international city.  ©


A close up of Panca DZ's art work.
Panca DZ's work focused on a racially induced incident in 1963 at Bandung Institute of Technology. The symbolism of the piece highlighted the escalation that can occur from fighting over even the smallest territory - in this instance, a chair.  ©


Ackay Deni’s installation of live fish in water suspended from the gallery ceiling, above a reformed mountain range made from earth taken from Ackay’s village.
Ackay Deni’s installation included live fish in water suspended from the gallery ceiling, above a reformed mountain range made from earth taken from Ackay’s village. ©


Could you tell us more about the exhibition ‘a new day came’ – what was the inspiration behind it? 

The exhibition was initiated as a way to explore the landscape of Bandung - social, political and physical. A film work that was part of a project commission from 2013 was presented to the artists in Bandung as a starting place for dialogue, and entry point for exchange between Scotland and Java.

The title of the exhibition came later during discussions with the artists and Platform3, and was inspired by the first recorded description of Bandung and the story of Sang Kuriang.

In this context I have used it as an allegory regarding the idea of a landscape - a reminder that even though we might think of a landscape as fixed, just as Sang Kuriang was tricked into thinking a new day came, it is actually still before dawn and continually in the process of formation. 

What was the most exciting part of your residency? 

Meeting and discovering the work of new artists is always the best bit - the dialogues and exchanges that occur as ideas and research are shared allow you to glimpse alternative experiences and expand your understanding of the world. 

What aspects of an artist’s work interest you the most? 

The most interesting part of an artists work for me is the content and contexts the artists are working it.

The subjects and material contained within the content are the way in which we communicate our thoughts and ideas - uncovering the stories behind this it is an amazing way to engage and learn about the world, and see how someone else thinks about it.