As part of the UK/Indonesia 2016-18 residency programme, UK filmmaker and curator George Clark spent two and a half months in residence with Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF) in the small village of Jatiwangi in West Java.
One of the pieces of work to come out of this residency was a reimagined soundscape performed live as part of a screening of Clark's film 'A Distant Echo' by Hanyaterra, Jatiwangi’s famous ceramic music collective.
We spoke to George Clark, Bunga Siagianand Teddy Nurmanto from JAF about the residency, the importance of collaboration, and remaking 'A Distant Echo'.
The British Council gave us the opportunity to host an artist from the UK to do a residency. We proposed George Clark, as we were curious about his works and his practice. My curiosity was based on how film creators deal with specific contexts and audiences.
We wanted to know how we can work with specific spectators; we wanted to experiment.
In our art collective, we want our activities to be connected with our neighbours so they can be involved, so they can enjoy our art. Its always important for us to be inclusive and be connected with other artists and collectives, and to collaborate.
Collaborating with people from other cultures and countries is very important and interesting. When George Clark came to our village, we were able to see our village through his eyes.
A warm, familiar context in which to make work
Jatwiangi Art Factory was founded by two brothers in their family home. It's now been turned into this huge, very ambitious, prolific, productive and complex arts organisation - yet it's still very familiar, like a family space. It's been an incredible, warm context in which to make work.
It's been very inspiring, particularly for me. I grew up in Marseden in West Yorkshire, a small village and former industrial town. Jatiwangi used to be the centre for production of rooftiles, but this industry has collapsed, so the landscape is dotted with abandoned factories and feels very familiar.
I'm constantly trying to rethink what it means to work outside of the city, in the countryside, what it means to work with the community, in a post-industrial context, and so we started to think about what it would mean to try and remake 'A Distant Echo' together.
Remaking the film
I felt like 'A Distant Echo' was very open to remake in a different context, and to translate and re-perform.
I don’t really like the idea of ‘soundtracking’, because in a way it separates the music from the film. This was much more of remake through sonic dialogue in collaboration with Hanyaterra, Jatiwangi’s ceramic music collective.
We remixed the original ambient sound from the film, the dialogue and the original score live.
The link between making and showing a film
We also thought about the act of watching a film; where its watched, how its watched, which films are shown together – this is also a creative act.
I’ve been very interested in, very engaged with, what it means to make films and also what it means to show films, and how these two activities are interconnected.
"Every time a film is watched its remade by the audience."
I’ve wanted to come to Indonesia for a long time to work with people here, as the advocacy that’s done around filmmaking, or collective film practice, is very strong here.
Collaboration across countries and cultures in the arts
I think it's fundamental to be involved in collaboration in the arts. You can't work in isolation; it's kind of absurd. I think big problems of art history, of film history, in part are the product of isolation - sometimes naïve, sometimes wilful.
There is no excuse for working ignorant of other cultural discourses, and the exchange and mobility around the way that culture exists.