Street artists take initiative archiving Indonesia’s street art to record country’s urban culture and history.
The Indonesia Street Art Database (ISAD) is an online portal that is setting out to archive the often ephemeral urban art of Indonesia. Art Radar sits down with ISAD director, Andi Rharharha, to find out more about this pioneering project.
Other posts in this three part series
In this second instalment in our three part series on Indonesian street art archive ISAD, the street artists behind the initiative explain how they came up with the idea of starting an online database cataloguing Indonesian street art, why it is important to them and to local street artists and what they hope the database will achieve.
Street art recounts Indonesia’s history
Why did you decide to start ISAD?
We at ISAD are street artists ourselves. We realised that there was no proper documentation of Indonesian street art and thought someone should do it! … I believe that street art is an integral part of our history in Indonesia and we can find out a lot about Indonesia through its street art.
How does street art in Indonesia reveal the country’s history?
Street art in Indonesia dates back to the 1940s! … A lot of street art in Indonesia is made in response to something happening in society. We must document this unique form of urban culture as a way to understand and preserve our country’s history.
Gathering material from the ground
How do you gather material for the archive?
Through the ISAD website, ISAD Facebook page and ISAD twitter feed, we appealed to street artists and the general public to send in material over the past year. This has come through in the form of photographs, audio and video recordings from all over Indonesia. … We also visit cities to promote ISAD through presentations. We want people to join us in documenting street art in Indonesia. On these trips, we spend time capturing art on the street as well. … So far, we have about 2000 pieces of archival material.
When archiving material, is it possible to attribute every street art work to an artist?
Street artists in Indonesia are well connected to each other. If we need to identify art work, we ask our friends in different cities via Facebook, twitter, email or text messaging. It is easily done.
Young team works hard on ISAD
Who is working on ISAD right now?
The core group is myself, Andi Riyanto a.k.a. Andi Rharharha, Isrol Triono a.k.a. Isrol Media Legal and Syaiful Ardianto a.k.a. Jah Ipul. … I oversee ISAD operations, publicise ISAD and coordinate discussions about street art here at ISAD. … Isrol has the task of creating the database online [and] organising all the material we have. … Ipul archives published material on ISAD and Indonesian street art in general, and helps make possible ISAD productions like our forums.
Is there anyone on the ISAD team with experience in archiving?
In January this year, Isrol and Ipul both had a month’s training at the Indonesia Visual Art Archive (IVAA) in Yogyakarta.
ISAD organises forums on street art
When will the database be ready?
We are aiming to have the ISAD database ready by January 2013. … Right now, you can visit the ISAD website to be updated on our progress and learn about ISAD-organised forums on street art. You will see posters for upcoming forums, as well as audio recordings and photos of past ones.
What have the ISAD forums been about?
We’ve had four so far. … The first was with Jemi Irwansyah, a political science lecturer, on street art responding to society and politics in Indonesia. … Our second speaker was Dr Doreen Lee, an assistant professor of anthropology, [who spoke] on street art as political expression and [a] representation of young Indonesians’ identity. … The third discussion was led by Ade Darmawan, the founding director of Ruangrupa, [and was] on seeing Indonesian street art from the perspective of fine arts. … Our latest guest speakers were Khairani Barokka, a writer-performer and advocate of inclusive arts, and Hanna Alfikih, a designer, on disability and therapy in Indonesia with regard to street art.
Future plans for dual-language ISAD
Right now, the website is only in Indonesian. Will the database be available in more languages?
When the ISAD database goes live, it will be in both Indonesian and English, so more people can access it. We know that there are many people outside of Indonesia interested in Indonesian street art. For now, overseas visitors will unfortunately have to make do with google translate.
The grant will last us till November 2012. Once the database is set up properly, we envision that new material can be added easily. Then, ISAD can be sustained without a physical space. … We will also be looking to fundraise, starting with ISAD’s first exhibition planned for early next year.
What are your future plans for ISAD?
We dream of having posts for ISAD in Indonesian cities beyond Jakarta, and have, say, a Bandung Street Art Database, a Yogyakarta one and so on. … Now, we just have a main one in Jakarta, the Indonesian Street Art Database. … ISAD is neither an institute nor a foundation; [it is] an initiative. We envision a close collaboration with other cities [in order] to create an archive about our country’s urban culture and history.
Other posts in this three part series
Next installment: Discussions on street art
In the next instalment of this three-part series on ISAD, Art Radar spotlights the discussions on street art that ISAD has held. These forums feature a diverse group of speakers debating different aspects of street art in Indonesia.
- Get Indonesian street art smart: Glimpses from ISAD – August 2012 – the first installment in our three-part series on this urban art archive
- Art Jog ’12 opening weekend sales: Indonesian contemporary painting dominates – July 2012 – Art Radar’s inside scoop on what is hot in the Indonesian art market
- Art Jog ’12: Fresh Indonesian contemporary art makes for a meaningful fair – July 2012 – Art Radar goes inside the fair for an exclusive view of the freshest Indonesian contemporary art
- The Sticker Lady: Singapore street artist arrest – June 2012 – Samantha Lo, a.k.a. SKL0, was arrested for placing stickers and graffiti around Singapore
- Decade-long worldwide graffiti tour makes Jakarta first Asian stop – January 2012 – find out about the first Kosmopolite Art Tour in Asia in Jakarta, dubbed Southeast Asia’s graffiti hub
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