Preserving Indonesian street art: ISAD director Andi Rharharha interview

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.

JJ Adibrata, "Berbeda dan Merdeka 100 Persen", 2012, Jakarta. Image courtesy ISAD.

JJ Adibrata, 'Berbeda dan Merdeka 100%', Jakarta, 2011, wheat paste. Image courtesy ISAD.

 

Other posts in this three part series

 

Part 1: read part one here.
Part 2: read part two here.
Part 3: coming soon!



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.

 Mural in Tangerang on concrete bunker wall, taken by an Indonesian military photographer on 28 May 1946, original photograph filed in the Netherlands. Image courtesy ISAD.djn

Mural in Tangerang on concrete bunker wall, taken by an Indonesian military photographer on 28 May 1946. Image courtesy gahetNA.

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.

ISAD presentation at Indonesian Visual Art Archive, 2012. Image courtesy ISAD.

ISAD presentation at Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Yogyakarta, 2012. Image courtesy ISAD.

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.

From left to right: Andi Rharharha, Isrol Triono, Syaiful Ardianto of ISAD. Image by Art Radar.

From left to right: Andi Rharharha, Isrol Triono, Syaiful Ardianto of ISAD. Image by Art Radar.

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.

Group photo after the latest forum at ISAD, with guest speakers Khairani Barokka and Hanna Alfikih in the centre. Image courtesy ISAD.

Group photo after the latest forum at ISAD, with guest speakers Khairani Barokka and Hanna Alfikih in the centre. Image courtesy ISAD.

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.

ISAD was given a IDR132 million (USD14,000) grant by Cipta Media Bersama and Wikimedia Indonesia to conduct research for a year. How will ISAD keep itself running in the future?

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.

ISAD logo on wall at the ISAD base in Jakarta. Image by Art Radar.

ISAD logo on wall at the ISAD base in Jakarta made using stencil and spray paint. Image by Art Radar.

 

Other posts in this three part series

 

Part 1: read part one here.
Part 2: read part two here.
Part 3: coming soon!

 

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.

NW/KN/HH

Related Topics: street art, Indonesian, interviews, art and the Internet, resources

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Comments

Preserving Indonesian street art: ISAD director Andi Rharharha interview — 2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Indonesian Street Art Database: Data Agar Perjuangan di Jalan Tidak Terlupakan | Cipta Media Bersama

  2. Pingback: Indonesia Street Art Series: Part 2 « Nadya Wang