NEWSLETTER 01 August 2016
The 4th JCCB, scheduled to be held from 7 December 2016 to 22 January 2017, will be a bit different. Mainly because it is preceded by a string of artist residencies in various locations in Bandung, Bali, Yogyakarta, Semarang, and Majalengka, where artists will spend a whole month creating and interacting with their locales—socially or culturally. There are 21 artists, from Indonesia and abroad, working in different settings—from ceramics villages, artist studios, ceramics schools, to industrial ceramics factories. JCCB4 collaborates with host partners who fully support our residency programs. The enthusiastic interest on the artists’ part also plays a big role in its success.
This residency program forms the foundation of future JCCB developments. There are several underlying factors: for one, we believe that an international-scale biennial will only become more interesting if it can bridge interactions between artists and local communities. Secondly, works produced during an artist’s residency period will reflect how well an artist has connected to his or her environment. Thirdly, it helps to significantly address the question of how to fund an international-scale biennial.
We are still very short on funding, but we are working as best we can despite this major limitation. We are extremely grateful to sympathetic individual donors who have reached out to us early in the process. We are also grateful to the Indonesian government who, through the Creative Economy Agency (BEKRAF), have provided financial support toward some aspects of this event. However, we still need more funding to ensure that other, equally important programs can be realized as well. The Japan Foundation Asia Center, Jakarta, has provided kind support to Japanese artists so they can complete their JCCB4 residencies and participate in JCCB4’s exhibition.
JCCB4 also enjoys the support from mass media outlets to disseminate information to the wider public. In addition to various social media channels, major media outfits such as MetroTV and Media Indonesia have announced their interest to become JCCB4’s media partners. We hope that their support will help increase public’s appreciation and awareness of Indonesia’s rich ceramic art practices. Despite all shortcomings, we greatly hope that JCCB4 can be successfully held, considering the great amount of energy shown by the organizing committee and friends. They have worked tirelessly, and sometimes thanklessly, to present one of Southeast Asia’s most important and unique ceramics biennial. The support of the National Gallery of Indonesia as the biennial’s venue, and encouragement from members of the Jakarta Arts Council, are invaluable to us.
We hope that our plans for JCCB4 can gain fruition.
Co-Initiator JCCB and Director JCCB-4
It was seven years ago when the first JCCB was held. It was meant to be a mediation space for contemporary ceramic art practice. Fully aware of the dearth of ceramic artists in Indonesia, the first JCCB was held not without some apprehension. As revealed by one of the initiators, Rifky Effendy, ceramic artists in Indonesia had dreamed about having a continuous large-scale exhibition such as this since the 1980s. But it was only in 2009 that such a dream could become a reality, and the context of its emergence is interesting to explore.
As expressed by another of the initiators, Asmudjo Jono Irianto, JCCB’s presence could not be separated from the development of contemporary art at the time. The significant growth of ceramic artists within the Indonesian contemporary art landscape during the preceding years was seen as a good reason for the introduction of a contemporary ceramics biennial.
In lieu of that, it is important to see JCCB in the context of other periodic international-scale ceramics exhibition. Many international ceramics exhibition use a call-for-entries system to encourage participation, for instance, The International Competition of Ceramic Art Faenza, Italy (held 59 times to date, since 1932), and the three-yearly International Ceramic Festival Mino, Japan (since 1986, held 10 times to date). This format is also used by the three-yearly Nassauische Sparkasse, Germany (8 editions, since 1991), The Manises International Biennale of Ceramics, Spain (15 editions), the three-yearly International Festival of Postmodern Ceramics, Croatia (5 editions, since 2002), International Triennale Silicate of Silicate Arts, Hungary (4 editions, since 2005), International Triennial of Ceramics Unicum, Slovenia (3 editions, since 2009), and Cluj Ceramics Biennale, Romania (2 editions, since 2013).
Usually, the organizing committee will further divide entries into two categories: art or design. A particular theme is chosen to define its scope, for example, vessel-type, figures, or mixed media. The theme will often be quite open and accommodating to a wide variety of artistic intentions. A jury panel will then be assembled, usually to include critics, curators, or artists, who will select works to be exhibited. The jury might also hand out some awards.
Variation of this format can be seen, for instance, at Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale (GICB), Korea (8 editions, since 2001), and Taiwan Ceramic Biennale (TCB, 7 editions, since 2004). GICB is considered a city event, involving various city-wide activities, including competitions, curated local- and international-scale exhibitions, workshops, and symposiums. Meanwhile, at TCB, artwork selection alternates between a competition model and a curated model. Interestingly, the event’s curatorial itself is open for competition.
A different format can be seen in British Ceramic Biennale (4 times, since 2009), and Australian Ceramics Triennale (14 editions, since 1978). BCB is more of a festival, spread across several locations, boasting a variety of exhibitions, award events, and projects. Meanwhile, ACT began as a national conference with a different host city each time. It expanded its scope in 2009, to become an international-scale city event.
These events are generally held in locales that are well-known for their ceramics industry or production, such as Faenza, Mino, Gyeonggi, Yingge, or Stoke-on-Trent. More specifically, they often use ceramics museums a their main venues. JCCB is certainly a departure from this trend, as Jakarta is not historically a center of ceramics production. Format-wise, participation is solicited both by calling for entries, and by sending out invitations to recommended artists. Curators and the organizing committee determine the year’s theme, and select artworks. This format is closer to those used in contemporary art exhibitions.
One of the most fundamental differences between JCCB and other international ceramics exhibitions lies in the involvement of non-ceramists. Almost all periodic international-scale ceramics exhibition are organized to showcase, exclusively, works by ceramists or ceramic artists. In countries with a well-defined art landscape, the fields of fine art, craft, and design have their own infrastructures. They have their own educational pathways, museums, galleries, and even publications—one field is exclusive from the other. From this perspective, then, the various infrastructures above can be seen as part of a unique system within the wider art landscape. For instance, in Japan, the ceramics landscape is an entity that supports the chain of ceramics production-mediation-consumption embodied in ceramic art practice. An international exhibition using a call-for-entries format can then be seen as a way to measure, evaluate, and show appreciation to an artist’s career.
Up to a certain point, there seems to be little “overlap” between ceramic art and modern- or contemporary- art. This specific delineation of different art branches is due to “specialization”, which was rigorously exercised during the Modern Art period, across disciplines and professions. In reality, however, the use of clay and ceramic materials is never exclusive to ceramists and ceramic artists. From the beginning, fine art practitioners have used ceramics as a media of expression. This even led to the term “visitors” to refer to non-ceramists working with ceramic media, with the exception of those whose ceramic works show significant contextual standing within their oeuvre or those whose works represent a certain level of understanding toward the technical and aesthetical problems of ceramics itself. Thus, the likes of Pablo Picasso and Lucio Fontana can be seen as great examples of non-ceramists who have gained “resident” status in the field of ceramics.
Contemporary art praxis, however, has little need for such delineation. As their modern-art predecessors did, contemporary artists work uninhibitedly with clay and ceramics. Clay remains a media that flexibly molds itself to diverse artistic intentions. This can be clearly seen, for instance, at the Biennial of Ceramics in Contemporary Art, first held in 2001. This biennial event invites contemporary artists and designers to work at ceramic factories in the Albisola region of Italy. This is the city favored by Lucio Fontana to create his ceramic works. The format of this biennial encourages the collaboration between artists or designers and craftsworkers. Events like this adopt an approach that puts the artists as initiators in the creative process.
The emergence of contemporary art did not only change the face and practice of the arts. Rather, it opened up a trove of possibilities on how we read or understand art practices. This meant that curatorial practices have become more open and challenging, as well. Since the 1990s, many exhibitions have been organized to celebrate, or to understand, the position of clay and ceramics within the larger art praxis. These exhibitions enjoy the involvement of ceramic artists, but also modern and contemporary artists in general. For instance: The Raw and The Cooked: New Work in Clay in Britain (London, 1993), A Secret History of Clay: From Gauguin to Gormley (Liverpool, 2004), The Unexpected From Picasso to Penck, Appel to Koons (Hertogenbosch, 2009), Doki-doki, The Magic of Ceramics-Artistic Inspiration (Shigaraki, 2012), Back to Earth. From Picasso to Ai Weiwei-Rediscovery of Ceramics in Art (Neumünster, 2013), and Ceramix. Ceramics in Art from Rodin to Schütte (Maastricht, 2015).
JCCB is an event that opens its doors to non-ceramic artists. It carries the same spirit as the abovementioned exhibitions. However, as expressed by Asmudjo, perhaps the greater influence behind the JCCB creed is the Indonesian art landscape itself, that has placed ceramic art within the fine art locus. In this way, JCCB has unwittingly placed the foundations that help set itself apart from other ceramics biennial, while at the same time, demonstrating the relevance of the context behind its establishment. The keywords that best describe JCCB are “inclusive” and “expansive”. Inclusive in a sense that JCCB will always be open to, and invite the involvement of, artists that are not necessarily ceramists by trade. It is expansive because it supports artistic breakthroughs and explorations of diverse interpretations of ceramics, materially and conceptually.
Experiencing the Day-to-Day and the Measured Use of Ideas
An interview with Danijela Pivasévic-Tenner
Working since early August, Danijela Pivasévic-Tenner is one of the JCCB4’s first artists-in-residence to arrive. On location at Institut Teknologi Bandung, JCCB-Newsletter talks to her about working with ceramics as both medium and message, and how she pays attention to the situation and narratives around her.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Danijela Pivasévic-Tenner, an artist, originally from Serbia. I studied at Applied Art University, University of Belgrade. Then I went to Germany, where I live now. I completed my postgraduate program at an art school in Berlin, and then I received a big opportunity, a big grant for young artists at Neumünster, North Germany, for three years. I live there now, as its director, and I make my works there. I put together and manage the artist-in-residence program at Neumünster.
How did you end up working in ceramic art? Is it a long-term interest?
This is quite difficult to answer. I think it has always been a natural process. I have been exposed to a variety of materials, from a young age. Back then, I thought I had a special connection to earthen materials—with clay, or similar materials. It’s a lasting experience, a strong connection to my past. Then, when I had to decide what I wanted to study, it was clear to me that I would be studying art, it was quite clear that I’d be choosing ceramic art.
What do you incorporate in your works? What are your biggest influences?
I always work with what I see around me: the day-to-day. And even with that, the topic will always vary. If I choose Germany as the topic of my narrative, it won’t be the same as if I choose [Indonesia], because daily life differs. I try to work with simple ‘easy’ objects—simple things. Common objects; so even people who don’t have any special connection to art can make a connection through these objects. And this, for me, is the best way to connect my work to the public, to exhibition attendees, because most of their experiences will be far removed from art, and from the philosophies underneath that art. My work needs to be something that exists between the two—to become a bridge.
What are the examples of these “common objects”?
For instance, I will work with a teapot, because it is a common object found in many people’s homes. Porcelain tableware is part of the German macro-culture, so works based on these objects will automatically resonate with people, because people react firstly to objects they know. And later, the changes I made in my works—deformation or transformation—will make them ask, “What’s that? What’s going on with this thing?” and so on. And they will get a closer picture of my thoughts. Another example, I often use furniture. One of my older works takes the lazy chair as the object. I made an installation that appeared as though we’re looking at our own living room. Of course it’d feel familiar, it wouldn’t become strange suddenly. It would be as though we’re slowly invited in, through the artwork.
Then, what are you working on here?
I feel very inspired here, because I see many new things, also things that I never knew, until now. In any case, I try to delve into the past, and I also found a very interesting object: kendi. I work with kendi, and then change it into something else. I take away its functionality. There will be a series of it displayed on the wall. And there will be another series that will be approached using process and time as a medium. When I worked on my lazy chair, for instance, I would pour it a little at a time, over a long period of time, with slip porcelain; I do it until I feel that it’s finished. I tried to record all these different phases, record what happened between them.
What do you think about JCCB itself? Do you have particular hopes for it?
I think it is a great thing, what’s happening here. It’s great. As an artist who works with ceramics, with porcelain, I think the presence of this big event is important. Because, all around the world, ceramics is still looked upon as not really art. This makes people who work with ceramics every day feel annoyed, because ceramics is no different than other media. And so, I think, what we can achieve together, as a ceramics community, can be achieved exactly through what JCCB is doing—to make a great biennale, a symposium, a lot of shows, etc. We must actively show people that we’re here, that we exist: ceramics is also art. That is why I appreciate what’s here. And I also like JCCB’s attitude not to focus on just one thing. JCCB really tries to build a large network in Indonesia, and this is great too.
What about the residency program itself, and your experience of being at ITB?
Now, I’m in my second week here, and everything’s going very well. Today, I’m preparing the kiln, and next week I’ll be done with one of my works, and slowly a second one will be done as well. Working at ITB? I’m happy with the environment; its atmosphere is enjoyable, you can really feel the energy. There are a lot of students. A creative energy can be felt everywhere. It makes me really happy. I also visit other artists, who work in other studios and spaces that are completely different. Here, I’m in a university, and there, they’re working in a factory environment, or a professional ceramics studio. I am very happy to be part of all this. Thank you for the opportunity. (YAR)
Buttoning Experience, Habits, and Small Expressions
An interview with Awangko Hamdan
Hailing from Sarawak, Malaysia, Awangko Hamdan is a ceramist and lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Working at Ahadiat Joedawinata Ceramics Studio, Punclut, Bandung, Hamdan is one of the first JCCB4 residency artists to arrive. JCCB-Newsletter talks to him about creativity and his creative experiences.
Can you tell us how you first came to ceramics?
This is a long story, I’ll try to make it short. My initial interest wasn’t ceramics, not my main interest. I used to be more into the three-dimensionality of sculptures. This was around 1981, in my second year at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UITM) in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia. However, following an [academic] interview, I was not accepted into the Sculpture Department. I thought my life had ended, and I thought of going back to Sarawak. But then, I attended a seminar given by one of Malaysia’s pioneering ceramists, Ham Rabeah. He saw me burning my drawings; I had wanted to devote my life to the arts, and I had thought that sculpture was very important to me. Long story short, Cik Ham brought me over to ceramics, and that was a beginning. I fell in love with ceramics. I still love it. Sometimes I wonder, what would happen if I did not meet Cik Ham Rabeah?
My early interest in sculpture brought me closer to ceramics, much like my love for clay, because it is very tactile, very responsive, even to the smallest pressure, to our feelings. Clay is a very sensitive material that we can use to convey our emotions.
What are you making? How are you approaching this process?
Yesterday, I finally found a breakthrough. Just a simple thing: a button. Why a button? In my mind, next to its ordinary form and simplicity, I can feel its purpose and its presence in our daily lives. It intertwines with something, fastens something down, joins two things as one. Although it is small, it has a huge role. As I am here, in this residency program, creating new connections with the people around me, with new foods, new environment, new culture, even new clay. [Making connections] is difficult, but I don’t mind [the difficulty]. Especially due to my ties to Punclut, a very enjoyable village. I enjoy my environment, I am already connected with the little kids here, with the people here, with the village. Basically, this is an interesting experience for me. And as I look at it—I try to express all of these through the things I make in Punclut, through buttons. Buttons speak a lot about our meeting with other people, speak about connections.
Other than the connection with what I’ve made here, buttons initially reminded me of my family back in Malaysia. My wife would help button up my shirt in the morning before I go to work. Like everyone else; we’ll button up our shirt. After work, coming home at night, we unbutton our shirt. I would give the shirt to my daughter, to have it put in the wash. On my third day in Punclut, I suddenly realized that I’ve lost something. I thought, there’s something missing from my daily life. So my work is about my shirts, about buttons, about buttoning and unbuttoning. Buttons connect me to the my familial habits at home.
What do you hope to see from this JCCB residency program? Maybe, something you’d hope to see in the future of JCCB?
The organizing committee, Rifky and friends—also Asmudjo, I think they have an important role to play, and not just in Indonesia. I imagine JCCB playing a big role, an important role, in the field of ceramic art and
contemporary art in Southeast Asia, and maybe even in Asia. I think that in this territor
y, there isn’t any large-scale event other than JCCB, and JCCB can also play a role in the development of ceramic practices here.
We’re talking about a biennale, we don’t even have a biennale in Malaysia, meanwhile there’s a ceramics biennale here. This is great. And I don’t see it as an Indonesian program, but actually something that stands on a greater foundation. JCCB speaks about connecting people, not only in Southeast Asia. But it also talks about making connections with all ceramists in the world, so all can come
together on the same platform here, for one thing only: ceramics. What is being done here is phenomenal. We, in Malaysia, has a ways to go, maybe slowly but surely. But as I have said before, I admire what JCCB has done. And I can see JCCB becoming a greater biennale in the future, becoming an even greater ceramics event. And with that, I salute you, JCCB! (YAR)
Growth of Ceramics at Institut Teknologi Bandung
JCCB residency host partner, Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), has a long history of involvement in various JCCB events. JCCB-Newsletter talks to Nurdian Ichsan, Head of ITB’s Art Program, that oversees the ceramics studio. He is also one of the two JCCB4 curators. Ichsan explains ITB’s role/position as JCCB4 residency host partner.
Can you tell us the history behind ceramics and ITB?
ITB’s ceramics studio was set up after the painting and sculpture studios, but before the graphic design/graphic art studio. It was initiated by Edie Kartasubarna and Angkama Setiadipradja. The two of them were then asked to further study about ceramics in the United States. Along with Srihadi Soedarsono and other colleagues, there were already a good number of them sent to the US. Alfred University, one of the program’s partner universities, is one of the oldest art schools with a ceramic art program.
Though not entirely verified, there are stories from the earliest attendees of the ITB ceramics studio, that the first works to come out of the two initiators’ studies were very pottery-oriented, very functional.
So, how did it develop into the current contemporary era?
Some years after, ceramics lost its prestige, so to speak, and there was a lack of interest in it. The lecturers met to discuss this problem, and even entertained the idea to merge the ceramics studio with the sculpture studio, so that their facilities could be used together. But there was a prolonged debate about it, because no one was enough of an expert in ceramics and could be trusted to run the studio. Then, the teaching staff decided to invite Rita Widagdo, then a lecturer in sculpture, to be involved in the ceramics studio.
Once Rita Widagdo came on board, we could see a development toward a unique “ITB style”, such as abstractism. So, it was during her involvement that the ceramics studios began showing its ‘high art’ orientation. Rita Widagdo admitted that certain specific techniques that are common in ceramics practice, such as glazing, were not as developed as they should, because they were outside of her abilities.
Even after Rita Widagdo was no longer actively involved in the ceramics studio, we could still see traces of the same styles or tendencies in the works of her students like Bambang Prasetyo dan Hendrawan Riyanto. Then a structural change occurred among ITB academia that finally placed the ceramics studio into the Crafts stream. I was one of those students who experienced this. Actually, in the very beginning, around the time they established the Design Department, they had a debate on where to best put the ceramics studio, under Design or Art. Kartasubarna finally decided that the ceramics studio should remain in the Arts Department, though we never learned exactly what his argument was.
Then, when the Crafts stream at ITB was set up, it led to more questions about ceramics, which ended up being put under crafts. At the time, they were still trying to fix the idea of Craft itself, as something between art and design characterized by a materials-based approach. Crafts took on textile material from Design, and ceramics from Art. This happened in the 1980s. In reality, it wasn’t all smooth-sailing, and ultimately ceramics existed in both the Arts Program and the Crafts program.
Back to style, there were many changes happening in the 1980s. From decorative, mixed media, installation work, to figurative. You could see a marked transition toward contemporary art. This change was influenced by foreign sources, and also through the influences of lecturers like Hendrawan Riyanto and later Asmudjo Jono Irianto. We began to see ‘strange’ technical approaches, like high temperature firing—where previously only low temperature firing was used/known—, the use of porcelain materials, works created using ice, and unfired ceramics. There was a time when a lot of final projects showed nihilistic traits, for instance a performance where they broke ceramic pieces, installation works, etc. The kinds of information coming from foreign sources, in those years, did seem rather extreme and radical, making it hard for the lecturers to set concrete evaluation parameters. At the time, formal styles were being abandoned.
What does ITB, as one of JCCB’s residency partner, offer to participating artists?
In addition to a very academic environment, ITB also has adequate facilities, to put it modestly. Artists can collaborate with students, and students can learn about the artists’ creative methods. There are many opportunities within reach.
We also hope that the program can have visible impact on our student body: perhaps through discussions, and the sharing of experiences. Students can also directly witness the methods used to create artworks, and gain practical understanding of them. These things are important to the students, because they are results of concrete and direct interactions.
I hope that we, at ITB, can welcome residency artists every year. (YAR, ARR)
An Event of Encounter and Transformation
How Ahadiat Joedawinata works, creates, develops his love for ceramics
Not only is he a respected teacher, Ahadiat Joedawinata is an interior designer, a designer of ready-made objects, and owner of a ceramics studio in Punclut, Bandung. The studio currently serves a temporary creative refuge for JCCB4 artist-in-residence Awangko Hamdan. Met at home in the Northern Bandung area, JCCB-Newsletter talks to Ahadiat Joedawinata about his creative history and creative outlook, especially in connection to his role as JCCB4’s residency host partner.
As someone who was trained in, and now an expert on interior design, how did you end up with a ceramics studio?
I started in interior design, but in the end, the essence of interior design is not spatial. I have found the essence in a connection between material, skill, and energy. That is, to interpret architectural and interior design ideas into something tangible. Ideas are themselves abstract, and everything becomes similar to a creative process. Now the same thing happens with craftwork. The immaterial becomes material, the abstract becomes real, from intangible concept to tangible product. Something like that.
I approach them with the same philosophy. In that these ideas are derived from events: from experiences, from friends, from what (or who) I know. So, the information comes from between the two poles. I translate experience into various media. I translate my experience of interacting with my clients, in architecture or interior design, into one media or another to build a physical interior. I take the client’s abstract needs, feel, and will, and turn them into objects that fulfill those needs, feel, and will. So there you have it, a simple principle.
However, I am able to see problem because I work in such an abstract field—design. In the beginning, my experience was from making paintings in artist’s studios, with Pak But, Pak Kartono, Pak Srihadi. Then, I enrolled to ITB’s art department, and took interior design. Once I discovered the key ideas, I thought, why must I stay with interior design? Other problems can be approached using the same concept: take an abstract thing, turn it into an object. Although in a research exercise, the reverse often happens—from object into concept.
What form will the work take? It depends on our own development, on ourselves at a particular point in time, from time to time, and from space to space. We can gain new principles, new knowledge that can be turned into objects to represent them—that is what happens in art. In design, we represent those things as design objects. So, when I moved from interior design to ceramics, I keep the same principles. I approach ceramics more freely, people can like it or hate it, depending on their perceptions. Unlike in interior design, where I must continuously conform to the clients’ needs, will, capabilities, etc. I’m getting on in my years, too, so I have a bit more freedom, that’s why I tend to do it this way.
Now, ceramics. Its form comes from an idea-related event that turns into an object over-time—through a medium. A medium contains material-related issues: technique, expertise, instrumentation, and one other thing, there’s energy. Incidentally, in ceramics, the energy is thermal, heat. Making something solid from malleable material using heat; without heat, it will remain soft. Another example was when my wife and I worked with bamboo—something I’ve been doing/using since 1979. Bamboo has its own material characteristics, in such a way that it can support certain forms, but there are also other forms that it cannot support. The material controls what forms we can achieve. When I handle clay, I act a certain way; when I handle bamboo, I act a different way. Bamboo can tell us what it cannot achieve.
My work, then, becomes an amalgamation of what I can capture. There are also many good things that I cannot capture, because they require a different force. The reverse might be true for other people. There are many deciding factors [that affect] us who work in a material culture, within the context of [visual] art. There are also distinctive factors, due to our backgrounds and our tendencies (interests), and other factors.
Does ceramics become a different language altogether?
Language. I work with bamboo, I work with concrete; each of them have their own characteristics. But there are particular conditions [to be considered] as well: who is the end user. For us in the [visual] art world, the end user can be anyone who can grasp the symbolisms that I submit.
When did you start to seriously work with ceramics?
There’s a unique psychological tale behind this. I’m not a exactly thinking man, I’m a doer. Why ceramics? Because I had to take up a doctorate way back then. I didn’t enjoy the writing part, but I had to. I had chosen a research objective where I had to translate the idea of bamboo, along with its backgrounds and processes, into an object. To take the human component, bamboo, and other factors, to make an object. Coincidentally, between art and design, there is craft. So, maybe that’s how I approached it as a case.
Why? At some point, I became frustrated when I write. So, to drive away that frustration, I took clay into my hands. At home, fatigued, I worked on clay. Slowly, I found joy. With material, technique, and forms I was able to build something. Then, I asked for a kiln to be built, and I got a small kiln. But I still had to write a lot more. Later, once I completed my doctorate, I discovered that I had amassed quite a bit of work. So many of them, maybe even 48 works, all made when I was frustrated or feeling lost. So I had them fired, glazed, and they became these ceramic things—abstract and freeform, because they had been made to release stress. Finally, I spoke to my teacher, Pak Widagdo, a strict person when it comes to learning. I also met his wife, Ibu Rita. They were quite impressed, and told me that my works were worth an exhibition. So, it became an exhibition, at Selasar Soenaryo.
To make ceramics, I needed craftsworkers—and therefore funding. So, I made ceramic products, so I could pay the people who helped me. This was in the mid 2000s. So, I worked on ceramics also. I found it joyful, I fell in love, because I had made an effort to know it. I fell in love with these objects.
Then, how did your studio came about?
As we grew, we needed various facilities, and unfortunately, also an assortment of tools. I thought to myself: it’s becoming more demanding. Outside of production, I had to exhibit annually. Something along those lines, nothing strange, it developed naturally. Finally, I moved everything to the village, a studio in Punclut, where Awangko is now staying and working. I don’t need to use it at the moment, so I told him he’s more than welcome to use it.
About JCCB and its residency program, what are your hopes for them?
I think about connections. I like to meet the younger generation, and I also enjoy meeting my old teachers. Maybe I’m like that at work, too. People say it’s not consistent, but for me, life isn’t going to be consistent, in the way things can happen. For me, life is not about consistency: [it’s about] dynamism. If you’re not dynamic, if you’re static, you’re not alive anymore.
An artist-in-residence brings works and ideas that may differ from mine. So, in meeting Awangko, for instance, there’s a difference to be found, but it can become a hybrid. Your thoughts meet my thoughts to create something new. Hybrids are enjoyable things; they bring renewal for many people.
I am always happy when I meet many people, it’s a positive thing. The global phenomenon is about meeting many people. If I had chosen to remain in Ciamis, my old place, for instance, I might end up peddling crackers for all I know. Or an autobus entrepreneur, a rich one. Meetings are actually [opportunities for] enrichment. The renewal of ideas, renewal of thoughts, renewal of techniques, and all other things. So, hats off to my friends for organizing this event, because not all countries can do it. (YAR)
The JCCB newsletter is published monthly by Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale.
Jl. Terrawangi No. 8 Kpg. Pagersari – Kel Pagerwangi. RT 03 RW 08
Bandung, Indonesia 40391
Supervisor: Director, Jakarta Contemporary Ceramics Biennale
Editor-in-Chief: Redaktur Pelaksana: Yacobus Ari Respati
Contributors: Axel Ramadhan Rizky, Puja Anindita, Yacobus Ari Respati
Director : Rifky Effendy
Artistic Director : Asmudjo J. Irianto
Curator : Nurdian Ichsan, Rizki A. Zaelani
Secretary : Nadya Aurora
Finance : Tania Kardin
Residency Program Coordinator : Nia Gautama
Graphic Design : Yudho Satrio
Text Editor : Yacobus Ari Respati
Marketing / Sponsorship : Femmy Yesiana
ISBI Bandung : Deni Yana
ITB : Natas Setiabudhi, Akbar Adhi, Nesa Pratama
Tanteri Ceramic : Putu Oka Mahendra
AA Ivan Studio : Agung Ivan
Ahadiat Joedawinata Ceramics Studio : Ahadiat Joedawinata & Chairin Hayati