Saturday, December 22, 2012

Shiny, Shiny, Spruicy Fruits - Queer Fruits Film Festival 2012 - INTERVIEWS

QFFF Director Akkadia Ford speaks to Paul Andrew about the shiniest fruitiest screen event on the Australian Film Calendar.

Tell me about one of your all time favourite queer festival films?
All time favourite to date is without doubt Kink Crusaders a brilliant documentary by Mike Skiff. Queer Fruits Film Festival screened this last year to an audience that cheered and clapped all the way through and for about five minutes after the screening. The first time I saw the film was during a private Director's preview of the film with one of the selection panel during early programming for the 2011 festival and the film brought me to tears, so much struggle to just be accepted for who you are. It is an incredible film. Kink Crusaders went on to be awarded the QFFF 2011 Jury Prize.

Your vision for the QFFF this year?
To be inspiring; demonstrate respect for diversity of opinions; increasing support for the increasing transgender community.

How are you building upon previous year’s festival successes?
The festival responds to a specific time & place; being the days leading up to New Year and an influx of GLBTIQ visitors to Lismore for New Year we have to be mindful always of the specific needs of a regional audience.

I always try to program as many premieres as possible, so that visitors - who may also attend other queer film festivals - will be keenly interested in the QFFF program, but also mindful that locals may not get to the urban festivals. The 2012 program has built upon the live performance aspect.

What’s entirely different about this year's festival?
Queer Fruits Film Festival is an independent organisation. It is not 'Tropical Fruits' film festival' they [Tropical Fruits in Lismore] are only connected as one of the local sponsors this year. The festival needs to follow a carefully designed programmed flow to fit into the time & space available.

Entirely new this year,is us showcasing local talent to open Session 4, with Shiny Shiny playing live - this will be a really colourful opener for the pre-New Year Session.

Is there one particular film screened during a previous festival that locals still rave about today?
Yes, there was immense enjoyment for Brokeback Mountain Bikes (Director Nell O' Neill) a lesbian re-versioning and homage to the original film. 

Tell in some detail about a film being screened this year that involves or foregrounds local colour or local talent?
Locals are represented in two different music videos this year, with Brisbane dark electro band Love Like Hate 21 (Director : Contortionist Studios; Producer : Love like Hate)  Love like Hate drive through a surreal landscape and with Lismore electro band Shiny Shiny.

Tell me about one of this year’s BIG screen highlights?

The festival will be screening Sexing the Transman by Buck Angel as the showcase film of the special transgender session on Sunday 30th,only the second time the film has been seen in Australia; it is revolutionary, groundbreaking and timely, much-needed in fact.

Interestingly, several transgender films have been screening recently on ABC, a response to the increasing transgender community.

Prizes are a big drawcard for filmmakers entering their work into festivals; this year’s prizes?
The festival will be happy to present a production prize from Metro Screen in Sydney (Thanks METRO SCREEN), a local filmmaker's award, which includes a Screenworks' membership. there are also category awards and a Jury Prize. 

And Audience Choice awards once again? 

Yes, there is one overall Audience Choice award given. Festival goers always get their say!

Okay Akkadia, the venue, no film festival has an edge unless it is located in an awesome venue?

We are returning to the Grand Auditorium in the Lismore District Worker's Club; this is a gorgeous, old parquetry floored auditorium with VIP mezzanine level and access to the full range of bistros, and bars within the Club for patrons to meet and greet between sessions.

There is an official after-party in the retro-chic glamour of Platinum cocktail bar with guest DJ LADY K, which will be the default festival club and we are also having our opening night drinks there.

Festival etiquette- tell me some of the etiquette required for the festival?

Come to opening night to meet, greet and enjoy complimentary drinks. Turn off mobile phones during sessions. Clap for your favourite films!! 

The Northern Rivers region is also a part of the drawcard for the festival, with so many sun seekers heading north now, tell me about three or four of your personal fave places nearby where festival aficionados can do coffee, eat, camp, bushwalk, swim or relax, make friends or make love?

Depends where you are based; if you are in Lismore the Workers Club offers a great variety of food & beverages at Club prices; there is great organic food at Goanna Bakery; a lot of local GLBTIQ community also eat at Dragonfly Cafe; if you are closer to Byron Bay, boys head to Kings Beach; girls tend to hang out at each other's houses or head to Brunswick Heads
on Friday nights for beers. If you like great food, try the Belongil Bistro.

Do you have a favourite quote pinned on your noticeboard or under a fridge magnet at home?

Yes, a few in fact and here are two of my favourites:

"Damned if you do and dead if you don't" 

"The sight of the stars makes me dream"

PIC : Graupel Poetry  Director/Producer : Bruce Saxway Boys/Drama/Thriller Feature (Australian/Pacific Premiere) (Mandarin/English Subtitles) 
China/Hong Kong (2012)  77 mins

For Festival details and bookings info:

PHOTO ABOVE: Shiny Shiny, Electro Flash Band performing live this year at QFFF.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ruangrupa - APT 7 - GOMA - INTERVIEWS

Ruangrupa is an artist collective based in Jakarta, Ade Darmawan from the group gives Paul Andrew an insight into their conceptual frame. Ruangrupa is featured at this year's APT 7. 

You have been quoted as saying that “ruangrupa is a space for art”. Tell me about this in some detail?

For us it’s a space that is quite organic, and interdisciplinary, like a beehive, where people can meet, distribute and share knowledge. We are not only an art space, but also a collective, so we work on both approaches, first as a collective - we work in collaboration in producing artistic work, while as an organisation we work with public engagement, festivals, workshops, publishing, research. So we combine these two approaches, one is as artistic producers, and one as an artistic institution.

Tell me about your collective approach to art making?

I think we try to shift the position of artists as a centralised position in art making, that’s why we choose consciously to work as a collective collaboration, and also we think that contemporary art can only be relevant when it’s contextualised in the contemporary reality. 

Our contemporary reality is massively interdisciplinary and interlayered, which is why we work in this way. In collectives we never kill the individuals, it’s a strength, it’s like a collection of individuals. 

It’s a very interesting mode of working in a collective, at the same time you work as a group, and at the same time you respect the individual voices. In our collaboration it’s more about how to be really mixed, not like A+B=AB, more like A+B=C, where the result is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a different approach. In a collaboration you need to be ready to lose some things. You contribute but you also lose something, ready to produce or create something really new. Some people want to give it all but don’t want to give things up. 

It is also interesting when we can connect these modes into how an urban context works, that’s also relevant. As an artist you question yourself and your position in an urban environment, and this method offers some answers or methods to relate to what is going on in real life. For example for this APT project, I already forgot whose idea this is, it’s just like one body, and luckily in ruangrupa, we are all very different but we all respect and adore each other, our skills and knowledge, even our stupidity, it’s really organic. 

For this APT project, even before we came together in ruangrupa, we were involved in a lot of music activities, like organising concerts and playing in bands, music has always been there. It comes together with visuals, life styles. We are very interested in Indonesia and how it shifted in the 60s - the modern Indonesia started at that point. We focused on that era, especially music, which is really interesting and attractive.

Talking about collaboration, we involved a lot of people such as music experts, friends who were in a band, supporting us with lyrics. When we do a project like this, we are not only thinking of the collective as us, but also growing something that we can work with. 

With this project we involved a lot of people, including a band, street artists and radio from Brisbane, a collective that is thinking along the same frequency, same interests as well. That is what we divine the collective is about that as well, not just ruangrupa as a collective but it can also expand.

What are the some of the highs of collective art making?

The highs are when you get this expanded collective, and your ideas can actually expand and develop and grow in other places. In terms of lows, sometimes you don’t feel you have time for ourselves! If that happens though, we just leave. Our structure is not too formal, so you can hide or run away. So basically you can take a holiday anytime. That’s a danger actually, every day is a holiday, but also it’s a working day, so that becomes the same! When we start and decide let’s have a salary – we pay 11 people in ruangrupa – it’s like a change of working ethos, at times it becomes formal – we balance that, we are always in a tension between a formal and an informal structure, which is one of the interesting things as well. When it becomes a more formal structure, it can break down.

There is a playfulness that runs throughout your entire body of work so far?

Both the Singapore Fiction (Singapore Biennale 2011) and the especially the APT work, as we went into history, even for us we learned a lot, shaking our belief as well toward the history, while making and processing this project, which has been really interesting. We always think that it’s important to put our position or approach in a tension between art and not-art – that is coming out through playfulness and parody, it’s coming from there.

You have taken a keen interest in the Indonesia- Australia relationship through the 1960’s and 1970’s- an era when the ‘global’ focus was very Western centric?

 You should come and see the work! That’s the best answer, just come and see it!

How do you feel this focus is relevant today for the Asian Pacific zeitgeist?

Rock and roll is always relevant. You should look up 1970s Korean psychedelic music and the Tielman Brothers, an Indonesian band from the 60s who made it big in Holland as well as Indonesian funk from the 1970s Because there is a lot of critical parts to these movements, not many people realise how they shook the values of the society. Now in Indonesia for example, you cannot discuss metal as only music, it’s critical toward society, and we always need that.

Tell me about the idea behind the opening night concert and what you hope the evening will illuminate?

It pays our respect to each other through music, it’s more about that. It provides an atmosphere and spirit.

Pic Above:   ruangrupa artists Indra Kusuma (L) and Reza Afisina (R) during installation of their work THE KUDA: The Untold Story of Indonesian Underground Music in the 70s 2012, commissioned for APT7

Top Pic:  ruangrupa artist Indra Kusuma during installation of THE KUDA: The Untold Story of Indonesian Underground Music in the 70s 2012 which was commissioned for APT7

Ruangrupa and Tromarama - Collectively Speaking - APT 7 - GOMA - INTERVIEWS

Asian Pacific Triennale Curator Russell Storer and Ruangrupa spokeperson Ade Darmawan talk to Paul Andrew about this seventh APT and Indonesian Artist Collectives Ruangrupa and Tromarama.

Ruangrupa is an Indonesian word that loosely translates as “a space for art”. Ruangrupa is also the moniker for a lively crew of indie music-focused visual artists based in Jakarta.

“For us it’s a space that is quite organic, and interdisciplinary”, reveals Ade Darmawan a member of the art-muso-fusion-enthusiasts, “like a beehive, where people meet, distribute and share knowledge. We are not only an art space, but also a collective. So, as a collective - we work in collaboration in producing artistic work, like the concert we are performing on APT opening night – and as an organisation we work with public engagement, festivals, workshops, publishing, and research. We combine two approaches, artistic producers and an artistic institution.”

“Even before we came together in Ruangrupa, each of us was involved in a lot of music activities, like organising concerts and playing in bands, music has always been there. It comes together with visuals, life styles, “he says.” We are very interested in Indonesia and how it shifted in the 60s - the modern Indonesia started at that point. We focused on that era, especially music, which is really interesting and attractive.“

According to colleague, APT Curator Russell Storer, this collectivist approach is becoming more prevalent: “Art has always been a collective or collaborative activity – it was only really until the modern era that the singular artist genius became the dominant figure. Many contemporary artists work collaboratively, for many different reasons – it can broaden the possibilities of what you can do by bringing different skill sets together; it challenges the emphasis on individual identity; or it can be a critical response to certain corporate or market-driven approaches to cultural production. You are also much more effective politically as a group than as an individual and many artist-activists work collaboratively or create artist groups.”

"[In Indonesia]artists have always had to be self-sufficient, in the absence of government support and institutional infrastructure. It is only very recently that a significant art market has developed for Indonesian art. Ruangrupa began in 2000, just after the fall of the Suharto regime, and have worked hard to provide support for a range of artistic activities – they run a space, organise festivals, publish journals, curate exhibitions and make their own work. “

“Living in Jakarta, the largest city in Indonesia, their primary interest is the nature of urban, and the experiences and histories that feed into that life", adds Storer . Tromorama is another collective of artsts featured in APT 7 and they began later in 2006 in Bandung, and make stop-motion video works that address social issues in a very playful way – we show three videos in the exhibition- and unlike Ruangrupa, Tromarama are from a younger generation who have seen the rise of a consumer class in Indonesia, who shop at the huge new mega-malls and wear designer clothes. Bandung is a centre for the Indonesian garment industry, so they have plenty of material to work with!”

First Published Time Off, Dec 1, 2012


Russell tell me a little about this particular anniversary APT  what it is foregrounding in the way of the Asian Pacific zeitgeist?

APT7 continues the Asia Pacific Triennial’s focus on our region; this geography has provided the framework for the exhibition series since it began in 1993. It has therefore been tracing the development of contemporary art in Asia and the Pacific as it has emerged from a primarily local concern into an international force – the zeitgeist as you say – over two decades. This APT encompasses the widest geography to date, reaching from Turkey and Egypt across to Tonga and Samoa, and involves many artists who live in the diaspora in Europe and the United States. So in a way it foregrounds an Asia Pacific that is now firmly at the centre of things, spanning half the world and reaching deep into the ‘West’ as well. The works have a palpable confidence, strength and vitality – such as those by young generations of artists from Indonesia and Vietnam, which we have focused on, as well as a group of artists from Central Asia and the Middle East, in a co-curated presentation called ‘0-Now: Traversing West Asia’.

Are there particular themes being addressed?

The APT is never organised under specific themes or topics, as the region is so diverse and we don’t like to constrict ourselves too much. We begin with the artists’ ideas and work outward from there. One of the major threads in the exhibition is that of temporary structures and ephemeral materials. This was inspired by the spirit houses and masks from Papua New Guinea which are these incredibly engineered structures that are used for a single performance or event and then discarded in many cases. We made connections to artists such as Shirley Macnamara, who references traditional Aboriginal shelters in her spinifex sculptures, and to Richard Maloy, who makes huge installations out of cardboard. 
We also thought that this was a powerful metaphor for the enormous changes taking place throughout the region, where the structures of power and daily life are transforming at an incredibly rapid rate, and nothing is permanent or certain. Many artists address urbanisation, for example, or the experience of migration and displacement. The West Asia project uses landscape as a background for the cultural interactions and shifting borders across that region, particularly following the fall of the Soviet Union.

What you feel the APT has contributed - and indeed illuminated and/or awakened- within the Australian collective psyche during the last two decades?

I think that the APT has been incredibly important for the introduction of contemporary art from Asia and the Pacific to Australian audiences, and to engage people with the ideas and histories that inform artists. The APT was also one of the earliest forums to bring artists, curators and writers from across the region together, generating and contributing to cultural debate in crucial ways. It was very important to involve Australia in these conversations, and the APT has continued to do so, even though there are now so many biennales, conferences, exhibitions and museums throughout Asia and the Pacific. The fact that the Queensland Art Gallery has always collected works from the APT has also enabled major works to stay in Australia and become familiar to local audiences, and to be placed in dialogue with Australian art.

In the time the APT has been staged have the internet, telecommunications and new technology have come to play a more integral role in artmaking than ever before, what are your thoughts about this shift?

New technologies have of course significantly transformed the possibilities for art making, as well as how artists can communicate with each other, receive information, and circulate their work in the world. It is also crucial for curators – it’s hard to appreciate how any large international exhibition was organised before the internet! Certainly in the Pacific, which is so dispersed, the internet and new technologies have become very important. The Pacific Reggae project in the last APT, for example, demonstrated the importance of music video as a form to circulate ideas and political expression as carried by reggae music and lyrics. 

Video and new media art has become highly sophisticated and is a significant form across the region – it’s a dominant medium in Central Asia, as in the work of Almagul Menlibayeva in APT7 – as it can be made and circulated relatively cheaply and quickly. Ruangrupa work actively with video and through their website – they run the OK Video Festival in Jakarta and have strong connections to the experimental film and video worlds. Tromarama are very innovative in the way they use video – they began making music videos for local bands. Other influential artists in APT7 who work in new media and communications technologies are Yuan Goang-Ming from Taiwan, Tadasu Takamine from Japan, and Raqs Media Collective from India, each of whom are presenting major new projects that use technology to reflect on time and memory.

Ruangrupa is performing on opening night and are focusing on Indonesian music and the 1970's  Queensland Indie Music Scene, tell me a little more about this relationship they are reimagining and are Punk exponents, The Saints and indies, The Go Betweens referenced in this event?

Ruangrupa’s work for APT7 looks at the 1970s Indonesian music scene as a way of discussing the politics of the time and to make links to the same period in Australia. It builds on their many previous works that attempt to dig beneath the surface of different cities to uncover the narratives that lie underneath. They were intrigued by the role of punk music in Brisbane in the 1970s during the Joh era, when bands like the Saints and the Go-Betweens and radio stations like 4ZZZ were active. 

They were looking at it in relation to the situation in Indonesia at the same time under Suharto, when following the anti-Western period of Sukarno, the influence of American music was very strong. Yet the music was more psychedelic and hippie rather than punk as bands were not able to be openly political. They devised a punk band, The Kuda, who were very much underground, and through an Australian journalist they met, had their music played in Brisbane. They have written an album of songs by The Kuda, which a band made up of Brisbane musicians, named the Family Butchers, will play during the opening weekend, along with Brisbane punk and indie music from the time. It should be fantastic.


Top Pic:  Mural collaboration with Brisbane artist Fintan Magee as part of THE KUDA: The Untold Story of Indonesian Underground Music in the 70s (detail) 2012, commissioned for APT7

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tromarama - APT 7 - INTERVIEWS

Tell me the story behind the name TROMARAMA?

The name just pop up when we finished our first video work called Serigala Militia. It's was a very traumatizing experience back then. It took one and a half months and 450 woodblocks to complete the whole video animation. The three of us became trauma after that. Then we decided together to change the letter AU in 'trauma' with O and add 'rama' so it became "Tromarama".

Tell me about the collective – why a collective, what is best about working collectively?

The three of us already became friends a long time before we began working together in Tromarama. This collective was born unintentionally. After all these years, we felt that everything should just go intuitively. What we have in common is our interest in music video. We just go with the flow and working as a collective is always about dialogue and how we put our self in another shoes.

Tell me by way of example –perhaps a work included in APT or a recent major work-  how you work collectively on an ordinary day- in terms of development,  production and installation etc?

Basically we discuss every detail process in the work. Anybody could throw any ideas, sharing whatever crosses their mind. Most of the times the process is very intuitive as we mentioned. When we have a big picture about the work we would like to create then we split the whole of the work into specific roles. For example who's doing the photography, the editing, the illustration, etc. It's really an open process. This way of working goes the very same for each of our own works.

What is not so favourable about working as a collective?

Fighting is one of the process that happen along the way. Since the three of us have a totally different reference on everything, we can't avoid fighting when we are discussing something. But the funny thing is, at the end we realize what we meant at the beginning is just the same as what the others have in mind.

Can you tell me in more detail about the playful ethos behind your art making since 2004 and examples of another major work you feel best demonstrate this playfulness?

For example the work Everyone is Everybody which is included in this APT. When we started taking a picture of this singing object - we just brought the object, walking around the house, looking what's on the site - and we just let our imagination lead us. Improvisation is always happening when we got on site. Each and every site could trigger a different scene.

Why stop motion video and woodblock prints when you made the video clip for Seringai and what did you love about that process in reflection?

Back then we don't have any equipment for practicing video shooting. Even our school didn't have any facility like this. So we just work with whatever was available around us at that time. The idea of woodblock just pop up when we playing around in Febie's studio. She studied printmaking. And our eyes stop on one woodblock and we feel the roughness of it really represent the music and the band's character.

Animation or stop motion is one of the technique that allow us to do our own thing without depending too much on the computer. It gives us an infinite sense of possibility for playing around. About  80% of our video works are done outside the computer. We just depend on what our own hands can do and our imagination with all the material there in front of us.

What we love when we made serigala militia is we couldn't imagine how the video will look like at the end. This feeling of uncertainty and the surprise factor when we saw the woodblock moving little by little is priceless. The whole process is totally like a gamble. Does this idea always works or not? this question always moving around in our mind while we keep carve the woodblock day by day. 

You are quoted as saying that the DIY approach is something you favour?

We think this DIY approach is related to our experience when we studied at our high school. Back then technology had a small role in our daily life. Everything is done manually either its school assignment or student's own project. The Do It Yourself (D.I.Y) spirit feels so strong among the students due to lack of facility. Everybody just start with anything that is available around them.

In our work called Wattt?!, we worked with various lamps and used our own house as a setting for the video. At the end, this DIY approach makes us believe what matters is our own imagination and the rest will follow.

Tell me what you feel both your collective and other Indonesian artists “ are up against” today?

The people's habit for accepting everything as it is. We tend to questioning everything that is taken for granted. For example, the communication or interaction between people in the internet, the clothes that we wear, the history, etc.

In terms of Asian Pacific zeitgeist tell me about some of the other socio-political and cultural aspects you are mindful of as artists now?

The way people live as a community. Since nowadays technology has an important role in our daily life, we should keep our intimate interaction in real life with the others. We think as a human it still important to feel, to touch, to look, to share within intimacy among the others in real life.

TROMARAMA are featured in the APT & opening this Saturday at GOMA, Brisbane.

(Image Above)
Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans, Ruddy Hatumena

Est. 2004
(L-R) Herbert Hans MARULI Indonesia b.1984 ; Febie BABYROSE Indonesia b.1985 ; Ruddy Alexander HATUMENA Bahrain/Indonesia b.1984

Image caption for artwork 1:
Est. 2004
Single-channel stop-motion video animation
as HD projection, 3:35 minutes, sound, colour /
Commissioned for APT7 / Images courtesy:
The artists

Image caption for artwork 2:
Indonesia est.2004
Wattt?! (still) 2010
Purchased 2011. Queensland Art Gallery
Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery