Introduction to Ruang per Ruang Project #2
by Georgie Sedgwick
After a three-year hiatus, ruangperruang has finally returned to grace you with
its presence. We invite you, our esteemed public, to sample this space, indulge
in its images, cradle in its creativity and soak up the scent of sweet success.
A somewhat camp introduction deserves a more modest middle.
The ruangperruang (spaceperspace) project
was a cheeky little idea that decided it was bigger than its boundaries. So it
burst out of our heads and into our home. Soboman in Nitypryan, Yogyakarta
home and studio of I Made Aswino Aji, Narpati Arwangga, Georgia Sedgwick and their
dog and mascot Rambo - became its first victim. Each room in the house at the
mercy of its whims, each fitting and fixture fair game for its devilish machinations.
Thirteen artists were selected to respond to an assigned area within the confines
of Soboman. Artists were given no other instructions other than that the spaces
original function not be altered. The aim being to explore how art space
and living space co-exist. Would there be friction between the public
and private aspects of the home? How differently would these two spaces function
when combined and what elements would be discarded, included or compromised in
this process of negotiation? For example how would the relative neutrality of
the gallery space in this new location now be read? What affect would a gallery
in a domestic setting have on the comfort of those who inhabit the space? For
audiences, would this kind of space encourage more easy and fruitful interaction
or would the intimacy of a strangers home inhibit their enjoyment of the
work? Finally, for contributing artists, how would working on site alter their
art making practices? How would they respond to thinking first about the location
of the work then the work itself rather than the other way around?
The answers to some of these questions were articulated in the works created.
The artists responses to the space ranged from the emotional to the literal,
humorous to spiritual. An altar to the ego, a lantern-filled well, a voyeuristic
bath, a caged dove, a talking table and a barking hallway were the resulting manifestations
of abstract reactions to the spaces assigned. The work of photographer Angki Prambandono
played with the very private nature of the bathroom. Angki pasted and then sealed
hundreds of photographs of eyes all over the inside of the bathtub, in essence
making the most of private of realms, intensely public. The sensation of being
watched was acutely felt by all visitors, in particular those using the space
in accordance with its intended purpose!
Artist I Made Aswino Ajis work was located around a well in the kitchen
area. The area was painted all black and lanterns were hung from the roof over
the wells opening. Each lantern was fitted with a light and its surfaces
covered with photographs of children from the kampung (village). Hanging these
children precariously over a black whole was intended to suggest uncertainty,
the uncertainty of childhood and more poignantly, the future. The eerily beautiful
works transformed the normally curtained off space into the focal point of the
room and in doing so shifted the dynamics of the space.
Artist Arya Panjalu responded to the function of Sobomans book room in an
abstract way, seeing it as a space in which we read ourselves and
are ourselves read. He hung dozens of mirrors and self-portaits on
the walls of the room to express its dual function. The lights where dimmed and
each self-portrait was lit with a small globe. The work was reminiscent of a religious
altar and had the effect of lulling visitors into a meditative state so that they
may reflect on the meaning of the work and the space.
My own work played with the notion of scale. Photographs of friends were taken
in various predetermined poses and the backgrounds cut out. These scaled-down
images where then placed around the guest room, for example photographs of people
balancing were placed on top of the curtain rail, pictures of people climbing
were placed in a vertical line on the wall. The work altered the rooms scale
causing viewers to re-evaluate the space, breaking it down into its smaller elements
and in doing so distorting its original context.
In general responses elicited from visitors to Soboman, be they neighbours, friends
or fellow students, ranged from mild bemusement to unrestrained delight, in particular
the children from the kampung whose images had been transformed into lanterns
in Aswino Ajis work. Many came to ponder on the houses altered energy,
interacting with - and in doing so themselves influencing - its constantly shifting
dynamics. Others just came to chat, laugh and drink tea.
The enthusiastic responses from audiences and some surprising and thought provoking
artistic outcomes have prompted us to further explore the notion of space and
in doing so seek more answers to the questions posed at the beginning of the project.
More generally, the ruangperruang project
has spurred our desire to broaden alternative art spaces in Yogyakarta and our
new project aims to continue to engage a more diverse audience in addition to
inspiring new approaches to art practices.
And now a return to campness.
If you are reading this then it is most likely that ruangperruang
has again seductively lured new victims to attend the unveiling of its most recent
acquisition. A house on the sleepy outskirts of Yogyakarta will played host to
yet another fiendish exploration of space. The relationship between the private
and the public face of the dwelling, its physical and its spatial dimensions,
its ability to inspire and amuse will be important considerations as artists and
art-lovers alike yet again fall prey to ruangperruangs