The Dutch Are Already Near

In Claire Holt’s seminal book Art in Indonesia:  Continuities and Change, she documents some information about the forming of art schools and universities in Java.  Specifically, she writes about the schools and movements that developed in Yogyakarta, Bandung, and Jakarta, three epicenters for the arts in Indonesia.

When in Yogya this past June, I met a few photographers and artists working in the city.  One I found particularly engaging and interesting was Wimo Ambala Bayang, a photographer working with the artist collective Mes 56.

One night, Wimo and I went to an opening at the Cemeti Art House.  We compared our experiences with art education.

Wimo explained the formal and structured nature of his education at ISI Yogya.  He praised a couple of his teachers, though mostly felt that the education he got had nothing to do with really working as an artist.  He called himself a rebel, and felt art school didn’t advocate the freedom necessary for real creativity.

While ultimately I agreed with Wimo – about the gaps between art education and the real work and experience of working as an artist – it was interesting to compare his thoughts about ISI Yogya with my experience at Alfred.

While the program where I teach advocates freedom and rebellion as a necessary component of art-making and art education, there is no denying the gap that still exists between education and the real world experience.  Wimo was quite interested to hear about my students, and how we think of art education.

The pictures here are all Wimo’s, from a series called Belanda Sudah Dekat, roughly translating as The Dutch Are Already Near.  This strikes me as the Indonesian equivalent of saying The British are Coming!  And in a way, I think that brings something to the humor and substance of these pictures.


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