inside spaces/outside lines

The trouble with art scenes generally and “D.I.Y.” ones specifically is that they often operate like insidious inside jokes. Employing insular aesthetic codes and referring ever more circularly to exclusive themes, small scenes can have the tendency to form impermeable outside lines. When this is the case, the infinitely large group of outsiders (i.e. the rest of the world) has little to respond with. Those not in the know can resort to indifference or avoidance at best and repulsion or opposition at worst. The tragedy of this common phenomenon is that the the protective stylistic coating of any scene almost always obstructs access to a core group of artists passionately hell-bent on strengthening their connections to other people.  One of the pins currently for sale on the 1026 website speaks to space’s efforts to battle the off-putting aura around (A)rt and art scenes. It reads….

There’s not much time left to see “Phoning It In From Yogyakarta” at space 1026 but if you’ve got a moment today or tomorrow I recommend getting down there to check it out.

 “Art is a smile that gives you a hug”

 All galleries have their audience but 1026 advertises their barriers as pretty permeable. Still, I was a bit wary as I rang the bell and ascended the stairs. At first glance, “Phoning It In From Yogyakarta” fit my expectations. The title thrown up on the wall in black spray paint and the works’ initial graphic impact spoke a vernacular of cool with which I’ve never been fully fluent.

As I stayed in the space though, the music playing from a small stereo disarmed me and I felt more at home. It wasn’t long after settling-in, that the show started to up-turn my most persistent assumptions about the insularity of “scenes” and “belonging”.

There is surely a stylistic thread and theme that runs through the show. “Phoning It In” has a fairly youthful, mostly masculine, skate/metal/juxtapoz/stoner vibe. However, in all its stylistic specificity, it is an extremely generous and open show. Curator Lee Tusman expresses his interested in celebrating the shared character of subculture by brining us art we can connect with from afar. He parleys his own direct contact with Indonesian artists into a real world correspondence with Philly residents via the Internet.

Printing up the works of madcap artists like Uji “Hahan” Handoko and Indun Bonzo, Tusman asks us to think global while staying local. There’s no need to understand Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) to access this work. It’s easier to relate to Diki “leos” Firmansah’s macabre imagery and Ahmad Oka’s anamorphic forms in terms of your last perusal thorough the metal bin of your favorite record store than it is to think about the work in terms of global economic and political issues.

Here’s the tricky (in good way) part though. While the playful style is familiar and the music pulls one in, the show is anchored by the powerful work of the Taring Padi. My best attempt at a literal translation (I could be totally off here) of their name to English is ‘Fangs of the Field’.  Not only is this name the most metal thing in the show, it also reflects the collective’s role in the larger group. The work of Taring Padi has more teeth than anything else in “Phoning It In From Yogyakarta”. As is the case with every scene, the participant attitudes run the gamut. Some players are fixated on style while other associates are intent on mobilizing political change. Taring Padi is the politically motivated contingent of the “Phoning It In…” scene. Their wood block prints work well with Drexel university professor Brent Luvaas’ photographs to provide context for the rest of the work in the show.

Style can be a vehicle for self-expression and cross-cultural sharing but it can also be employed as a potent tool for the communication of social and political ideas. Taring Padi makes good use of style’s function in this way.  What Curator Lee Tusman give us then is something like a well crafted mix tape.  A show that can be appreciated initially for the aesthetics, and the arrangement, but one that becomes more powerful and complex over time.

On that note, Lee Tusman was very generous in forwarding me the play list from the show along with several links to us keep listening.  Talk about accessible!  I’ve placed these below followed by a series of links to artists’ pages.  Sadly, the show comes down this weekend, but you can still access some of the artists and musicians on-line.
Lee Tusman’s Jogja mixtape:
Track Name, Time, Band/Musician Name – Album Name

Jogja Istimewa  4:11    Ki Jarot – Jogja Istimewa
Rebuild-Reform-Reinstall        1:15    Cranial Incisored – Rebuild: The
Unfinished Interpretation of Irrational Behavior
Flesh And Blood(Pietism Omission)       3:35    Death Vomit -The Prophecy
Tantang Tirani  4:34    Homicide – Illsurekshun
Altar Ruins     4:10    Homicide – The Nekrophone Dayz
blue flashing light     3:10    Polyester Embassy – Tragicomedy
Perang Singkatan        0:44    Punkasila       Acronym – Wars
Tanah   3:07    Rully Shabara and Wukir – Senyawa
Hujan   3:50    Rully Shabara and Wukir – Senyawa
Awas Neraka     4:31    Seek Six Sick – Volume 4        Noise
Berkibarlah Benderaku   1:12    Zoo – Trilogi Peradaban: Babak 1 – Neolithikum
Lalat-Lalat     2:11    Zoo     Trilogi Peradaban: Babak 1 – Neolithikum
SECRET TRACK SECRET ARTIST boredom and freedom 4:03

Music can be found at a creative commons online netlabel organized by artist Wok The Rok of Mes 56

Links to Artists

Uji Hahan
Ahmad Oka

Diki “Leos” Firmansah
Indun Bonzo

Iyok Prayogo

Janu Satmoko
Taring Padi


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