When we first started discussing our NGOs, I never thought I would end up working with IVAA (Indonesian Visual Arts Archive). In America I had very little interest in visual art, However, in Indonesia I see art everywhere: dotting the walls that line the streets, in the latticework of my homestay’s courtyard, in the gamelan music that I fall asleep to. IVAA seeks to preserve this through documenting and archiving art events around Jogja, interviewing artists, having a public library spaces, and sending out newsletters.
The idea of art collectives is one that I had not heard of in America. Most of the art I had been exposed to was in museums or art galleries, and it normally had the name of a single artist attached to it. It was only in Indonesia, that I first began to understand the importance of groups in art. Through my work at IVAA, I was able to attend an international forum of art collectives. The purpose of this forum was for each collective to be able to share the ideologies, struggles, and goals of the artists. Because it was an international forum, there was an English translator that helped me and a few other artists so I could understand what was being discussed. The end goal of this forum was not only to learn about the individual collectives, but also mix collectives and create pieces with artists from other forums. I think the thing that struck me as the most interesting was the focus on community. The artists in each individual collective were tied together by common threads: similar backstory, interest in social issues, or even going to the same university. Each collective had a unique trait that the members could connect with. This history drove the way they approached art: the mediums they used, how they displayed their pieces, and the projects they chose to work on. Not only did they share similar goals, they applied their shared mentality to their work. Unlike what I have experienced in America, the individual artists in these collectives sought out opportunities to work with each other. They wanted shared spaces, projects, and events. They wanted to collaborate and criticize each other. Essentially, they created a community where art was a outlet for group collaboration, discussion, and growth. The collectives were providing a place where art was something bigger than one person’s personal project, it was something that held meaning to multiple people and would not exist unless there was a collective effort to create it.