Ruangrupa is a not for profit artist initiative established in 2000 (only shortly after the downfall of the New Order regime) that “strives to support the progress of contemporary art ideas within the urban context and the broader scope of the culture, by means of exhibitions, festivals, art lab, workshops, research and journal publication.” (Mirwan Andan, translated by Intan Paramaditha, All for Jakarta – A Note on the Tenth Anniversary of Ruangrupa: Decompression #10, Expanding the Space and Public). The name comes from the appropriate combination of ruang, or space, and rupa, or the visual. Their facility houses a library, a video editing studio, video archive (with over 2000 international titles) and a large exhibition space. The space is described as ‘organic’ in its 24-hr accessibility by any member of the Ruangrupa community (student, musicians, and artists, alike).
Ade Darmawan, our host at Ruangrupa
The end of the New Order regime signified a reopening of artist’s freedom of expression and Ruangrupa has tapped that from the beginning, riding the wave of what became known as an “era of openness.” The group is involved on a local and international scale, taking their social obligations seriously.
Ade Darmawan gave us a quick run-down of some Ruangrupa projects, including 32 Degrees Jakarta Festival (an intervention of public space), Lonely Market (a project of translation and mapping of temporary markets), CDITC (city design within a city), and finally t-shirt and stick graphics - all while smoking through half a pack of cigarettes. Ruangrupa functions as an artist’s escape, in favor or moving beyond the traditional and looking for new and experimental ways of representing ideas. Ade made it clear to us that the initiative survives on what interests them. They critically approach the situations of their surrounding, finding new ways to represent issues, be it through advertisements, critical interpretations, or witty sayings and expressions.
Pedro the Ruangrupa Cat
Ruangrupa has published Jurnal Karbon since 2000. It was physically published until 2006, when they decided to save money and transform it into a digital publication. The latest issue can be found on their website: http://www.karbonjournal.org/