what makes you who you are blog
What makes us who we are (and what does that mean in our immediate environment; work, culture, relationship, country, family, region)? This was the question I wanted to talk about with a variety of people during my residency.
Will I be seen as the visiting British artist, looking at Indonesian culture through a “Westerner’s” glasses?
This is an unusual concern for me, as I am a Turkish born, disabled person living in London. But of course, my identity is constantly shifting, depending on my surroundings or the company I am in. I am defined ‘in the eye of the beholder’. I would like to explore this line of thinking further – does ‘who we are’ tend to be in cohesion with our environment/culture/surroundings, or is it pushing boundaries? If I ask questions around this in English, will the answers be different from questions in Indonesian? (How) will this subject translate?
Asking the above question formed the basis for 3 parallel artistic journeys:
- The conversations initiated by it
- Improvisations with actors and performers exploring people’s answers (with the goal to have a better understanding of humans and human stories/conditions)
- A group of local artists then responded to our conversations and improvisations (basically creating a mirror to how I exist in that culture/environment)
I used questions as a way to break away from assumptions and to have new conversations. In this case, the aim was to understand how we see/define/understand our own identity. Our answers also provided a reflection of the references and vocabulary of the company I was in. I would like to speak to and pose this question to many different people, and I am e.g. particularly interested in speaking to disabled people, displaced people (such as migrants or refugees), vulnerable people, campaigners and activists.
The one-month residency program in Yogyakarta supported by British Council, brings PSBK and UK artist Caglar Kimyoncu together to explore creative possibilities that support Caglar’s artistic journeys and PSBK’s arts engagement platforms. PSBK collaborated with Caglar to connect and engage with various communities in the Yogyakarta vicinity, which included artists, segmented and general communities. Driven by the artist’s keen interests/research theme, professional experience, and artistic medium; the engaging experience emerged in a range of different formats such as:
- facilitating an interactive workshop as a method to obtain data from segmented communities of focus,
- creating a performance-based or ‘happening’ presentation in collaboration with local artists,
- providing a master class for local resident artists regarding self-development and developing one’s artistic career,
- giving an artist-talk presentation for a general audience that provides insight to the artist’s practice-process-choices based on the artist’s most significant piece of work,
- curating and facilitating collaboration to create a body of work collectively for exhibition at PSBK
PSBK was also very keen to integrate Caglar’s experience with digital technology as a unique engaging tool for the arts. PSBK and Caglar eventually identified the best possibilities, based on what would be appropriate to support Caglar’s artistic research and the resources available.
Padepokan Seni Bagong Kussudiardja (PSBK) Built and founded in 1978 by the late Yogyakarta artist Bagong Kussudiardja in the Bantul Regency of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, PSBK has become an important cultural landmark for its contribution to the development of artists, the art works, and social community. Continuing the founder’s spirit as an art centre, PSBK aims to contribute to the cultural enrichment of Indonesian society by shaping arts practice as an important learning resource. “I always had the desire to plant the feeling of responsibility to those who learn at the Padepokan, so that they feel the need to serve society and humanity on behalf of the arts or mediated by the arts. That’s the aim of the Padepokan. Therefore, it is not a place to mould artists.” – Bagong Kussudiardja PSBK supports the creative development of artists and the general public to cultivate connectivity, continuity and creation of cultural values with the arts. PSBK serves as a creative laboratory, gathering place, performance and exhibition space for artists from different disciplines. PSBK presents works of emerging artists, facilitates artistic investigation and professional development, and devises programs that increase community engagement and networking with the arts.
british council id
Indonesia and the UK are two hugely creative countries. Yet there is currently very little cultural exchange between them, despite there being a vast amount to gain from getting to know each other. Throughout 2016 to 2018, UK/Indonesia will start to address this through a programme of interventions. As a result of an open call late 2016, eight UK creatives have been chosen by the British Council and our host partners to spend one month in residence in Indonesia.
This programme is a part of the British Council’s UK/Indonesia 2016-18 season, which aims to build new relationships and collaboration between the UK and Indonesia. Through these residencies, our partners and us hopes that the residents are able to explore and connect with the vast arts and cultural scene in Indonesia. The programme also encourages residents to collaborate with their hosts and Indonesian artists to create the contemporary connection between UK and Indonesia.