Written by Byung-un Kim
Translated by Nayun Lee
Yogyakarta, located on the island of Java, can be reached by plane from Jakarta, Indonesia. It is a cultural city that is traditionally the center of Javanese art. This beautiful city preserves a typical Indonesian green environment and climate, including the shiny Borobudur Temple that remains a cultural heritage of Java, always allowing us to enjoy the peacefulness it exudes.
Solely relying on Google Maps and a taxi, I proceeded to the address Santi gave me. (yes, I managed to get a little lost on the way!) I had met Santi the previous week at an exhibition at the Mizuma Gallery in Gillman Barracks, Singapore. When I finally neared the house, Miko, her husband, came out waving his hands!
Indieguerillas is a group which was created in 1999 by the couple, Santi Ariestyowanti and Miko Bawono, of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They work on projects such as visual communication, modern installation and sculpture, which are based on computer design programs.
Both Santi and Miko graduated from the Arts of Yogyakarta (ISI), an Indonesian art school. Their work is already well known in many countries. In Japan and Southeast Asia, they are showing a variety of work activities with the character "Wang Yang," a traditional Indonesian folk doll, which is the central image of their work. Two members of Indieguerrilla are in the process of expanding the types of medium of their work. They are acknowledged for their ability to experiment with visual effects and their intermedia experiments through collaboration with various artists, particularly with local artists.
The Strange Yet Beautiful Studio
I cannot help but describe one of the most impressive workspaces I have ever seen. The studio is beautiful and the word “workroom” is nearly wrong to fully express its delicate beauty. It is modern, yet features the serenity of nature and it has a strong Indonesian influence. Santi and Miko work like a couple of disordered laborers, but at the same time, they have their own unique style and methods. It is a really strange, yet beautiful space and is difficult to describe in words. As I was facing these two artists, it seemed as though I was looking into their heads, and my heart began to pound with a curiosity and a selfishness that I only wanted to know them.
Although I have explored the studios of various artists, this space was very special. Their studio was complex and structured at the same time. They had a studio within a studio with site-specific characteristics - like the way they solved their work.
The first floor, which is entered directly from the entrance, consisted of several spaces. An open space in the center, a separate room that looked like a conference room where materials were displayed, work related books dotted around and a small pond and a garden. There was a skyline-shaped staircase leading to a red-cube-shaped two story space, which separated into spaces for computer-based design work.
Indieguerrilla describes their identity as follows:
We are designers and artists.
We are husband and wife.
We are Java people and international citizens.
We love Gending and heavy metal.
We use Macs and work with prints and brushes.
We collect Chris (Keris) and sneakers.
We love Grdeg and hamburgers.
We are dreamers, but we need money.
We seek fun but at the same time are serious.
We like Tintin as much as Wang Yang.
We are just Indieguerrillas.
As you can see from the comments above, Indieguerrilla are clear about their identity. They acknowledge their environmental and historical background which stems from Yogyakarta, while simultaneously harmonizing or combining their style with modern, mechanical, and visual art. Their work, which was born in this background, is dramatic and creative.
The first step in creating their work is to use a graphics program and then the next step is to design. After that, they go through the steps of expressing the configuration and color form more precisely and more clearly. Their work is created by emphasizing colors and lines.
They want more flexibility, such as drawing and coloring directly on canvas without tools, like computer monitors. They also pour colors, make visual changes and improvise as they go. Through this process, the artwork organically changes and improves. Their images and materials are mainly collected through the internet, and the content of such information goes far beyond the art and design themes. For instance, they collect stories from horoscope articles, novels, and, especially the Indonesian traditional shadow puppetry (Wang Yang). I think this has had a direct or indirect impact on expanding and enriching their work.
Starting in 2008, Indieguerrilla entered the road of full-time authors and engaged in comprehensive creative activities - activities based on them, especially in the form of "play and work". "Play" started with a new kind of laboratory concept that allows them to experiment with new technologies.
While Miko is playing guitar or composing music on his computer, Santi is collaborating on graphic work that will simultaneously transform the play into a creative activity. (In fact, their studio is actually a place where they live, and they have no problem mixing work and everyday life.)
Sometimes it's the place where the parents who live next door stay and other times they are brainstorming with their artist friends. They might be designing one minute then decide to play with their cats the next. It’s like that.
The result of this style of working varies. Creating stand-alone publications, making lighting using ‘ankle flashlights’ from their favourite bikes, creating fabricated characters, this is the strength of Indieguerrilla.
I was wondering about their current projects, and I learned that they are collaborating with a fashion designer called 'Lulu', creating a type of integrated art of upcycling. Korean clothes, imported from Korea, Japan and Singapore are re-styled and reformed, and then modeled in a video. It is a chain project, and each artist’s taste blends harmoniously in this project. They know the direction they want to pursue their art and this shows in the way they communicate with their audience.
Byung-un Kim likes paintings and traveling. He is curious, skeptical, and likes to learn by doing. Ever since in his 20s, he's been wondering how he could travel, learn about the culture and share his understandings with others. He enjoys having conversations with artists especially when they interact with the world by their bright ideas. Since 2006, he has been working as a curator, director for 10 years at many different organizations. Currently, he is a curator at the Korean Cultural Center of Korean Embassy of Indonesia, in part of the 2016 international cultural exchange expert training business. He introduces artists and cultural spaces that he encounters during his work and research. firstname.lastname@example.org