The Official Launch of the Equator Symposium Yayasan Biennale Yogyakarta (Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation)

Talks and discussions

“Media, Arts and Cultures: Changes and Challenges in Our 21st Century Democracy”
Tuesday, 19 November 2013, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, at Duta Wacana University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


TK Sabapathy, Enin Supriyanto, David Teh, Ahmad Hissou, Onno W. Purbo, Zen Hae, Prima Rusdi, Kampung Halaman, Pamityang2an, Wujudkan.com, X-CODE Films, ruangrupa, Lifepatch, Jatiwangi Art Factory, Garasi Performance Institute

Free by registration

Send an email to symposiumequator_yby@yahoo.com

Equator Symposium is international in scale, involving specialists and practitioners from various nations which can be included in breadth and scope of the equatorial line. Within the framework of an expert and knowledgeable discourse, the Equator Symposium will be cross-disciplinary, although its focus of attention is contemporary art. In this way the practice and discourse of contemporary art requires an open space, inclusive and ready to accept various critical studies that are relevant and sourced from a variety of disciplines and field of expertise. The Equator Symposium will also function as an effort to develop networks amongst individuals and institutions which can activate the role of experts and practitioners of Indonesian contemporary art in an international forum.

The official launching of the Equator Symposium (2013) will be held in conjunction with Biennale Jogja XII Equator #2. The event is held to state the starting point of the Equator Symposium, “The Asian-African Conference was of the opinion that at this stage the best results in cultural cooperation would be achieved by pursuing bilateral arrangements to implement its recommendations and by each country taking action on its own, wherever possible and feasible.” (As excerpted from the Bandung Conference, 18-24 April 1955.) That particular statement is inline with Biennale Jogja’s core concepts on all of their holdings and events, which are formulated as a meeting and melting point of the arts and culture within the countries along the equator line. Within this launch, we will also be promoting the upcoming Equator on the Cloud, an online platform that we are building, and set a certain standards in presenting materials within the Equator Symposium platform and to initiate dialogue.


Equator Symposium is international in scale, involving specialists and practitioners from various nations which can be included in breadth and scope of the equatorial line. Within the framework of an expert and knowledgeable discourse, the Equator Symposium will be cross-disciplinary, although its focus of attention is contemporary art. In this way the practice and discourse of contemporary art requires an open space, inclusive and ready to accept various critical studies that are relevant and sourced from a variety of disciplines and field of expertise. The Equator Symposium will also function as an effort to develop networks amongst individuals and institutions which can activate the role of experts and practitioners of Indonesian contemporary art in an international forum.

The official launch of the


Discussion series on



In the last decade important changes have occurred in Asia and the Arab Peninsula, which indicate the dynamics of social-political development encountering democracy. Reformation in Indonesia occurred in 1997-1998, making Indonesia one of the largest Muslim countries with a democratic system.

Nearly a decade later, the countries of the Arab peninsula – for various reasons and urged by their own citizens, who were fed up with the restraints and pressures of authoritarian regimes – suddenly rose up and welcomed democracy. We know now that the transition is not always peaceful, nor completely smooth.

Along with this, the rise of the Indonesian economy (also China, India, Brazil, Turkey and the Philippines) indicates the dynamics of the global economy shifting to the Asian region, whilst Europe and the United states experienced a downturn in growth, crises and economic complications which are yet to be resolved.

Unexpectedly, growth in the Asian region and in the Arab peninsula, which has occurred in the social, political and economic fields, has since become the development which have most impacted today’s world and will continue to impact on the future.

We can imagine that within these conditions there will also occur great changes and important developments in the fields of media, art, and culture in this region.

The Equator Symposium is an arena that we are preparing for a number of experts and practitioners to share and exchange knowledge and critical perspectives on matters pertaining to the development of our world today, by placing the Equatorial region as a departure point and main focus. To open this series of meetings, we will begin with the programs of Biennale Jogja XII – Equator #2, 2013.

DAY #1: Discussion

Introduction and presentation about Equator Symposium by the project officer of Equator Symposium (2013 – 2022) Enin Supriyanto

One of the main points stated in the end of the Asian-African Conference, also known as Bandung Conference, 18-24 April 1955, says:

The Asian-African Conference was of the opinion that at this stage the best results in cultural cooperation would be achieved by pursuing bilateral arrangements to implement its recommendations and by each country taking action on its own, wherever possible and feasible.

The spirit of that statement is inline with Biennale Jogja’s core concepts on all of their holdings and events, which are formulated as a meeting and melting point of the arts and culture within the countries along the equator line. The Bandung Conference became even more relevant this year because the current Biennale Jogja works with countries in Arab peninsula, especially Egypt that have been Indonesia’s close partner since the 1955 Bandung Conference.

We all know that the Asian-African Conference opened the access for direct collaborations and cooperation such as the Non-Aligned Movement (Gerakan Non-Blok), which was a gesture in facing the world’s polarized power in facing the cold war; or bilateral and regional cooperation such as ASEAN.

Now, living at the times where globalization is an everyday reality, we still have to face the fact that these Asian-African countries have a vast variety of experiences in social-politic-economy and culture. Some countries are achieving a fast economic growth—even though not without its own complications— some are still struggling to gain basic economic growth. Some started to experience a stabile and steady democratic condition, some others are still trap in a chaotic conflicts and violence or even still oppressed under authoritarian regimes. Some already highly recognized in their contemporary art and cultural achievements, while others are still struggling with basic development issues.

So, how can we perceive and understand the spirit of Bandung Conference today? What lessons can we learn from that heroic and high-spirited past to help us solve our problems today and to pave our way for the better future? How far can we take the discourses and practices of contemporary art form the ‘developing countries’ as the real and meaningful contributions to this process?

To address these issues and help us understand them critically, Equator Symposium will invite experts to share their insights and knowledge in a public lecture session.

Nowadays, when globalization has already become our daily reality, we still face the fact that Asian-African countries have a vast variety of social-political-economical experiences. Some countries has been through a rapid economic progress, with each own complexities, meanwhile many others are far left behind. Some has been through fluent and stable process of democratization, some went through it either slowly or with conflicts, and a few still face authoritarianism or endless political conflicts. Some countries plays prominent role in the development of their arts and cultural sector, some others still grapple with fundamental issues upon their establishment.

How do we conceive the spirit, the passion of the Bandung Conference nowadays? What lesson can we learn from the passionate and insightful past for our current and future practices? To what extent do contemporary thoughts and practices, especially related to Southeast Asian contemporary art, can contribute to that process?

In speculating the answers upon these questions, Equator Symposium invites practicing experts for lectures.

Talks #1: Internet and alternative media

Conventional media – newspapers, magazines, analogue radio – has limited reach, both in space and time. Entering the 3rd millennium, it is immediately apparent that the internet has exceeded the limitations of conventional media. If in the past free and objective journalism was considered the fourth pillar of democracy (other than the parliament, the government, and the justice system), then in this 21st century there are many objections to the press and its journalistic practices. The media is in fact closely tied to the interests of business and politics, and thus loses its status as a “guard dog” barking at the powerful elite.

The internet brought opportunities for outsiders to voice their interests directly. Citizen journalists, social networks, and various models of participation in socio-political life have been enabled by the internet. Thus far, under the general principle of internet providers that the internet is open source, methods of control and censorship by authorities cannot operate as easily as previously (as has occurred in the past with conventional media: censorship, gagging, jail, etc.).

This discussion session will be attended by activists, practitioners, and artists who undertake a variety of activities using the internet as their main mode.

Talks #2: Art, public, politics

If the internet and its various practices are now open, and its potential as a new vehicle for involvement in democratic practice on a global level is obvious and genuinely accepted, what is the role of art now?  In Indonesia, for example, we still rarely read the great works of literature which contemplate our national history. It could be said that there are none who have achieved more than Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s ‘Pulau Buru’ (Buru Island) anthology (This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Men, Footsteps, House of Glass).

The world of film may at first glance provide a more positive picture. Since the work of Riri Riza; Gie (2005), a number of creators and producers of Indonesian film have become emboldened to touch on complex historical and socio-political themes (from those with a comedic element like Nagabonar 2, to those with themes from the distant past: Sang Pencerah – The Illuminator, 2010; and Soegija, 2012, and others). But, in terms of those whose adopt an attitude which truly provocative towards the dark history of the nation, we were most surprised by the facts and expressive means which were recorded and presented in the overseas film production Act of Killing (2012).

In the art world, efforts to respond to the peculiar matters involving ‘the practice of art today and social life’ resurface just at the point when the art market is shining globally. At least, there are plenty of parties enthusiastically discussing ‘relational aesthetics’, a concept proposed by Nicolas Bourriaud (Relational Aesthetics, 2002), as well as active, participatory and collective practices in the visual arts, such as those proposed by Nato Thompson (Living as Form, 2012 – creativetime.org).

Talks #2 will be attended by observers, practitioners and artists who will unpack these matters, or describe their own practices.


This program aims to clarify the main plans of the Equator Symposium which formally begins next year, 2014. Attendees at this meeting – perhaps divided into or three groups – are expected to exchange their thoughts and share opinions on the plans for the Equator Symposium.

At the end of this meeting, each panel will present its opinions and recommendations in a final (public) meeting which will include questions and answers from other panels.

We hope that the submissions from this meeting on the second day will provide points of consideration and guidance for the Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation in presenting the best Equator Symposium possible.


Organizing committee

Mr. Enin Supriyanto

Project Officer Equator Symposium

E-mail: goodbyenin@gmail.com

Mobile: +628551106209


Ms. Grace Samboh

Program Manager Equator Symposium

E-mail: sambohgrace@gmail.com

Mobile: +628112534110


Ms. Ratna Mufida

Operational Manager Equator Symposium

E-mail: ratnamufida@yahoo.com

Mobile: +62817277679


Office/postal address


Taman Budaya Yogyakarta

Jalan Sri Wedani 1, Yogyakarta

Phone: +62 274 587712

E-mail: yayasan@biennalejogja.org


Wawancara dengan Katulistiwa
Coordinator Introduction

As a Coordinator for the PE program, my admiration for the enthusiasm, determination and stamina of Parallel Events participants began even when our invitation to take part in the
PE program was responded by 29 groups from a variety of backgrounds. Some of them are artists, musicians, activists in reproductive health, environmental activists, documentary activists, video makers, a group of artisans who make distinct souvenirs of Yogyakarta, and a lecturer of geology.

The activity proposals submitted by these 29 groups to the Committee of Biennale Jogja XI built on the introduction and campaign effort of Parallel Events program of Biennale Jogja XI, held on May 19, 2011. Eventually, after two proposal preparation workshops on June 18 and July 30, 2011—held to help refine the proposal of each participant—we selected ten out of the 29 groups. We needed to do the selection process considering that the Parallel Events program was one of the competitions held for Biennale Jogja XI.

Every participant of the PE program has done their best in responding to the seven challenges posed by Biennale Jogja XI Committee; i.e. (1) Experiencing the challenge working with group(s) from a different scientific background; (2) Experiencing new methods in the process of creating the work or holding the activity; (3) Experiencing the challenge in negotiating with other groups in bringing the concept about; (4) Experiencing the challenge of collaborating with others from an expanded social circle; (5) The possibility of new ideas as the consequence of coming together with people from different scientific backgrounds; (6) The possibility of obtaining a network that might mutually benefit all of its members in the future; (7) Obtaining the knowledge and skill to manage things and negotiate.

Through the hard work involved to bring about the ideas of the ten final participants of the Parallel Events Program, the public is eventually able to witness a variety of perspectives and interpretations with regards to the three themes of Biennale Jogja XI: Religiosity and Diversity; Issues around the Equator; and Issues about the relationship between Indonesia and India. For this, we from the Committee of Biennale Jogja XI took our hats off for the participants of the PE program in Biennale Jogja XI 2011.

I hope the testimonials and presentations of the ten participants to the Biennale Jogja XI in the catalogue would be responded by more potential participants in the Parallel Events of Biennale Jogja XII next year!

Aisyah Hilal
Coordinator of Biennale Jogja XI Parallel Events

Statment Jury

The Parallel Events Program of Biennale Jogja XI 2011 considers seven criteria: (1) The activities should be collectivebased. (2) If the activity is initiated by non-artists, visual artists should be involved. The activity should be held in a collective manner. (3) If the activity is initiated by artists, non-artists must also be involved, and the activity should be held in a collective manner. (4) The activity is related to the themes of Biennale Jogja XI 2011: religiosity and diversity; issues of the equator; and issues about the relationship between Indonesia and India. (5) The execution of the activity should agree with the proposal. (6) There should be interdisciplinary practices in the concept, design and execution of the activity. (7) The artistic aspect.

The ten participants of Biennale Jogja XI 2011 Parallel Events have met all the requirements set according to these seven criteria. We as members of the Jury wish to extend our appreciation to all participants of the Biennale Jogja XI 2011 Parallel Events for their enthusiasm and contributions.

We as the members of the Jury of Biennale Jogja XI 2011 Parallel Events have agreed to give the awards to three participants with the Best Program Designs, without ranking them. They are: Ace House Collective, Kandang Jaran and KUNCI Cultural Studies Center.

The decision of the Jury is final and not subject to an appeal.
Yogyakarta, January 3, 2012,
Members of the Jury PE BJ XI 2011
PM Laksono
Nindityo Adipurnomo
Halim HD
Muhammad ‘Ucup’ Yusuf
Amalinda Savirani
Parallel Event

Whose the city belongs to? We fill it we have it.

Biennale Jogja XI did not merely showcase artists’ creations in the form of two- or three-dimensional works, but also included activities that involved the general public. Art presentations that took the form of activities were located outside the main exhibition space of Biennale Jogja XI and spread all across Yogyakarta. The public was able to enjoy bits and pieces of these activities at Yogyakarta Arts Center. These presentations included fragments of the events initiated by the participants in the Parallel Events program, fragments of the events from Festival Equator, archive exhibition by Indonesian Visual Art Archive, exhibition of collaborative works by volunteers of Biennale Jogja XI and Indonesian Students’
Association in India about the popular culture in India. Information about alternative tourist attraction related with the theme of Biennale Jogja XI and the issues that the Biennale plans to take on in the next ten years—i.e. those of the Equator—was also presented by students of Geology Faculty of Universitas Pembangunan Nasional Yogyakarta, Bolbrutu (gank of the stone hunter, and Viavia Café at the Yogyakarta Arts Center. Mural and graffiti
artists also took part in this event, they were PLUS03,

Jogja Biennale time after time*

Assembling the documents and documentation of the Biennale Jogja

Life seems to be too big to just be a research object,

and too great not to be celebrated.

(Ignas Kleden, 1988)

It is indisputable that the  Jogja Biennale (BJ) is the most consistent, big, routine arts event in Indonesia. It only rival is the Biennale Jakarta (which is older than BJ but not as routine). Several other biennales, such as those in East Java and Bali, are not as established as the first two I just mentioned, and are not as consistent in terms of their schedules. Just like the Biennale Jakarta, BJ is also a product of the local government.

In its 21 years of existence, BJ has changed looks three times. It all began with the Yogyakarta Painting Exhibition which was organized by Taman Budaya Yogyakarta (TBY) in 1983, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Afterwards, TBY, which was under the leadership of Rob M. Mujiono by then, changed the biggest exhibition into the Biennale Painting Yogyakarta (BSLY) in 1988, 1990, and 1992. In the introduction of the BSLY 1988, Mujiono said that the aim of the biennale event was to provide facilities for the best artworks in the past two years, so that, in time, the event could be a barometer of activity and the level of creativity of the artists, as well as the public’s appreciation toward Yogyakarta’s paintings. To select the best artworks, BSLY had a panel of judges who did not only choose the works to be exhibited, but also which works would receive awards; that continued until BSLY 1992.

One day ahead of the BSLY 1992 event, the public and media attention was taken over by the opening of the Binal Experimental Arts 1992. (Jogja is indeed a wordplay city: “Biennale” in Indonesian dialect is pronounced “bee-null” and written “binal” in Indonesian, which translates into “naughty”.) Binal was organized by a number of young artists who objected to the requirements of BSLY participants. (The two most controversial requirements at that time were “Participants are professional painters aged at least 35 years old as of July 1, 1992 [and ...] Participants may submit painting works [two dimensional] not using the batik medium” (Source: Binal Experimental Arts 1992 Proposal.) As the name suggests, Binal provided numerous forms of art other than paintings; from installation works in public spaces (alleys, round-abouts and the UGM boulevard), performances in public spaces (Tugu Station, Taman Sari and the South Square), artwork exhibitions at artists’ studios (Eddie Hara and Regina Bimadona), installation exhibition at the Senisono Gallery, as well as open public discussions at the Tempo Building. In nine days (July 27 – August 4, 1992), Yogyakarta was filled with art activities which involved over 300 artists. BSLY 1992 kicked off and ended losing popularity and exposure. There was barely any mass media which covered the BSLY, or if there was, it was only to compare it with Binal.

Two years later, the BSLY name was no longer heard. As a replacement, TBY organized the Rupa-rupa Seni Rupa (The Variety of Arts) Exhibition comprising: Outdoor Sculpture Arts National Exhibition, Biennale IV Painting Exhibition, Contemporary Arts Exhibition (Installation) and Arts Workshop. The Variety of Arts exhibition triggered the birth of Yogyakarta Visual Arts Biennale (BSRY) which no longer included a panel of judges as had been the case with the BSLY. In exchange, the Variety of Arts exhibition in 1994 and BSRY 1997 and 1999 invited several source persons and a number of writers to be involved in the events. The source person team (which in the beginning, in 1994, was called the curatorial team) was the one who curated—in the curatorial logic that we understand right now—the event.

There was no BSRY in 2001 due to a local autonomy policy which eliminated funds for one period of the BSRY event. In 2003, Biennale came back with a new look. One (single) curator came up with a theme for Biennale. The event was then officially called BJ. Not only was a curator involved in the BJ event, but also a commercial gallery came as one of the sponsors. As a result, the succession of BJ increasingly depended on the curator, the management team, and sponsors. Curated by Hendro Wiyanto, BJ VII 2003 was established under the theme Countrybution, and was the roots of the establishment of the BJ.

Indeed so, BJ VIII 2005 themed Right Here Right Now, was curated by three curators, M. Dwi Marianto, Eko Prawoto, and Mikke Susanto; was organized in 13 different locations; and sponsored by Gudang Garam Internasional. BJ VIII 2005 brought back the “win – lose” principle (one is better than the others) with an award as a symbol of it. Merry celebration, festivity and award-giving ceremonies were patterns of the event, which are repeatedly (and are even getting bigger and bigger) in the next BJ events. Aside of the fact that the event was just organized in three locations, the four curators of the BJ IX 2007 Neo-nation—Suwarno Wisetrotomo, Kuss Indrato, Eko Prawoto, and Sudjud Dartanto—included 167 artists and four groups; while BJ X 2009 Jogja Jamming: Art Archives Movement was organized by four curators (Wahyudin, Eko Prawoto, Samuel Indratma, and Hermano) along with the board of curators (Agus Burhan, Ong Hari Wahyu and Sindhunata). No wonder there were 323 artists (including 82 groups) listed as participants of the latest BJ event.


Something interesting happened at the BJ X 2009 event. A number of art workers who have long been involved in the arts scene proposed the institutionalization of an independent BJ. (Grace Samboh)


* This story is a short note out of my findings in the process of archiving the ten Biennale Jogja events. The assembly of documents and documentation, and the archiving of the Biennale Jogja were done with (and for) the Indonesian Visual Art Archive.



Interviewing the Equator

Starting in 2011, the Biennale Jogja XI, which takes place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, will work its way around the equator, a zone designated as the area between the Tropic of Cancer (latitude 23°27′ north) and the Tropic of Capricorn (latitude 23°27′ south).  Biennale Jogja will look further towards the future, open up new perspectives and develop confrontations that engage convention and the establishment by examining similar situations all over the world. The discourse of contemporary art has become very dynamic, but we still notice that the dichotomy of center and periphery remains very strong. There is the need to identify new opportunities and seek out more valuable meaning in a biennale event.

The geopolitical parameters of North and South, which reflects categories of wealth and territorial closeness in term of stereotypical ethnicity, have been contributing greatly to the development of contemporary culture these days. We dream of a differentiation; we hope to be the initiator and catalyst for the creation of alternative relations and inter-relations in the practices of art.

The equator will be the common platform to re-read the notion of the world. At the same time, the equator can negate the existence of the ‘centers’ by offering a specific territorial frame of working; 23°27′ NL and 23°27′ SL. This is a step to introduce a non-central perspective.

The equator, when viewed within geological, geographical, ecological, ethnographic, historical and political realms, is of tremendous interest as a working area to be explored. Its diversity, which is a reflection of the wealth of abundance along the characteristic solar exposure, reflects closely linked living resources. The similarity of natural characteristics is framed within the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.


The equator – the earth zone which has a relatively higher speed of rotation; on a stretch of territory 40,000 km long; a mosaic of island continents in the webbing of the ocean – will be an ‘arena’ in which to assess results, meetings, encounters, clashes, repairs, renewal, and  humanity.  In each edition, beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2021, Biennale Jogja will work face-to-face with one other country at the equator, walking toward the West.  The title will be BIENNALE EQUATOR, shortened from its full title of THE EQUATOR: Biennale Jogja.




The Mission of Yayasan Biennale Yogyakarta (YBY), established on August 23, 2010 is to:

Initiate and facilitate efforts to achieve a strategic concept of urban planning based on art and culture and to improve the blueprint for cultural city of the future as a space for fair and democratic living.

Visual arts are one of the sectors of cultural creativity which is growing rapidly in Yogyakarta, stands in a central position and is very important in the life of Indonesian arts. Yogyakarta has played a very dominant role in the history of Indonesian visual art. This region is home to the most influential art academies, the residences and studios of the country’s leading artists and host to a never-ending stream of arts events.

The development and management of our cultural resources is an effort to build and optimize all the potential of the people creating art and cultural heritage as well as the utilization of all the cultural assets which exist in the Special Region of Yogyakarta.

1. Nindityo Adipurnomo (head)Artist, Supervisor of Yayasan Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Director of Cemeti Art House
2. Oei Hong DjienBusiness owner, art collector, founder of the OHD Museum of Modern & Contemporary Indonesian Art
3. Butet KartaredjasaCommunity representative, Head of Yayasan Bagong Kussudiardjo
4. Mella JaarsmaArtist, founder of Yayasan Indonesian Visual Art Archive, Director of Cemeti Art House
5. Eko PrawotoArchitect, observer of urban problems, professor at  Universitas Kristen Duta Wacana, member of Dewan Kebudayaan Yogyakarta
6. Christine CoccaCollections manager and conservation specialist, international arts management professional
7. Tom TandioBusiness owner, art collector
1. Suwarno Wisetrotomo (head)Curator, professor at the Indonesian Institute of Arts, member of Dewan Kebudayaan Yogyakarta
2. Anggi MinarniCommunity initiator at Heritage Yogyakarta, Director of  Karta Pustaka
3. Ong Hari WahyuArtist, community art activitist
1. Yustina Neni (executive director)Arts managment professional, Director of Kedai Kebun Forum, Co-Founder of Yayasan Indonesian Visual Art Archive
2. Dewi Yuliastuti (administrative assistant)Arts management professional


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