Year: June 2019 - January 2020

Ketemu Project, CoCreation Workshop, Uma Seminyak, Dr. Esther Joosa, Kabul and Loster, Sliz and Kelvin, Mary Bernadette Lee and Tamimi Pohan, Kolown and SPED students

Words by Tulika Ahuja

Now Is A Good Time was built on the idea of collaboration.

I got introduced to Sam (Samantha Tio “Mintio”), the co-founder of Ketemu Project through a few online exchanges in June 2019. She explained Ketemu Project’s socially-driven work and their efforts to include differently-abled people in the creative economy. In July 2019, I came on as a curatorial resident to research disability-led practices for making art. Starting in Bali with the Ketemu team’s support, led by Sam, I was tasked to activate differently-abled artist pairings from selected Southeast Asian countries to create movement towards a more conscious creative economy.

It was my first encounter with disability. Esme Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias was a prelude to the questions I would project outwards to society and medicine, but navigating the language of disability meant confronting myself in so many ways.

Over many late night arak sessions with Kabul and early morning visits to Rumah Berdaya with him and his co-artist Loster, I developed exploratory ideas for the directions I could seek in my research. I was particularly interested in why art was the glue for collaborations between differently-abled people. Beyond its therapeutic and economic powers, what sort of conversations and discussions could art generate? At the same time, I was bogged down with more operational questions of how collaborations between the artist pairs would take place.

In one heated GoJek taxi conversation with Sam, we argued about what responsibilities a co-artist should carry in a collaborative partnership. Talking through opportunities, artistic intent and the practicalities of an artist career, my research opened up to more psychological grounds in relation to the physical and mental self.

With the superstar artists that agreed to come on board this project - Mary and Tamimi, Sliz, Kelvin and Hartini, koloWn, Michelle and the four SPED students, Kabul and Loster; my understanding of what it meant to be an artist grew. I saw these artists oscillate between non-artist roles - as facilitators, developers and social planners. The artists each had their own methods to reach the common goal of producing work with their co-artists.

What this work carries is depth in its collaboration - between humans of various abilities and differently-wired chemical compositions, as well as with time, physical materials, the natural and built environment, and circumstance.

I don’t see this exhibition as an end, although certain works come full circle. This project is a point in a journey that can go many different ways for us, all at the same time. Its nature of public presentation - in Seminyak, where people from all across the world wander - brings unpredictability and a chance for anyone to carry the baton forward. There is hope that the works offer permanence instead of transience.
(For Bahasa Indonesia, read below.)

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