Dance Curating in Asia
Helly Minarti（印尼日惹 Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
印尼舞蹈節策展人 Curators of Indonesian Dance Festival
首先，至少在印尼舞蹈節（「Indonesian Dance Festival」（IDF））和「Art Summit Indonesia」（ASI）這兩個（皆在90年代創立的）大型藝術節中），策展工作一直是一班叫做「藝術委員會」的人的共同努力。這與經常出現在視覺藝術界的個人策展者不同。在印尼的藝術史上，Jim Supangkat是第一位自稱策展人的藝術家，他在1991年為自己冠上這個新名銜。視藝界的策展工作／策展人的歷史還在編寫中，但未被制度化。當我在2014年獲邀擔任IDF的聯合策展人時，我很清楚自己正在踏上「策展作為協作實務」的傳統。
2012年，官僚世界的一些改變令IDF從市政府拿到第一筆重大資金，但事後看來，這或沒有轉化為紮實、精彩的節目。這正好提醒：縱使金錢是個重要資源，但它並不是全部。一番檢討過後，聯合創辦人／搞手Maria Darmaningsih、Nungki Kusumastuti和Melina Surjadewi邀請了我加入團隊。
《La Danse Macabre》；編舞: Gusbang and Natasha Tontey；照片由IDF提供
接著是一輪密集的討論和協商。我發現團隊中有著某種我不完全認同的工作文化、思考模式和工作模式。最後我在一個條件之下加入了，就是舞蹈節要將焦點轉成給予空間讓人自我反思、建立批判思考和增進知識，而非營造「喜慶」氣氛 — 就如大部分（若非所有）印尼表演藝術節一般。當然，野心是很大，但值得一試。
作為觀眾，我留意到2012年的展演呈獻了大量短篇（共十二段，每段長十五至二十分鐘）。短篇由來自全國不同地方的編舞家創作，最後組合起來就變得混亂，思路不清。故展演打動我的是它的「共融性」 — 它包含了不同地區與文化特色，而非一個集合不同編舞構思的宏大視野。就2014的展演，我提議只精選三段短篇，和每一位編舞緊密地合作，並就每一個創作上的需要作出支援。
經過六年來的三次重整展演，逼使大家加速學習。在2016年的版本，我們從IDF策展工作坊邀請了Linda Mayasari、Nia Agustina和Taufik Darwis加入我們的策展團隊，連同我和鄧富權就是五個人了。三個新人的加入有效地導向我們離開原有以雅加達為中心的思維，他們分別從萬隆和日惹的角度去審視舞蹈，正好能互相補足。為準備2016年的展演，我們舉辦了首個藝術研究工作坊，從十幾位參與的年輕編舞中挑選了三位參與展演。為了尋找最有效能協助年輕編舞去發掘和表達他們獨特的藝術之方法，我們作了不少試驗。我們的構思本是想透過工作坊裝備他們，然後委派至少一位策展團員緊密跟進創作過程，可是2016年並不成功。最後年輕編舞們都沒有重構原來的創作，而是另創新作。
Ayu Permata Sari，其中一位於「Kampana」展演表演作品的編舞（Kampana為梵文字詞，意思為振動）
文：Helly Minarti （印尼日惹）
出生於雅加達的獨立舞蹈策展人／學者。自2018年末搬到日惹，一邊建立一個協作式編舞研究平台「LINGKARAN | koreografi」，一邊重整自己的檔案紀錄。
[ENG] Curating dance: An Indonesian experience
Text: Helly Minarti
The words 'curating dance' can conjure up many things -- depending on context and one's understanding -- but within the Indonesian contemporary dance realm, this term is a transplanted one. It's probably more to do with the figure of the 'curator' rather than the practice it refers to since historically, I would argue, the practice (of curating dance) has been always there, even if the name was different.
For a start, at least as represented by two major international festivals in the country, Indonesian Dance Festival (IDF) and Art Summit Indonesia (ASI) (both created in the 1990s), curating has been a collaborative effort by a group of people identified as the 'artistic board'. This is different from the visual arts where the solo curator figure is more common. Within Indonesia's arts history, the first person to call him/herself a curator was artist Jim Supangkat in 1991. The history of curators/curating within the visual arts field is still being written but is not yet institutionalized. When I was asked to be co-curator for IDF in 2014, I was aware that I was treading on this lineage of 'curating as collaborative practice'.
Founded in 1992 by a group of dance artists/scholars who were teaching at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ), IDF started life modestly with those initiators chipping in their own money to fund it. Driven by a spirit of camaraderie it provided an annual platform for dance students to present their works. In those early days, thanks to the international network of one of its co-founders, dance scholar Sal Murgiyanto, the platform soon engaged with certain international bodies such as the World Dance Alliance (Asia-Pacific Chapter) and the Asian Cultural Council in New York City.
Managed by this community, IDF started looking for outside funding (local and international) with varying, inconsistent results. Some years were good, others not. Thus, programming was not driven by conscious planning, rather by what would work at the time. Entering the new century, IDF struggled for some years, before resurfacing; and in 2006, choreographer Sardono (one of the key founders) invited Tang Fu Kuen to join the artistic board on a friendly basis. In 2008, Daisuke Muto joined too - more or less in the same manner. These appointments were made in a more social way (on friendly terms), not through professional contracts.
In 2012, certain changes in the bureaucratic world made it possible for IDF to get its first substantial funding from the city, but in hindsight this wasn't necessarily translated into solid, critical programming. This is a valuable reminder that although it’s an important resource, money isn’t everything. It was at this moment of self-reflection that co-founders/organizers Maria Darmaningsih, Nungki Kusumastuti and Melina Surjadewi invited me to join the team.
A series of intense discussions and negotiations ensued. I was aware there was a certain work culture, ways of thinking and doing things which I might not necessarily share. I finally agreed to join on condition that the festival would shift its unconscious focus on privileging the 'festive' side -- as seemed to be the norm for most (if not all) Indonesian performing arts festivals -- into creating space for self-inquiry, critical/discursive thinking and generating knowledge. Indeed, a lofty ambition, but well worth a try.
La Danse Macabre; Choreographers: Gusbang and Natasha Tontey; Photo provided by IDF
The first consequence of such re-positioning was to discontinue the choreography competition. By then the festival was organized biannually and simply divided into a selection of main performances, the showcase of local emerging choreographers, short master classes plus a longer workshop and discussions. Below I am sharing the experience of re-formatting the showcase as the actual core of IDF from its inception, i.e. how to support and cultivate the artistic practice of young Indonesian choreographers.
As an audience member, I had observed that the previous 2012 showcase presented an overwhelmingly large number of short pieces (12 of them, each 15 to 20 minutes long) by choreographers from all over the archipelago, that in totality resulted in an unclear, or even random line of thought. The showcase therefore struck me more as an 'inclusivity' project representative of geographic and cultural areas than a vision formed by a variety of choreographic ideas. For 2014, I proposed to drastically cut down the number, only presenting three short works but being really clear with the selection, consciously working with each choreographer and supporting each particular artistic need.
Re-formatting the showcase has proved to be a steep learning curve that has spanned three editions across six years. In the 2016 edition, we recruited three people from the IDF curatorial workshop to join our curatorial team, which in total became five with me and Tang Fu Kuen. Having the three curators' assistants on board was an effort to de-centralize away from a Jakarta-centric point of view. They, Linda Mayasari, Nia Agustina and Taufik Darwis, complemented each other's reading of the dance scene as seen from Bandung and Yogyakarta. To prepare the 2016 showcase, we organized our first Artistic Research workshop, in which just over a dozen young choreographers took part, with three of them selected to present their work. It marked our experimentation in search of the best model to support young choreographers in discovering and articulating their distinct artistic voice. We tried and obviously, trialed. The initial idea was first to equip the three choreographers through at least one particular workshop and then assign one of the curatorial team to closely accompany each further studio process. However, this didn't quite work out in 2016, and this showed in the outcome when instead of re-working the initially proposed projects, the choreographers ended up creating new works that lost the edge shown earlier.
This experience made us realize how fragile such a process could be, knowing now that we needed to put more attention, energy and care into it. In the third edition, 2018, the three young curators were more ready to work as a team, and slowly integrated into the specific dynamics at IDF. We started to plan early for the showcase processes, and allocated at least nine months for them to unfold. This time we selected five choreographers and one visual artist who collaborated with one of the former. So, there were five short choreographies to re-work and refine.
Most of the choreographers brought a 15-minute work in progress or an ongoing research idea. For two days, they brainstormed, elaborating each choreographic idea and giving feedback to each other in order to produce a roadmap of the next steps before everyone met again in a five-day artistic lab a few months later. In between, they worked on their own.
We replaced the workshop format with a five-day lab specifically designed for these five plus another young choreographer from Singapore sent by Dance Nucleus. Each was allowed to bring a key collaborator as thinking partner into the lab. Three senior artists facilitated a session and we all took turns in moderating these conversations, carefully setting the tone to blur any hierarchy. We also made sure there were enough days for the young choreographers to draw on the arts community in Yogyakarta -- where the lab took place -- such as visiting artist collectives or meeting certain artists whose work resonated with their inquiry.
Throughout this delicate process, creating an invigorating yet safe space for each to speak out and explore was paramount; allowing them to question and be unsure. If anything, we all learnt how curating dance is an embodied practice rooted in flowing, synergetic energy which eventually involves a lot of invisible works and ultimately, care.
Text: Helly Minarti (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
A Jakarta-born who works as independent dance curator/scholar. She moved to Yogyakarta in late 2018, reorganizing her archives in the process of setting up LINGKARAN | koreografi, a collaborative choreographic research platform.