This book focuses mainly on the Jakarta-based artists’ initiative ruangrupa, and to a lesser degree on a number of other Indonesian artists and initiatives, as case studies of how Indonesian artists organise and manifest themselves individually as well as collectively.
Although contemporary art in Indonesia is completely integrated within the global art discourse, the fundamental context of Indonesian artists is in fact quite different from that of the contemporary Western artistic practice, in which notions of individuality and ‘autonomy’ play a key role. This perspective, at least in its current manifestation, is based on a neo-liberal worldview focused more or less entirely on the pursuit of individual success.
However, what is often missing from this perspective is an awareness of local networks, and a contextual (as opposed to purely conceptual) way of thinking and acting.
Indonesian artists’ initiatives, on the other hand, tend to think and work from the perspective of the communities of which they are already a part. This is quite different from the Western notion of ‘community art’, as it addresses fundamentally different approaches to community and networking.