Culture is the essence, it defines any civilised society or individualPhoto Mella Jaarsma


Cemeti Art House

The Indonesia Contemporary Art Gallery

cemeti office

Trainees Oki Permatasari (right) and Sari Handayani, at the Cemeti office


Culture is not a luxury?

Art and culture are often seen as expressions for the upper class, but culture in Indonesia comes in many forms. The art projects we organize at Cemeti Art House are aimed at specific communities such as children or local villagers. These projects provide an alternative perspective on current social, environmental and political issues. In my opinion, culture is a must and an indispensable part of our daily lives.

Professionalizing the art scene in Indonesia

his time the financial support of the Prince Claus Fund enabled us to set up a three year art management program. Young people are formally trained as curators and art Oki Permatasari, trainee at Cemeti Art House: Working at Cemeti Art House is inspiring for me. I can learn from other art organisations and their wide network. I am most interested in learning how to manage an art space like Cemeti. For example, I am learning about how to make a contract with the artists, how to be efficient in making publications, invitations and thinking about how to reach the public. managers, as in Indonesia there are only a few art management or art theory courses in the country. The poor art infrastructure with no establishment of a Modern or Contemporary Art Museum in Indonesia means that our activities and international network becomes even more important in the attempt to professionalize the Indonesian art scene.

What the Prince Claus Fund means for us

The Prince Claus Fund has supported several significant projects in the past that helped Indonesian artists to enter the international circuit. Their international breakthrough has not only contributed to their artistic development, it has also opened up possibilities of networking and exchange. The exchanges with artists from other Asian countries were particularly valuable.

Cemeti Art House is a non-profit, self supporting organisation that sells works of art to cover its operational costs. As we don’t receive any government funding, we rely on foreign funding to initiate special projects such as the art management programme. With the financial support of the Prince Claus Fund we can professionalize the Indonesian art scene by organizing exhibitions, workshops, discussions, etc.

The role artists play in society

Contemporary art in Indonesia can be seen as a representation of artists’ concerns and views regarding issues in their society. Through their work, artists criticize and Sari Handayani, trainee at Cemeti Art House: I like to work with the artists and learn not only about the developments of local artists but also about international artists. I am interested in the process of curating, to get a wider scope about art. I have learnt that it is not only the curatorial writing, but also the display, the documentation and other educational aspects that are important. depict general phenomena in society, whilst others express individual and personal approaches to their reality. These ideas and themes are expressed through a diverse range of media.

Many Indonesian artists grew up in the Suharto era and were very much concerned with the political situation that they critiqued through their art practices. The days of a common enemy have passed and commenting on the social and political circumstances through revolt or provocation is no longer the only way. Recent art discourse shows us the need to comment sensibly taking into account the perspective of the global market and neo-liberal developments. Artists are taking an active part in the current changes. The motto is: ‘If you want change, start with yourself; you can no longer blame the government for everything.’

With Indonesia being the largest Muslim country in the world, the global development that divides us into Muslims and non-Muslims has a considerable impact on our society. We are currently involved in fighting the new pornography laws, to keep our freedom of expression. Art is functioning as a hybrid voice.