QUIET ODD #16 _ VIDEO BATTLE (I)
Selection by Adelina Luft
The production of video in Indonesia emerged against the backdrop of the socio-political unrest marked by the downfall of Suharto’ authoritarian regime (1998) and it was rapidly embraced as a tool and medium by both activists and artists. During late 1980s and beginning of 1990s, video art was mainly used as integrated elements in installation works by a handful of back then late “postmodernists” in a context of rigid censorship and controlled forms of expression. Even after the end of the “New Order” (1967-1998) era, video art did not breeze in as a progressive innovation in the artistic realm as much as it was used as a tool to criticize and activate against the capitalistic entertainment industry and more specifically against the mainstream television culture.
Except from a few names that map the beginning of video art in contemporary Indonesia (Krisna Murti or Heri Dono as the emblematic figures), it is the rise of new media art communities that shaped local video production as a particular practice in the region. With the fall of Suharto’s regime, apart from spreading critical voices through grassroots video activism and social video activism to support and document different post-Reformation social movements aimed at empowering marginalized communities, another form of video activism took shape. The experimental video activism emerged as a critical positioning towards mainstream media and innovative experimental approaches to video production, yet it is rather arguable whether these new practices did take critical distance from the genres of popular culture or merely adopted them.
In a context of long historical traditions of working through and with communities, Video Battle is one video community among many others that emerged after the Reformation in 1998 (ruangrupa, Common Room, Video Lab, MES56 to name just a few), when greater freedom of speech, increased gentrification, globalization of information and access to cheaper technical equipment started to kick in and impact the middle-class youth.
The selection of videos for QUIET ODD include compilations by VIDEO BATTLE spanning from 2004 until today and explore artistic elements of video making while enhancing an accentuated sense of humor and parody. Besides the VIDEO BATTLE screenings divided in 2 sessions, a selection of artist films is added to each screening session. Their subtle irony and humoristic approach is not just a deliberate curatorial gesture but it also attains to represent the spirit of an era and their visible influence on the current young generation of video makers. Apart from their content, the videos also expose how the different familiar techniques of home-made video production, video art and digital experiments in video-making are organically intertwined.
Video Battle artists: Arief Budiman, Bayu Pratama, Fajar Riyanto, Kevin Christophe, Wimo Ambala Bayang, Yudha Kusuma Putera
About VIDEO BATTLE
Video Battle is a video compilation produced and distributed independently since 2004 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. This compilation represents a collective effort to spread out video works of various genre/styles to the larger public. The video compilations are distributed both through physical format release and on the Internet. Video Battle project is opened to anyone who wishes to contribute with video works. There are no specific requirements for submitting videos in regards to a certain genre/style, however each video should not exceed the maximum of 8 minutes. Some of the characteristics expected by VB members are a desire to create something different, new, interesting, smart, naughty, and effortless.
After a suspended activity for more than 10 years, Video Battle is back in a different era where everyone has become familiar with making, distributing and consuming moving image, where video has ceased to be merely a means to document different social movements, but has become a tool to jack up one’s popularity. For this come-back, VIDEO BATTLE is looking for new potentialities and possibilities in regards to video for the younger generations. Taking these various possibilities, VIDEO BATTLE wishes to read how the current developments in video making take place. Besides, they wish to become a collection source for the young generations who are consistent and excited about video-making, to further spread their contents and offer a contextual reading in the larger realm of video art practice.
Alongside the Video Battle selection, we are showing a few other artist films from friends of Mes56 collective.
The Like series by Yusuf Ismail (b. 1984, based in Bandung – Indonesia) impersonates the movements, gestures, and facial expressions of three video performances from the 70s (Andy Warhol eating a hamburger, Jospeh Beuys “Filz TV” 1970, and Peter Campus “Three Transitions” 1973). The resulting scenes of stiff, artificial and awkward performance immediately attempts to re-examine the incessantly present issue of originality in a contemporary society that deals with the rapid development of information technologies on a daily basis.
Sandcastle: the mermaids breathe the moonflowers paunch are rose in the absence of instructions ring the mingle alarm jingle horsey hoarse climbing the pear tree with obedient demons. FRAU – “Mr. Wolf” is directed by Natasha Gabriella Tontey (b. 1988, based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia), with Andysa Tontey as the mermaid. Filmed in Indonesia and various areas in the krazy kosmic.
Once upon a Time in China by Wimo Ambala Bayang (b. 1976, based in Yogyakarta – Indonesia) is a video art produced during a residency period in Kunming, China 2005. It presents a fictional story about a person who falls from the sky, takes a walk around here on earth and finally heads back to the sky. The video is a critical response to the habit of spitting in public spaces in China.
A regular night, a soap drama series is playing on the TV, the room is cooled by the air conditioning, Edwin is busy working with his laptop, while his wife is sleeping tightly, when, suddenly, the power is off. It’s dark and the room starts to heat up. Tokek is a video work by Anggun Priambodo (b. 1977, based in Jakarta, Indonesia). Anggun is a multi disciplinary artist. In his works he explores various mediums such as video, photography, performance and installation to criticize the urban culture in a satirical manner.
 See Videochronic: Video Activism and Video Distribution in Indonesia published by KUNCI Cultural Studies Center, 2009.