Arts & Culture

Gudskul: Building a Collaborative Learning Culture

The arts requires more talent than hard work? Discuss.
Words by

“Malu menyapa, sulit berkarya.”

You will find this writing on a banner at the front door of a studio complex at Jagakarsa area, Jakarta. It literally means, “(If you’re too) ashamed to greet, (it will be) difficult to create.” and it effectively shows the root value this particular art space holds. The studio complex, which was named Gudside, was designed to be a place for artists, architects, designers, students, and anyone who needs a space to do their creative projects.

It is also the home for Gudskul, an educational platform aimed to maximise the learning opportunities about arts in the forms of collaboration and sharing.

Gudskul was launched earlier in the year, on February 2019 and was built by three arts collectives, ruangrupa, Serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara. This collaboration came about since all three collectives strived for similar values when it comes to arts-based learning: collaboration. Supported by each collective’s experience and expertise, Gudskul was introduced as a shared art space and contemporary arts ecosystem that provided art-related classes, as well as holding events and exhibitions.

What inspired the initiative of this establishment? What do you seek out to achieve with Gudskul?

Gudskul: Studies on Contemporary Art Collective and Ecosystem is an educational platform formed by three Jakarta-based collectives: ruangrupa, Serrum and Grafis Huru Hara. Since early 2000s, these collectives have been separately practicing collectivity in the contemporary art realm. In 2015, they joined forces to form a common ecosystem, Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem. Learning from this working experience, Gudskul outlines a knowledge-sharing platform for everyone interested in the practice of similar approaches.

Gudskul is formulated to simulate collective practice with focus on dialogue, criticality, experimentation and empirical understanding. In Gudskul, participants will be directly involved in the mechanism of our ecosystem practice, while also expanding our valuable  networks and resources.

We sincerely believe in sharing and working together as two of very vital elements in developing Indonesian contemporary art and culture. Gudskul intends to disseminate initiative spirit in artistic and cultural endeavours in a society committed to collectivism. Gudskul aspires to promote initiators who put local needs as their highest consideration, while at the same time contribute and hold crucial roles internationally.

Gudskul is inviting anyone who are interested in co-learning, developing collective-based artistic practice and art-making with a focus on collaboration.

Gudskul is a public art learning space. Why do you think such a space is necessary to have in Jakarta?

In the context of art development in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta, the emergence of artists collectives or alternative art spaces are always hand-in-hand with knowledge distribution program. This seems to be a response from us to answer the lack of access to contemporary art education, especially with regards to the practice of collaboration, collective and open art ecosystem development. In addition, taking a dual role as a space for sharing and learning always appears in the collective character of artists in general. Because, of course, we want a broader dialogue with the public and also to become more open to things happening around.

How does Gudskul differ itself from any other art school or space?

Gudskul cannot provide a bachelor's degree or a special degree of expertise, so from the beginning we did not try to "distinguish" ourselves from art schools in general. Moreover, the specificity of the subject of study we offer (collectivism and ecosystems art) directly has its own clear definition with other high institutions. If other art schools offer degrees, Gudskul offers a network of friends and also access to jointly use the resources that we have as a larger collective.

Some believe that the arts requires more talent than hard work. Do you agree with this sentiment?

No, we do not agree. Among us, it seems that no one has artistic talent anyway! ha ha. Moreover, addressing the development of art today, the problem of talent seems to be the priority of the umpteenth need.

First of all in our opinion is the ability to be relevant to your surroundings. Learning to be humble and friends with many people. Develop a desire to share and group.

But if most of us like to karaoke, it can be counted as talent, huh?

To pursue a successful career in the arts in Southeast Asia, what qualities do you think an artist should possess?

To be successful? This question is difficult to answer, because the indicator of success is immense. If you intend to be successful in the art market, of course we do not know the answer. But yes like the previous answer, try to be relevant first in all the thoughts and artistic practices that we do. Moreover, we live in one of the hottest regions on the face of the earth, it seems that if it can be used as a measure of the quality of artists, success will follow (get a smile from your neighbours for example).

What are some hopes you have for the art scene in Jakarta, and how do you hope to contribute to this narrative with Gudskul?

Since the beginning of our three collective, our hopes are still the same, the Jakarta art scene can be a laboratory that supports young artists-curators to express themselves, develop methods of working together, and grow as a resilient art ecosystem.

That's what we imagined when we built Gudskul.

Photography credits: Panji "Jin" Purnama Putra

Related Articles