Redefining Art Space with Keliling Art Space

Written By
Annisa Puspa Andira

Edited By
Fazrah Heryanda

Photo Source
Keliling Art Space

A great place to chill while enjoying art is definitely through art space. But, some people still finding the existence of art place invokes a sense of alienation, intimidation, and exclusivity. Far from the premise, Danny catalyzes a Surabaya-based art space and movement–Keliling Art Space, for artists and art enthusiasts to share, create, and appreciate art creation. Unlike any other art space, Keliling doesn’t rely on space to cater to their vision: cultivating the local arts.

We are amazed by what you're doing in your project 'Broke Artist' before you started Keliling. Can you share with us how Keliling Art Space begins its movement?

To be honest, the initial idea to establish Keliling Art started from my experience when I attended an art exhibition for the first time. At that time, I found myself wondering about how rare in Surabaya to hold such an event like that. Before Keliling, ‘Broke Artist’ was my first experiment. I was astonished by how people have genuinely appreciated what I’ve initiated. That was the time I realized that people didn’t obsess over where the event was held, but instead seeing it how engaging the content could be.

From there, my thoughts about ‘venue’ developed over time, where its function as a medium, not the main element. It’s the human resources that we should be paid more attention to. Then, it inspired me to create a conceptual event, an art space without space itself. Therefore, Keliling Art Space–a movement to accommodate artists and all art enthusiasts through activities and programs that will be able to fulfill their needs of knowledge, networking, or skill development. Without a fixed venue, we moved from one place to another in every Keliling event. We aim to be known as a fluid art space to reach anyone and not defined by one particular group.

An art space without a space seems unthinkable. So, how do you manage Keliling Art to be approachable by the public?

We have values in each activity. The most important one is inclusive. We don’t want to elevate ourselves because of our role or feeling superior as the creator of Keliling. For example, in every Keliling event, both the participants and crews would wear the same name tag. It sounds frivolous, but this could clear away any boundaries and distance between the audience and us. Also, in Keliling, we have programs such as Studio and workshop, which we differentiate the mentors. For workshops, we invite professional mentors outside Keliling, while in Studio, our internal team would be the mentor. In Studio, we tend not to put any label what is wrong nor right. So, it’s like more sharing than talking. And, we didn’t charge any fees for every Keliling event so that everyone can join and enjoy it.

We can empower people by many ways, including sharing knowledge or experience, not just focusing on profitability.

It's risky to hold an event for free because sometimes people take it for granted. Is there any way to avoid that kind of situation?

It’s tricky indeed; however, the event is free because we want to give an equal chance for the people in gaining knowledge and improving their ability in easier way. Because everyone has different access—the more exclusive art space, it can create gaps, separate certain people, and makes the barrier even broader. Our event has a limited quota, so when it was exceeded its quota, we made the draw, so no participant feels excluded.

Talking about people take it for granted, we’ve established a system. We ask participants to pay a deposit, which we returned on the day of the event. It’s still a free event because the money is just for their commitment. So, if the participant canceled their participation, we’ll return their money, and re-open the registration.

Then, how about the professional mentor who fills in Keliling's events? What do you offer them since you're not charging anyone to join your event?

We consider professional mentors as a brand.  In Keliling, we offer them to collaborate with us. The form of our collaboration is more about what they need and what Keliling can provide to meet those needs. For instance, our collaboration with Saebori Indonesia. In this collaboration, we have held a workshop featuring Saebori as the mentor of shibori making, and we provide them with our audience which they need for more exposure. Eventually, it leads to open any opportunities and increase their brand visibility. In this way, we are similar to Youtube, showcasing content without asking the audience to pay, but in this case, we tend to place greater emphasizes on learning and sharing platform.

It's inspiring to do activities where anyone can rejoice in. So, what are the programs that you guys initiate?

We have workshops, studios, shows, film screening, tours, and exhibitions. Last January, we specially arranged a little trip to Biennale Jatim, inviting everyone through our Instagram who has been expressed to attend the event but still a bit hesitating because no one wants to accompany them. So, we organize the tour by gathering them in the meeting point and then went to Biennale Jatim together. It’s our way to support art events, especially in Surabaya, and opening a path to people appreciates and involves more on it.

Wow, it never crossed our minds; an art space could do something like that!

We want to break the boundaries! Because, when it comes to exhibitions, events, or activities, from 2009, Surabaya never lack of it. However, if we ask again, what’s the impact? Based on those evalutions, we know that the focus should be on factual meaningful matters, including how to influence and develop people around us, our team, and our volunteers.

We designed our activities based on what people can attain from it. We admit that it is difficult to give an extensive knowledge with our short time, but at least the participant could enjoy themselves and happy by attending our event. So, they want to come back again every time we hold the events and willing to participate in Keliling. And, over time, there’s a sense of reward when participants rooting for us. It feels good how they support us by sharing and promoting our event or purchase our merchandise. This is a long-term investment that encourages the sustainability of art space existence.

You've mentioned the situation of the art exhibition in Surabaya before. Then, in your opinion, how is the appreciation or acceptance of art in Surabaya itself?

When it comes to potential, Surabaya has an extraordinary artistic and creative potential. However, the tendency of Surabayan is often to define, classify, or distinct themselves in specific groups and make interaction to ‘other’ groups is unlikely. The competition level is expected to rise, and appreciation of the other groups become lesser, including in art movements or brands. The hesitation and tense between them making collaboration is hard to do.

That’s why, we make Keliling as fluid as possible. We greet every people who come to our events as an acquaintance, a long-time pal. Sometimes, the participants brought their friends to join our event, and eventually, we open and expand their networks to grow together.

What is the next plan for Keliling?

We want to make Keliling as an empowerment platform. In our opinion, we can empower people by many ways, including sharing knowledge or experience, not just focusing on profitability. In the long term, it projects how Keliling can be impactful and resourceful for art and community development. In the long-term, we want to reach a wider audience rather than just in Surabaya only, even though our focus in 2020 and perhaps next year is indeed in Surabaya first. Overall, we want to maintain our vibes to be fluid, friendly, and fun because art is supposed to be enjoyed!