Towards a Festival of Nongkrong: Questioning Models of Cultural Exchange

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Conference Proceeding
2008, pp. 3 - 10 (7)
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As artists conceive, plan, and produce specific responses to environmental crises, their cultural practices including their visual languages develop new relationships to local, national and global politics. This research explores these innovative forms of cultural activism as a site of friction where meaning is produced and exchanged. I use the word 'friction' as intended by Anna Tsing, as a metaphor for the diverse and conflicting social interactions that make up our contemporary world. This paper focuses on the production of culture in the collaborative setting of an environmental art festival in Salatiga called Festival Mata Air, which simultaneously adopts and rejects existing cultural models. Rather than gallery-based artworks designed to engage with a community on prescribed levels, initiatives such as this event and its resulting outcomes are process based cultural projects, given a specific place in the local history of a neighbourhood, and opening spaces for meaningful cultural exchange.
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