Today I will be developing a few of the themes from a text I wrote some months ago on the manifestation of the discourse of the commons in the field of art, especially ‘commons’ as a concept, ethic or tool to revise organisational strategies and critical practices that would define themselves in proximity to social engagement or community work.
An evening, Popok Triwahyudi came to my house with a mountain-sized question, what is the role of art for the people? I wondered whether he is serious or joking with such a question. I thought it’s rather surprising. How could, in these days, an artist, and even a contemporary artist, ask a question about his role for the people? Hence, I gave him a question, which artist and which art that you mean? He said, of course the artist and their works we often see in galleries and be published in Sunday papers. In brief, the contemporary artists… Oh, I see. Then I asked him more question, which people? He replied, surely the common people, the ordinary ones we meet in kampongs. Then I said to him, if that is the case, the answer is clear: the role is absent! We know that it’s difficult for most people to understand and appreciate artworks exhibited in contemporary art galleries. What hey know is that art is usually used for entertainment, commemorating a moment or someone worthy of remembrance. That’s the concept of beauty in people’s mind. Hence beautiful, more or less, should also be effective and efficient.