Sama-sama/Together was an international cultural exchange and residency project between Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP) of San Francisco and Apotik Komik of Yogyakarta, Indonesia initiated and curated by artist, writer, and CAMP co-director Megan Wilson. The project was co-organized by Wilson, writer Ade Tanesia of Yogakarta Indonesia and Kevin Chen, program director of visual arts for Intersection for the Arts.
Sama-Sama/Together Yogyakarta: In July 2003, six artists in conjunction with CAMP (Carolyn Castaño, Carolyn Ryder Cooley, Alicia McCarthy, Aaron Noble, Andrew J. Schoultz, and Megan Wilson) traveled to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to work with artists from the collective Apotik Komik (Samuel Indratama, Arie Dyanto, Nano Warsono, and Arya Panjalu). Over five and a half weeks, the San Francisco artists met several dozen members of the arts and greater community in Yogyakarta and painted large-scale murals throughout the city, had lunch with the Yogyakarta mayor and his staff, and cultivated relationships with the artists from Apotik Komik that became the heart of the project.
The process for the design and creation of the murals was left up to each of the artists. However, Apotik Komik paired all of the San Francisco artists with an Indonesian artist to work with as an assistant or as a collaborator for the duration of the project. Apotik also arranged for the permission of the sites prior to the SF artists’ arrival. The sites were then visited by all of the artists and selected based on individual interests.
Andrew Schoultz collaborated with Nano Warsono and painted a 100 ft. long wall in the Imaga neighborhood, located on the North West edge of Yogya. Carolyn Ryder Cooley worked with Arya Panjalu and painted an electrical box located in the center island of an intersection near the Kridosono Stadium. Aaron Noble worked with Arie Dyanto and painted on the façade of the Permata Theater at the intersection of Jl. Sultan Agung and Jl. Gajah Mada. Alicia McCarthy collaborated with Codit and Farhansiki on a large wall next to the train tracks near Jl. Malioboro. Megan Wilson and Carolyn Castaño both painted on different sections of the wall on the outside of the Purawisata complex on Jl. Ireda. Megan worked with Farhansiki. Carolyn worked with Rohman.
In addition to the murals, Apotik Komik arranged for an evening of video works by San Francisco artists Bill Daniels, TWCDC (Together We Can Defeat Capitalism), Vanessa Renwick, and Lisa Swenson/ Megan Wilson/ Gordon Winiemko presented at LIP (the French Cultural Center in Yogya), and exhibition of the San Francisco artists’ works (also at LIP), and an exhibition at Via Via Café.
Sama-Sama/Together San Francisco: When the San Francisco artists left Yogya at the beginning of August it was still unclear if the Apotik Komik artists would be granted visas. Following three interviews over the course of several months, they had been told to check the embassy’s Website daily to see if their passport numbers were posted. This was an incredibly stressful time for everyone involved in the project – not knowing if we would be able fully share the experience that we had hoped for together. However, after several more weeks of negotiating though new, stricter immigration laws and working with several key individuals in Nancy Pelosi’s office (thank you Harriet Ishimoto!) and the US embassy in Jakarta (thank you Riley Sever!) the Apotik Komik artists were granted their visas and arrived, exhausted but ecstatic, at SFO International Airport on September 2, 2003.
Following the arrival of Apotik Komik in San Francisco, all of the project artists collaborated on an exhibition at Intersection for the Arts that opened on September 10th and was up through October 25th. Intersection also hosted events at the gallery every Saturday afternoon throughout the exhibition; these included an artists’ talk by Apotik Komik, a talk by Professor Jeff Hadler from UC Berkeley on contemporary Indonesian art from a historical context, a video screening, and an artists’ talk by the San Francisco artists.
Similar to Apotik Komik’s preparation in Yogya, CAMP and the San Francisco artists worked to deepen community relationships with selected sites and secure wall space for Apotik to create murals in San Francisco. These spaces included Southern Exposure Gallery at 17th and Alabama Streets, Le Beau Nob Hill Market at Clay and Leavenworth Streets and Rainbow Grocery at Folsom and Division. Like the San Francisco artists, the design of the murals was left to Apotik Komik. However, unlike the San Francisco artists, the Apotik Komik artists chose to collaborate with each other on all of the murals produced. Samuel Indratama and Arie Dyanto collaborated on the fence outside of Southern Exposure. Nano Warsono and Arya Panjalu collaborated on the entire facade of Le Beau Nob Hill Market. All of the artists, including the San Francisco artists contributed to the wall on Rainbow Grocery.
The San Francisco and Indonesian artists worked within similar aesthetics and methodologies – producing work influenced by comics and imagery found in the public sphere such as graffiti, advertising, and design with an indefatigable, resourceful, and community oriented approach. Using materials such as wooden pallets, cardboard, and house paint often reclaimed for artistic purposes, all of the artists manifest the inherent potential of these commonplace objects with a distinct handmade approach. Both groups of artists also inhabit the periphery of our modern capitalist world, using a sensibility informed both by social activism, environmentalism and a number of different cultural tools to open, educate, and transform the communities they live in.
Ephemera from CAMP’s Sama-Sama/Together International Exchange, 2003:
The responses to all of the murals in both communities has been mixed and ranged from disgust and contempt to deep gratitude and a life changing experience. Most importantly the work provided a vehicle for dialogue and discussions about public space, community and the perceptions and misconceptions of different cultures. Sama-sama/Together still continues to generate fertile, cross-cultural exchange amongst the two communities and beyond.