The Roberts Institute of Art
Curating Collections commissions disabled artists to curate projects with artworks from an established international collection.
For our first Curating Collections as part of the Art et al. X Ketemu programming, a collaboration between Butong (Sukri Budi Dharma) and the Roberts Institute of Art, funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grant. Butong is an Indonesian artist and activist whose work is rooted in advocating for access for disabled people in art practices. The Roberts Institute of Art (RIA) is a non-profit contemporary arts organisation, part of whose mission is to research and share the David and Indrė Roberts Collection.
Over several months Butong worked with RIA’s curator Yates Norton to explore, engage and examine works from the David and Indrė Roberts Collection. With the meetings being held virtually on Zoom and with the conversations graciously live-translated by Ketemu Project’s Sidhi Vhisatya, these discussions held particular barriers that could have hindered effective communication. However, with Butong’s thoughtful and thought-provoking observations, paired with Yates’ knowledge of the collection, an incredible curated selection and conversation emerged.
excerpt of #BehindInterest by Butong from e-catalogue
In this journey, I also created space to reflect and recognise how my own personal conceptions of self influence the way I appreciate an artwork. I considered how the recurring dialogues between my ‘ideal’ and ‘real’ self affect certain expectations and interests that guide my process of seeing or interpreting particular artworks. I questioned, how does an artwork resonate with the values I believe in? Does it make me feel seen? Or in the opposite way, does it make me feel uncomfortable? I offered this personal narrative during our meetings with Yates to make sense of the interrelation between my background and the way I build connectedness with the artworks I picked.
Below are two example works that Butong chose from the David and Indrė Roberts Collection to curate his project, #BehindInterest in partnership with the Roberts Institute of Art. These artworks represent each of the two concepts of his digital project: Body, Figure and Narrative and Material Objects Representing Humans. His ideas and the full selection of artworks can be seen above – viewable through the ISSUU catalogue, or available as a downloadable PDF for you to look through and zoom in and out of.
“I took this collaboration as an opportunity to observe how international artists examine themes that might be considered either taboo or too subversive if they were shown in Indonesia – the place I grew up as a person and as an artist…During this collaboration, I was introduced and reintroduced to a diverse range of issues addressed by artists in the David and Indrė Roberts Collection.”
“Each curation opens up spaces to tell stories and see artworks and the world through a new lens. When we were invited to participate in Art et al.’s Curating Collections programme, we knew that this opportunity would allow us to encounter different ways of looking at the David and Indrė Roberts Collection, while also exploring how it can inspire the work and practice of a guest curator.”
-Yates Norton, RIA Curator