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realtime traveller

 Da Contents H2

July 22 2015
Place: Seoul, South Korea
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist

February 4 2015
Place: Bourges, France
Traveller: Gail Priest, sound artist, RT Online Producer

March 26 2014
Place: Split, Croatia
Traveller: Peter Volich, artist

September 4 2013
Place: Linz, Austria – Ars Electronica special
Traveller: Matthew Gardiner, artist, researcher, curator

May 1 2013
place: brussels, belgium
traveller: sophie travers, performing arts producer

January 30 2013
place: glasgow, scotland, united kingdom
traveller: robert walton, director, live artist, lecturer in theatre at vca

November 6 2012
place: auckland, aotearoa, new zealand
traveller: gail priest, sound artist, associate editor realtime

October 23 2012
place: santiago, chile
traveller: tim welfare

September 18 2012
place: munich, germany
traveller: glyn roberts, playwright/producer

July 17 2012
place: detroit
traveller: rebecca conroy, trans-disciplinary thinker maker doer

July 3 2012
place: beijing, people’s republic of china
traveller: dan edwards, writer/journalist

place: yogyakarta
traveller: malcolm smith, artist, arts manager and curator

May 22 2012
place: wroclaw, poland
traveller: janie gibson, actor

May 8 2012
place: beirut, lebanon
traveller: jim denley, musician

place: shanghai, people’s republic of china
traveller: thea baumann, executive producer aphids, director of metaverse makeovers

April 24 2012
place: berlin, germany
traveller: jana perkovic, writer, urbanist

place: hong kong, people’s republic of china
traveller: bec allen, arts producer

March 6 2012
place: barcelona, spain
traveller: jodi rose, sound artist, writer

place: new york, usa
traveller: michaela coventry, dance producer

place: sarajevo, bosnia & herzegovina
traveller: kym vercoe, performer

place: turku, finland
traveller: nigel helyer, artist


Malcolm Smith at his exhibition opening at Lir Space in Yogyakarta, 2012 Malcolm Smith at his exhibition opening at Lir Space in Yogyakarta, 2012
photo Dito Yuwono
reason for travelling

Smith is currently based in Indonesia.

contemporary art—ancient culture

Throw a stick in Yogyakarta (usually referred to as Yogya, and pronounced Jogja) and chances are you’ll hit an artist. Throw a couple more and you’ll hit a foreign artist here on a residency, exchange program, research grant or just escaping the winter back home. The relaxed pace of Yogya, the city’s reputation as the cultural heart of Java, the fact that it’s home to one of the country’s largest art schools and the cheap cost of living make it the perfect place to immerse yourself in art for a few weeks (months, or even years…).

Here Here, street art, 2012 Here Here, street art, 2012
photo Agung Geger
Located in the centre of Java, Yogya is surrounded by the ancient Borobodur and Prambanan temple complexes in the East and West, the active volcano Mount Merapi in the North and the fabulous beaches of Parangtritis and Wonosari in the South. In the centre of town, amongst centuries-old palaces, rambling marketplaces and narrow streets there is also an ever-expanding range of contemporary art spaces.

for culture…

The venerable Cemeti Arthouse should be the first stop on your Yogya Art Tour. Cemeti opened in 1988 and ever since has played a key role in the development of contemporary art practice in Indonesia. A short walk away are Kedai Kebun Forum and Langgeng Art Foundation, both of which host exhibitions by local and international artists, as well as regular seminars and performances. Ten minutes to the West is Sangkring Artspace, a complex of enormous spaces that host some excellent shows. Taman Budaya Yogyakarta and Jogja National Museum are public venues that regularly host contemporary art events, including the Yogya Biennale and Art Fair Jogjakarta. The next ArtJOG12 will run July 14-28.

Eddie Prabandono, A Sleeping Child, opening night, ArtJOG11, 2011 Eddie Prabandono, A Sleeping Child, opening night, ArtJOG11, 2011
photo Malcolm Smith

For those with more specific interests, there is a proliferation of small collectives and artist-run spaces. As in any city, they tend to come and go, but some that have lasted several years are House of Natural Fibre, aka HONF (for science/art projects), Mes 56 (photography), Survive Garage (street art), Kunci (cultural studies/theory), Paper Moon Puppet Theatre and Theater Garasi. The Indonesian Visual Art Archive houses a vast library documenting art practices over past decades and is an excellent resource for curators and researchers. You can pick up a great map of Yogya artspaces from IVAA or Kedai Kebun, or download it here.

Malcolm Smith, grant writing workshop at IVAA Yogyakarta Malcolm Smith, grant writing workshop at IVAA Yogyakarta
photo courtesy IVAA 2012

If you are planning a trip to Yogya I recommend you do a little research and contact one or two of the above organisations. Artists are warmly welcomed in this city and well looked after (if you get a chance, you can return the favour one day). Giving an artist talk or a workshop is a great way to meet the locals, make friends and get access to a side of the city most tourists never see.

getting around…

There’s very little public transport in Yogya and the streets (like every Asian city) are swarming with small 150cc motorbikes. If you are prepared to brave it, they are a great way to get around and can be hired for about $4 per day. Otherwise you can hire a bicycle for about $2 per day or hail a becak (rickshaw). Remember to negotiate the fare before you climb aboard.

Anang Saptoto, Mobile Display (from the series Indonesian Zone) 2011 Anang Saptoto, Mobile Display (from the series Indonesian Zone) 2011
photo courtesy the artist

for accommodation…

The Prawirotaman area is close to all the galleries and cheap, good restaurants. Hotels here range from $10-$40 per night, but paying more doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better experience (or even a clean bathroom). Some of the smaller homestays offer much better value. ViaVia Homestay or Rumah Eyang have small but clean rooms in a good location with friendly staff at $15-$20 per night. If you are looking for a bit of luxury in the midst of the rice paddies, D’Omah Retreat in Tembi is unique and beautiful, if a bit out of town. Their rooms range from $60-$100 per night.

Pirated contemporary Indonesian artworks for sale on Yogya's sidewalks, $1 each, (Prihatmoko Moki, 2012) Pirated contemporary Indonesian artworks for sale on Yogya's sidewalks, $1 each, (Prihatmoko Moki, 2012)
courtesy the artist

other recommendations…

Javanese culture goes back a couple of thousand years and contemporary society reflects the complexity of its history. The Javanese are famous for being excessively polite but at the same time are very laid-back. Service is slow, rules are more like recommendations and if you ask someone for directions they will always stop and help you, but there’s no guarantee they understand where you want to go, or how to get there. Most of the arts community here speak English, but the rest of the population probably don’t, so learning a few basic phrases of Bhasa Indonesia and taking an interest in the history and culture of the place will open doors to a world that is endlessly interesting and surprising.


Cemeti Arthouse

Kedai Kebun Forum

Langgeng Art Foundation

Sangkring Artspace

Taman Budaya

Jogja National Museum

Art Fair Jogjakarta


Mes 56

Survive Garage


Paper Moon Puppet Theatre

Theater Garasi

Indonesian Visual Art Archive

Jogja Pages

ViaVia Homestay

Rumah Eyang

D’Omah Retreat


Malcolm Smith is an artist, arts manager and curator currently based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Before moving to Indonesia he managed exhibition programs in contemporary art spaces around Australia, including the Australian Centre for Photography, Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design and 24HR Art, the Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art.

related articles

the riches of rusting
RealTime issue #64 Dec-Jan 2004 p34
malcolm smith: tracks dance company, RUST

look back, move forward, cross borders
rebecca conroy: contemporary indonesian performance
RealTime issue #93 Oct-Nov 2009 p5

art becomes village becomes art
RealTime issue #79 June-July 2007 p14
jan cornall at perfurbance#3, yogyakarta

fire and blood—indonesian performance art
jan cornall at perfurbance#2, jogjakarta
RealTime issue #73 June-July 2006 p8

© Malcolm Smith; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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