Ketemu Project Space
Mintio (Samantha Tio) and Kabul (Budi Agung Kuswara) are internationally exhibited artists whose work has shifted profoundly since becoming parents. As the sexism and privilege of the art world presented new barriers, the two artists merged their separate practices into multimedia collaborations, including “The Wax on Our Fingers” and “The Current/s We Call Home.” They also founded Ketemu Project, a socially-engaged arts organization in Bali that allows them to operate beyond the commercial art world. Ketemu uses art to engage marginalized groups in the community, address environmental concerns, and support the work of fellow artists through a new family-in-residence program.
Budi Agung Kuswara
Budi Agung Kuswara or ‘Kabul’, as he prefers to be known, was born in Sanur, Bali in 1982. He graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from the Indonesia Institute of Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He was raised into the custom of Kamasan painting, i.e, the living tradition of storytelling art used to decorate the island’s temples and the houses of the aristocracy, and serving to convey peace and harmony within Balinese society.
As a child painting was a readily accessible mode of expression, nurturing and playful, a medium through which Kabul could later explore his feelings and ideas about identity and life. “My perspective was different to the traditional cultural identity and I came to understand that I didn’t fit in with the mainstream,” Kabul said. “So I learned to follow my own path.”
He views the material as a living character and is not limited to objects or subjects and viewing technicality as a vehicle in representing the character of every material he used including a visual archive that speaks about histories. Negotiation of existence, appreciation and the equality that are inclusive of the surrounding social environment is his biggest concern.
Charmed by Orientalism and how exotic images led to supposed attitudes and ideas of Bali by westerners, in 2013 Kabul started using an old printing technique to experiment with, and explore his ideas about cultural identity, while creating new inroads in Balinese contemporary art.
In 2017, he was one of the nominees for the International Public Art Price in Hong Kong & won the Tujuh Bintang Gallery (Yogyakarta) Art Award “THE DREAM (The Power of the Dream) in 2009. He has also undertaken residencies at Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei, Taiwan (2016), Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan (2012), and TAKSU Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2012). Kuswara lives and works in Bali, Indonesia.
Mintio's art practice focuses on lens and time-based medias. Trained in the foundations of photography and cinematography, Mintio uses these two mediums to condense space and time, constructing fantastical spaces and other-worlds in her artworks. Her first publicly exhibited series "Concrete Euphoria", uses the large format photography medium and an almost-performative methodology to create mandalas with light from urban landscapes. Mintio then went on to explore virtual realities and capture the psychological states of internet gamers in her subsequent series "~T.H.O.H.Y~ (aka The Hall of Hyperdelic Youths). Mintio has exhibited globally. She has presented work on international platforms like the Noorderlicht Photo Festival, Asian Triennial Manchester and at the San Fransisco Art Institute. Her works have been acquired by Google, the Singapore Art Museum, the American Embassy and the National University Museum of Singapore. Beyond her art practice, Mintio is also currently the Director of Ketemu Project Space, an alternative space for art and social practice in Indonesia.
Mintio has also been active as an art educator. She has facilitated workshops for the COMMAS (Community Arts in Schools) program of the Singapore Teachers Academy of the Arts. She has also been invited to lecture at the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. In 2016, she was invited to Taipei by Bamboo Curtain Studio to conduct research on pedagogy and facilitation methods for creative explorations in environmental education.
Selected image from “Wax on our fingers”, relational project by Budi Agung Kuswara and Samantha Mintio
Selected installation image from “The Current/s We Call Home”, by Budi Agung Kuswara and Samantha Mintio