Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Diary of an NUS Museum Intern: Danuh Tyas

Note: Diary of an NUS Museum Intern is a series of blog posts written by our interns about their experiences during the course of their internships. Working alongside their mentors, our interns have waded through tons of historical research, assisted in curatorial work, pitched in during exhibition installations and organised outreach events! If you would like to become our next intern, visit our internship page for more information!   

In December 2014, we invited two students from Soemardja Gallery to participate in our internship programme. Soemardja Gallery is the oldest university gallery in Indonesia; it serves as an educational complement to the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) Department of Fine Art and as a cultural resource for the institute and Bandung arts communities. During their internships, Muhamad Ady Nugeraha and Danuh Tyas interacted with fellow interns, as well as worked on research leading towards the building up of an archive on Bandung-based artist Tisna Sanjaya.

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Archives, Awareness and One Question 
by Danuh Tyas 
Bandung, February 2015 


Hmmm... What did I do during the two-week internship at NUS Museum...? It might be a simple experience, but it might also be an interesting one. For a whole two weeks, my time was filled with activities related to Tisna Sanjaya – an artist from Bandung and also my lecturer at college. In the time of those two weeks, I tried to archive the data about him. 

Creating the archives actually wasn’t a complicated job, it was rather simple, but many people might forget or not think about the necessity of such a thing. During the two weeks, I was searching and collecting data such as articles, news, photos, interviews, and statements about Tisna, and then processing them into neat and easily accessible archives. The most important thing that I gained from the process of searching data and preparing the archives is about ‘awareness’.  Simple awareness, yet often unconscious: that the collected data that has not been processed is not yet an archive, and the task to compose the archives of an artist, may capitalise simple things–at least it happened for me– such as when I spent time in front of the computer screen relying on an internet connection to search for data. In my opinion, it actually would be better including books for reference; we can’t depend too much just on information off the Internet.

I think that this kind of awareness is often forgotten in the present. In my head, I often imagined that archives are those stacked and dusty objects or documents in the corner of the library or warehouse. That kind of "old-school" imaginations of archives actually makes me happy to search, “hunt”, and collect the old and dusty documents or objects like that. It is pleasant to feel like I am  “treasure hunting”. The problem is, when I had to find and collect various kinds of documents and objects, I forgot to process it further, so that all kinds of thse documents and objects eventually were just stacked neatly in a drawer, without further processing.  And now I have just realised, what I have collected in all this time, has not yet become an archive. Yes, that is so ...

And oh, there is another form of awareness that I found interesting after I compiled the archives of Tisna. It’s about the awareness of processing data and compiling them into the archives. In the process I also had to consider a simple system that would be easy to understand for others accessing it. Therefore, it is the need to arrange archives that come equipped with complete information and ordered as neatly as possible. And for this point, I think all this time, I have not put a single thought to it... 

Finally, two weeks of my internship ended and I have returned to Bandung to think about many things, plus the ‘awareness’ that I’ve got. I think that both “archives” and “compiling archives” itself are important things, especially for spaces like museums or art academies; as institutions (place) that produce, share and disseminate knowledge about art. In addition, I am also thinking about how important the existence of archives about the artists, records, and documentation of various art activities are for the country itself, such as in Indonesia –where I come from - where its art history is not yet considered as old and there are many fractures, ruptures within a maze of information. I also think that compiling archives may not only be of the author's own interest, but it also concerns the interests of others. In addition, it should think about a accessible yet simple system for people or other later usage, and thus a compiled archive should also allow various possibilities for research  and a variety of knowledge to be produced and distributed. Last but not least, there is an important question (yet it might be a personal one) that is floating in my head: after searching, collecting and processing data; after making and compiling neat and easily accessible archives, then - as students, academics, researchers, curators or others - with archives that I have and have collected; “What would I make...?”

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