Choreographed knowledges

Choreographed Knowledges is a project by artist Julia Sarisetiati, curated by Grace Samboh, building on the artist’s long-term research and engagement with Indonesian migrant workers. Choreographed Knowledges aims to explore how bodies of power such as state and corporations, “choreograph” bodies across the globe as a migrant workforce, focussing particularly on what comes before: education and training.


What do you want to be when you grow up? Starting from childhood, we are taught to answer this question with a particular profession: a doctor, an astronaut, a teacher, a soldier, a police(wo)man, a painter, etc. This shows that humans are workers. If you are a doctor, wherever you will go, people will ask you questions about health. Even if you are a dentist you will be expected to be able to answer questions about stomach disease. Our work has an affect on our roles in our social lives. In fact, what do we accomplish by working? Does your job match your ideals? How do you choose the path of education you will travel? Does education limit or expand your choice of occupation? What is the attitude of the state towards education and employment to guarantees the continuity and welfare of the lives of its people?

Since 2011, Julia Sarisetiati (Sari) has engaged with a variety of migrant worker communities and organizations from Indonesia, including migrant workers in South Korea, academics in the field of employment and labour, migrant workers preparing to return to their hometown, as well as with prospective workers who are about to embark abroad. In 2016, Julia Sarisetiati started developing a digital smartphone application called IndoKWork offering a platform for migrant workers to exchange experiences and knowledge, from practical information or tips needed for survival (concerning language, food, ways to overcome cultural differences, etc.) to strategies to develop their lives once they return tot heir home country (for instance: what businesses could they start up?). Based on the ongoing friendships that Sari has built with these communities, the artist attempted to trace the topic of human (as) resources in Indonesia, asking: In this vast and rich country, why do so many people decide to work abroad? Is this an informed or a cornered decision? and “What national educational systems and policies exist and how are these implemented?”. Sari particularly focusses on the relation between migrant labour and education.

Choreographed Knowledges can be seen as a pause in the artist’s artistic practice, which consists of longterm research and community building. Sari will share her notes and questions about the policies and various interests that underlie the migrant workforce. How are migrant workers trained, educated and managed? In what kind of industries do they work? Who or what creates the demand for the migrant work force? And how do the state and corporations stage and train workers to meet this demand? By means of video and photo installations, a resource room, a timeline and other research findings, this exhibition looks in-depth at how future migrant workers are taught to embody knowledges relevant to the industry and country they will travel to while questioning what politics underlie the need to work abroad. Choreographed Knowledges furthermore invites all of us to consider our working conditions and its relation to education.

This exhibition is part of Bodies of Power/Power for Bodies, Cemeti’s ongoing programming thread that explores the social role and political agency of cultural practice; how we can speak to (bodies) of power, as well as directly support our individual and collective bodies.

In 2018, Grace and Sari also worked together in the context of the Equator Symposium (Yogyakarta Biennale Foundation) and POLLINATION (The Factory Contemporary Arts Center & SAM Fund for Art and Ecology). Some of Sari’s artworks presented in this exhibition are also exhibited as part of the group exhibition We’re in this, together at The Factory, Ho Chi Minh City (14 December 2018 -27 January 2019).

Solo exhibition of Julia Sarisetiati
19 January—9 February 2019
at Cemeti – Institute for Art and Society

Public Programme
Tour of the exhibition by the artist
Jan 22, 11-13 PM

Performing Knowledges – series of events
Feb 2, 15-21 PM
#1 ACT
Screening of footage of Verry Handayani’s theater work  Jangkar Babu. Sangkar Madu (2013), followed by a public dicsussion with Muh. AB, Ferial Afiff, MN Qomaruddin
A karaoke session of migrant workers’ songs initiated Brigitta Isabella with Yaya and Nopel as MCs

Untuk versi bahasa Indonesia, klik di sini
To see the exhibition, click here
To read the exhibition guide, click here

About Grace Samboh

Believes in unicorn, conviviality and the struggle towards collective subjectivities—even temporarily.
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