8 Months at IVAA: A Reflection on Internship

Konten Sorotan Magang kali ini berisi satu tulisan refleksi selama menjalankan proses magang dari Esha Jain. Esha Jain adalah peserta Bridge Year Program, sebuah program pelayanan selama sembilan bulan yang memungkinkan mahasiswa baru Universitas Princeton terlibat dalam pekerjaan pelayanan masyarakat di cakupan internasional. Sejak Oktober 2018 hingga Mei 2019 melalui lembaga Where There Be Dragons, Esha menjalankan proses magang di IVAA. 

By Esha Jain

Before coming to Indonesia, I had very little experience with the arts and archiving, which is why I was so excited to get to work with IVAA. At first, I was interested in IVAA because it had so many different components: archiving, documenting, and the public library, each of which was very new to me.  It also seemed like a great way to learn more about Jogja through a unique medium, as Jogja has more art—both formal and informal—than any other city that I have experienced. 

Working at IVAA for such an extended period of time allowed me to experience the different departments within the organization. The first few months of IVAA, I worked on documenting events and writing summaries of English books for the library. This was a fun introduction to the work that IVAA does. I enjoyed getting to go to different events, and read more about the art scene in Jogja.

However, my exposure to Jogja’s art scene grew starting in January I started walking around Jogja to document street art. This was one of my favorite parts of my time in Jogja. You can see much more detail when walking on foot around a city than when you’re zipping around in a car or on a bike.  Because I was walking with the intention of taking pictures, it forced me to slow down and take time to wander along streets and alleys I normally would not have gone down. 

The process of sorting the pictures into different categories was also really interesting. In the end, the categories of pictures ranged from soccer to tolerance to tags. The sorting process was a bit difficult at first because I did not understand all the references or topics being discussed, but with translation help I was able to learn about the topics and issues that people in the city cared about. This was another organic way to learn more about the cultural nuances of Jogja, and Indonesia at large. For example, I learned about topics ranging from the impact of increasing tourism on the city to political tensions related to the presidential election. 

This was my first time seeing a city with as much street art as Jogja. Where I live in America, it’s illegal to have street art without permission. But, in Jogja since everyone can make street art there is such a wide variety of topics and quality of art. There were some sections of the city where one person had tagged almost every store door with just his name, almost as if he or she were marking territory. Just one street over, meters-long murals tackled climate change. The longer I walked around, the more I noticed the differences in the way the art was created, whether it was by using paint, spray paint, or even stencils. As a whole, it was interesting just to observe what subjects people chose to depict, especially because everyone was able to without needing permits or approval, which could have censored their work. 

Throughout the year, I also worked on organizing the archives from Karta Pustaka. The first box I worked on contained twenty three albums with photographs from the 1970s to the 1990s. The most difficult part of this job  was translating the captions from Dutch (because they were from a Dutch organization), so that the location, event information, and date could be recorded. It was fascinating seeing the influence that the Dutch had on the types of events being held. For example, there were photographs of Christmas parties and competitions where students would create miniature fairy gardens—something not often seen in Jogja. After this first box, I then organized a bunch of film by date, and put them into binders. This was the first time I had ever seen hard film and again, it was interesting to see which specific things were deemed worthy of documenting. Then, I moved onto sorting DVD covers and VHS tapes. This was my favorite thing to sort through because I got to see the covers of Dutch movies, Indonesian visual art performances, and even American movies. The sheer magnitude of archives to sort through was striking. 

IVAA, along with other organizations, had preserved so much. Many of the materials were created before I was born, and sorting through them felt like I was touching history. Previously, I always thought of archiving as something that was done by museums and for a very select historical events. Working with IVAA’s archives illustrated to me the importance of archiving a variety of different subjects and mediums in order to get a more holistic view of history and culture. 

During my time at IVAA, I was also a part of the book club. This book club was unlike any book club that I was a part of in America. To begin, it was the first non-fiction book that I had read in a group setting. Along the Archival Grain was a book that examined the Dutch colonization of Indonesia through a lens of archiving. Reading the book not only helped me understand the history of colonization in Indonesia and the impact that it has on current issues, but detailed the broader issues of colonization and western-centric way of thinking. 

One of my favorite parts of interning at IVAA was meeting all of the other interns. Especially in the last couple of months, when I had stronger language skills in comparison to the beginning of the year, it was really fun getting to know my peers and understand why they wanted to work at IVAA. I think the one criticism that I would have for IVAA is how the events are planned. At times, it felt like the publicity was done last minute. 

Learning how to document, organizing the archives, writing for the newsletter all allowed me to gain an understanding of how an NGO functions and why cultural preservation is important, especially in a world that is rapidly changing and growing—and in the process, overriding  certain art forms. I am leaving IVAA with a greater appreciation for the necessity of archiving, and am looking forward to exploring similar opportunities back in America.

Artikel ini merupakan rubrik Sorotan Magang dalam Buletin IVAA Dwi Bulanan edisi Mei-Juni 2019.