Mutual Learning is the research and residency component of the Mutual Project. The Mutual Learning Research Residency Program aims to extend the goals of Mutual Unknowns through 3 travel/research/residency grants that will take place in South East Asian countries.

We encourage research proposals that are inquisitive and seek to explore the many networks and strategies of interactionmovement, and informality that animate and reinforce the production and presentation of art in the region.

Some questions that may arise from these topics are as follows:

– What is the nature of cultural exchange programs that inform and (currently) inundate contemporary art practices in South East Asia countries?

– How is interaction conceptualized, facilitated and sustained within exhibitions and collaborative projects across the region?

– How does (the lack of) time and movement shape intraregional exchange?

– How does informality in artistic practices and exhibitions, assembled and disguised in different forms and embedded in varying degrees, contribute to what we now consider and identify as a “Southeast Asian exhibition”?

As celebratory cum evaluative cultural and diplomatic activities and expositions circulate in anticipation of this year’s 50th anniversary of the ASEAN, we hope to continue our necessarily persistent investigation of the flows of national-regional-international power that orient, inform and confront artists and exhibition-making in the region.

(IM)MATERIAL EXCHANGE: Culture, Knowledge and Lifestyle Across the Strait

Researcher : Raisa Kamilia, Ferry Gelluny
Co-researcher: Hayman Oo

This project proposes to trace the circulation of people, goods, and knowledge that were exchanged during the late colonial period, ranging from the 1920s up to 1940s, across the Strait of Malacca. By this, we also want to understand how borders made by the British and Dutch authorities affected the exchange of material objects and immaterial possession occurred in the frontier of its colonies. By looking at archival records of vernacular press, mainly advertising, as well cinema and literary works, this project attempts to scrutinize the patterns of consumption and lifestyle in port cities along the strait, but under Dutch rule like Banda Aceh, Medan, Batam and Pangkal Pinang. Driving from preliminary questions such as: what appear frequently, who published or produced it, where it was distributed and how it was presented, this project will explore how such areas under Dutch rules were participated and represented in the making of popular culture along the Strait of Malacca.

Raisa Kamila was born and raised in Banda Aceh. She obtained her bachelor degree from Faculty of Philosophy, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta. Raisa is a current student of the MA Colonial and Global History at Leiden University through the track of ENCOMPASS-Cosmopolis. Her research interest lies in the Islamic visual culture as well the social history of areas along the Strait of Malacca, particularly Aceh, from late colonial up to the Cold War periods.

Ferry Gelluny is an artist (mostly work as collaborator) currently based in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. His education background as a communication student influences the themes of his works; Human interactions, concept of space, became his main interest. His works are diverse from visual design, drawing, photo, video, installation, to social experiment with interactive and participatory approach in art. Currently, Ferry sustains his middle class lifestyle with broad range of commission works from photography, videography, visual design, research assistant, line producer, fixer, translator, and display works.

Performing Citizenship in South-east Asia: Case Study of Thailand

Researcher: Joned Suryatmoko
Co-Researchers: Potjawan Panjinda, Atikom Mukdaprakorn

Focusing on case study of Thailand, this research is focused on how citizens participate in the democracy of South-east Asia countries by using performative means such as performance art, performance and theatre. Community arts in Thailand which has been a new trend in last decade provides a thriving development of using performative tools in politic. Citizen participation in Thailand itself has increased since couple decades, marked by the promulgation of people’s constitution in 1997. It was paralleled by same development in the Southeast Asia region such as Indonesia (reformation in 1998) or former revolution in the Philippines in 1986. The participation has not been done only in conventional ways such as elections. This research will particularly investigate how this citizenship is perceived, experienced and practiced with performative means, which I will refer this as performing citizenship. Based on my first field observation in Indonesia, ascetic practice (such as cementing the protesters’ feet (by Kartini Kendeng) or practicing silent protest (by Aksi Kamisan), strongly influences this performing citizenship practice. It is challenging to see the differences between these practices in Thailand, and how can it encourage citizen to participate.

Joned Suryatmoko is known as a theatre maker, playwright, community facilitator and researcher. Some of his works are focused on urban spaces such as kampongs, shopping malls, club, markets, roads as well as public transportation. He has presented his works in various platforms such as Jogja Biennale (2015), Monsoon Platform European-Asian Artist Meeting in Ansan & Seoul, South Korea (2006); Visible City Melbourne Fringe Festival (2010); Southgate Melbourne (2010); Asia Playwright Meeting in Tokyo, Japan (2009) and Melbourne (2011), PEN World Voices New York (2015) and The Global Voices Portland, USA (2016/ 2017). He is founder/ director of Yogyakarta-based Gardanalla Theatre and festival director for Indonesia Dramatic Reading Festival (IDRF). Since October 2016 Cemeti Art House (Yogyakarta/ Indonesia) has invited him to be one of the board member, marking its new name into Cemeti Institute for Art and Society.

He is graduated from International Relations Studies (Bachelor) and Media and Cultural Studies Graduate School (Master) both from Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. Joned has started his PhD preparation research on performing citizenship in South East Asia since last year. He has developed the research when he was invited as visiting scholar in the Martin E Segal Theatre Center, The Graduate Center , City University of New York (CUNY).

The, Forgotten Muslim, Eunuch

Researcher: Chu Hao Pei
Co-Researchers: Pattaree Deelorm


Zheng He/Cheng Ho is an icon of current day China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) in which the Chinese state romanticises his glorious seven sea voyages. However, outside of China, particularly in Indonesia, Zheng He represents a different image – a divine and influential figure to the spread of Islam throughout Southeast Asia. While the global headlines are filled with the Chinese perception of Zheng He, there is a lack of representation of him from the region which the religious landscape changed significantly after his arrival – Southeast Asia. This project attempts to survey and explore the iconography and idea associated with Zheng He in present day Java, Indonesia, offering a less sinized perspective in looking at The, Forgotten Muslim, Eunuch.

Formally trained in Interactive Media, Hao Pei began his practice under the School of Art, Design & Media (ADM) in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His artistic process is increasingly informed by the ecological, social and shifting urban landscapes in the society which led him to explore issues concerning the intervention of a state, culture and nature. The conflicts and tensions arising from the interventions direct him on a fact-finding journey, uncovering various aesthetic strategies in the process. More critically, my body of works examines the loss, or potential loss, of nature and cultural heritage as a tactic to draw attention to wider issues of environmental and cultural loss

Having spent some time in Nanyang Technological University Centre for Contemporary Art (NTU CCA), Hao Pe have worked with many artists in residence, providing technical support and assistance. Working with a few Indonesian artists during their residency and other ad hoc projects at NTU CCA, in particular Indieguerillas, Jompet & Saleh Hussien, Hao Pei was especially drawn to Saleh’s research on the Arabic community in Southeast Asia at that point of his residency because of our similar interests. On the side, Hao Pei have backpacked to several Southeast Asian countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Burma – in my university days to see the ancient Buddhist and Hindu monuments after inspired by art historian, T.K. Sabapathy’s lectures on Southeast Asia art history.