– by Hayley Anschutz
Mike Hornblow and Agung Gunawan have been collaborators since 2008, travelled interstate and internationally to produce an acclaimed body of work. I sat down with them to discuss their project 5FootWay for Public Platform, collective alienation and crazy food carts.
You recently went to Indonesia to shoot a mockumentary together. How was that experience?
M.H: We went in with the premise that an alien had crash-landed in a patty field because this was a rumour that was going around. Agung did a beautiful dance as the crash-landed alien in a muddy patty field.
Those scales of alienation are constantly turning on one another and it’s something that we all experience.
It was interesting; who the alien was kept shifting around and sometimes people would get the joke and get involved. As a westerner I was sort of an alien as well. [We are trying] to address our collective alienations. We always judge other people as different to us but we all experience the same problem.
On the other side of alienation there is adaptation. Everything is always constantly in a state of change. Alienation only occurs where you shut down, struggle to understand what’s different to you and you pull back into your defined identity of ‘I am this’, ‘I am from this place’ or ‘I am this kind of person.’
What is the inspiration behind your cart?
M.H: I went to Indonesia for the first time in 2008 to help Agung and Tony Yap on a video installation with a Sydney based filmmaker Shaun Ryan.
While I was there, I was impressed with these crazy carts that we were eating from a lot. There were so many interesting kinds of carts that are all specific to the food they serve. The shape of them and the type of noisemaker they have are all different to attract the customers. We said to ourselves ‘lets do a project about these carts.’
It’s shaped like a boat because the community that have these carts are originally from Madura, which is off the north coast of Java. They came by boat so they wanted to make their business more distinctive. During the day we served free chicken satay with some rice in banana leaf… exactly type of food these carts would serve in Indonesia.
You may see me with long hair and beard and think ‘you must be a terrorist’, but that’s only my costume.
What do you hope to inspire in the public’s consciousness with this artwork?
A.G: For me it’s the reminder people that the world is a really big place and that many things happen outside of yourself and the place you live.
Indonesian is a big land with many things happening but there is only one perception about it. So it’s important to tell people this.
It’s also important for them to understand who I am as a person. I am not just the cover you see. You may see me with long hair and beard and think ‘you must be a terrorist’, but that’s only my costume.
M.H: There is also a critique about environment in this with the use of recycled materials and about technology. We are actually reaching a state of technology where everything is accessible and everything is known, it’s the kind of state they are talking about with animism itself.
Everything has an energy, everything is alive whether is animate or inanimate. With climate change, pollution and mass extinction, we all need to come on board and see the inter-connectedness of things because we are at quite a critically tipping point. So there’s an urgency to this kind of work as well.
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Photo credits: Bewley Shaylor.