It’s a busy time for BOM (Birmingham Open Media) with major projects across the globe, and much closer to home. Annabel Clarke met with Louise Latter, Head of Programme to find out about their ongoing work with the British Council in Indonesia, as well as their future plans for the space.
Last year BOM were approached by the British Council who wanted to initiate some work around women and technology in Indonesia. There are currently many barriers for women to get into the creative industries, and BOM were approached to help sustain and support the practice of women in the Republic.
BOM’s Director Karen Newman and Louise were invited to Indonesia for ten days in November 2016. During this time they attended the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend in Jakarta. There they handed out postcards to men and women asking questions such as – What it is like to be a woman in Indonesia? What barriers are there for women wanting to enter the creative industries? As well as general questions on culture, society and politics.
They met with Lifepatch, a citizen initiative in art, science and technology which has members in several cities across Indonesia. At the time they were working on a project along the river in Yogyakarta with local communities undertaking DIY bio experiments to check the safety of the water. The river is the lifeblood of the region, but unfortunately is also used for direct sewage disposal in an area with poor sanitary provision.
Over the last two months, three female Lifepatch members have been in Birmingham on a research residency. All are producers creating work within their communities. During their time in the UK, BOM have introduced the trio to practitioners based on their interests, such as performance artist Sergina whose practice investigates cross-dressing and drag. Whilst in Indonesia Karen and Louise learnt that in some areas there is a common belief of there being five genders, although this idea has been quashed over the years due to the growth of Christianity and Islam.
Louise said “We were blown away by our trip to Indonesia as well as the two months we have spent with Al, Mara and Sita. We can’t wait to get started with our collaborative projects. The scope of complex and fascinating social and cultural areas of interest mean we have extremely fertile ground to work with.”
The producers will return to Indonesia shortly with BOM supporting their programme. Their upcoming projects will look into queer performance as well as tackling Islamaphobia through art and technology. Over the next five years BOM hope to offer West Midlands based artists the opportunity to visit and support the projects in Indonesia as part of their British Council funding.
Later this year, BOM itself will be transformed with building works that will benefit the staff, Fellows and visitors. All three floors will be made accessible and new rooms opened up.
Susan Kruse, Gallery Supervisor is currently undertaking research into making the space more accessible to autistic people. An autistic artist herself, she is working directly with the space’s architect Alessandro Columbano of Birmingham City University to design the refurbishment.
More information about BOM their upcoming programme can be found here: http://www.bom.org.uk/