Featuring a combination of art, live music, and thought-provoking discussions between renowned industry creatives and audience members, the eighth annual YouFab Global Creative Awards season has kicked off with a bang with the official opening event on August 31.
Centered around this year’s award theme of “conviviality” – which encourages people to find creative ways to regain human independence and break free from the society’s systems of control – the event included a fireside chat between esteemed YouFab judges, former editor-in-chief of WIRED Japan, Kei Wakabayashi, and Leonhard “Barto” Bartolomeus of the Indonesian-based art collective ruangrupa, which will curate the international art festival documenta 15 in 2022, as well a live performance from rap group MGF that involved audience participation.
Here are some of the highlights you may have missed from the YouFab 2019 opening event:
Friends before Art
The evening opened with a presentation by Barto titled “LEARN TO FAIL,” where he spoke about the importance of working with others as a single collective on top of contemplating the social significance of creating the art itself to achieve conviviality.
Before and after the 1998 Jakarta riots, for example, Barto said private spaces such as artist homes became convivial tools, spaces where artists could cooperate with each other under government censorship. Following the change of government, the fact that anyone could acquire tools of expression meant that activities diffused through public spaces, Barto said.
He concluded that convivial activities are built on creativity and imagination that is open and amenable to change, fostered in reciprocal relationships.
“It is important to first build relationships of mutual support and share our vulnerabilities with others. This way, we can take a radical approach that does not fear failure,” Barto said, as the words “Friends Before Art” showed up on the screen.
In the same sense, Wakabayashi said that there are many things that Japan can learn from Indonesia when it comes to implementing a new social system as Indonesia has already been through a major shift in its social system.
Art as a bridge to understanding social issues
Wakabayashi and Barto also discussed the role of the artist as a bridge in helping the public to understand social problems and pausing to think about them and how artists exist as a social good.
“Although art should be a representation of an artist’s own political beliefs, it can be interpreted freely by any viewer,” Barto said, adding that art, as with conviviality, has the quality of inspiring communication with others.
The key for society to shift in its understanding of social issues is time, Barto added. Understanding problems, like the spread of new technology requires the passage of a certain amount of time, he said.
For him, acting as a judge for the YouFab Awards means he can look at art and think about how he can contribute to this society and also gives himself the time to think.
Co-Creation and Conviviality In Practice
During the final part of the event, rap group MGF put what the judges discussed into practice: by improvising a rap through audience participation.
The group, made up of former salary workers, began by speaking about the difficulty of now living as independent musicians and artists, joking that “whether we live or die depends considerably on all of you.”
Taking that on, Barto and Wakabayashi suggested they co-create something with the audience, and the group agreed to improvise for the crowd. Using three topics suggested by the audience – “Shibuya, “the Olympics” and “climate change” – MGF brought the hall to excitement by freestyling a rap that incorporated all three, turning the venue into the very example of a convivial space.
Finally, the speakers took questions from the audience and the evening ended on a convivial note as MGF gave a live performance in the spirit of “friends before art”.
The deadline for applying for YouFab is October 31. We urge all creators to submit their works, so that we can work together to form a society where it is possible for people to lead their lives for mutual benefit.
Check the YouFab application details here.