The Second Edition of Jakarta Art Book Fair

Jakarta Art Book Fair (JKTABF) returns in 2023. Shifting locations not far from last year’s venue, this edition of JKTABF was held at Pasaraya Blok M. Held from the 27th until the 29th of October, JKTABF has once again gained an enthusiastic response from the public with an estimated 3,000 visitors over the weekend. This year, JKTABF presents 57 tenants including alternative publishers, collectives, and individual artists from Indonesia and beyond.

On the number of tenants, this year’s edition boasts double the number of tenants of last year’s event. Fandy Susanto of JKTABF elaborated, “For this year, we did more pre-events in a few cities and even outside the country. Whether it was by invitation, like to Hong Kong and Korea, or our own initiatives like those in Jakarta, Bandung, and Bogor.” He added, “On top of that, we also more frequently communicated and worked with many communities. Lastly, as we have done before, we used the usual mechanism; open calls.”

Aside from the art book fair itself, JKTABF also had other programs on offer including talks. However, unlike last year, no workshops were held in this edition, for a good reason. “This year we saw so many new and interesting publications being released at a similar time to JKTABF. So, we felt that it would be interesting to swap out the workshops with ‘semi-launches’ or what you could call a small launch for those publications. So, we chose to prioritize that and focus more on interesting talks,” Fandy explained.

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In regards to the theme, similarly to last year, JKTABF has once again brought that Do It Yourself spirit. If last year’s visual identity was developed from the screen-printing technique, this year’s JKTABF has chosen an approach that appropriates the print results of a photocopy machine in the development of the event’s visual identity. Jefferson Edri from JKTABF stated, ”I want, as much as possible, to maintain the spirit of DIY. So, I want people to try their hand at making a zine, make books, make it themselves. I want the community to keep growing. We want to show people that, ‘Look, you can make something like this, it’s this easy, you just have to do this and you can make your very own zine,’” Jefferson explained. “This year I’m taking off from that same spirit, only this time we’re taking up photocopying. Just going back to our roots. Like in the early days, back to the earliest zines, like punk zines, those were around since photocopiers were created. Since then, artistic movements have changed.”

This positive response was also directed at the festival’s tenants. One such tenant is Aulia Akbar from spacelessmind & friends. Hailing from Bandung, Aulia brought with him a variety of publications from a range of practitioners from the city. He stated, “[The practitioners in Bandung] didn’t actually prepare publications specifically for [the fair]. But, [we’re] taking advantage of this momentum to introduce them. For us, we’re always [carrying that spirit of] a collective, always bringing along friends from Bandung.” Fern from Shrub also expressed this positive sentiment. The Singaporean participant considered heading to these art book fairs very exciting as they could see with their own eyes how the visitors of each area have their own preferences, including the visitor in Indonesia. Based on their first experience of JKTABF, they see that the Indonesian audience were partial to the publication about music that Shrub had on offer. “I will bring more music publications for sure [at the next JKTABF],” they noted.

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About the Author

Daud Sihombing

Daud Sihombing has been writing professionally for the past 9 years. This fervent alternative publishing enthusiast prefers his quaint little town over the hustle and bustle of the city and doesn't let sleep stop him from watching every single AS Roma match.