Today, I will introduce Ruang MES 56. Ruang MES 56, which our brother Wok The Rock is also a member of, is an artist collective made up of members with ages ranging between their 20s to 40s. It was founded by art school students back in 1994. They are all photo-based art, and seeking the way of photographic expression in contemporary art.
They opened their own art space back in 2002, and have moved and expanded several time. Their current place, which is their fourth location to date, has a gallery, a studio, a bar, a CD shop, and residence in the same building.
When I visit there, they are holding the exhibition and launch event for a new book about the activities of Ruang MES 56 until now and the history of photographic expression in Indonesia.
This is the CD shop which Wowo is in charge of.
This is a residence room.
And there’s a bar counter.
There are 18 members of Ruang MES 56 now. Two of them are specialized in management, but the rest of the members work as individual artists, leading photographic expression in Indonesian contemporary art. They have a monthly meeting for the whole team but they also have small meetings at bars more frequently. Wok is actually working as the group’s current director, but it doesn’t actually give him any special authority, he just took that title as now one else wanted it apparently, he tells me laughing.
People get together at the bar at night and play the guitar, sing songs, hang and chill out. When they have exhibitions, they sometimes have talk events or music concerts to accomany these, or sometimes they hold a film screening etc.
Jimbo playing the guitar.
When they started, their goal was to establish recognition for photographic expression in Indonesian contemporary art. More recently, since 2012 onwards their approach has opened up somewhat and they take on whatever sounds like a fun challenge, so they also collaborate on exhibitions with other organizations or artists, or produce workshops and education programs too.
But besides all of the above, I am just so excited how badass they are. Getting together at night by motorcycle and chilling…I feel like I jumped into the badass squad.
Jim Allen Abel, aka Jimbo, who is in charge of the bar looks like an intense guy who might easily pick a fight with someone, but he is actually really famous as a photographer. All those gaps between how these members look and who they really are make this place more interesting and dense. You might be a little freaked out when you first meet them, but as soon as you talk with them, you will immediately find out how sweet they actually are. This is one of the places I want you to go when you drop by Jogja.
MES 56 members in the photo! Looking scary …
Jogja’s night with photography
『Ruang MES 56』
Jalan Mangkuyudan No. 53 A, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta
Established Year： 1994
Facility and Activity: Gallery, Residence, Café, Shop, Workshop