Domestic Groove: FARAH WARDANI


Art Historian, Curator

What music are you into at the moment?
Joining the hype: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Been interested in Daft Punk since they first came out with that “Around The World” video, and then the Interstella 5555 album. But this album is quite something especially since they got Pharell and Nile Rodgers (I always love Chic!) in it—and it’s so well-produced. All the tracks sound really fresh and sassy with touches of retro-disco in several songs (the ones with Nile). Love it. Another one is Karat & Arang, a double LP by my long-time friend Adrian Adioetomo. Very proud of him. I think he really nails it this time—a very solid body of work, and it’s sooo… him, with his beloved dobro. Will write something about it.

What was the first record you bought—any interesting story behind it?
Wow this is tough… it was decades ago. I think it was Madonna’s Like a Virgin, which was 1984. I was 9 and got my mom bought it for me. It was at Duta Suara, Sabang, I think—those cassette tapes from local pirate records and it didn’t even show the original album cover, just some pin-up image of Madonna, which was pretty tame compared to the real cover. So maybe that’s why it was pretty safe to get my mom bought it for me without blinking.

What are your all-time favourite albums? Why?
This is even tougher… there’s a looooot. OK I think one has to make choices:

Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes. Basically the soundtrack of my teenage years… hmm make it from high school to college years, mixed with Under the Pink. It was like a gospel for every wallflower weirdo teen girl at that time. I took every song personally, especially “Winter” and “Precious Things”. This was before Tori gone crazier with those unlistenable concept albums and got botox.

Tears for Fears’ Seeds of Love. I was in junior high school when Seeds of Love came out, love the video, love the whole album and I guess it changed my preferences so much at that time, I mean to think I was joining all the girls going ga-ga with NKOTB and then my crush shifted to Roland Orzabal—who I love until now.

Jeff Buckley’s Grace. Adrian introduced me to Jeff just when Grace first came out. It was 1993? 1994? I don’t think I can do justice to describe this album and it’s been hailed so much by many so what more can I say. I still listen to it religiously, and create rituals with the songs. “Lilac Wine” and “Hallelujah” before going to bed. “Lover You Should’ve Come Over” during mellow mood. “So Real” and “Last Goodbye” when exercising, etc.

The Cure’s Disintegration. It’s actually a tie with Wish—but somehow Disintegration is just…deeper and darker. All the songs are 90’s anthems. I still shiver when “Plainsong” starts and always find moments of craving for “Pictures of You” to listen to—until now.

Tom Waits’ Small Change. Again it’s a tie with Closing Time and Foreign Affairs…but well, Small Change got “Tom Traubert’s Blues”, which is just simply legendary, and those lyrics, and that voice… He’s immortal. He’s a God. A drunken one.

Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. I’m a huge fan of Marvin and got all his albums from the early ones with Tammi Terell. But of course if one must choose, this one’s a classic and it’s so timeless… The lyrics are burning with social messages but at the same time also manage to be so groovy.

Scott Walker’s Scott 3. It’s just one of the most beautiful music and voice ever recorded in one album, for me. “Copenhagen” can still make me cry. It’s just so beautiful, so heavenly.

Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, a tie with SMiLE. Do I need to say anything? It’s just one of the greatest albums ever. And don’t play “Caroline, No” randomly when in the same room with me, it’s my Achilles’ Heels. Makes me weak and vulnerable at an instant.
What was the worst record you ever purchased?
Also a lot. I bought lots of junk back then in teen years, one-hit-wonders and Top 40 stuff that I never listen to anymore but sometimes can still sing the songs in karaokes for guilty pleasure. So I don’t really count them since I don’t think they’re worth much caring about apart from that function. But on the other hand I do remember my disappointment of buying Steve Vai’s Alien Love Secrets. I used to have a huge crush on him and I love his previous two albums. But this one is just unlistenable and forgettable.

Who do you want to be, other than yourself, next time you reincarnate?
Hmmm. I would love to be a man for a change. Doing something non-artsy, or just not in the creative field. Something spartan. Maybe an athlete. Or fitness instructor.

What book are you reading now and what’s the score (1-10)?
Pretty boring. I don’t read many books anymore. I’m reading books now mostly for references or theoretical basis for my writings—so it’s basically for work. Now it’s Archive and The Repertoire by Diana Taylor, a book on documentation of theatre and performing arts, since I am writing an essay for Teater Garasi 20th anniversary book. It’s really good, I give it a 9. Ugoran Prasad recommended it to me and I find it a really in-depth study of relations between archives and performativity.

What new movie should people see? Why?
This is problematic since I haven’t seen any new movie lately, the last Oscar-buzz or blockbuster films I saw were around March and mostly on the plane. I don’t really find myself eager to go to the cinemas chasing new films anymore. I think we can wait until it’s on DVD or get it downloaded anytime. I am now obsessing with TV series like Game of Thrones, which just ended its season 3. And yes, people should see Game of Thrones from Season 1. It’s epic. I’m totally freaky about it and can’t wait for Season 4 next year.

What songs do you choose to start your weekend?
I find some J-Pop songs timelessly refreshing and still find myself turning on “Platinum” by Maaya Sakamoto in Saturday mornings just to wake me up. Followed by “Amai Koibito” by Hideki Kaji—Detroit Metal City soundtrack—and Utada Hikaru’s “Keep Trying”. Cute, upbeat, cheerful songs, since sometimes I find weekends boring and lethargic. I love weekdays more, a workaholic curse.

And songs you choose to end your weekend?
The whole Marvin Gaye’s discography. I think it has become a kind of elevator music for me. I just turn it on for no reasons by the end of the day. With “Distant Lover” at the end of the playlist.

Farah Wardani - Yogya Biennale 2013
Farah (far right), socialising Yogyakarta Biennale XII, February 2013 | Photo: Wisnu Asa Ajisatria

Farah is surely a busy lady. And her life revolves heavily around art. Other than her usual day-to-day activities managing Indonesian Visual Art Archive—working on a grant program for artists/creative workers, art archiving projects, and such—lately she’s been frequently asked to be the judge for national scale art competitions. At the moment she’s preparing the 12th Yogyakarta Biennale (November 2013) as the artistic director.



This interview was firstly published on The Beat (Jakarta) #88, August 2013
Co-editor: Lauren Shipman
Check out also Indonesian Visual Art Archive here

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