Indonesia boasts a unique visual art heritage that distinguishes the nation globally and within Southeast Asia. However, a significant obstacle to preserving this rich heritage is the need for more public awareness about the importance of art and cultural development in Indonesian society. Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) in Yogyakarta is dedicated to the artistic and cultural preservation of the nation through information documentation, research, library facilities, education and exploration of contemporary visual arts and culture spanning from pre-independence to the present day. 

Founded in 2007 as a grassroots, community-based organization, IVAA addresses the need for arts infrastructure beyond government and academic projects in Indonesia. IVAA has established strong relationships with stakeholders and, since mid-2008, has digitized art collections and partnered with art institutions nationwide to publish these collections online.

IVAA, a non-profit organization, evolved from the Cemeti Arts Foundation (1995-2007) and Cemeti Gallery (now Cemeti Art House), established in 1988. Founded by Dutch-born artist Mella Jaarsma and her Javanese husband Nindityo Adipurnomo, Cemeti has become a central and innovative icon in the Indonesian contemporary art scene.

Launched in 2009, is Indonesia’s first Digital Information Center for Visual Arts. It houses thousands of references, including photos, audio, videos, books, newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogues, artist portfolios, and artworks related to visual arts in Indonesia and internationally. Including artists’ work processes helps demystify their creative practices for the public. IVAA serves as a portal into historical and cultural events, helping shape the nation’s identity and sharing knowledge to educate and inspire future generations. Contemporary art provides alternative viewpoints, countering mainstream narratives and supporting the nation’s struggle for democracy.

IVAA has become a central hub in the Indonesian cultural sphere, connecting artists, researchers, students, curators, writers, critics, and other stakeholders domestically and internationally. Volunteers and interns are essential in supporting the dedicated staff at IVAA, located in central Yogyakarta. The institution’s annual program of discussions, workshops, forums, and events such as book launches and archiving activities helps activate the space and attract new audiences.

Inspired by the dynamics of post-Reformation contemporary art, IVAA’s vision of art activism aims to cultivate a just, equitable, and humanistic culture. This vision emphasizes the dialogue between art and societal movements for change, fostering conversations within the artistic sphere that transcend spatial and temporal boundaries. Through this process, art becomes a powerful medium for contemplation and reflection.

Yogyakarta, a vibrant university city, pulses with the creativity and energy of Indonesian youth from across the archipelago. It is home to the Indonesian Art Institute, nurturing numerous artists and responsible for some of the nation’s brightest talents. Many significant contemporary art expressions stem from research-based insights into historical events, practices, and wisdom. Extensive libraries of data and information underpin these artistic endeavours. IVAA believes that art can open the public’s insight and understanding of social phenomena around society through critical perspectives, documentation and dissemination of knowledge.

A Brief Interview with IVAA Staff

NJ: What outreach strategies is IVAA implementing to increase public, academic, and government awareness of your initiative and also to attract broader community involvement?

“IVAA engages in various public programs such as newsletters, festivals, and work grants to promote the use of its archives. Notable exhibitions include “The Archive of Jogja circa 1940-60” as part of Jogja Biennale X, 2009 and “Archive Exhibition of 25 years Cemeti Art House, 2013. From 2013 to 2015, IVAA hosted the “KARYA Grant!” to encourage archive use and awareness, launched by the Archipelago Cultural Archives Network (JABN). JABN comprises the Jakarta Arts Council, IVAA, Dayakology Institute, NTT Regional Museum, Puskat Audio Visual Studio, and Nusantara Cultural Media Mat. The 2017 Archives Festival focused on “The Power of Memory” to promote archive and memory politics. It included exhibitions, community programs, and international seminars on art, politics, and digital humanities. In November 2019, Pusparagam Archiving explored “The Possibility of Socially Engaged Archiving,” gathering archive practitioners and enthusiasts.”

NJ: What are the main challenges IVAA faces in achieving its goals?

“As an archival institution, we face challenges in preservation, including ensuring infrastructure and controlling temperature and humidity for fragile materials. In tropical climates, we navigate unique preservation conditions and seek to move beyond Eurocentric archival practices.”

“Our efforts extend to digital archives, focusing on improving systematic cataloguing, ethical considerations like consent and intellectual property, and updating past agreements to align with current relevance. Collaboration with IT experts is crucial but requires sustainable funding.

Beyond maintenance, funds are essential for public outreach, research, and accommodating diverse perspectives on art/archival interpretation while maintaining our institutional vision.”

NJ: How many items are in total in the IVAA collection?

“The IVAA library collection in Slims (Senayan Library Management System) totals 17346 items consisting of Catalogs and Activity Issues (6360), Books (4927), Magazines and Periodicals (2146), CD – DVD (2134), Comics and Limited Issues (1029), Journals (199), Fine Arts Papers and Writings (170), Theses and Dissertations (123), and Audio Cassettes (63). Slims is a web-based open-source software (OSS) that meets library automation needs. Our digital collection is 20 million plus, in the form of photos, videos, audio recordings and texts.”

NJ: What are IVAA’s greatest accomplishments?

“In 2025, IVAA will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Over these three decades, IVAA has evolved significantly from a community-based archive. IVAA’s direction as an art archive has always been intricately tied to Indonesia’s historical context and the multifaceted issues it faces, including the colonial period, communist uprisings, the New Order era, political unrest, land grabbing, extractivist on Indigenous lands, and their subsequent violent repercussions. These influences have contributed to a growing awareness of resistance amid political violence and cultural repression, fostering practices of resistance within the arts and cultural spheres. IVAA’s achievements underscore our dedication to preserving Indonesian fine arts archives and signify the beginning of an exciting new chapter for us. With three decades of experience, we remain committed to preserving our archival collections and nurturing relationships with our constituencies in the years ahead.”

NJ: How can the community support IVAA?

“There are several ways to support archival work, such as maintaining and developing archives, including becoming a member of KawanIVAA, donating, participating in online community networks like Instagram and YouTube, supporting the IVAAShop on Tokopedia, and contributing research, theses, or dissertations on fine arts in Indonesia to enrich the knowledge base. For more information, contact”

Indonesian Visual Art Archive (IVAA) 
Jalan. Ireda Gang Hiperkes, Dipowinatan 188 A/B RT. 14,
RW. 03 Keparakan, Mergangsan – Yogyakarta
Telp./ Fax.: +62 274 375262
Instagram: @ivaa_id

The IVAA collection can be searched at
Article images courtesy of IVAA.

Richard Horstman

Richard Horstman

NOW! Bali Art Columnist, Richard Horstman. For over fifteen years Richard has been contributing to national and regional newspapers and magazines writing about art and culture. He is passionate about observing and reporting on developments in the local art and creative infrastructure, and the exciting emerging talent that is flourishing in Bali. IG: @lifeasartasia