Nominee Threshold Award Social Practices & BA Research Award
Meet Arif Abdillah! Arif was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Autonomous Practices and the 2021 BA Research Award with his graduation project ‘Science Around Us’. In this interview, Arif tells us about his work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
In my third year of studying at WdKA I started working part time at an advertising agency in Amsterdam. The year after, I worked for them full time, and I tried to graduate on the side. That did not exactly work out and after that year I felt like I had run out of energy completely. So at that point, I decided to go to Lisbon and walk for Camino Santiago (Catholic Pilgrimage) from Porto to Santyiago de Compostela for a week. I ended up living in an Airbnb in Lisbon together with six other people for two months. In a way, I became close with the other tenants because we shared a lot of intimate moments. Coming back from Lisbon, I had gathered quite a few stories I wanted to share through my work.
I then took about a year to properly write the script and another year to execute and edit everything. Finally, after seven years at WdKA, Science Around Us was born. Science Around Us is a pilot for a modular fiction series called Road Home Rotterdam. The idea is to create a series of eight episodes. Each episode is set in an Airbnb apartment in Rotterdam and tells the story of the intimate moments of its tenants at their home away from home. Since it is a modular series, each episode can be seen as a short film and tells its own story.
The first episode, the pilot, is about an Airbnb owner in Rotterdam. After finding out that his father is admitted to the hospital and refuses medical treatment, Budi, an Indonesian living in the Netherlands finds himself needing to convince his stubborn father to accept medical treatment while trying to clean up his Airbnb apartment after a sex party—all in 20 minutes.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work, and how?
There are a lot of layers within the work. For example, what does it mean to be a family when you're thousands of kilometers away? What do you do when you are away and something happens to your close family? But the main theme goes deeper than those things. It is about the idea that we love the best way we can, but not necessarily the best way we should. For instance, your parents love you the best way they can, but to you, their love translates into pushing their expectations onto you. This is their expression of love but maybe you do not want to be loved this way. And that disconnection can happen in any relationship.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
In the short term, I would like to find the audience for my series. I am thinking about ways to distribute the pilot and screen it at film festivals. In the long term, I am considering to start teaching and keep making stories in different shapes. It can be film, or podcast, or series or maybe even advertising.
I believe the best way to learn is to be exposed to a lot of different things while doing what you enjoy doing. I would like to put these ideas into practice.
To read more about Arif’s work, pay a visit to his Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, his journey can be followed on Instagram and his Website. The winners of the Threshold Award Social Practices and BA Research Awards will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.