In February 2015, Lara Thoms (Australia) and Wok the Rock (Indonesia) took part in Gertrude Contemporary's ongoing cultural exchange, the Independence Project, this year held in partnership with the independent curators Kristi Monfries and Grace Samboh who are both based in Indonesia. The broad thematic of the 2015 Independence Project is collective, collaborative and interdisciplinary practice. Titled #banyakbanyak, the project is unfolding throughout the course of 2015, with iterations in Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Sydney and Melbourne. Artists included are Tom Nicholson, Dan Bell and Tamara Pertamina, Lara Thoms and Wok the Rock, and Raquel Ormella.
For #banyakbanyak, Thoms collaborated with Yogyakarta-based artist and musician Wok the Rock. Together, Thoms and Wok intitiated a research project on the 1993 Metallica concert at Lebuk Bulus stadium in Jakarta that resulted in a large-scale riot and the banning of heavy metal concerts in Java. Thoms and Wok interviewed numerous people who either attended the 1993 concert or are members of Indonesian Metallica fan clubs. Their project suggests a trajectory from the 1993 riot to the 1998 student reformasi protests right up to the more recent election of Indonesian President Joko Widodo in 2014, a proud metalhead who famously attended an August 2013 Metallica concert in Jakarta. Based on their research, Thoms and Wok have designed merchandise that both commemorates the '93 riot and could be utilised in a new riot—such as energy drinks that double as Molotov cocktails, cigarette lighters, and long-sleeve T-shirts that can also be used as face masks.
Thoms and Wok's work will be presented in two upcoming exhibitions in Australia.
Following this research and responding to 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s invitation to create a live performance for 48HR Incident, Wok and Thoms have collaborated with Sydney-based Metallica tribute band, Damage, Inc., who will perform a specially selected playlist of songs, and will operate a merchandise stall with the artists' customised merch. 48Hr Incident is a program of performances, interventions and live actions that runs from the 29th to the 31st of May 2015.
Wok and Thoms will also present an exhibition of their merchandise at Long Division Gallery at School House Studiosin Melbourne for a solo exhibition titled Jakarta Whiplash '93 (re-revisited), which opens on the 4th of June and runs until the 20th of June.