Saturday, January 26, 2008

asphalt mafia

Talk about the holy cow is taboo. The car seems these days an expression of the self. Talking about banning the car from our streets rocks people’s identity and will get you branded as a communist.

People want to distinguish themselves from others, even in a traffic jam. A few weeks ago I saw two teenagers driving very slowly a convertible Ferrari through the congested streets of the snobbish neighborhood Pondok Indah.

A certain degree of snobbery should be tolerated as a translation of the unequal distribution of prestige. If public transportation can be made efficient, flexible, cheap and clean, then prestige has to be channeled through other means then car ownership.

I love to hate Jakarta. I hate to love Jakarta. However, I am a Jakartan.

Monday, January 21, 2008

our Holy Cows

Urban-based societies are generally considered civilizations. Perhaps Indonesia urbanized too quickly, concerning Jakarta it is Dante’s inferno that first comes to mind. The streets of Jakarta are a paradise, though, around midnight. Then it is a sheer pleasure to drive around this nocturnal city of concrete asphalt and multifarious lights. Take a joyride: roll the windows down, feel the wind and hear P.J.Harvey sing from ‘Stories from the city, stories from the sea’ – We wanted to find love/We wanted success/Until nothing was enough/Until my middle name was excess/And somehow I lost touch/When you went out of sight/When you got lost into the city/Got lost into the night.

Recently I bought a map of Jakarta. To my surprise, the only green areas indicated are Monas, Senayan sports complex, a few cemeteries and some golf courses (quite a few actually). Nature has been colonized. So how many more toll roads and flyovers can this city absorb? With how much more asphalt can the city be flooded?

Henry Ford (1863-1947) was the founder of Ford Motor Company. The Model T was in 1908 the first mass produced car (sociologists call this mode of production Fordism). Ford wanted every one to buy a Ford, simply because he wanted to make as much money as possible. We have become acquainted with the idea that if we can afford it we can buy a car. We should not forget, though, that Ford did not create the right to privately own an automobile.

Can we imagine our city devoid of combustion engines? Can we phase out private ownership of automobiles and motorcycles in Jakarta while at the same time making public transportation efficient, flexible, cheap and clean?
(The driver of the photographed vehicle died in the crash.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

not in MY backyard

Is corporate responsibility a mere marketing tool or is it sincere? The above photo is from Wrigley's Juicy Fruit. On its website it says: "We demand of ourselves high standards of ethical behavior." To make a product ‘greener’ is expensive and could push it from the market, the incentive for a corporation to go green is thus no part of the market. While many individuals pay lip service to green ideals, they are not willing to act accordingly, because as consumers they will feel it in their wallet.


An immigrant goes to a destination and will try to settle down, i.e. she or he tries to colonize the future, because that is the only way to create a new sense of a home. I am not an immigrant. I never planned to stay – I guess I still don’t. In a way I am a nomad, a nomad who moves without moving. An in between state of being – there, here, nowhere, everywhere. A nomad with no compass, no need for it, since I don’t move other then Jakarta-Bandung vice versa (which I can do now blindfolded after almost five years).

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cowboy Roy

This is a recent painting by Bandung artist R.E.Hartanto for which I modelled (I don't really get the concept, but it was really fun to play with costumes, I also had to wear British, Korean and Japanese costumes). The artist, who is more familiarly known as Tanto, graduated from the fine art department of the technical university (ITB), I first met him when he studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, in Amsterdam (2001-2002), but of late he also studied with master artist Agus Suwage (who is also a graduate from ITB but resides now in Yogyakarta). The painting above is larger than life: 150x200cm, and is currently on display at Canna Gallery in Jakarta (it was already sold before the exhibition officially opened).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Under construction

A new agenda, a new calendar; a new year under construction, old work to be continued.