A quickly-growing, publicly-accessible online database archives Indonesian street art to best illustrate the country’s urban culture.
The Indonesian Street Art Database (ISAD) is an artist-run project that aims to archive street art in Indonesia as a documentation of the country’s urban culture. Art Radar delves into the ISAD archives to explore the breadth of street art in Indonesia and the concerns of the country’s urban artists.
Posts in this three part series
To kick off this three part series on ISAD, here is a survey of a few street art projects in the ISAD archives. These will offer the reader a glimpse into the wide range of street art in Indonesia and shed some light on why ISAD is such a valuable venture.
Street art that pushes for diversity
Street art has a strong presence in Indonesia, and the street art community is close-knit. In 2011, the Berbeda dan Merdeka 100%— or Diversity and Freedom 100%— movement sprang up in Jakarta, and street artists responded by creating works across twenty cities in Indonesia on Sunday 13 February 2011.
The event was organised and coordinated largely online, through the Berbeda dan Merdeka 100% website, through Facebook and Twitter and also via text messaging within the street art community.
Also known as the Sunday 13th Movement, or the Indonesia Street Art Movement, Berbeda dan Merdeka 100% was a call to the people of Indonesia to respect differences and practise tolerance. This was in response to reports of interfaith violence in Indonesia, especially in the wake of the attack on members of the minority Ahmadiyah Islamic sect, and the burning of churches in Central Java.
Artists used a wide range of media to spread the message, including wheat paste, stickers, posters, duct tape, stencilling and spray paint. Upon completing their work at their chosen sites, the artists took pictures and put these on the Indonesia Street Art Movement website in order to ensure that a permanent documentation of their efforts would be recorded.
Street art as criticism
Street art is not restricted to two-dimensional works. It can also come in the form of street performance art. In 2010, a pair of street artists, Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina, invited Jakartans to form a human “monorail”. They weaved in and out of a row of half-constructed pillars that had originally been built to support a monorail system. This was a humorous dig at the government’s abandoned monorail project, which Jakartans had hoped would help to alleviate the massive traffic jams grind the city to a halt every day. To this day, the pillars remain standing in the Kuningan and Senayan areas of central Jakarta.
Click here to watch the video recording of Monorail Slalom.
Street art and the past
Street art can also be based on or engender feelings of nostalgia. Indonesian street artist and director of ISAD, Andi Rharharha, has been creating interactive street art since 2010, when he used bright yellow duct tape to create eye-catching hopscotch patterns on busy walkways in downtown Jakarta and recorded what happened. Rharharha wanted both to invite people to interact with street art and to bring back the traditional hopscotch game that had gradually lost its popularity in urban life.
Street art and environmental concerns
On occasion, the Indonesian authorities work together with street artists to help spread social messages effectively. For instance, after the Aceh tsunami of December 2004, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Aceh collaborated with street artists to help encourage recovery and sustainable development.
The messages, aimed at getting people to maintain a clean and hygienic environment in the post-tsunami chaos, were simple but effective. In 2009, Aceh was given the Adipura award for being one of the cleanest and greenest cities in Indonesia.
Posts in this three part series
Part 1: read part one here.
Part 2: read part two here.
Part 3: coming soon!
Next installment: Interview with ISAD
In the next installment of this three-part series about ISAD and street art in Indonesia, Art Radar presents an interview with the founders of the archive, seeking to reveal why these local graffiti and urban artists have taken it upon themselves to document street creation in Indonesia and what they see in the future of their online database.
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- The Sticker Lady: Singapore street artist arrest - June 2012 – Samantha Lo, a.k.a. SKL0, was arrested for placing stickers and graffiti around Singapore
- Video artist eats like Andy Warhol, wins 2nd Bandung Contemporary Art Awards - April 2012 – details of an Indonesian award for contemporary art and the artists who made the cut
- Decade-long worldwide graffiti tour makes Jakarta first Asian stop - January 2012 – find out about Asia’s first Kosmopolite Art Tour in Jakarta, dubbed Southeast Asia’s graffiti hub
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