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 “The revitalization of  Jakarta since 2014 is a creative agenda. Without nostalgia, we could not return to the past; we “return” to the future, back to the future. We revitalize Space to Time; we change something stagnant to something of movement”Goenawan Mohamad

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Jakarta’s Old Town or familiarly known by the inhabitants as Kota Tua has always been a place to gather recollection of Jakarta’s past. The Old Town Area has beared witness of being the remaining district during the Dutch colonial time in the 16th century. Recognitions of history are now gathered at Fatahillah Square in its surrounded choices of Jakarta History Museum, Museum Keramik, Museum Bank Mandiri, and Pos Indonesia.

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To date, the compound has already gained masses of local dwellers and tourists seeking for a place to casually spend their afternoon enjoying a bike ride or sipping coffee while overlooking the beautiful architecture view through the favored Café Batavia.

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While the past can mesmerize us to stay in, time remains on going, and the once adored buildings of those era have for years faced its slow decay. The revitalization program organized by Jakarta Old Town Revitalization Corporation (JOTRC) and the Jakarta Endowment for Art and Heritage has gathered the best names in contemporary design and art world in Indonesia to relive the beauty of the place.

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Contemporary architect Andra Matin has started by redesigning the Post Office without changing the façade of the building. Instead he has incorporated the rustic feel of the place with a cleaner foundation. Inside the second floor is where the amusement lies. As a way to attract younger and urban locals to the site, the space is transformed into an art gallery consisting of over 40 contemporary pieces of artwork by 47 artists which highlight the theme of Identifying Indonesia.

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As Jakarta itself is broad to discover, Indonesia, as a country is much difficult to pinpoint, the diversity of islands and cultures raises questions of identity for its own people.  The exhibition itself aims to give a glimpse of varying interpretation of Indonesian taken from the perspective of these contemporary artists. Mix-mediums were used to highlight the varying themes of colonialism, identity, globalisation, women empowerment, emancipation, to exploitation, memories, or even obsession.

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When discussing the term ‘contemporary’ with a friend, she mentioned the term contemporary needs to speak for certain relevancy of time, place, and events. And as stated by Oei Hong Djien, a member of the Jeforah board of advisors, the 47 artworks in the exhibition is created for varying purposes, but the relevancy and theme is to highlight the Fiesta Jakarta Old Town today.

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In order for us to move forward, this exhibition invite us to take a step back and peer into the past before we can bridge a newly constructed future by the new generations.

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Identifying Indonesia
Until Sept. 24
Jak Art Space
Post Office, 2nd floor
Kota Tua, North Jakarta

– Athina Ibrahim

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