Weekend recreation for urban dwellers in Jakarta seem to be limited to only a few options – malls, malls, and more malls. Thankfully, a place like Jakarta Contemporary Artspace offers an equally exciting alternative besides the typical mall excursion.
Housed on the second floor of Kantor Pos Fatahillah, Jakarta Contemporary Artspace is a part of the city’s efforts to revitalise Kota Tua. With an entrance fee of IDR 50.000, visitors are treated to a visual as well as thought provoking experience through artworks from several notable local artists such as Agus Suwage and FX Harsono. The art pieces stand out individually, but are linked through a common thread: reflection of the Indonesian, or Jakartan way of life. Creative mediums are used to voice opinions on topics that range from Jakarta’s traffic gridlock, to common views from a taxi window, and even the new culture of selfies.
The gallery serves as a reminder that Kota Tua, despite being neglected for years, has not lost its relevancy in the present time. Unfortunately, the gallery itself is only temporary, where it opens from March 13 to September 13. Downstairs, visitors can take a peek at the functioning post office and let their imagination whisk them away to a time where the Dutch used the space for the very same function.
If the gallery serves as a medium for one to contemplate about the city life inwardly, then the Fatahillah Square is, undoubtedly, a spot where one gets to experience how it feels or even what it means to live in Jakarta, outwardly. The vast square holds all sorts of individual from different backgrounds.
Here, the erratic movement of people steadily grows into a poetic mess – couples cycling around the square on their rental bikes, children darting around without fixed destination, friends taking selfie with their smartphones and a lone ragpicker moves swiftly looking for “treasures”. The experience is occasionally disrupted by street buskers that share the spotlight with several striking old buildings that lined the perimeter and street merchants, whom dot the entire square, moving from one potential customer to another with unmatched vigor.
All of this goes on to show that even with Jakarta Contemporary Artspace in Kantor Pos Fatahillah as Kota Tua’s trump card, the latter has not lost its innate ability to capture the imaginations of the visitors. The presence of the contemporary art gallery, in a way, pays a moving tribute to Kota Tua and frames it artistically.