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Oleh-oleh Baru dari Jakarta (New Souvenirs from Jakarta)
Soerjono Herlambang was born in Pemalang, Central Java, in 1967. He studied at the Department of Architecture of the Diponegoro University (1986 – 1993), then continued his education at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at the Erasmus University, the Netherlands, and at the Lund University, Sweden. He has participated in the “Urban Acupuncture” joint-exhibition at the Lawang Gallery, Jakarta (2000). For the CP Biennale 2005, Soerjono Herlambang worked with the architect Fransiska Prihadi (born in 1980 in Bandung, a 2001 graduate from the Department of Architecture, Tarumanegara University), and I Made Bangku, a wood crafter from Banjar Ayah, Bali.
When you have the time, try journeying to the new towns in the fringes of Jakarta. We can find there various buildings resembling international icons or signs of international cultures—the Colloseum, Sphinx, the London Bridge, and the European villages.
Naturally all these icons are not originals. The forms show some resemblances, but the functions, however, are truly different. These buildings are actually shop-houses, gates to entertainment parks, or marketing offices for developers. The concepts of copying and situating world's icons in local sites are not new, indeed. This, for example, happened during the building of recreation parks for workers in the early 20th century, such as the Tivoli Recreation Park in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In the beginning, this was probably an interesting phenomenon. Lately, however, reproductions of such concepts have spread and been dominating the building concepts in the development of the city fringe. The main characteristics of such concepts are banal reproductions, artificialism, liliputanism, and random composition.
When the realization of the concept grows and reaches the scale of the city, we start to wonder: Is this the new identity desired for the fringes of Jakarta? What kind of culture will be produced out of such background? How far can commercial interests interfere in the making of the city's features and landscapes? What kind of added value do we wish to gain from the development of the new towns?
Before trying to answer such string of questions, we ask you again to travel to these new towns. And don't forget your cameras! Choose your world icons and pose in front of them. Take a lot of pictures and send them to families, with a note: (new) souvenirs from Jakarta!
Hopefully they won't start to wonder… (Artist’s Statement)
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