Fri, 06 Jun 2003

JakArt@ back in town, bigger than ever

Tantri Yuliandini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Start beating the drums and painting the town, Jakarta comes alive this month with the third annual JakArt@ art festival at venues across the capital.

Some 900 performances and events -- both local and international -- will be organized in more than 150 locations during this year's JakArt@, making it one of the largest art festivals to date in the country and certainly twice as big as last year's.

Although events started at the beginning of the month, the official opening of JakArt@ 2003 was held on Wednesday with a Jalan-jalan di Hutan (A Walk in the Woods) at Kali Pesanggrahan forest in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta.

Who would have guessed there was a forest still standing in Jakarta? The opening of JakArt@ 2003 took visitors inside the forest and along Kali Pesanggrahan, offering various attractions along the way, including a bottle installation exhibition by Michail David and Rachmadi, a wayang kulit (shadow puppet) performance, piano recitals by Aning Katamsi and Aisha AS Pletcher, and an Egyptian dance performance.

The first JakArt@ was held in 2001 and organized by a group of people concerned about the lack of venues for artists to express themselves, and for people in general to take a break from all the troubles brought about by the economic crisis and political upheavals.

"Through the festival in June, in conjunction with the anniversary of Jakarta, the people are asked to forget their differences and to prioritize equality for a better future," the organizers said in a statement.

From the start of its inception, JakArt@ was meant to be not only a venue for Indonesian artists to create and express themselves, but also a meeting point for artists all over the world to meet and explore each other's art. And since "art" is such a generic term, the JakArt@ festival will showcase art as wide-ranging as music, fine arts and dance as well as theater and architecture.

International artists and their works will be flown in from all over the world, courtesy of their embassies, such as jazz/blues musicians the Bill Heid Trio from the United States, the Netherlands' Introdans dancers and Canadian artist Denise Hudon. Contributions from the embassies of Argentina, Australia, Finland, France, Greece, India, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, also promise to enliven Jakarta's art scene all this month.

One of the highlights of JakArt@ 2003 will certainly be the murals created under Jakarta's bypasses and toll road overpasses. These colorful murals distract drivers from an otherwise bleak drive through the city's jammed roadways.

Another welcome distraction will be the Kali Besar Festival along Kali Besar in West Jakarta, running from June 1 to June 22, which is organized by architecture students from universities across Indonesia.

Kali Besar is an old area in the city that dates back to the 18th century, with many of the buildings now serving as legacies of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during its heyday.

Among the activities to be held is the repainting of five old buildings along the river as well as a cleanup of the area surrounding the buildings. Every Sunday, art performances and social activities will be held in the area.

Finally winning the recognition it deserves, this year's JakArt@ is supported by the Jakarta administration, which is its main sponsor.

For more information about the schedule of events, please visit or call the organizers at 021-5265762, 021- 2524705.