The sum of Stefano Bollani’s tenacity

indojazzreview utuh-logoInstituto Italiano di Cultura Jakarta

The article first appeared on Indonesia Jazz Review, 29 April 2015.

Stefano Bollani simultaneously plays with two piano instruments.

In 1996 Stefano Bollani chose to drop all he has worked for in pop since he first took a professional path at his teenage years, and in his solo concert at Usmar Ismail Hall, Jakarta, 28 April, the Italian pianist showed his aptitude, more of nurtured than inherent, after over 15 years of dedication in jazz. He left traces of his childhood aspiration to become a singer by singing a couple of songs in melancholy for Jakarta audience, meanwhile he was sure not to let them miss the anticipation having him played out one of his best talents: swing, especially after his last performance in Jakarta seven years ago.

Continue reading The sum of Stefano Bollani’s tenacity

Bogor Heritage Run 2015

Bogor Heritage Run 2015

The 6-kilometer Bogor Heritage Run, which saw over 1500 participants on Sunday, 19 April, promotes cultural heritage sites in Bogor, West Java, and raises awareness to preserve such priceless city assets, said the host Panorama Events.

Not only the residents benefited specifically, but also the tourism sector in general, Bima Arya Sugiarto, who despite having admitted some shortcomings in running the first-held running event, planned to increase its prestige to international level.

The run for city conservation

It successfully attracts many national athletes, foreign guest runners, and IDR50 million in public donation for conservation project. But if the mayor walks the talk, the running venue needs better sterilization from the traffic to meet the standard in running events and for the sake of the fun element.

Before taking part in the run, he accompanied the Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, among other governmental figures, in the opening ceremony at the start line in the city center’s top point of interest, the 40-hectare Bogor Botanical Garden.

The run across historic places of Bogor

A large pack of professional runners lead the run, taking the route around the city garden, passing a number of celebrated cultural sites such as Bogor Palace, the 1894 laboratory-turn Zoology Museum of Bogor, Dhanagun Buddhist Temple, the post office, the town hall, Zoologi Museum, and the welcoming symbol near the city entrance, the Kujang Monument, before finishing at the Hotel 1O1 Bogor Suryakancana in the old Chinatown.

Bigger number of runners from all walks of life, and at all age, followed. They had to find the oxygen in the carbon-emission air, and they had to find a way between the crammed traffic along the narrow roads to keep in the race. Nevertheless, the run remained, to some degrees, fun.

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Thamrin Nine Project 1

Ostrich logo

Ostrich is a fine art photography medium by think archipelago that specifies contemporary photographs for the use of journalism presentation. It explores a variety of new approaches to visual reportage, experimenting on possibilities which are counter-intuitive to the convention. Its deliberate consideration on shapes, patterns, and artificial colors aims to reconstruct the seamless transformation from image-making to story-telling. Visit Ostrich online gallery and see many series of fine art photography in

thamrin 9

The 42-floor UOB Plaza finally took shape over a decade after the 1997 Asian monetary crisis, when it stood in agony with bare pillars and storeys above 70,000 square meters chunk of land, behing the giant banner displaying The Westin Hotel, a supposedly main tenant hadn’t the crisis brought the construction to a halt.

Having undergone a redesign in 2005, now the brutal steel and glass high-rise office space graces the downtown skyline with its kind of ill-organized stacks facade, which becomes one of the most inspiring designs in Thamrin, overshadowing its tarnished reputation in safety as the flood that swept the city in 2013 brought casualties to people trapped in the flooded underground floors.

Australian-based architect firm Denton Corker Marshall, established in 1972 by the partnership of John Denton, Bill Corker and Barrie Marshall, have this building a cornerstone of their subsequent works in Indonesia.

One of them is the short-lived Entertainment X’enter, known among Jakarta’s frequent mall visitors as eX Plaza before it was demolished last year to be replaced by the current stoical residential and commercial tower The Plaza.

The shortlist includes the impressive Indonesian Trade Department Building in Gambir, five star Manhattan Hotel in Kuningan district, and Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, which opened in 2010 and later hosted pop concerts of international singers.

Standing above 70,000 square meters site of previously Kartika Plaza Hotel (1969-1995), UOB Plaza is the first of several other Thamrin Nine projects that will integrate commercial and residential towers in the area.

BRI towers at twilight

Ostrich logo

Ostrich is a fine art photography medium by think archipelago that specifies contemporary photographs for the use of journalism presentation. It explores a variety of new approaches to visual reportage, experimenting on possibilities which are counter-intuitive to the convention. Its deliberate consideration on shapes, patterns, and artificial colors aims to reconstruct the seamless transformation from image-making to story-telling. Visit Ostrich online gallery and see many series of fine art photography in


When dusk fell, workers swarmed the lobbies of BRI 1 and the adjacent BRI 2 Tower, and went out through multiple exit doors which lead to restaurants alley, the famous BRI garden complex, or simply to Sudirman street.

Amid falling office occupancy rate, currency rate, exports, economy figures, and all the uncertainties in the Q1 of 2015, white collar workers rushes in and out of high-rise workplace in the CBD with hopes and fears.

Dull expressions after relieved from the day’s work came altogether as the sun coming down the horizon. Artificial outdoor lights of BRI 2 soon came as replacement, which lasted from dusk until dawn.

Some had no idea that the oldest bank in Indonesia did not fully own the very tower that bears its abbreviation until 2013, ending over 3 years of legal dispute with Mulia Group subsidiary MPPC who took over the tower management since 1992 for USD400,000 annual compensation to BRI.

However, the failure to meet one of its condition in the 30-year Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) agreement, that was, to build BRI 3 Tower by 1998, compromised MPPC position. Taking over the headquarter turned the balance sheet in the bank’s favor.

It topped the biggest government-owned banks by revenue, Q4 financial report showed.

University of rest and relax, Liem Keng Sien in retropsective


Liem Keng Sien (1954 – 2014) called his home cum studio the university of rest and relax, a creative place that goes unsupported by government, and unrecognized by public.

Less serious in nature, perhaps it is this aphorism “Art is long, life is short” where Keng Sien took an inspiration to create his final art series, interestingly, in the shape of many laughing expressions based on earth material, a notable shift of base materials from ceramics he was so well-known of.

And it is this back-to-nature pure art that the curator Nukila Amal and Hanafi tried to reconstruct the Salihara Gallery to the closest condition with the artist’s studio. Keng Sien’s works of faces, some disfigured, laid on sands, hanged on bricks, and stood in front of giant scribbles on the wall, a mockup of evidence found in Keng Sien’s studio.

Berhasil Lagi. Stoneware. 2012.
Berhasil Lagi. Stoneware. 2012.

The Jakarta-born Liem Keng Sien studied architecture in Brussels, Belgium in 1976 – 1980, during which he came across ceramics art, and moved to art faculty in ceramics in Leuven. Returning to Indonesia, he immediately set up ceramics workshop, and made his first exhibition with Indonesia Earthenware Union in 1983. Since then, not only he exhibited craftmanship, but also

a personal quest to understand the base material he use to make his art. Keng Sien actively went on excursion to geological sites across Indonesia to study the nature of earth materials. His first solo exhibition was entitled Bibit Untuk di Tengah (1997). He last made a clay joint-exhibition in 2012.

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Teak forest 11

The three-meters-wide dirt road that spans 20 kilometers deep into the forest in Central Java has existed since early 90s when loggers began exploiting the area. The hidden activity increases during summer as the road mostly turn muddy in wet season, thus obstructing trucks transporting the lumber. The fact that the plain, green area of a hundred hectares in total size is labeled a non-productive forest, coupled with the Land Protection Act issued by the Forestry Department, have little effect on preventing illegal logging. The locals told that logging culminated between 2001 and 2003. Continue reading TEAK FOREST OF WEST JAVA


sudirman jakarta

Jakarta is now home to rapidly increasing numbers of skyscrapers. Office building projects are now dominated by over thirty stories high. Having reached its peak momentum in 1997 and suddenly collapsed due to severe economic crisis, Jakarta is in the past two years on the faster track to expand its high-rise property market, and much taller. Continue reading A LOOK BACK AT 2012 JAKARTA ZONING DETAIL AND PLANS

The Opera of the White Snake Legend

Taman Ismail Marzuki

Opera Ular Putih (The Opera of the White Snake Legend) is the 138th production of Teater Koma, one of the most renowned theater groups in the country, founded in 1977. It runs from 3 April 2015 to 19 April 2015, 7:30 PM every Tuesday to Friday, and 1:30 PM every Sunday in Graha Bhakti Budaya, Jakarta.

Opera Ular Putih

Producing a Chinese folklore by means of Indonesian culture and provincial idiosyncracies is the task taken by Teater Koma in Opera Ular Putih, an adaptation of the 6th century Tang dynasty fiction the Legend of the White Snake, with three months of rehearsal and preparation.

Last performed by the same theater group 20 years ago at the same vicinity, Graha Bhakti Budaya, Jakarta, this time they decided to make an exquisite opera that signifies several sets of ethnical identities that constitute the diversity of Indonesian culture.

The instruments that occupy a narrow space between the performing stage and front row consists of Javanese metal percussions piano, and violin, a lead instrument in Betawi-style music—influenced for centuries by Western musical elements, so to speak—all of which is used to accompany the moment of spectacles in the four-hour long show, such as the appearance of puppet master bringing his vernacular-style monologue, or the giant puppets commonly seen in local carnivals.

At both ends, there were traditional Asian drum that rises the intensity of the epic scenes on one side, especially when the dragon dance takes the center stage, while the Chinese string instruments of Guzheng and Erhu enhances the Asian-style romance on the other side.

Together, these musical lineups have created a harmonic arrangement in each piece. Perhaps the uniqueness in this opera can hardly be achieved in, for instance, an orchestra.

Opera Ular PutihChinese opera, in this case referring to the Qing dynasty stage performance style, has a considerable presence in Opera Ular Putih.

Leading female actors demonstrated high-pitch vocals, narrow steps and typical feminine body gesture akin to the 17th century China ruled by Qing dynasty. But the main role for male Han Bun, played by two actors Ade Firman Hakim and Dodi Gustaman, don the typical clothing of pre-Qing dynasty ruling era.

There is a confusion in the way of finding a consistency in terms of mainland Chinese culture to be inserted in Opera Ular Putih. But this is pardoned because the idea is to exhibit authentic Chinese nuance to Indonesian audience, a well-delivered purpose.

Moreover, the overriding objective, practically speaking, is to stage a Chinese-origin play in a unique version that has never been seen elsewhere but Indonesia, as admitted by the directors, led by the head producer N. Riantiarno.

Opera Ular Putih

Not only in music arrangement, the opera shows acculturation in costumes. Unlike the previous play in 1994, where the actors wore long oriental dress and moti, now the lead sisterhood protagonists, the White Snake demon Tinio, played by Tuti Hartati, and the Green Snake demon Xiao Qing, played by Andhini Puteri, wear Betawi group traditional dress known as Kebaya Encim, long known to have a resemblance to overseas Chinese female costume of the 19th century.

The Legend of White Snake, whose script was told to appear for the first time in the region in the 19th century, brought by the Chinese immigrants to Indonesia, usurps the topic of feminism at a time where such term barely existed.

Unlike the portrayals of women as a lower group of gender, thus weak and obedient in the society all around the world, the tale gives the limelight to a woman who proudly bears the consequences of her own freewill.

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