House museum stores thousands of antiques in Kemang

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The living room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun

The former house of a lone businessman with a lifetime passion in hunting scattered Indonesian artefacts at auction houses abroad to be preserved as an object of study for later generations store thousands of collection of all sizes at literally every corner of what is now a museum in south Jakarta.

Brick-walled from dense district in Kemang, 80% of the total area of Museum di Tengah Kebun is dedicated for open space, whereas the twenty percent resides a single storey house with large openings to get the best of the surronding nature. On daylight, doors facing the inner garden would open to create an enormous opening at the living room, allowing plenty of light and air. The size of opening which similarly takes the entire size of the wall is also found in the bathroom, large enough to fit the capacity of the living room. The progressive plan is shortlived. It is now permanently shielded with nets to fend of mosquitos.

Apart from its size, the house museum exhibits mundane design with gable roof, as is popularly applied in tropical countries to better regulate the temperature and wash out dense rainwater.

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Dining room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun which still serves its original function for the owner.

Named Museum di Tengah Kebun, or Museum in the Garden, this tropical style house retains a status as a residence and a public museum, which gives an example of the possibility of coexistence between the two, although unpractical as it may seem. But the founder has an overarching dream of his own. It is not noble because his act can be much triggered by insatiable need to own things. There are stories such as buying an object worth a luxury sedan, or obtaining a Hindu artefact in exchange for building a school in a remote village where artefacts are treated as stepping stones or washboard. But when the owner decided to let the public enter his private home for regular basis, it does not sound so selfish anymore.

It is unique in that the museum retains all of its original features of the house. The dining room, for instance, remains to serve its function, rather than redesigned to optimize viewing gallery, as is the common case for conserved and recreated historical buildings. Guest room and the living room exude the genuine feeling to welcome guests and to have a relaxing family time, respectively.

Likewise, the interior decoration accentuates typical home, just with a whole lot more stuff.

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The home owner and founder of Museum di Tengah Kebun Mr. Sjahrial Djalil

In comparison with European patronage to turn lavish residences as museum such as Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam, or Netherlands’ national museum Huis Doorn, house-turn-museum is not new in this 70 years old republic.

The former residence of art patron Toety Heraty Roosseno since 1969 opened for public in 1993 as a museum. It frequently holds temporary art exhibition in what is now called Galeri 6 Cemara in Menteng, the upscale area of central Jakarta.

In 1962 Indonesian painter Affandi built his home in Sleman to serve as a museum a decade later.

The international painter Don Antonio Blanco settled in Ubud, Bali and has ever since opened a museum where visitors can see many of his works.

At a different extreme, a case of an ordinary villager Sriyanto in Yogyakarta turning his obliterated house into Museum Sisa Hartaku after Merapi volcanic eruption suggests Indonesians endeavor to preserve memory, even at grass root level.

Much older houses such as Rumah Tjong A Fie in Medan and House of Sampoerna in Surabaya has opened for public to learn the history of successful business ventures by Chinese immigrants in the then Netherlands East Indies, although perhaps it was made so without the consent of the deceased owners.

Museum di Tengah Kebun certainly gets the consent of the owner, a retired advertising business mogul Sjahrial Djalil, a protege of the so-called Indonesian forefather of advertising Mr. Nuradi. Widely known for his slogan for Piaggio “lebih baik naik vespa“, Mr. Djalil started working for Mr. Nuradi in Intervista in 1965.

Six years later he founded Adforce, which later became JWT Adforce, the Indonesian branch of JWT global advertising company, a subsidiary of WPP Group.

It was supposedly in this wealthy period that Mr. Djalil frequently made house invitations to Indonesian elites of late administration. In 1997 Adforce was bought and merged with JWT advertising, which led him to retirement.

He founded the museum under the management of a foundation Museum di Tengah Kebun, whose members consisting of muslim intellectual and the former chairman of Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah Ahmad Syafii Maarif, economist Faisal Basri who independently ran for 2011 Jakarta gubernatorial election, and lecturer Imam Prasodjo. Before stroke aftermath rendered him disabled, Mr. Djalil led the tour himself around the house.

In a frail enthusiasm, Mr. Djalil still welcomed new generation of visitors on a wheelchair before he took another rest in his bedroom despite having the visitors allowed to walk in as the house tour continues.

All those years of travelling the world and frequenting auctions had accumulated his collection of antiques and artefacts.

Nonetheless, in his bedrest he unassumingly watches through the window and hear beyond the wall, and through the open air in the garden, people interaction in his grand design: giving it all to the later generation to experience and learn about history he restlessly collected piece by piece.

To see more pictures of Museum di Tengah Kebun, visit think archipelago Flickr account https://www.flickr.com/photos/purnadiphanphotography/

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A perfectly tended garden at Museum di Tengah Kebun with a Ganesha statue, god of wisdom and learning in Hindu mythology, placed beside gazebo.

Kunjungan traumatis di the Invitation

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Paranoia yang disebabkan oleh trauma masa lalu membuat orang sekitar meragukan kondisi mental mereka yang mengalaminya. Rasionalitas dianggap sebagai tolok ukur kondisi psikologi yang normal. Di sisi lain intuisi yang sebagian dipengaruhi oleh perasaan diragukan.

Intuisi tokoh utama dalam thriller the Invitation merupakan hal yang menyebabkan kekacauan batin, dan kecurigaan teman-temannya karena ia terlihat gelisah terhadap semua hal, meskipun ketakutan yang berlebihan mungkin satu-satunya penyelamat dalam akumulasi plot yang berbahaya ini. Sebagian besar porsi dalam film ini berkutat pada tokoh sentral ini yang masih mengobati luka kehilangan anak.

Trauma kedua orang tua atas kematian anak tunggal yang disebabkan oleh kelalaian dalam hitungan detik di sebuah pesta rumah masih sulit terobati beberapa tahun lalu.

Mereka masih berupaya menerima kepedihan dari rasa bersalah itu. Mantan ayah telah menjalani hidup baru bersama seorang kekasih, dan terungkap kemudian di saat mereka memenuhi sebuah undangan ke sebuah rumah di lokasi kalangan atas di perbukitan Hollywood, Los Angeles, bahwa mantan istrinya yang tinggal di rumah mewah tersebut mengatasi kehilangan anaknya dengan berserah pada sebuah ajaran kepercayaan di Meksiko.

Sepulang dari sana, ia juga telah memiliki pasangan hidup baru yang keduanya menyebarkan kisah tentang perjalanan mereka mengatasi kesedihan di dunia ini, dan tampaknya kini berakhir bahagia, meski dengan bantuan obat penenang di laci kamar. Motif sebenarnya dari undangan reuni makan malam ini makin disadari oleh para undangan, mungkin promosi untuk mencari anggota baru.

Menutupi trauma

Film ini mengisahkan perlombaan untuk berusaha menutupi trauma pribadi, ketabahan untuk melanjutkan hidup yang seringkali tragis ini, dan menunjukkannya kepada orang lain dengan lantang dan riang bahwa diri ini menang dan menginspirasi.

Dan lucunya film ini mendiskreditkan kelas sosial atas yang hidup eksklusif, dan demikian besar jarak dengan kelas sosial lainnya hingga persepsi dari kejauhan yang ditujukan kepada mereka adalah kehidupan yang serba ada, walau hanya penghuninya yang tahu tingkat kebahagiaan masing-masing di balik pagar rumah yang tinggi.

Mendapatkan ketenaran setelah terpilih menjadi salah satu film yang diputar di festival film tahunan British Film Institute di London, dan konferensi tahunan 2015 SXSW (South By Southwest) yang diselenggarakan selama 30 tahun oleh perusahaan swasta di Austin, Texas.

Namun menyematkan South By Southwest dalam poster film sebagai salah satu pemberi penghargaan tidak begitu berarti karena bukan kebetulan distributor eksklusif film ini, Drafthouse, adalah sebuah jaringan sinema yang juga berasal dari Austin.

Penghargaan yang pantas berasal dari Sitges. The Invitation memenangkan penghargaan best picture di festival film fantasi dan horor asal Spanyol tersebut.

Masih kurang indie

Meski demikian, sanjungan direktur festival Sitges Angel Sala bahwa produksi film indie di Amerika Serikat berkembang pesat agak menyesatkan, terutama mengingat bahwa film ini tidak memperkenalkan talenta baru, tetapi malah terlihat mainstream dengan dipakainya Michiel Huisman dari serial HBO Game of Thrones dan Logan Marshall-Green dari film layar lebar Prometheus sebagai dua nama-nama yang ditaruh di baris depan agar lebih menjual.

Di samping itu sutradara Karyn Kusama asal Amerika Serikat juga sedang terlibat bersama Fox dalam pembuatan film horor Breed.

Debut Karyn Kiyoko Kusama sebagai penulis sekaligus sutradara bersama aktris debutan Michelle Rodriguez dalam film Girlfight di tahun 2000 memang menuai pujian karena ia sempat kesulitan mendanai film senilai USD1 juta, dan akhirnya mendapat dukungan secara terbatas, salah satunya dari Independent Film Channel.

Namun reputasinya sebagai sutradara film indie patut direvisi karena dalam perjalanannya ia semakin lekat dengan ranah mainstream di dua film berikutnya 5 tahun kemudian, Aeon Flux, dan Jennifer’s Body, bekerja sama dengan barisan pemain Hollywood seperti Charlize Theron, Adam Brody, dan Megan Fox.

Bagaimana pun juga, masih ada yang menyebut the Invitation sebagai sebuah subgenre yang layaknya berada di lingkup independen.

Antara thriller dan drama

Perkembangan cerita berdurasi 100 menit perlahan mencekam, namun arahnya dapat diprediksi dari dialog di beberapa adegan yang membuka isu sekte sesat. Entah sudah berapa kali tuduhan “cult!” masuk dalam skrip.

Konflik terjadi di perempat akhir film, dan twist yang dinanti di adegan akhir film terasa klise, karena hanya mengeksploitasi tren twist ending film-film blockbusters yang menunjukkan histeria massal seperti layaknya film-film bergenre epidemi zombie dan kiamat.

Meski tidak ada efek yang mengejutkan, film ini meninggalkan efek mencekam di benak seusai menonton, bahkan paranoia menerima undangan dari teman yang sudah lama tidak bertemu, setelah membayangkan begitu dekatnya ancaman isu ini dengan kenyataan.

Beberapa pemainnya pun tidak yakin apakah film ini thriller atau drama. Film ini mencerminkan sisi kejiwaan terdalam dari kasus-kasus nyata tentang bunuh diri massal oleh sekte-sekte kepercayaan sesat, seperti yang terjadi di Uganda, Bangladesh, dan di negara mereka sendiri, yaitu kasus Heaven’s Gate di California di tahun 90an.

A false promise in deserted sand quarry

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Sand and gravel mining flourish around the small town of Rangkasbitung, the municipality of the enormously 3000 hectares Lebak regency, Banten. It is an old town dating back to the Dutch colonial era, developed to provide industrial supplies to Jakarta. Oil factory and gold processing plant had thrived during the industrialization period that began to take effect in Indonesia in the 1930s. The region has since supported the growth of the capital with numerous materials. Gravel is one of them.

The dramatic environmental impact seen a few kilometers north of this historic town bears testament to the crucial role this region has ever done to provide materials for the endless construction activities in Jakarta. Entering the capital’s outer ring road at night with a tarpauline-covered back, massive number of trucks carry sand and gravel mined from this region. Many parts of the road around Rangkasbitung are damaged as large trucks travel to Jakarta and back on a constant routine.

Sand mining area opened sporadically, and contained material volume lasting for several years of mining activity. Few have size and quantity that sustained a decade of exploitation. In one of the biggest areas left several years ago, large pit have become a pond that unnoticingly goes down to 20 meters deep, a villager said.

The open area located right in the populated village sustains heavy damage due to frantic and irresponsible mining. The excavation has created a long, dead crater, in contrast with the lush, green chunk of untouched land above it.

Similar to the high activity just half a kilometer away, this area used to be a bustling mining area. But there is no evidence of rehabilitation taken place.

There are at least two mining areas in the village. The road access to the village are beyond repair. The inhabitants are seemingly ignorant, even to such an extent that some saw an opportunity to offer misleading information that the abandoned area has substantial remaining volume beneath, often to gullible businessmen.

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A peasant woman carries tools for soil work in a village in Rangkasbitung, Lebak, Banten.

In another village, a smaller size of sand quarry are left abandoned not so long ago. Heavy duty equipments remain in place for an unknown reason. An aged woman, seen walking around the empty facility and inundated pits refused to talk about the condition, or even her name. Working as a peasant, she lives in a shack near the pit.

Given the degree of sensitivity, she only gave a hint surprisingly through her question, “Where is he?” It is assumed that she is a local villager waiting desperately to meet the long absent site manager to demand a promise yet to be delivered. This quarry is also located near the population of a village whose access were made difficult as a consequence of what used to be a rampant mining in the vicinity. Her face evoked that of dissilusionment and helplessness.

Social and environmental problems are unspoken, but not unheard of. Lebak authority issued a ban on sand and gravel mining in 2016 in response to environmental damage by the hills of Cimarga district, reportedly to causing flood and water crisis in the region.

Protests of the road condition also contributed to the mining restriction. But afterwards, there were reports that several activities resume, supported by the local group of proponents to the industry that has brought them a promising income.

Reports of similar outrage has over the years occured in many parts of the country, from Riau, East Java, Central Sulawesi, and Bali, highlighting various complaints such as landslides, floodings, and health problems.

The complexity of the controversial issue has gone to the extent that while the government must deal with legal investors to make a just decision for the best interest of the country, they fight many more conspicuous, illegal sand miners operating throughout the country, such as the latest case in Mojokerto, East Java, seizing two excavators and seven heavy duty trucks.

She ain’t quitting

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Dira Sugandi performs on the opening day of the 13th Java Jazz Festival, JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, 3 March 2017

Even a prominent Indonesian female jazz singer such as Dira Sugandi could make a confession in front of the sitting crowd who filled up the concert hall at JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, and also to the dutch big band whom she shared the stage with, about how difficult it is here to make a living in jazz.

“There were times when I keep telling myself I wanted to stop singing,” she confided. But she is certainly not quitting that night, on the opening of the three-day Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2017.

Led by conductor Dennis Mackrel as of 2015, Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (JOC) a primary Dutch big band established in 1996, performed classy jazz tunes featuring Dira Sugandi, who showed up with modern white gown and her signature bleached short hair.

Dira should be proud as she now shares the same status as such Benny Golson and Chick Corea, some of the guest artists JOC had performed with. The latter also makes a presence in the 13th Java Jazz Festival.

They picked classic pieces from jazz standards notably popularized by Billie Holiday, whom Dira considers as one of her most influential artists. Johnny Green’s Body and Soul and Thomas “Fats” Waller’s Ain’t Misbehaving (Saving All My Love for You). There were also Billie’s original scores such as Good Morning Heartache and God Bless the Child.

The organizers allocated more jazz content in the total of 170 shows this time in response to last year’s criticism saying the event was too pop.

JJF 2017 now offers 360-degree view online stream, a feature improvement of last year, when they introduced live streaming on youtube. In addition, home viewers can watch live broadcast on one of cable networks.

Java Jazz Festival is heralded for its contribution in bringing talented yet lesser-known musicians into the limelight. And he prides himself for showing the world that Indonesia has a handful of bright jazz musicians. During press conference, founder Peter F. Gontha claimed that many newcomers had surfaced from this festival.

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