Property owners turn to Internet to advertise

Amin Cheng owned an apartment. He was looking for a tenant and needed to advertise. Putting a classified in a daily newspaper would mean paying an ad every day until he found the right person. So he set up his own advertising space on the Internet.

This was five years ago. Now, his apartment in Hamptons Park in South Jakarta has a long-term leaseholder who pays yearly rental fees. On top of that his website was now relatively popular with 300 new ads per month, he said. In the meantime, he has created three new websites for advertising boardinghouses and apartments.

The development of apartment complexes and boardinghouses in Jakarta has opened a new web-based business opportunity, websites for real-estate advertising. Typing search-terms such as “kost” on web search-engines like Google or Yahoo! will direct one to sites such as or “Rent apartment Jakarta” will give you and among others.

Other real-estate websites are,,

Amin is an IT programmer who has invested his money in property. At his home in Bintaro, South Jakarta, he said that more people were looking for cheap ways to advertise their properties. “If you put an ad in a daily newspaper, the information gets lost when the day is over and you have to place another ad. While on the Internet, it will stay there for a while,” he said.

Amin said that people could place an ad on his website for between Rp 50,000 (US$5.22) and Rp 80,000 for three months.

Two years after he created, he started “A competitor,, started to mess around with my market and also opened their site for advertisements for apartments, so I’ve tried to get their clients as well,” he said with a laugh.

Ads for boardinghouses were fewer compared to apartments, he said. He gets 50 ads per month for One reason is that one boardinghouse can contain dozens of rooms, so it only needs one ad to get the attention of potential tenants. Meanwhile, apartments are more individual. He also said that kos owners could still place a sign in front of their boardinghouse, while apartment owners really needed to reach out to people.

The current trend for middle-range apartments is short-term leases on a per-day basis, instead of long term. “Owners really need to lease their apartments because even if there are no occupants, they still need to pay maintenance fees per square-meter,” he said.

Amin also speculated that kos owners were relatively older than apartment owners and thus less tech savvy.

“A lot of kos owners are old people. Some are not used to technology. They would have to ask their nephews to place an ad on the net,” he said.

— Prodita Sabarini

The Jakarta Post | Reportage | Wed, September 26 2012

‘Breakin’ the Wall’: From street art to art space


 Tree monster: Toy robots made of plastic waste have been placed under a banyan tree in Theater Jakarta’s open space as part of an installation by Atap Alis Community.

Tree monster: Toy robots made of plastic waste have been placed under a banyan tree in Theater Jakarta’s open space as part of an installation by Atap Alis Community.

If you make street artists who normally thrive on creating art on a deserted overpass without getting caught by authorities work in the comfort of a contained art theater’s open area, do their creations loose the free spirit of street art?

Differing opinions emerged during a press conference held last week before the opening of Jakarta Arts Council’s (DKJ) visual arts exhibition “Breakin’ the Wall: The Street Art Show”.

Curator Bambang Asrini Widjanarko invited six street art communities to exhibit their works in the form of murals, art installations, 3-D illusion paintings, and balloons at the open space of the Theater Jakarta at Taman Ismail Marzuki.

The exhibition, part of DKJ’s December program titled “Diluted Boundaries, Managing Diversity”, runs from Dec. 8 to 18.

Art community Popo and Kampung Segart created a mural criticizing the appalling quality of sinetron (soap opera) on local television. Trio Lintas Mentawai paid a tribute to the late Mount Merapi gatekeeper Mbah Maridjan by drawing a 3-D illusionist painting of a buff Mbah Maridjan falling into a burning crater.

Jakarta Art Institute’s Action Painting created a 3-D illusionist painting of imprisoned tax officer Gayus Tambunan as Santa Claus. Atap Alis, headed by Baja Panggabean, recruited children to create an art installation that serves as a political parody. Art collective Xserut also created a 3-D painting of an underground Indonesian city and Amel and friends put together a balloon installation.

In his introductory piece to the exhibition, Bambang wrote that the theme was “intended to help understand street art as an alternative attitude when choosing new possibilities for independently growing forms or art and their diverse realization on the street”.

During the press conference, he said street artists had gained acceptance in mainstream galleries around the world.

“There’s no distinction between high and low art anymore,” he said.

Word play: The words “Tiada rotan Raam Punjabi” are painted under the nose of a picture of a man. Popo and Kampung Segart are playing with the Indonesian proverb “Tiada rotan akar pun jadi”, to represent the overwhelming presence of sinetron tycoon Raam Punjabi.
Word play: The words “Tiada rotan Raam Punjabi” are painted under the nose of a picture of a man. Popo and Kampung Segart are playing with the Indonesian proverb “Tiada rotan akar pun jadi”, to represent the overwhelming presence of sinetron tycoon Raam Punjabi.


The theme “Breakin’ the Wall” signals the fluidity of visual art, he said.

“Everything is fluid now. Visual arts owes much to literature and theater. ‘Breaking Art’ also shows the use of other mediums than walls,” he said.

However, art critique Yusuf Hadi Susilo Hartono, editor in chief of Visual Arts magazine, was not convinced the works presented displayed the free spirit of street art. It was, he said, a “tamed” version of street art.

“There is no tension from being chased [by authorities]. It’s far from the spirit of street art,” he said, adding it was “cold”.

Art writer from Surabaya Henri Nurcahyo noted the context of the art works was missing. “Art is a combination of text and context. If you take street away from street art then the context is lost,” he said.

He suggested bringing context to the street artworks by displaying information about the locations of the artists’ work in the street.

Bambang, however, disagreed. He argued many street artists’ works around the world had entered galleries, museums, and auction houses. There is no clear definition of what and how the ideal artists and street art works are supposed to be, he added.

“And soon, the notion of resistance against everything established and the spirit of removing the boundaries between high art and low art may gradually be considered obsolete.”

Ryan Popo, the founder of Popo and Kampung Segart, said creating art in the street and in the Theater Jakarta was definitely different. “Tamed is the right word,” he said.

“It’s wilder in the street,” he said. “Here, the feel is different.”

Popo, who creates murals at Jl. TB Simatupang among other locations, said that in the street, a honk of a car, a sound of someone talking can set them on edge.

“Here, we can chat and have coffee and buy some time,” he said.

“There is also more negotiation in the process,” he said.

Despite the differing opinions, the works displayed at Theater Jakarta still hold power in humor.

Popo’s works for example consists of portraits of people with words written across their faces criticizing Indonesia’s sinetron.

The Indonesian proverb “Tiada rotan akar pun jadi”, which means be resourceful and use anything around you, was twisted into “Tiada rotan Raam Punjabi”, referring to Indonesia’s sinetron mogul.

Lintas Melawai’s work was darker as they painted a bare-chested Mbah Maridjan with the body of Hercules falling into a crater.


Larger than life: Members of Lintas Melawai stand on the 3D illusionist painting titled In Maridjan We Trust.
Larger than life: Members of Lintas Melawai stand on the 3D illusionist painting titled In Maridjan We Trust.

“Mbah Maridjan is someone who held much responsibility,” Sukadi Prabhu Suti said. “That’s why we painted him in the body of Hercules,” he said. “He is someone who was pious but also held on to Javanese traditions,” he said.

Atap Alis, an artist collective that opened a learning studio for children, worked with children to create toys from waste. They place the toys under a banyan tree as a political parody of the sign of Golkar, the political party that ruled during the New Order regime.

Head of DKJ Firman Ichsan said that this month’s theme on managing diversity aimed to increase people’s awareness of the plurality of Indonesian society.

“There are many clashes because diversity is not appreciated,” he said. “Our goal is to show people that difference is not a threat,” he said.
— Photos By JP/Prodita Sabarini

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Feature | Tue, December 14 2010

Urban play: Jakarta is a big playground

Jakarate taken from

In the eyes of a quirky artistic couple, the chaos and randomness of Jakarta is a huge playground waiting to be explored. And guess what? They are asking the people of Jakarta to come and play with them.

Duo visual communication artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina have created a game called “Urban Play”. To play it, they create art in the form of installation, photography, performance and video using the city’s rich elements. The city space becomes their muse, their instrument, and their exhibition ground, all at the same time.

It is a mixture of urban and multimedia art serving as subtle but effective criticism of urban life in Jakarta, based on their experience and observation of the city’s minutiae.

From this game/art project, the two have created five artworks so far. Their first one, titled Color Blindness Test, was a result of “playing” in one of Jakarta’s traditional wet markets. It is a picture of the word “play”, arranged in the fashion of the Ishihara color test using four rattan tray filled with chilies, melinjo fruit, limes and tomatoes.

The innovative and creative spirit of Urban Play is bound to remind us of traditional D-I-Y toy-making – such as creating a toy-car using Pomelo skin – from the days before consumerism dulled our “Macgyver spirit”. Urban Play, however, is modern in every sense, starting from the setting: the urban city space; the documentation tools: still-camera and video camera, and the art gallery: the Internet.

The artworks can be seen at in the online exhibition section. There, one can see their Play*2: Public Furniture installation, a little cave-like seating area, arranged from long wood blocks at a material shop on the side of the street at Jl. Pasar Minggu. In Play*3: Dancing Umbrellas, a short video shows how street vendors created an aesthetic arrangement of umbrellas.

Play*4: Monorail Slalom is a satire on the wasted columns of the defunct monorail project, while Play*5: Jakarate, uses humor to criticize vandalism of public property.

Irwan and Tita make a conscious decision to exhibit their work on the Internet, instead of in a formal art gallery, to underline the people of Jakarta’s growing use of the Internet and limited mobility as a result of traffic jams, Irwan said.

“It’s possible to see an intersection between the concept of Jakarta and the online *world*. First of all, our mobility is limited as a result of traffic jams. And second of all, the web enables information to spread to a wider audience than through a conventional exhibition,” he said.

“It’s how viral communication happens in the online world, accommodated by the conventional world,” he said recently in a Jakarta caf*.

The two artists at first just wanted to create art by responding to the space in the city. For an example, they wanted to create a new type of font inspired by Jakarta’s bus, the metromini. In the end, they realized the city space was not a vacuum and that Jakartans were a dominant part of the city, which made it essential for them to interact with people occupying the space to create their art.

“We cannot just pick random stuff and make it into art. We have to involve people and interact with them,” he said.

The challenge, they say, was to create something using only improvisation, innovation, creativity and negotiation. This, Irwan said, could result in visual art or art as a “scale” concept.

The Dancing Umbrella project was an example of a “scale” concept, he said. It showed that street vendors – usually viewed by city officials as a menace to order – were willing to cooperate and able to organize their space into an aesthetic arrangement, using negotiation skills.

“The negotiation process is the interesting part. And that process is what’s missing in Jakarta. We found vendors are more artistic than the average artists,” he said.

Tita said the response from people asked to participate in their project went far beyond their expectations.

“It was a gamble for us. We were initially pessimistic *about people taking the time to participate in our project*. But people ended up being so kind, they took the trouble to help us,” she said.

“We had to present our concept to people who had no idea about *urban* art in two to three minutes. They could then choose to participate,” Irwan said.

In Dancing Umbrellas, they had to negotiate with local Pasar Minggu market thugs. When they were shooting the vendors moving the umbrellas around, the thugs ordered them to stop.

“But, they really just wanted us to tell them what we were doing. Once they found out, they let us continue,” Irwan said.

From their playing around Jakarta, they said they found a little blessing in each game/project. For their Public Furniture installation, present at the material shop Fajar at Jl. Raya Pasar Minggu from May 7 to 11, they obtained free Wi-Fi connections at the site from the restaurant across the street.

For the Monorail Slalom, they encountered dozens of people doing their Sunday morning jog from Senayan and asked them to run slalom style at the abandoned monorail project.

Irwan and Tita said they would present nine artworks by the end of this month. The next project Irwan said would be about how people living in Jakarta were in a perpetual state of denial.

“People are in denial that they’re living in Jakarta. They know that Jakarta is in the tropics, but rather fixing the design *of buildings*, they install lots of air conditioning units,” he said.

“Floods are a frequent occurrence in Jakarta; people raise their houses as a result. The streets have a 3-in-1 rule, people then use 3-in-1 jockeys,” he said. “I’m just saying, don’t deny that you are living in Jakarta,” he said.

Whether this project will work out as planned still remains to be seen. They make changes to their project as they go along, they say; such as the Jakarta Monorail Slalom, which they first wanted to do with a car, but decided to do it with passers-by instead.

Iwang said he wanted to stimulate people to see Jakarta in more detail through Urban Play. “Jakarta is rich with detail. A society cannot be called a great society if they neglect detail. If people are used to what’s going on and never complain, they won’t realize something wrong is going on *in the city*,” he said.

“I see Jakarta with enthusiastic eyes. I came to Jakarta with a dream, if Jakarta could not grow with me, the dream couldn’t be achieved,” he said, adding that he was originally from Ciamis.

Tita meanwhile said that she wanted to ask people to “pay more attention to Jakarta”.

“Jakarta has given us so many things, but have we ever stopped to think what we have given to Jakarta? If Jakarta was a person, he/she would feel like the most used person,” Irwan said.

Irwan said they wanted to bring Urban Play to other cities in Indonesia and other countries, to watch the different characters of cities coming out.

The couple, who owns the communication visual company Ahmett Salina, funded the art project themselves.

“It’s a game for me. A golf trip costs millions, so does an outdoor trip. I spend money for this as a game for myself. This is an outlet for me,” Irwan said.

It is also a therapy for Jakarta to feel more intimate, he said. “If this game can reflect a bigger picture, then it’s good,” he said.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Feature | Mon, May 31 2010

Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina: The playful artist duo

Courtesy of Ahmett Salina
Courtesy of Ahmett Salina

The guy, Irwan Ahmett, was possibly hyperactive as a child, and having grown up into a playful adult, he now has frequent bursts of energy and ideas.

The girl, Tita Salina, is calm and quirky, and somehow gets the guy’s crazy ideas. After a few conversations, before Irwan even expressed his love to Tita, he told her: “I don’t know why, but I feel that I can make my dreams come true with you”.

He was 23. She was 25. Fast forward twelve years later, the two of them are married and had founded a design company: Ahmett Salina.

For the fi rst time since they got together, the two artists are collaborating in a breakthrough urban art project that combines site-specifi c city elements, interaction with people and multimedia tools. In the
project, dubbed “Urban Play”, they create art in the form of installation, photography, performance and video, based on elements of the city, and exhibit their artworks both in the city and cyberspace.

Both studied at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ). Tita graduated, but Irwan didn’t. This, however, did not stopped Irwan from setting up a graphic design company with Tita, all the while setting up art movements, and participating in art exhibitions in Indonesia as well as abroad.

Irwan is the brainchild behind 2005 Change Yourself Project, where he went on a road show toting his Apple notebook computer and hundreds of round, blue stickers to Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bandung, meeting young people and giving presentations, in which he suggested ways people could change for the better. He also held a solo exhibition of installation art at Ruang Rupa gallery, titled “Happiness”.

In all Irwan’s projects and exhibition, Tita supported him in the background.

Sitting in a Central Jakarta coffee shop, Tita answered “no” when asked whether she would like to have her own exhibition. “I’m the kind of person who likes to be behind the scenes,” she said.

In Urban Play, however, Tita is as much of a front person as Irwan. Leading and presenting their projects in the short videos of Urban Play, these can be seen at in the online exhibition section.

Tita’s calm and low-key personality complements Irwan’s front-man persona. The two also share a passion for design and have a strong affinity with Jakarta.

In fact, they complete each other’s sentence. They talk about the hardship they faced during the beginning of their relationship and tell their tear-jerking drama-series-style love story with relaxed humor.

Just like in the typical plot of a romantic series, they disliked each other at fi rst, Tita said.

“The first time I saw her was when she was making a speech. She was running for president of the
student senate,” he said and paused for a moment. “That was the worst speech I’ve ever seen.”
Irwan, a freshman at IKJ, said he swore he would not vote for her.

“Little did I know I would choose her as my wife later,” he said.

Tita said that she only knew him in passing. “I had other boyfriends,” she said. “All I knew was that he was in the senate, and he was a pain.”

Irwan said that despite not paying much attention to her, he had always been interested in her artworks and appreciated them.

Their love began to blossom after university along with their collaboration in design. Tita’s best friend
lived in the same place as Irwan. As she visited the place to meet her best friend, Tita and Irwan fi nally started chatting.

“I instantly became attracted to her after talking to her a couple of times,” Irwan said. Irwan had many ideas in his head and liked to discuss them with Tita. With her art background, she responded and gave him feedback.

“I see him as the dark side of me.

I’m a plain person. My parents are conservative. My crazy ideas are in him. He can channel that side of me,” she said.

They finally collaborated for the first time, and their project was the cover of Naif band’s 1998 self-titled debut album. The two fi nally founded their design company Perum Desain Indonesia, which they later named Ahmett Salina in 2006.

But Tita’s parents disapproved of their daughter going out with Irwan, who had dropped out of college, resigned from work, and just started setting up a company.

“Tita’s late father summoned me and said: ‘Can you explain your plans for your future with Tita?’” Irwan said.

He told Tita’s father that he liked music, fi lm, art, and performing. “If I combine all this I can sell my dreams to people. I can sell my imagination to people. This potential is a field that I’m trying to develop right now,” Irwan re-told what he said to Tita’s father.

“Now, I know that was a wrong answer,” he said.

Tita resorted to tears and constant pleading, but her parents did not budge, she said.

“At one point he [Irwan] gave me an ultimatum, stating that I had to give him an answer in two days or he would leave. I was like ‘Noooo, I don’t want to lose you’,” she said in a dramatic fashion.

Finally she went up to her father at dawn after a sleepless night. “I said to my dad, ‘I want to get married, and I want to marry him’.”

Finally her father gave in. They tied the knot shortly after. Now they live just above their offi ce in Pasar Minggu, East Jakarta.

“At first we were worried; being together 24 hours a day. But we stay professional in our work and give
each other space,” she said.

Tita said Irwan and she created non-commercial art as a catharsis.

“Sometimes our work clients don’t agree with our ideas. So, this is a venue where we can express ourselves freely,” Tita said.

Irwan, who hailed from the small town of Ciamis, said he was possibly hyperactive as a child, as he could not stand still and concentrate at school. His father, a teacher, let him play as much as he liked and never pushed him to study. Creating art, he said, was a game to play for him.

Tita and Irwan said they had many ideas in their head for their future projects. But one of those ideas they want right now is a child to play with. “That’s our project we haven’t completed yet,” Irwan said,
and laughed.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | People | Mon, May 31 2010

In search of a good night’s sleep

First-time visitors to the country may be confounded by the various calls from the pushcart vendors hawking their goods around the neighborhood.

The clinging of spoon on a glass bowl is the sign for the meatball seller. The knocking on wood is the fried noodle seller, and the nasal singing sound of “Sio-Maaaay” is the sign of the dumpling seller.

But those au naturel sounds are not the only ones heard in the city. Blood pressure may rise along with the passing of the Evil Knievel wannabes on motorbikes or the honking of cars queuing behind a public minivan that cheekily stops midtraffic to pick up a passenger. And, last but not least, is the Indonesian love affair with the loudspeaker.

One can hear loudspeakers being used in shopping malls, in weddings processions, in meetings of a dozen people and at places of worship.

“I have, in the past, read messages on the Internet from other people complaining about the noise from loudspeakers from mosques near their houses. I’d always been thankful that I didn’t have that problem,” Glenn McGrew, 43, who lives in Semarang, Central Java said over the phone.

His peace lasted only until last June, when a military compound near his residential complex started to construct a large mosque and broadcast the calls to prayer, Koran recitations, and even children’s Islamic classes.

“Now, I have that problem,” he said.

Glenn is one of many expatriates disturbed by the city’s generous use of loudspeakers.

Glenn, who lives with his family in Candi Sari, Semarang, said before the new mosque was built, the area where he lived had several mosques in the vicinity, whose calls to prayer did not create any discomfort to the ears.

The noise from the new mosque drowned out the sound of the other mosques, which eventually forced the latter to increase their volume too to make themselves heard by their congregation.

Once, the broadcast went from Friday all through the weekend and ended on Monday, Glenn said.

The noise has hampered his family’s rest time, Glenn said. He lives in his mother-in law’s two-story house and is starting to teach his five-year-old daughter to sleep by herself in a room on the second story of his family’s house. As his daughter still feels daunted by the idea of sleeping by herself, he tucks her into bed and stays until she falls asleep.

“Just a couple of minutes after that, the mosque put its loudspeakers on again. And she wakes up and gets upset,” he said.

Glen is now wavering between asking his mother-in-law to sell the house and move to a quieter place or to stay put. “I feel I don’t want to uproot myself”.

Eka Heru Djunaeni, associate director from Colliers International, a consultancy company that provides real estate services for expatriates, said that being free from noise pollution was one of the requirements clients asked for in their search for housing. Except for expatriates hailing from countries that are used to loudspeakers from places of worship, most of Colliers’ clients look for houses that are far away from loud places of worships.

“They are usually not used to loud noise,” Colliers International associate director Lenny van Es-Sinaga said.

In Jakarta, the area that is quite accommodating to that demand is Pondok Indah, South Jakarta, Heru said.

Other expatriates areas are in Kemang, Pejaten, Cilandak, and Cipete in South Jakarta. “There are many, many mosques there. For someone who really cannot tolerate amplified calls to prayer, we will refer them to Pondok Indah,” Heru said.

Noise is not the only factor in finding housing. Location and the house itself are also in the equation.

What then can one do when one has found the perfect house in the perfect location but it has problems of noise pollution?

Lenny said that a prospective leaser could request double glazing in the windows as a noise buffer, at an extra cost. Lenny said that usually a 5 percent increase in the rental fee would be requested by the landlord. Houses and apartments recommended by Colliers are in a price range of US$1,500 to $4,000 and higher.

Those privileged with the funds then could find that perfect house in a quiet neighborhood or install double glazing for their windows. But for the majority of people, they would have to stay put and endure the noise.

Residents mostly feel powerless and afraid to complain, Glenn said. Many of his neighbors feel the same annoyance over the loudspeakers; however a lot of them are reluctant to complain to the mosque caretakers. He asked his neighbors how they felt about the noise. Their response was one of opposition but they would rather not confront the issue.

Meeting up with the people from the mosque apparently does not help either, Glenn found. He reasoned that the noise violated Indonesian laws and the spirit of Pancasila, the Indonesian philosophical foundation. “They do not want to compromise,” he said.

Not all expatriates, however, are annoyed by the loudspeakers from places of worship. Chris Holm, who has lived in Jakarta for more than six years, said that he had adjusted to the noise and was more concerned with the traffic problems in Jakarta and the lack of open green spaces.

He said that he noticed how noisy Jakarta was when he went away. “I’m from New Zealand and it’s very quiet there. You notice it when you leave [Jakarta],” he said.

“What’s amazing about the city … You can seem to get away from the noise if you’re in the right place. You get used to the hum of the city and the noise becomes the background,” he said.

Bulantrisna Djelantik, an ear, nose and throat specialist with the Free from Noise Society said that loudspeakers should be used sparingly. In neighborhood areas, one should bear in mind the comfort of residents in the area.

“It is fine as long as it does not disrupt people’s lives,” she said.

The group found that noise pollution had become an increasing nuisance in urban areas. The issue of noise pollution was still on the periphery, with people being timid in raising any objections to it.

Noise levels in the city have led to people losing their hearing without them realizing, the group claims, saying that 10.7 percent of people who conduct activities in the streets of Jakarta have hearing problems.

The group, which was founded last weekend, is aiming for urban areas that appreciate the auditory sense better, with the motto: “Respect ears, God’s gift.”

“Ears are the first sense to develop in a fetus. With ears, a fetus unconsciously knows about the world outside itself,” the group’s chairman, cultural activist Slamet A. Sjukur, said. “When death is closing in, a dying person might lose his ability to see and speak. But the last communication he receives will come through his ears.”

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Life | Mon, February 01 2010

Sleepy hollow: A scene at night outside Pondok Indah Mall in South Jakarta. The Pondok Indah neighborhood is a haven for expatriates in search of comfortable houses. JP/P.J. Leo

Comic artists reach for a wider audience

Wanting to shed the image of an exclusive community, the country’s comic artists are holding an exhibition in a South Jakarta mall, to showcase their work to the public.

The Indonesia Comic Community (MKI) together with the Bellezza Shopping Arcade in South Jakarta have organized “Comic Days”, a week-long comic exhibition with workshops and discussions.

“We want not only comic artists and comic fans to come, but also the general public,” head of the the MKI, Rizqy R. Mosmarth said Sunday.

Indonesia’s comic art scene is not as commercially successful at home compared to the numerous Japanese manga comics in bookstores.

After its heyday in the 1970s, Indonesian comic art, with titles such as Si Buta dari Gua Hantu (The Blind from the Ghost Cave), went into hiatus.

Independent comic artists and studios attempted to revive the scene in the early 1990s when comic artist groups such as Komik Nusantara, Animik and Apotik Komik started to emerge.

Now, numerous independent comic artists and studios produce comic books.

Rizqy said that through the exhibition, they wanted to reach a wider audience.

Comic artists such as Ahmad Thoriq and Anto Motul — founders of the MKI — as well as Tita Larasati are taking part in the exhibition and workshops.

Bellezza Shopping Arcade spokesperson Audrey Aristanty said that organizers would change the display of the comics daily during the event.

At Sunday’s exhibition, social criticism was abound in most of the comics displayed. The graphic diary of Tita Larasati on display portrayed people on the street calling out “bule” (foreigner) to children walking with a lady.

After they entered a public van, the boy asked the lady what “bule” meant and whether it was a bad thing.

“It’s the only way they know how to treat difference,” the lady answered the little boy.

Another comic on display was Studio Paragraph’s Bondan, Undul and Lila: The death of coral reefs.

The characters were two children, Bondan and Lila, who were able to swim underwater without equipment after a fish, Undul, gave them special necklaces. The comic touches on issues such as environmental degradation and poverty.

Rizqy said the studio had created the comic for an organization that works in conservation, the Terangi Foundation.

One beautiful work that was displayed was Azisa Noor’s comic, which is a modern interpretation of the wayang story Rama and Shinta.

Rizqi said that they would hold a workshop on Jan. 23.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Jakarta | Mon, January 18 2010

Four workers died while cleaning sewer, employer negligence suspected

Agung Supriadi was a calm curly-haired 21-year-old man, whom women of his neighborhood loved. On Dec. 22, he left for work in the morning to clean a sewer in Kampung Melayu, East Jakarta.

He did not make it home alive.

Agung died with three of his friends, Ridwan, Alif and Andi — all in their twenties — reportedly from asphyxiation while removing garbage from the Kalibaru tunnel, after being pushed by a strong current and running out of oxygen. The workers had been hired by East Jakarta Public Works Agency.

“Agung was a strong swimmer,” Agung’s oldest sister, 29-year-old Aci Sutarsih, said. “But, maybe there was too much garbage,” she said.

In her modest home, a square room with big wooden windows in Cipinang Besar, East Jakarta, Aci said recently she was shocked on hearing the news of her brother’s death.

Aci, who lost her parents nine years ago, raised Agung and her sisters on her own. Having no money, Aci and her siblings did not continue their education past elementary school.

Agung used to do odd jobs such as cleaning service or helping people move, Aci said. He would also sometimes busk with Ridwan, Alif and Andi.

“They were close friends,” Aci said, adding that Agung and the others were “sehidup-semati” (friends in life and death).

Agung had worked for the Public Works Agency as a daily worker for around one year, Aci said. He would receive Rp 35,000 per day.

“Sometimes he helped out by giving me some money,” she said. But mostly he used his wages for his own needs, which included taking his girlfriend out.

“I heard from his friends that they talked about getting married,” she said.

Police suspected the deaths of the four men was a result of negligence. Jatinegara Police detectives found that none of the workers had been given safety clothing or equipment before entering the sewers.

One eyewitness said they only had a flashlight, and on the day of their deaths it had been raining, causing the water levels to rise up to their waists.

“We suspect they died as they ran out of oxygen and were trapped in the water,” Jatinegara Police chief detective First. Insp. Supardjiono told reporters a day after the incident.

The police have questioned several witnesses, but have not named any suspects.

Jakarta Public Works Agency chief Budi Widiantoro said safety equipment had been prepared for the task.

“The incident occurred because of a sudden increase in water levels,” he said.

Workers were recruited for public works projects according to necessity, Budi said.

“The recruitment of workers is based on occasional needs, and is usually on a short-term basis… we do not give them year-long contracts, so they are not paid any occupational insurance on top of their daily wage,” he said.

A lot of people work without social or health insurance. Firefighters for example, who work in very dangerous conditions, are among the many who work for the public good without insurance.

Aci said she had received a total of Rp 10 million from the city administration following the death of her brother.

“I want to use the rest of the money to beautify Agung’s grave,” she said, adding that she was not sure how much was left.

“I used it for the burial and it was like rain when you spend money on those times,” she said.

Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency chief Deded Sukandar, whose office oversees the implementation of work safety in companies, said in the case of Agung and his friends the employers had done enough.

“They gave money to the families,” he said.

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Jakarta | Thu, January 07 2010