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Gone is the Rp 550 million art installation. Public: Money can be used for other purpose.

Jakarta Post - July 19, 2019

Jakarta – The removal of a bamboo art installation titled Getah Getih from near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Wednesday has left an empty spot in the area.

The dismantled 5.5-meter-tall artwork, which cost the city administration Rp 550 million (US$39,399), has been moved to Ragunan in South Jakarta. The bamboo parts that have not deteriorated will be used to make bamboo structures in parks.

Private employee Fitriana, who works near the traffic circle, said she agreed with the decision to remove it because it was no longer a feast for the eye as the bamboo had become brittle because of weather conditions.

"[The artwork] is no longer fit for display," she said on Thursday as reported by kompas.com.

A local passing through the area on Thursday, Aidil, said he did not mind its removal. "I heard that the price was Rp 550 million. That's reasonable for artwork," he said.

Another resident, Bima Putra, deplored the amount allocated for something that lasted less than a year. "[The money] could have been used for other purposes, such as road repairs," he said.

The artwork made by Joko Avianto, a West Java-born artist, said Jakarta's poor air quality had contributed to the degraded quality of his artwork, as the resilience of a bamboo art installation depended on the location in which it was placed and the environmental conditions.

"Because the bamboo is fibrous and porous, it absorbs [pollutants from] water and air. Bamboo is like an indicator of the quality of an environment. If the environment is too polluted, that's what happens," he said on Thursday.

He cited examples of his installations in other cities that had been more durable than the one in Jakarta.

Despite the polluted air, Joko said the dismantling had long been planned. The artwork was initially projected to stand for only six months after being installed on Aug.16 last year.

It was installed to commemorate Indonesia's 73rd anniversary and to welcome the Asian Games. "That [dismantling] was planned. The durability of the artwork was one year, despite initially being planned for six months," he said.

Getah Getih refers to the red-and-white flag of the 13th century Majapahit kingdom that became the country's national flag. The artwork was held up by 73 bamboo poles that symbolized 73 years of independence. The shape symbolized unity.

Meanwhile, councillor Gembong Warsono from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) criticized the amount spent on the artwork. He recalled that councillors had questioned the durability of the artwork last year.

"It's mubazir [a waste]. We need to be really careful in using the public's money because that's not petty cash. At the time, we appreciated the governor's initiative to give space to local artists to showcase their work. Besides, they said they had a way to make it [the bamboo artwork] last a long time, but now it's been dismantled." (sau)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/07/19/gone-is-the-rp-550-million-art-installation-public-money-can-be-use-for-other-purpose.html