FAMILY PORTRAIT #2 : KAMPUNG LODAN, TONGKOL
Kampung Lodan, Jakarta, Indonesia 2017
Curated by : Bayu Genia Khrisbie
National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta, 2017
The second project of the Family Portrait series took place in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. Jakarta has long been seen as a place where people can pursue their dreams, attracting a significant number of migrants each year since the 1970s. However, overpopulation has become a pressing issue in the city. The government has implemented various policies to address this problem, including eviction. The idea of vertical living was introduced as a solution to the land scarcity issue, particularly during the tenure of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok. Many areas were subject to evictions until Ahok encountered legal troubles and was jailed. The subsequent governor, who was elected partly due to his opposition to the eviction plan, halted further evictions.
Lodan, Kerapu, and Tongkol were among the areas included in the eviction plan. The residents of these areas have been fighting for their rights since the initial plan put forth by Ahok, continuing their struggle under the new governor. I first visited this area in 2015 and have returned on subsequent trips to Jakarta. Over time, I formed friendships with the people there. In 2017, I received an invitation from a curator involved in participatory art projects in Indonesia, and I decided to conduct the second part of the Family Portrait project in Lodan, Kerapu, and Tongkol. The concept remained the same as the first Family Portrait project, but this time it was conducted in a different city. I embarked on a short residency for three weeks, immersing myself in the area and getting to know the residents better. I set up my studio on the second floor of a mosque and spent a significant amount of time conversing with the imam to gain insights about the area. I conducted the photo shoots and exhibited the photographs on the walls.
During this project, I discovered intriguing aspects about the relationships between the people, the community, and their living spaces. Most families desired to have their family portraits taken in front of their houses. The reason behind this preference was the uncertainty of whether they would still own their homes the following day, given their status in the government's eviction plan. Living in Jakarta is undeniably challenging, and the residents exhibit a strong attachment to their territories. They are willing to go to great lengths to defend their territory, even forming coalitions across the three areas to fight against the eviction plan. Prior to the eviction plan, these three areas often experienced conflicts among themselves. People began moving to these areas in the 1970s, and now, three generations later, they still call these places home.
In comparison to my work with a similar community in Bandung, I noticed differences in how they responded to their shared problems. In Bandung, the communities tend to rely more on NGOs or activists for assistance and support, while in Jakarta, they take the initiative to fight for their rights themselves. The city itself plays a role in shaping the character of its residents. Jakarta is known for its toughness, while Bandung is considered more laid-back and relaxed, partially influenced by the contrasting weather conditions. Additionally, the communities I worked with in Bandung were primarily composed of people from the same regions and ethnic groups, whereas in Jakarta, the population is more diverse, with residents hailing from various parts of Indonesia.
This project also revealed many other issues related to politics. Through interactions with families in a particular area, it became evident that understanding the social problems within a community is essential for creating effective policies and finding solutions that truly benefit the community.