The Jakarta Post
Talking art: Gardu House offers street artists across Indonesia a chance to learn from each other. (JP/Marcel Thee)
With an active stream of activities, including the recent Sketch and Tagging Battle, a graffiti event held in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, creative hub Gardu House has continued to be an influential force in the local creative scene.
“Gardu House was basically a hangout pad,” said Bima Chris, the hub’s art director, who joined in 2013.
Set up by the people behind Artcoholic, a graffiti crew active in the late 2000s, the initial goal was to establish a venue where likeminded people could live and come up with creative ideas as a collective and sell their work as merchandise. The house, located in Ciputat, South Jakarta, was officially established in 2010.
These days, the collective that fills the hub is made up of creative minds from a healthy variety of backgrounds in design, music, photography, videography and graffiti, among other fields.
One of Gardu House’s main goals is to become a place where the many, disparate creative minds in the country can turn to their passions for a real source of income.
“In this era of rapid information, the [creative] community has grown very quickly and without any specific rules. There are positive and negative aspects of this. Indonesians tend to be very consumptive without knowing precisely how the platforms they have can be utilized for positive and negative things,” Bima said, referring to how their creativity often focuses on the aesthetics and not the deeper meaning.
Gardu House aims to provide these creative minds with guidance on how to positively benefit themselves and their audience.
Its founders’ background in graffiti means the creative hub has a strong focus in street art. Almost all of its events feature some kind of graffiti performance or presentation.
Bima said one of Gardu House’s strengths was its ability to bring together creative minds from different parts of the country.
“All the information we receive from all these disparate movements in different cities informs the programs and events that we carry out. In simple terms, we want the graffiti scene in Indonesia to be reckoned with worldwide,” he explained.
Aside from their many one-off events, the house holds its annual Street Dealin’ festival, which involves street artists and creative minds from a wide range of artistic disciplines. They take part in friendly competitions and share their ideas and skills in a way that elevates their work.
Last year’s event saw the participation of a wealth of guest artists from Indonesia and beyond, including Bgs Four (Bali), Boner (Jakarta), Derbs (Makassar, South Sulawesi), Medcrophone (Semarang, Central Java), Minksone (Malang, East Java), Mr.Rack (Medan, North Sumatra), Bamboo (Taiwan), Dem (Singapore) and Escapeva (Malaysia).
For Gardu House, the prevalence of social media has also given them a strong platform to promote themselves and their activities. “We take it very seriously,” Bima said.
For the founders of the hub, one of the most pleasant surprises was how each city produced unique artists who created works that did not necessarily signal that they were Indonesian.
“There is just so much variation,” Bima said. “What they all offer is this sense of a euphoric movement that is massive and the Indonesian attitude of being open to any ideas.”