Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Hanging rocks, standing bamboos, draped papers, I saw them all oddly installed around my campus sometimes, when I was a student in Bandung. And I was like, “Whaaa…?”
I didn’t get most of the installation arts, but being surrounded by art for 4,5 years of my campus life as a Design student had added a little excitement to my life. I, at least, enjoyed the surprises when I’d walk to class in the morning.
Having lived in Jakarta about 10 years now since I graduated, I still get that homey and artsy feel whenever I’m in Bandung for any quick visit, no matter how crowded, commercial and industrial it gets nowadays. Art & Design graduates or not, the people I associate with in Bandung are mostly those that are artists, designers or simply into arts and crafts who don’t think too much of commercialism. It’s heart-warming.
Recently I was invited to my freshman year best friend, Prilla Tania’s solo exhibition in Selasar Sunaryo Art Space, Bandung. It’s been a while since I’ve been to her art exhibition, or any for that matter, so I happily went. I’m no curator, but I found Pila’s artwork very creative. And it’s ossum that she focused on the environmental issue in her work and consistently incorporate used materials for the display.
Selasar Sunaryo Art Space (SASS or just Selasar for short) was founded in 1998 by a renowned Bandung based artist, Sunaryo. It’s a non-profit organization and space dedicated to support the study and development of Indonesian visual art and culture. I remember in sophomore year my Fine Art friends were busy being involved in the opening ceremony of the art space, as Sunaryo was one of the lecturers in my school. I thought they were cool to have been participating in such an important event 😀
The gallery permanently displays some of Sunaryo’s artworks and has programs and exhibitions of other artists throughout the year. An amphitheatre is located on the lower lever of the area, perhaps used for events and performances. A pendopo (gazebo-like building) is located even lower, exactly where Pila’s “artist talk” event took place. I tried to focus on the discussion and Q&A, but halfway the talkshow, an unplanned small reunion with my other college friends who also came for the exhibition was too fun to pass! Oops…
Aside from the prestigious gallery and all the art-related features, Selasar Sunaryo is also known for the open-aired café called Kopi Selasar. Being roofed by a big fig tree, it’s a real treat to munch on meals and sip a coffee or tea while sitting on the wooden chairs overlooking mountains and hills. The place is a hit especially in the afternoons on weekends. Don’t feel pressured into liking the art in the gallery, you can always go there solely for the coffee and wifi.
What is Bandung without shopping, though? Just kidding. But if you’re like me, a sucker for cute and creative knick knacks, you better avoid the Selasar Shop. It’s a glass-walled building just below the café. Notebooks, t-shirts, art books, exhibition merchandise and much other well-designed and crafted stuff are sold in the shop.
Around the area, you can find a lot of cafes and restaurants that popped up following the buzz of Selasar Sunaryo in late 90’s. More and more big houses and villas are built there, too. It’s a more lively neighborhood than it used to be 10 years ago (gasp! So long time ago!), and I guess more taxi and ojeg drivers are familiar with the directions.
There’s a little ‘down’ to Selasar Sunaryo though. It’s not so easy to reach with public transportation. “The only angkot that goes pass it doesn’t operate after dark,” said my friend Herra, who is a regular to Selasar Sunaryo.
Here’s how to get to Selasar Sunaryo but if it doesn’t work you can always take ojek. There are ojek stations at Simpang Tubagus Ismail (near the famous Simpang Dago) and right across the Dago angkot terminal. The ojek fare from Dago angkot terminal to Selasar is about IDR 10,000.