Sunday, December 14, 2008

Art is the Heart of Indonesia

A 1959 quote in reference to Sukarno, Indonesia’s first President, says, “He’s an artist. But then we are a nation of artists. We understand beauty better than politics.” That sentiment, I believe, still resonates today. Art permeates the culture here. From paintings to textiles to fashion shows, the opportunity to enjoy the creation and exhibition of a cornucopia of art abounds.

This past week, I was introduced to art galleries as well as a "village", where artists from all over the country congregate to work, display, and sell their creations. The limited space that each artist has to work is crammed with supplies and canvases. Shoes, however, stay outside.

Fashion shows for both men and women are a regular occurrence. As many as 3-4 events take place in Jakarta every month. During the show that I attended, in which six designers paraded their styles, a huge section of the audience disappeared as the first models left the stage. In my naivete, I thought they did not like the show. Afterward, I learned that the semi-mob had rushed backstage and bought out the entire line-up, which certainly suggests the hard times facing the United States may not be global - at least not for the wealthier in Asian society.

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