The Berlin Wall in Jakarta
Parts of the Berlin Wall have been placed in a park in Jakarta, some 11,000 kilometers away from the German capital. What does this Cold War-era symbol of ideological division have to do with Indonesia?
Teguh Ostenrik had to wait for almost 27 years until he found the right place to erect his artwork installation called the "Sculpture Beyond Boundaries." The Indonesian painter chose the Kalijodo public park in Jakarta to display his project.
Bringing home a piece of history
Ostenrik had lived in West Berlin for 10 years before returning to Indonesia in 1988. Two weeks after German reunification, he flew back to Germany to purchase a piece of history. He bought four pieces of the Berlin Wall and got them shipped to Jakarta in 1990.
When Ostenrik returned to Indonesia after studying in Berlin, he realized that his home country was divided along racial, religious and ethnic lines. "There is an invisible wall in our country that divides the Javanese and Sundanese people. In Indonesia, there is a 'Berlin Wall' for the Batak people also," Ostenrik said, referring to Indonesia's tribal people.
A collage of words and images
Ostenrik studied arts in Germany. During his stay in West Berlin in the 1980s, he often made graffiti on the Berlin Wall. The graffiti on the four slabs (which he brought to Indonesia from Germany) make a collage of playful words and images that fit in perfectly to the children's park designed by the architect Yori Antar.
Instead of planting the slabs like the original wall in Berlin, Ostenrik placed 14 steel figures around them. The sculptures represent an iron man, which according to the artist depict the human spirit. "The human spirit can be as hard as steel and we can break 'the wall' between us and rise above the differences that separate us," Ostenrik said.
The "Sculpture Beyond Boundaries" was unveiled on October 3 this year, coinciding with the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. "The main task of an artist is to reflect on social conditions. We are against uniformity. Without the 'Bhineka Tunggal Ika' (Unity in Diversity) national motto, Indonesia cannot survive," Ostenrik said.