Showing posts from 2019


The industry is one of the most exciting fields in cultural heritage to look at, especially in Asia, where industrial heritage is not widely known yet. The industry associates more with economic development but not yet with social and cultural development. This should be changed considering that the industry becomes one of the development backbones of Asia. Assets and potentials are tremendous. Interests and enthusiasm, especially from young professionals are huge. Everybody is hungry and thirsty for knowledge and examples from the field! Those are my personal motivation why I dedicate my attention in the last few years to industrial heritage in Asia and in Indonesia specifically. It is with pleasure to be part of the ANIH (Asian Network for Industrial Heritage) with its newly launched website. Through this website, we can see we do our best to promote the industrial heritage of Asia for larger public.  In 2020, ANIH will hold its Third Forum in Sawahlunto, Indonesia. For th


A while ago I visited an exhibition with a theme Things That Matters in the Tropen Museum, Amsterdam.  In the exhibition, there were several angles were exposed: what we wear, when we feel at home, how climate changes our culture, our happy memories from home, how we create new life, the meaning of language, beliefs, fighting for our ideals, and celebrations.  One of the topics in the exhibition is about claiming a culture. When can we say that culture belongs to us? These are the words quoted from the Tropen Museum: Sharing or stealing? Is it acceptable to take over things over from a culture that’s not your own? And who gets to decide? In the last few years, there’s been much debate about issues like these, particularly on social media. This debate focuses on cultural appropriation: the co-option of elements from another culture for one’s own purposes or profit. Things like symbols, clothing, hairstyles, dance, music or language, for example. Obviously, culture is


When I had an idea to establish Sumatra Heritage Trust (BWS) in Medan, there was hardly anyone with appropriate skills available on the grass-root level. People who were familiar with the idea of cultural heritage, in this case, historical buildings, were mostly lecturers at the local universities. We need representatives from the private sector (for financial and facilities sources) and community (as volunteers for implementation of plans and programs). That was a general idea when I looked for who was in town that I could approach to set up the organization. Medan specifically and Sumatra generally are too precious to be left alone for their cultural heritage assets without local guardians. It took me about a year to finally gather necessary numbers of the Founders of Sumatra Heritage Trust. A promising formation of 4 entrepreneurs, 2 lecturers, and 2 community representatives.  The next homework was to educate local youngsters to be cultural heritage professionals. We recr


Every time I was in the middle of discussions, trainings and any other events in Indonesia, I was often reminded about the presence of X Factors in heritage conservation. The first X Factor is a superstitious idea about old (read: historical) buildings. The superstitious idea is mostly about ghosts that are believed to occupy rooms and buildings. I never encountered any scientific references about how to deal with the superstitious ideas in heritage conservation. The issue about ghosts might be considered not scientific, that is why.  No matter how superstitious it is, the issue exists and as a professional, I have to deal with it. I have witnessed how this superstitious state of mind has affected the decision-making process in an adaptive reuse process of historical buildings. Layers of history are demolished and polished to be completely new features to invite visitors who are otherwise will not come to the historical buildings. It hurts and sad actually to see that the layer


The Asian Network for Industrial Heritage (ANIH) has gathered in Chiayi, Taiwan, 30 June-5 July 2019. The theme was the history of railways heritage. I presented a paper titled " RAILWAYS HERITAGE OF INDONESIA: Celebrating Mobility in the Archipelago" and my junior colleague from Sumatra Heritage Trust, Shindi Indira presented a paper about railways history in Sumatra.  I tried to bring the ANIH 2020 to Indonesia and I tried to convince all other members of ANIH. Indonesia is relatively left behind in the field of industrial heritage compared to Europe or other Asian countries like Taiwan. It is very challenging to raise awareness about the importance of industrial heritage conservation in Indonesia, moreover about the proper practice of its conservation and adaptive reuse. That is why I was and am motivated to bring the Asian network in 2020 with the hope that it will wake up the Indonesian authorities about how industrial heritage assets might contribute to the countr


That long title is the motto of the conference that I attended between 11-14 June 2019 at the University of Amsterdam in the frame of the   ICOMOS UNIVERSITY FORUM. It was organized by the UNESCO Chair on Heritage Futures at Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden, and the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture, in collaboration with ICOMOS International, ICOMOS Netherlands, and the City of Amsterdam. It has been enlightening and inspiring 4 days of discussions and workshops with new angles of heritage practices. One of the workshops I have joined was about creating a museum for data that has been sent to a star planet. It was called "data crematorium". Or thinking about what we will do with former nuclear plants and the space shuttle. We also discussed a lot about cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Heritage has never been so advanced before this conference for me. That is why I liked this conference a lot after avoiding conferences f


Last week (week 22) Bijlmermuseum has got a status as a protected cityscape of Amsterdam. It is an ensemble of six highrise flats: Gooioord, Groeneveen, Grubbehoeve, Kikkenstein, Kleiburg and Kruitberg. This protected status comes along for all characteristic inner streets, metro line, water & greenery underlying structures and original bicycle and pedestrian bridges.  The protection status ensures that Bijlmermuseum as a unity will have integral maintenance and emergency treatments. It also means that any inquiry of permit requires admission framework.  Bijlmermuseum is the youngest protected cityscape of Amsterdam. Previously, Amsterdam has already two protected cityscapes and one protected village scape on the municipality level, three protected cityscapes and three protected village scapes on the national level.  The plan area generally at the north is Bijlmeerdreef, at the east is Groesbeekdreef, at the west is 's Gravendijkdreef and at the south is Karspeldreef


Amsterdam Research Institute of the Arts and Sciences (ARIAS)   is a crossing platform for arts and sciences as clearly reflected by its name. Last night, 29 May, I have attented an event they organized about arts and archives in Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam.  There was a presentation about research on the Myth of Rodin.  Then participants could choose four group themes. I have chosen titled  Reworking Colonial Photographs led by Leiden University’s Anne Vera Veen. She led the participants to look for strategies to rethink, reframe and rework photographs in colonial archives in order to imagine decolonial futures. The discussion was lively and enlighting. It opened up a new perspective of how we can give meaning to photographs by exploring more backgrounds and categorizing them in appropriate contexts. I was very inspired and stimulated. The participants of this relatively small group, 10 persons, came from archives, museums and heritage fields. Small and beautiful in t


After 25 years working and learning in cultural heritage field, I feel an urge to contemplate what I have been doing and learning. To give a structure to my contemplation, I have sent my ideas to University of Leiden. They responded very positively in a very short notice. Before I knew, I have received a student card, welcomed to various facilities and received academic guidance to sharpen my ideas.  It feels great to find out that an academic institution is accessible for a field worker like me. I like school that is open minded and gives freedom for everyone to develop. Education is supposed to be that way. There are two books that influenced me about education system. First is Deschooling Society (1970) written by Ivan Illich. This book critized education institutionalization in modern society. Schools can be dangerous for creativity development. The second is Toto Chan, the Little Girl at the Window (1981) by Tetsuko Kuronayagi. It is about unconventional education experien


I was very curious how Andalucia, Spain, with its warm climate and world famous monuments, manage its crowd (read: tourists). The province receives about 11 millions international tourists per year plus domestic tourists (about 80% of the population means about 140 million tourist trips per year). In main destinations like Granada, Cordoba and Seville, most tourists visit main destinations so concentration of crowd is relatively high. In Al Hambra, Granada, ticket has to be purchased by internet and only available at certain dates and certain hours. Most tickets have gove weeks and months in advance. In this way, crowd could be well managed and distributed every day from morning to evening. It is still crowded but manageable. There is no long queue at entrance. The Mezquita-Cathedral de Cordoba, sells tickets on site and if lucky, taking at least half hour to get the tickets. Queueing under the sun is not a joke for some people who forget to bring hats or umbrella. Inside, th


On Thursday evening 11 April 2019 I went to KPK (The Corruption Eradication Commission) in Kuningan, Jakarta, for what they called "Sarasehan Budaya" (Cultural Talks). The speakers were Emha Ainun Nadjib, Najwa Sihab and Novel Baswedan. The intention of this talks was to commemorate two years of assault againts Novel Baswedan, an ivestigator of KPK. This assault is not solved until now so public requests responsibility of authorities for an investigation. This request is important to prevent similar accidents in the future. I came to this event for Emha Ainun Nadjib (Cak Nun). During my university times, I listened a lot to what he said, I didn't follow him blindly but I liked his poetical ways of analysing social economic and political phenomena. It was a kind of intellectual recreation for me. I was thankful that I got tips about this Cultural Talks at KPK Building during my short stay in Jakarta. I certainly came for nostalgic reason and updated myself about lif


I have spent three weeks in Indonesia to meet friends and colleagues in various parts of Java who are trying to put their beliefs into something tangible and real. In the words of Bram Kushardjanto from Negeri Rempah Foundation , "we use spices to explore our sense of Indonesia." His foundation has just organized a program called International Forum on Spices Route in the National Museum of Jakarta. One full week  program to explore history and potential of spices richness of the Archipelago. Almost all experts from abroad and Indonesia took part in the program in various ways: as speakers, demo leaders, field workers, activists and phylanthropists. A good begin for raising awareness how rich natural resources of Indonesia.  Through some events, I have also encountered with Javara initiated by Helianti Hilman and Kaum initiated by Potato Head Family. Both promote food and agriculture heritage of Indonesia. Both are world class products, very high standards and the bes


I visited TEFAF 2019 yesterday in Maastricht. TEFAF stands for the European Fine Art Fair. I was speechless to see such high quality and rarely art works from all over the world. It was so fascinating to think of capability of humankind to create beautiful stuff beyond believe. A lot of details to observe and a lot of stories behind to find out. TEFAF was a spiritual journey for me.  In one of the exhibition corners, my eyes catched a very interesting information. The Art Loss Register (ALR) . It is a database about half million art objects that are stolen, missing and looted, as well as those subject to title disputes, freezing orders and financial liens, and within permanent collections. The database also includes details of works that have been reported with authenticity issues by police and foremost experts (resource: ALR brochure). This organization (or company) was founded in 1990 in England. Their service basically are three things: Register, Search and Recover. Will


Yesterday I attended a seminar of Studio Shared Heritage, a cooperation between ITB (Bandung Institute of Technology)  and TU Delft. It is a three years program to provide opportunities for students to exercise about shared heritage projects in both Indonesia and Netherlands. They have just finished the first batch with a case study of the Art Deco City of Bandung in Indonesia. Yesterday, the students presented the ideas covering various subjects from adaptive reuse to climate issues. I think their ideas are amusing since these young scholars are not burden with realistic problems of bureaucracy and typical challenges for heritage projects in Indonesia.  Some of them have brilliant ideas to transform densed kampung behind Braga Street into vertical kampung with bamboo materials. Other student will transform colonial buildings into housing of the kampung people to solve density problems. The student didn't understand why the kampung is so densed while many colonial build


The theme of Heritage Day 18 April this year is Rural Heritage. I couldn't agree more with this theme since I have seen myself how heritage can play an important role in rural economic social cultural development in Temanggung. Spedagi with its Pasar Papringan in Temanggung so far is the best practice that has been surviving indepedently without subsidies. Outsiders are simply taking roles as triggers but the main actors are local people. I think it is one of the few cases in Indonesia and in the world in general.  Close to home is a suburb area along the Gein River where I often bike or walk. The farm Anna Haen is transformed into restaurant and accommodation facilities because the farm doesn't provide adequate income anymore. It also offers cooking workshops, boat trips and promotes local farm products. I observed from the beginning several years ago when the restaurant only opened at weekends for breakfast and lunch. Now, they are open every single day until 20.00.


Water expertises of the Dutch fascinates me. It has been and it always. Netherlands is a country below the sea and all children MUST learn to swim. Taking care of dikes and dams are priority number one in this country, otherwise all population sinks into the sea. This obligation forms certain mentality that are positives: discipline and strive for the best solution. You tell the Dutch your problem with water and watery areas, they always have answers. That was my impression yesterday when I attended a symposium about water management during the Dutch Indies colonial period and post Independence Indonesia in Bronbeek. On a sunny Sunday morning and afternoon. It was worth listening.  As the Indonesian Ambassador, H.E. I Gusti A. Wesaka Puja, yesterday said that Indonesia has had its local wisdom about water management, such as Subak irigation system in Bali, far before the Europeans came to colonialize the country. It is true and Indonesians should be proud and conserve it. And


When I am in Netherlands, I like to explore villages or better to say, suburban areas. Mostly close to home around Amsterdam but often are also far away in other provinces.  Last weekend, I explored Monnickendam and Broek in Waterland in North Holland. The reason that brought me there was a presentation from Tim Voors about his walking adventure in the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. This Literature Cafe took place in a church called Sint-Nicolaas in Broek in Waterland.  First, the Broek in Waterland. Such a cute little village with expensive cars parked a long the roads. This is a village for the have's, absolutely. It is not a village like my friends in Indonesia think about. Some houses have solar energy panels on the roofs. It is not something for farmers in Kandangan, Central Java, with buffalo's and dark dirty nails. I love both types and enjoyed Broek in Waterland as much as I enjoyed Kandangan. No sin to be rich as long as you earn it honestly


Lately I visited two places that show spiritual diversity. Fascination for spiritualism brought me to these places. First, I stayed over a weekend in the Gedong Gandhi Ashram in Candidasa, Bali. This place was established by the late Ibu Gedong whom I met in my 20's in one of conferences I attended. Ibu Gedong is a spiritualist based on Hindu teachings especially Gandhi philosophy. The ashram is now run by her family and local community.  I went to the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, some time in the early 2000 but only as a passerby. I didn't stay. This time I allocated time at least 3 days to absorb more atmosphere of an ashram.  The Gedong Gandhi Ashram lies beautifully between the famous Candidasa Temple and beaches. Everyday, there are two yoga sessions, chanting in Sanskrit language at 5 am and 8 pm, meditation and three times vegetarian meals. For me as a guest, all programs are optional.  Just being in this peaceful and well maintained ashram gave me