Monday, August 23, 2010


Every day as I travel between home and work, I pass the following scene on Kemang Utara.
At first, I was taken aback by the amount of graffiti and general disarray of the lot (especially since it is right behind a nice apartment building with high quality shops and restaurants on the ground level) However, throughout the past couple months, I've seen local teenagers use the lot behind the concrete wall as a space to play futball, people have used the front area to gather, and the graffiti isn't as malicious as tasteful and artistic. Consequently, on Sunday, I decided to bring my camera and get a closer look. Below is my attempt at a relatively artsy-type shot of some of the graffiti on the lot:

Overall, it's been fascinating to me that as I've become more and more familiar with the neighborhood, this lot has transformed from being a blight into an area of local self expression, independence, and intrinsic beauty. I'm not saying all abandoned lots should be used in this way (and this one could use a major clean-up to remove the debris and whatnot), but I think this lot is a microcosm of developed/developing mentality. The developed world comes in with their notions of how something should be without taking the time to see the beauty of what the developing world has.


  1. I disagree with your/the rest of the world's use of "developing" as a word to describe cultures foreign to Western civilization. It implies inferiority, like "catching up" is necessary for normality. Thumbs down.

  2. But at the same time, you're learning to appreciate it so I'll give you half a gold star.

  3. Well that's why during the 90s these countries went from being the "third-world" to being "developing" to whatever the buzz word is now, but in the WaM econ department we used developing, so I'll stick with that. And while I agree it involves negative connotations, living in Jakarta and witnessing the rapid change in the landscape invokes the notion of development (i.e. in Kemang, a brand new restaurant started construction on August 3rd and had its grand opening yesterday, there are 5 towers under construction within eye-sight of my home stay, and there have been 3 apartment towers completed in Kemang in the past year) so nothing negative implied, simply descriptive