Week 5 Response: Engaging with the Past

Bamboo is popular in many Southeast Asian countries, as it is known for its sturdiness and flexibility. Bamboo can be used for many different purposes such as building material for scaffolding, building bridges and houses. The fast depletion of bamboo as a building material causes concern for many. In Indonesia, many bamboo forests are replaced by profit-making plantation. There is also a growing preference for construction companies to adopt modern building methods that use concrete and steel.

Joko Avianto (An Indonesian Artist) highlights the issues and valuable qualities of bamboo and brings our attention to the environmental and cultural issues brought about by the destruction of bamboo. He has been using bamboo for many of his works, which brought him to many exhibitions around the world.

In 2018, Joko created a bamboo sculpture titled “Getah Getih” and installed it at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to celebrate Independence Day. This piece was held up by 73 bamboo stilts, symbolising 73 years of Indonesian independence. The intertwine shape was made to emulate a rope knot, which symbolises unity. Although many netizens have voiced various negative comments about the work, saying it looks like two people having intimate contact and some also said the work was a waste of money. I personally think that this piece successfully attracted the public attention and had created potential discussion topics.

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