In Jakarta, similar with other cities in the region and in line with global social political shifts,wave of urbanization has occured since the 70’s (under the dictatorship of General Soeharto—also known as Orde Baru, or New Order era) and has not stopped since. This development has transformed urban space into a projection of millions of dreams and imaginations regarding what a city should be. Progress, wealth, establishment, developmental acceleration have become main objectives. Urban space is an arena for competition, domination, conflict, also speculation, success and of course failures. People congregate and meet from diverse backgrounds—coming from various villages and other cities in Indonesia, even beyond. These various social and cultural backgrounds bringing plurality of origins, melting in a new encounters and dialogues. Knowledge production is an interesting subject to revisit in these encounters in urban context. This city has also become a container for the growth of the strategies and tactics as reactions for many urban issues. Using this plethora of everyday experiences and occurences, these survival tactics from Jakarta’s inhabitants gave birth to learning processes. Through compression and densification, experience formulations and contradictory dialogues, new knowledge are born.
Through his work, Agung Abul observed cigarette stalls—a vernacular staple of Jakarta’s streets. One of his results by looking at the historical emergence of these stalls is that since 1948, these sellers have been inheriting this profession from their respective great-grandparents, grandparents and then parents. These sellers come from the same village: Kuningan (West Java). Agung then looked deeper into the ins and outs of the profession’s survival in Jakarta. How this knowledge passed-on through generations. Hou I-Ting, on the other hand, observed how other informal economy particular to Jakarta: mobile tailors. She made the connection between the practice of these tailors and the need for the city’s inhabitants to repair their old clothes with historical perception facing their collective memory of a ghastly city.
As a Jakarta citizen, to break traffic rules is something impossible to avoid.
Riding without driver’s license, against the proper direction, deliberately hitting traffic marks, cutting lanes, driving through red lights and driving on the pedestrian lanes, are some of many daily habits of motorcycle drivers. They are considered normal. We could consider these anarchic acts as systemic resistence, citizens’ smart tricks or even the failure of traffic management and engineering. Angga Cipta interrogated the idea of Nation in designating Jakarta as a megapolitan, comparing it with the adaptability of its inhabitants. Satirically, he juxtaposed these unlawful acts with quotes taken from proverbs, commandments and dialogues from movies popular in public eyes. Observations on another citizens’ tricks or sub-practice in Jakarta’s urban realities were also taken by Moch Hasrul. He looked deeper into non- formal business practices of coins usage. Through his work, several methods done by non-formal sectors, the State and corporations in utilizing opportunities offered by micro transactional system were made visible.
The classic powerful role previously held by the State and corporations in controlling the direction of information and knowledge has been extremely withering lately. This role has been taken by information dissemination methods done by the people. Today’s citizens have been producing and sharing their own information and knowledge. According to Soemantri Gelar, urban and rural settings are no longer a binary. Digital technology and media acceleration play a vital role in this shift. Gelar attempted to observe and capture the distortions and chaos resulting from this phenomenon. Nevertheless, the question on whether digital and internet realms are truly democratic is forever valid. Differing from the democratization of access towards knowledge, Daniella Praptono tried to prove in her work that inequality towards access of basic everyday knowledge still exists—especially among professional urban women. In her piece, Daniella seeked to play the role of mediator of knowledge for these working women, focusing on surviving everyday professional pressures. Conducting a series of free workshops for working women around her, Daniella attempted to gain access to knowledge currently available mainly to certain social class, as a result of the industrial knowledge privatization and commodification.
To map Jakarta is also to map its surrounding suburbs. One of these suburbs is a satellite city called Bogor. Millions commute everyday from and to Bogor in Jakarta. These two municipalities share imaginations of each other, as a result.One of these imaginations is regarding cities as space for culture and arts. Gerakan Seni Rupa Bogor (GSRB or Bogor visual art movement)—a collective formed by young Bogor-based artists— critically investigated how Bogor citizens consider their cultural and artistic experience in their own city as a knowledge production practice worthy of distributing to discover new discourses.
Marginal and non-formal knowledge, located outside the main and public educational system, are being produced through tactical practices— outsmarting social, economical, environmental and architectural spaces. Let us take street stalls’ business model management and knowledge in managing urban waste and trash. Also the architectural design of dwellings on river banks and street furnitures. These examples are results
of dialogues between experiences and knowledge, continously changing our urban landscapes. Urban space then has become a productive space for contradicting, intersecting and layered knowledge. It is of great importance to study this production and distribution patterns of marginal knowledge as residues of urban development.This project started with a question: what could we learn from urban space? How could learn from events within a city? Further, how could we consider a city as “school” or a space of learning, in comparison with the notion of urban space as a contested arena for competitions? At the very least, this project targeted visible subjects as worthy phenomena to study. Through these subjects, Jakarta’s journey were told—starting from the 70’s, when it was designated as an urban space, up to now, when informational disorientation in the latest digital and virtual era poses a challenge for everyone to manage and process knowledge. This project attempts to interrogate teaching and learning practices in urban space. Further, this project also looks deeper into how inhabitants independently formulate and manage knowledge through experiences that could be further evaluated and replicated./ Ade Darmawan