Jumat, 03 Oktober 2008

SOS ( Sanggar Olah Seni ) artists claim remnant forest area

SOS artists claim remnant forest area

Archipelago - August 25, 2008

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

At least 130 artists at Sanggar Olah Seni (SOS) artists complex in the Babakan Siliwangi reserve, Bandung, have rejected a municipal's plan to evict them to make way for a large restaurant.

"This complex is the artists' life, uniting us with nature. Why is the municipality sacrificing us and the city forest for the sake of money," SOS spokesman Syarief Hidayat said Friday at the complex.

"Here, under the trees we can work and get inspiration. It's like a 'spiritual oasis' for artists to produce their work," he said.

Artists wanted to defend the complex, Hidayat said, which had been there around 26 years, also in an effort to conserve the area which is said to be the last remaining patch of forest in Bandung.

The artists received a letter from the municipality tourism agency urging them to relocate to a new art center, one kilometer away.

"The new place has lots of kiosks and is in a noisy area. If it's just for selling art work, we can do that anywhere," he said.

Earlier, Bandung Tourism Agency head Askary Wirantaamadja said his office had told artists they would be relocated to Tamansari art market.

"We have prepared kiosks at the market. They would be more visible to buyers, and thus it would be easier for the artists to market their work," Askary said.

Separately, municipal spatial planning and public works head Juniarso Ridwan confirmed that his office had given building permission to a restaurant in the Babakan Siliwangi reserve.

"Yes, the permit is just for a restaurant," said Juniarso, responding to a rumor that a cottage, student and lecturer residences as well as 24-story apartment would be built at the site.

The permit to build the restaurant was reportedly given to developer PT Esa Gemilang Indah, a subsidiary of Istana Group.

The 1.6 hectare site with old and dense woodlands has many water resources which have never dried up during the dry season. Geologists say these water resources were the last in the area.

The municipality has already begun efforts to evict the artists from the site.

On Oct. 15, 2004, a group burned down an installation piece created by noted artist Tisna Sanjaya in the complex. The fire also razed several trees in the city forest.

Besides the SOS artist complex, Lebak Siliwangi sub-district office (next to SOS) would also be evicted.

" We were not informed that the building permit for the restaurant had been issued," subdistrict secretary Sulaeman said.

The subdistrict office was relocated to that site from the lower part of the reserve in 1992 when the Bandung Institute of Technology built the Sasana Budaya Ganesha multi-function sports center.


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