Ziarah Utara

As part of a residency at the Rujak Centre for Urban Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Ziarah Utara/ Pilgrimage to the North is an ongoing collaborative project whose mission it is to implement physical, discursive and artistic activities among residents of North Jakarta’s rapidly changing coastline, as well as among Jakarta’s broader populace, and beyond. The project is a collaboration with Jakartan artists Irwan Ahmett and Tita Salina.


The project centres on an 11 day research walk conducted in February 2018 from kampung Dadap, a small fishing community just west of the administrative boundaries of Jakarta, to the housing estates of Marunda, on the easternmost border of the administrative boundaries, weaving together the discrete areas that make up Jakarta’s historically neglected and currently much contested northern coastline.


North Jakarta is presently undergoing rapid change, notably through the Jakartan government’s proposed Great Garuda Sea Wall project (GGSW). The GGSW is a 32 kilometre seawall designed to enclose Jakarta Bay and solve Jakarta’s intractable flooding problems. The plan includes a huge waterfront city on a series of man-made islands to be built in the shape of the garuda, Indonesia’s national symbol. This megaproject is laden with symbols, both those drawn from the nation’s past, and those embracing an imagined prosperous future within globalisation. Aesthetics are used in conspicuous ways to promote the project as a compelling vision of the future.


Ziarah Utara/ Pilgrimage to the North begins with a grand narrative of urban and national reconstruction and continues as an ongoing investigation into the political economies of visual culture and cosmopolitan identities within the visceral uneven geographies of globalisation. This project aims to involve multiple individuals (including urbanists, historians, writers, community members) beyond the four artists in the production of discussions, lectures, public forums, informal screenings of historical and contemporary visual material, new art works, performances, and new imaginings.


As artists, we’re producing video, radio, installation and text works in close consultation with North Jakarta fishing communities. These works focus on how North Jakarta’s fishing communities and poorer residents anticipate and engage the future through their unique environmental knowledge in the context of rapid change. Our research-led works variously: explore how aesthetics are used to make particular urban visions legible, desirable and achievable (at the expense of others), foreground the reliance of Jakarta’s ‘urban majority’ on the labour of its poorest residents, and engage North Jakarta communities unique ‘subaltern cosmopolitan’ identities.