Text: ASIH JENIE
Photos: Mario Wibowo Photography; BYO Living
Prihal: arsitektur andramatin offers a comprehensive overview of celebrated Indonesian architect Andra Matin’s oeuvre, and a glimpse into his studio culture.
A 60-metre-long tunnel constructed with wood and woven rattan popped up last week at the National Gallery of Indonesia, disrupting the symmetry of the Dutch Indies building. Arranged on the wall inside the tunnel is a timeline – from 1998 to 2019 – that chronologically features around 800 architectural projects, most offering an image to accompany the project name and date of completion, but some are marked without. This is the ‘prologue’ of Prihal: arsitektur andraMatin. Prihal translates to ‘happening’ or ‘the state of’ in Indonesian.
Running from 28 November to 11 December 2019 at the National Gallery of Indonesia in Jakarta, Prihal is a solo exhibition reflecting on the past 20 years of Matin’s life. Born Isandra Matin Ahmad in Bandung in 1962, he is one of the founding members of AMI (Arsitek Muda Indonesia – Young Architects of Indonesia), a collective of progressive young architects active in the ‘90s that played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s contemporary architecture scene.
THE STATE OF ARCHITECTURE
Matin’s prolific years of practice under the banner of his eponymous studio saw him rise to become one of Indonesia’s most prominent architects. Prihal translates to ‘happening’ or ‘the state of’ in Bahasa. The exhibition is curated by young Indonesian architects Danny Wicaksono and Artiandi Akbar and organised by andramatin studio in collaboration with graphic design studios Leboye and Nusae, videographer Davy Linggar and lighting designer Hadi Komara.
Wicaksono said at the opening night: “Some of us are familiar with some of Andra Matin’s works, but there are so many more that the public has never seen before. Prihal aims to broaden the discussion and impart a better understanding of architecture and architecture works, in a hope to foster a sustainable architecture ecosystem in Indonesia.”
Prihal features 58 seminal projects with 1:200 scale models in all white, from urban- scale masterplans that takes up a whole wall to a snug, four-room student housing project that requires a magnifying glass to scrutinise. Apart from models, it also features orthographic and scenographic images, installations and videos. The journey through the exhibition unfolds in eight parts.
The ‘prologue’ tunnel is designed to inspire an unhurried journey. The spatial experience is multi-sensorial – the air smells faintly of wood and the rattan screen casts a golden shadow while still offering a degree of visual permeability and a sense of being somewhat part of the outdoors. At the end of the tunnel, a reflection pond and a wall of mirrored surface create a distorted illusion of infinity.
“I think of the most exciting things about practicing architecture in Indonesia is the climate. It’s relatively unchanging and very forgiving so you can blur the indoor and outdoor and essentially live with nature however you want. The prologue part of the exhibition is an expression of this. You can also see that some of our earlier projects didn’t feature images, so with Prihal I would also like to highlight the importance of documenting your work.” Andre Matin.
THE 20-YEAR RETROSPECTIVE
The main exhibition space comprises four parts. On Jakarta and On Other cities showcases 11 public spaces in Jakarta and 16 projects outside of the capital, respectively, in an airy, all-white gallery.
On Forms takes visitors to a pitch-black room where 30 models are showcased without titles and explanations – these are Matin’s unbuilt projects.
Matin is known for his local and minimal material palette, and he strives to use as few materials as possible in a project to reduce maintenance and carbon footprint. The few locally-crafted materials that made it to his palette are a result of rigorous rounds of exploration.
These are on display at On Materiality room in the exhibition. Among the displays are the natural woven rattan panels used for his award-winning Venice Biennale 2018 installation Elevation (created in collaboration with BYO Living). And of course, there is a highly Instagrammable mirror infinity room that showcases Matin’s bespoke breeze blocks and a Lego workshop area to keep the young and the playful entertained.
Perhaps providing the deepest insight into Matin’s studio culture is the On The Everyday part of the exhibition. Hosted in a separate building, this showcases a near-exact layout of Matin’s studio in Bintaro, South of Jakarta, complete with functional workstations and desktop units with actual working project files that the visitors can view and explore.
Prihal is the first architectural solo exhibition to be held at the National Gallery of Indonesia. And although mostly organised by Matin’s internal team, the exhibition is very much a community effort. The industry’s collective excitement was apparent at the opening night, which saw more prominent practitioners than any other industry event in the country, some of who even volunteered to be exhibitions guides for the VIP preview.
“He’s one of the most respected figures in our industry – of course we’re excited to help. It shows how our architecture community has progressed, hopefully, there will be other solo architectural exhibitions to follow in the future.” – Architect Ary Indra, founder of Aboday Architect and curator of Indonesia’s national pavilion at Venice Biennale 2018.
Prihal: arsitektur andramatin runs until December 11, 2019 at the National Gallery of Indonesia. A follow-up exhibition of Matin’s unbuilt projects will be held in 2020 at the TOTO Indonesia Building.
Photo: Mario Wibowo Photography; BYO Living