Jakarta. Jakarta’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara, or Museum MACAN, is currently featuring commissioned works by Indonesian artist Gatot Indrajati in its Children’s Art Space. Titled "Kotak Utak-Atik" ("The Tinkering Box"), the interactive installation – made up mostly of cardboard and a little bit of wood – is meant to encourage children to get creative with their motor skills and to teach them about a more sustainable future.
The kids are given color pens, markers and cardboard cut-out templates to be made into whatever they want – hopefully something that will be a response to Gatot's pre-installed works.
They are also allowed to draw on the wall around the pieces by Gatot, but not on the art works themselves.
The artist said his art works and the art activities he teaches the kids are a response to the current culture of mass production and consumption.
Gatot said as an artist one of his main concerns is the effect of technology on Indonesian craftsmen, the true "tinkerers" of this country.
He said his biggest fear is that modern machinery will phase out these craftsmen and that their ancient skills will disappear.
Gatot said people don't value their possessions as much anymore since everything is mass-produced and easily replaced.
"People here are not used to reassembling or fixing things that have been broken or damaged. I want them to realize that broken things can be made into something useful," he said.
Born in 1980 in Bogor, West Java, Gatot now calls Yogyakarta home and is known for his intricate but light-hearted paintings that use vibrant colors, and his exceptional woodworking skills.
Gatot also makes children's toys and puppets using recycled and rare woods.
His signature large-scale pieces often incorporate complex woodwork, but his latest works at MACAN used a much more humble material: cardboard.
"Cardboard is a perfect material for kids. It’s so easy to shape, very flexible," Gatot said.
"But my works are not all made of cardboard, though," he said. "I still used wood for some of the details."
To the laymen, the works sometimes look like deconstructed machineries from a factory with hidden robots in them.
The artist said the works are a comment on economically unsustainable practices in society.
The children are free to create their own interpretations of Gatot's works, with hopes that they will learn to fix, reuse or recycles their old broken things.
Museum MACAN's Children’s Art Space is a dedicated educational area for children that will regularly feature commissioned works like Gatot's – the second ever commission for the space.
"Artistic development and innovative art education are some of things that we strive to do as an institution. We want to inspire children with our programs, which include regular school visits, educational institute outreach and resources and materials," Museum MACAN director Aaron Seeto said.