Seni X Sarinah District: a new artistic space in Jakarta

Seni District (Art District) X Sarinah was inaugurated on June 1 and is currently hosting two exhibitions. A “Dr. Ir Soekarno” presents modern Indonesian artists. The second, “Berdikari”, presents a very broad panorama of contemporary artists and local artist collectives. This last suspension, doomed to change, will be on display until August 22, 2022. Every three months, until May 2023, we will be entitled to a new proposal: we are already looking forward!

A short story about Gedung Sarinah

Gedung Sarinah was built and founded under the guidance of Indonesia’s first President Ir. Soekarno. Opened to the public in the 1960s, Gedung Sarinah was not only Jakarta’s first skyscraper, but also the country’s first department store. Due to his travels abroad, Soekarno had given himself the mission to bring Jakarta towards the modernity he had been able to experience. There is also the first escalator in Jakarta.

Sarinah has been closed since 2020 for renovations, and is again open to the public and has a nice surprise waiting for us: In addition to the incredible range of handicrafts from all the archipelago’s islands, a brand new exhibition venue, District Seni, awaits. you on the 6th floor.

Dr. Ir. The Soekarno exhibition

“Dr. Ir. Soekarno”, as the name suggests, is a tribute both to Dr. Ir. Soekarno, the founder of Indonesia, great patron and art enthusiast, and to Sarinah, who was his nanny and the one who taught him compassion for the poor. It is precisely in his and the women’s honor that supported independence that he wanted to name this mall and that he published a book of the same name.

overview Sunaryo, Sunarso, Pirous
Overview of works by: Sunaros, Sunario, Pirous

A brief summary of the history of modern Indonesian art, in this part of the exhibition we find on the one hand leading figures of Indonesian abstract art such as Selasar Sunaryo and AD Pirous and on the other hand the prototype of the sculpture of the Selamat Datang monument, created by Edi Sunarso in the style of socialist realism. There are also new works, commissioned and created for the occasion, such as the female figures, versions of one and the same woman, Sarinah, created by the sculptor Dolorosa Sinaga. Most of them are artists who are active in the revolutionary period after independence and who are considered key figures in the development of the various currents of Indonesian art.

Dolorosa cutouts
Sculpture by the artist Dolorosa

The Berdikari exhibition

“Berdikari”, another of the shortcuts that sounds so good in Indonesian, comes from “berdiri di kaki sendiri”, to walk on one’s own feet, to be self-sufficient. An allusion to economic independence, as Soekarno advocates, but above all a programmatic sentence for Disrik Seni, which places itself at the crossroads between the cultural institution and the art market.

artist Mang Meol
Installation by the artist MangMoel

Berdikari brings together a total of 27 artists and collectives who respond to the topic of independence in a diverse and varied way. There are works such as the installation of MangMoel in the form of knitted coral reefs, where the issue of environmental sustainability is central, but also a space dedicated to Gudskul (school of contemporary art and meeting between three collectives: Ruangrupa, Serrum and Grafis Huru Hara)). whose reflection focuses on collective and sustainable creation as opposed to market pricing of artists.

Seni District, an innovative platform for artistic experimentation

District Seni is not just another gallery, but a forum with a program of meetings and workshops as well as an innovative platform for artistic experimentation, distribution and sale of works of art. Such are all the works, including those at the “Dr Ir Soekarno” exhibition, for sale. Thus, District Seni strives to help consolidate the Indonesian artistic ecosystem with this place open to all audiences, sustainably and autonomously in line with the new Sarinah concept, community mall.


Sarinah Art District – 6th Floor of Sarinah Building – Jalan MH Thamrin Number 11 – Central Jakarta

Opening hours 10.00 – 20.00 – Paid entrance ticket can be purchased on site free of charge or on Distrik Seni’s website

Photo credit: Anamaria Pazmini

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