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TRAVERSING THE DESAKOTA

2015, Jakarta Indonesia

Any mention of Jakarta conjures up images of kampongs (villages) dispersed in a city of high-rises and monumental boulevards. At the same time what comes to mind is a city of endless sprawl, choc a block with traffic. Not only has the urbanization project of the city in the last several decades given shape to a massive territory which can be described differently as a metropolitan; megalopolis or a megacity pocked with traces of settlements that got absorbed within it, but it has also given shape to a unique hybrid urban landscape that extends far beyond any regional or metropolitan jurisdictions and boundaries, a borderless fluidity.

If one is to traverse this settlement landscape one comes across an amorphous continuum characterized by the juxtaposition of rural and urban worlds in varying proportions and dimensions, with a gradient from highly urban to deep rural areas. These landscapes are aided by systems of efficient and rapid transport, road networks and flows of migrants, resources, and capital. One also notices what can be best described as ‘handmade landscapes’ of symbiotic habitation and ecology that have been shaped by the culture of rice farming subsistence.

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