Spent the day in Jakarta, Indonesia – inside of Jakarta, Indonesia; somewhere I recommend to Charlie Kaufman for inspiration: A well-developed miniature park of this developing country – inside of itself. Wow…!
Unlike even its wealthiest cities, mini Indo has a working monorail and even gondolas flying across a lake in which manicured islands form a 300-meter wide map of the country – these cable cars teetering across like budget airliners over the actual nation.
I was there on a mission. I had been fantasizing about this moment for years, actually. A mission to discover another miniature park inside of the miniature park – and perhaps another, and more! I expected to spend the day hunched over more than the puppeteer in Being John Malkovich – which describes my posture in a Metro Mini.
With experience of the full-scale model, this miniature park becomes as darkly amusing as Banksy’s Bemusement Park – if not more so, as it is not art. It is propaganda as transparent as rice paper on Vietnamese salad rolls. And as an outsider, I find it amusing. A bit like being a fly on the wall watching someone strike unrealistic poses in the bathroom mirror.
The Jakarta model has a few traditional Betawi buildings, and in the centre a large, true-to-life-ugly modern structure, its function is suitably shrouded, mysterious, corrupted. The whole thing is under construction like Jakarta itself – its corners decorated with Mohammedan cats. Even the ondel-ondel statues are caged in scaffolding.
I am tempted to build a miniature of the miniature park and leave it inside of itself – including some hard truths that this country is not ready to face up to.
Back to the trail that abridges island cultures, I note the mini traffic jam of mini-people on mini-bikes. A miniature of the country’s tallest mountain, Jaya Wijaya, is not quite as tall as the plumes from a pile of smoking garbage, nearby.
Nobody wanted the job of the cement Papuan eternally waving the national flag beneath the swaying gondolas. At the entrance, however, they managed to find a dark-skinned boy to stand around with feathers in his hair and ask for a dollar a photo. How much would they have to pay a First Nations person in North America to stand around a cement-and-rebar recreation of a traditional settlement and slap his mouth with an open palm?
The wildlife was either taxidermy or cement and rebar, built to (out) last.
I took account of the privilege it was to stand there in Papua mini; this was likely the closest a foreigner with a camera and notebooks could get to the actual place. I looked around for Freeport Mini but found only broken cement.
Then I head over to Kalimantan – to start the appropriate fires.