Architect Eko Prawoto: 'Man is just a passer-by in nature'

October 2008 -

Indonesian architect Eko Prawoto has his own studio and teaches at the Duta Wacana University in Yogyakarta. August 13, 2008 he celebrated his fiftieth birthday with an exhibition. The exhibition dealt with the struggle between theory and practice in architecture. "I had to prepare the exhibition in a hurry", says Eko. "Actually I had no special plans for my birthday. It wouldn't be very interesting to show only drawings. Therefore I approached my artist friends."

Image from the Lung project

It has been a long journey for Prawoto since his studies with Y.B Mangunwijaya, an Indonesian architect who was awarded with the Aga Khan Award. Now he is throwing himself on the visual arts. As an architect, he was already used to working with space and dimension, as an extension of human needs. Now he is using these concepts in a more intimate, personal way.

Leng and Lung are the answer to his struggle. Leng means 'the depths of one's s heart' in Javanese. Lung means 'extension from beginning'. In Eko's case Leng means the desire to mix visual arts and architecture. "Lung is the look inside of an architect, at his own creativity", he says.

Prawoto uses bamboo in his sculptural work since 2000. "It's not being used anymore in architecture, because it is not prestigious enough aesthetically and technically. It is simple and cheap." The other artists who participate in the exhibition use it as wel: Syahrizal Koto, Hedi Hariyanto, Mella Jaarsma, Nindityo Adipurnomo, and Iskandar. Their concept is the same as Eko's : a playful dialogue with nature without a purpose or responsibility. "This is the first time for theses artist they are using bamboo It's difficult but also fun. Bamboo workers have taught the artists."

For the next two years the Lung project will remain at the site, until nature recycles it. During the opening of exhibition the Garasi Theatre responded to the project with a contemporary dance. Some villagers surrounding the project site were involved in a traditional dance, a jathilan and a Javanese ceremony, a kenduren. The project is part of a neighborhood and the natural environment. "Man is just a passer-by in nature", says Eko. The bamboo he uses symbolizes that temporariness. He plans to use the material in his architecture in the future. I will have to cooperate with bamboo workers and bamboo farmers. Leng and Lung are part of a larger plan."

Lung took place from 7 August 7 till 7 September 2008 in Kelurahan Bangunjiwo (Kasihan Bantul). The exhibition was organized by the Cemeti Art House. The Prince Claus Fund and the Dutch embassy in Jakarta support Cemeti Art House; Hivos and the Dutch embassy support Teater Garasi.