Part II of our Travelog continues here, with more general pointers, and a list of restaurants and art spaces that we visited. (Part I is here).
A general word of caution if you’re travelling during Ramadan, not everything is open all the time, or at the hours publicised online – this includes both art galleries and restaurants. So try and check ahead where possible.
With the galleries, we would highly recommend e-mailing in advance to introduce yourself. People are generally friendly, and will let you know about special events that might be taking place at their premises, and which haven’t been hugely publicised.
For restaurants, either call ahead, or bounce ideas off your hotel or driver. They will know better and you should trust them! Yes, there is certainly a possibility that you’ll be lured into tourist traps, but frankly we didn’t care as long as the food was affordable and delicious (which it was). See below, for an example:
Galleries We Visited
(As an aside, we’ve also written up a number of these places separately on the blog, so feel free to have a nose around if you’d like more detailed information).
- The Indonesian Visual Arts Archive (to sound like you’re really in-the-know, say- “ee-vaa”, not “ai-vee-ey-ey”). This was hard to find, down a little side street, but is a great resource for anyone doing Indonesian art research. One can easily browse, and the librarians are super helpful. Note however, that the collection for purchase is quite limited. They specifically ask that you e-mail them before showing up, but it’s well worth the effort as they will happily share information about special events. Address: Jalan. Ireda, Gg. Hiperkes, Dipowinatan, MG1/ 188 A-B, Keparakan, Yogyakarta 55152
- Affandi Museum – A quirky, whimsical collection of buildings dedicated to one of the granddaddies of Indonesian modern art. It’s reminiscent of Studio Ghibli in Tokyo, and is relatively easy to find as everyone seems to know it. Best to budget a couple of hours for this visit, as the space is pretty big and a guided tour can take about 90 mins. Address : Jalan. Laksda Adisucipto 167 Yogyakarta 55281
- Krack – A too-cool-for-school collective of printmakers whose tongue in cheek works and merchandise entertained us to no end. It’s small space so can be covered in a very short time. That said, you’ll want to linger a bit to have a chat with the good folks in the gallery if they’re around. Address: Jalan D.I Panjaitan RT: 42 RW: 12, Suryodiningratan, Kota Yogyakarta.
- Mes56– Located in a veritable rabbit warren round the back of Mediterranea (the restaurant), this gallery stole our hearts with its band of merry gentlemen who invited us random interlopers to sit with them and eat duck egg murtabak (verdict : delicious!). They have a room round the back for residencies – we would apply just for the chance to break bread with these fun chaps. Address: Jalan Mangkuyudan No. 53 A, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta 55141
- Ace House Collective – When we visited, the space had been turned into a 24hr café, staffed by a revolving line-up of artists preparing and serving food. An adjacent room had been turned into a ‘supermarket’, with artworks on sale next to things like soap, and other sundries. We were told that it was a temporary set-up in conjunction with ArtJog season, but its witty take on the commodification of the art market piqued our interest and would certainly have us coming back for more. Address : Jalan. Mangkuyudan No.41, Mantrijeron, Kota Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55143
(Note that Ace, Krack and Mes56 are all pretty close to Bu Ageng, Mediterranea, Via Via and the powerhouses of Cemeti Arts House and Kedai Kebun, so it’s worth planning your day such that you see these places together- if not at once, then over a couple of days. We will be visiting Cemeti and Kedai Kebun on our next trip in August 2016, so no details are listed here for now. Suffice to say though, that these two appear in almost every Jogja art guide. Cemeti for one, pops up in a number of our art historical readings, being a pioneer and champion of contemporary Indonesian art practice, in the face of restrictions imposed by Suharto’s New Order government. Read more about Cemeti’s Mella Jaarsma here.)
- Lir – This is a charming little house off the beaten track. It’s hard to find but well worth the wrong turns and mild frustration. The space is small, but the art on show is well-curated and thought-provoking. Plus, the gallerists will show you around and happily chat with you about the works displayed. Address: Jalan Anggrek 1/33 Baciro, Yogyakarta
- Sangkring Art Space – Also a little difficult to find, but opens up into a gorgeous paddy field and is a deceptively big space. We saw some pretty cool stuff here, including these great woodblock prints by Vasan Sittiket. The website appears to be under construction, but check them out on Facebook. Address: Jalan Nitiprayan No.88 RT. 01 / RW. 20, Ngestiharjo, Kasihan, Bantul, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
- Langgeng Art Foundation – A smallish gallery, with an interesting selection of works, including the terrifying piece below. Address: Jalan. Suryodiningratan 37, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta.
Note: Langgeng is also pretty close to Ark Galerie (a few steps down the road at Jalan Suryodiningratan 36 A), which came highly recommended to us, but was unfortunately closed when we visited. In terms of publicly available information though, both Langgeng and Ark should be open on Sundays, which isn’t typically the case for the other galleries, so it’s worth bearing that in mind when planning your itinerary.
Restaurants We Ate At
- The Phoenix Hotel – The hotel itself has great food and drink at not-crazy prices. It also has very good ginger sweets at reception which I shamelessly plundered at every available opportunity. It’s definitely worth booking breakfast with the room, as the spread is breathtaking and well worth the extra cash. We had dinner there too one night, and it was a great experience. Address: Jalan Jendral Sudirman No. 9, Cokrodiningratan, Jetis, Yogyakarta, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta.
- Mediterranea – This works when you have had enough of local cuisine (we didn’t really understand this logic, but just thought we’d put it out there for you Western food lovers). Address: Jalan Tirtodipuran no 24A. Mantrijeron Yogyakarta 55143.
- Bu Ageng – Everyone seems to know this one, and it truly lived up to our expectations. It’s just down the road from Mediterranea and Via Via. Address: Jalan Tirtodipuran 13, Mantrijeron, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta.
- Via Via – A little café down the road from Mediterranea and Bu Ageng, and the fine purveyors of the delicious beverages pictured below. It has a great little shop next door and appears to organise interesting tours and excursions as well. We only stopped for a drink , but the menu looks promising and it’s on our list for a proper visit, next time. Address : Jalan Prawirotaman 30, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta.
- Malioboro Street – Locals will laugh at you if you tell them this is where you are headed, but we had a nice walk down the street all the same. It’s a good way to soak up the atmosphere of the city, people-watch and nibble on some street food (don’t be a coward, we had some, and we were perfectly fine). It’s a noisy clutter of batik shops and tourist traps, but worth a look anyway, if you have a free hour or so. We also came across a bunch of cool random, street art:
About 50m away from this sculpture, we saw a couple of tramps going through the bins for bottles, probably to sell for a bit of cash. We didn’t quite know how to feel about that – on one level it was almost funny, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and all that. But it does make you think about the art market, doesn’t it? Tourists travel to Jogja for art, and so art is dished up on the touristy streets. And yet on the flip side of things, what value has art when bread and butter issues continue to trouble the local population? Maybe those bottles should just have been sold for recycling, and the money channelled directly back into the community? Touristy or not, there was lots of food for thought on Malioboro Street.
And that brings us to the end of our guide – hope this helps you a little with your travel planning! We’d love to hear from you if you’ve found this useful, or if you have any suggestions to add.