with Sandra Havlicek

As part of the German Season, the young artist Sandra Havlicek created the art installation “Tivoli To Go” for the foyer of the Goethe-Institut. We spoke to her about the concept behind her artwork and her experience in Indonesia.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your background?

I live in Frankfurt am Main. I was born there and first studied at the School of Design in Offenbach, and later on at the Städelschule. This was four years ago. Frankfurt is rather small, but I have an extensive network that allows me to work well. That’s why I decided to stay there after I finished my studies. Initially, I wanted to become an architect but ended up in the field of art pretty quickly – and being an artist is still my dream job. Besides, I probably have a better chance to play out my passion for architecture as an artist anyway.

How did your collaboration with the Goethe-Institut come about?

For the German Season, my former professor, Tobias Rehberger, co-curates the art project Market Share together with Indonesian artist Ade Darmawan. When the Goethe-Institut approached him and asked if he knew somebody willing to remodel the foyer of the institute in an artistic way, he asked me if I felt like going to Jakarta. I did!

What is the background of your work „Tivoli To Go“, which can now be seen at the foyer of the Goethe-Institut? Could you explain the concept to us?

I often work with material and everyday objects that are connected to transformation and possible flexibility. I am mostly interested in the inner logic of things and functional processes. In my works, I try to break these patterns and put them in a new context.

In the case of the Goethe-Institut, they wanted me to create an artwork that at the same time functions as a lounge. Since I was supposed to create a room-specific work, I wanted to include the local environment as well. One very significant feature of Jakarta is the rapid urban transition. It seems that everything is on the move, nothing stands still, and there is an insanely immense chaos and bustle – it’s as if one is trying to move forward, but can only zigzag.

The scaffold is a nice metaphor for this situation. It’s a temporary piece of architecture, that shapes the image of a fast-growing city and the architecture itself. It is the physical expression of urbanization and conveys the process of social progress. But it also gives an impression of the hidden hustle and bustle, the scaffold looks fragile – a tall and complex clutter of rods where nobody has a clear view.

In my installation “Tivoli To Go”, I try to capture the chaos of the city and transform it into a place that is not fixed and remains flexible, yet can become a space where one wants to linger if only to become one with the chaos. I try to achieve this through a combination of colorful scaffolds, beanbags and hammocks.

“Tivoli To Go” is my own view on a compressed situation in a major city, where the people who are living there are confronted with a space that doesn’t imply a certain logic, so they have to adapt first and try to occupy a place for themselves.

What were the biggest challenges for you during the realization of your artwork?

First of all, the tight schedule, but that’s quite normal. And then, of course, there was the question of communication… When I first came to Jakarta for five days earlier this year to have a look at the premises, I needed to find companies I wanted to work with – and this happened shortly after Ramadan, when most Indonesians were still on leave. It turned out fine in the end, but only just. Afterwards, I had to continue the preparations from Germany with the help of the Goethe-Institut staff. Due to the long distance, some misunderstandings were bound to happen, be it because of language barriers or cultural differences. How do you, for example, explain via email that you need a certain shade of orange, without the company having the color code to compare it? But in the end, everything worked out beautifully, and to be honest, I like the fact that I needed to improvise.

You have spent a good amount of time in Indonesia. What are your impressions?

This was my first trip to a major city in Asia. Of course, I was constantly amazed despite what I have heard or seen on pictures before. The time frames here are completely different, due to the long distances and traffic jams. I found that really exhausting sometimes.

Besides that, I am very impressed by the energy of young Indonesians. I feel that people here come together much more easily than in Germany, where most cultural scenes tend to keep to themselves, according to genre: artists with other artists, musicians with musicians, dancers with dancers. Here, I think, it is more important to “do” and “create”, despite the fact that Jakarta is not really making it easy. In the short time that I have been here, I have met many interesting people and was always welcomed with open arms. That was really great! I also like the humor of the Indonesian people, something that is very important to me.

I have become a fan of the big chaos… there is much more to discover here, and I have only just begun. I think this means I will have to come back some day.



Indonesia and Germany are connected through a long friendship, be it on a cultural, economic or political level. To celebrate this long-lasting relationship, an exciting format – the German Season – was presented from September to December 2015.




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