Op-Ed: The Armed Forces, Capital and Politics

Berita Indonesia Progresif

Op-Ed: The Armed Forces, Capital, and Politics
J. Danang Widoyoko, Student at ANU
October 11, 2017

KOMPAS – Many observers believe that Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo has started campaigning for election. Some believe specifically that Gatot has begun mobilizing support from political parties and Islamic organizations. Some consider that the flaming of fears of the revival of the Indonesian Communist Party and the mobilization of the public to watch the film G30S/PKI are part of efforts to garner support for boosting his popularity and electability. There have even been many calls for him to resign as commander of the Armed Forces.

Gatot’s maneuver is seen by many observers as in fact not just representing his own ambition. Gatot’s action is regarded as representing the disappointment and frustration of the Indonesian Armed Forces, specifically the Indonesian Army, which has lost its role as well as access to…

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Najwa Shihab of MetroTV's Mata Najwa Globe Asia Cover "99 Most Powerful Women"

Ain’t No Night Fair #5

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 2 (continued)

… Suddenly those thoughts died as my eyes fell on one small hamlet in the middle of rice fields surrounded by bamboo thickets and trees. I knew the conditions in this hamlet all too well. At that time, the hamlet had been under the control of a gang of outlaws. Once with my platoon I had been on patrol there and made a detailed report. The report would now be lying buried in some cupboard. I had become acquainted with one very attractive woman in particular. As the hamlet was owned by a large landowner, the thought occurred to me that the woman would have to have been mixed race. But that didn’t matter and her father had made me an offer, “If you marry my daughter, I will no longer need to work. There’s a sizeable amount of land here and you can take half of my fields.” I was completely intoxicated by the offer as I listened. At the time, poverty always circled in the sky ready to swoop down on your head. Yes, the thought of the offer made me smile at the time. But the patrol was to last no more than a day and a night and before long our platoon made its return to base.

I did return to the place later though, but the beautiful woman had been kidnapped by the gang of bandits. I would return home again filled with regret, but happy also that I had not sold myself out. Nevertheless, the beauty of the woman and her fate would continue to haunt my thoughts.

Then in my heart I told myself a story which went like this.

“The woman was now living contentedly with the bandits who had kidnapped her. She would by now have given birth to two young children and her body was adorned with silk and gold and diamond-studded jewelry.”

The train thundered on at high speed. The hamlet too vanished, from my view, and from my memory.

I coughed.

“You are too close to the window,” said my wife.

We changed places. I drew the collar of my coat up tightly around my neck then I leaned back against the seat and closed my eyes. I dropped off to sleep, but my sleep was not to be secure as the train was beginning to fill with new passengers. Then I drifted back to sleep once more. Arriving in the district that had only recently been cleared of the threat and terror presented by the Darul Islam movement, we could see damaged telegraph wires, tangled and twisted around their poles which were lying bent, strewn on the ground.

“Well, not a chance the telegram has arrived there,” I said.

“No, the telegram couldn’t possibly have arrived,” my wife echoed. The train roared on, and on. And on, all the way to Semarang.

We slept the night at a hotel and although the hotel was grubby, we were nevertheless able to sleep soundly.

Dutch patrol at Semarang, Java, 23 July 1947

Dutch patrol at Semarang, Java, 23 July 1947 (Source: http://www.gahetna.nl)


Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

National Archive Photo Collection

Mata Najwa Globe Asia Cover Photo Credit

Mata Najwa "Generasi Antikorupsi #KitaKPK"

Ain’t No Night Fair #4

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 2 (continued)

… My memory circled back again, the sheep transformed into a person, and that person was my father.

I sighed.

I could feel a shudder in my chest and I moaned.

“What’s wrong?” my wife asked.

“I might be coming down with a cold,” I answered.

“Put on your coat.”

I slipped on the coat I had taken off previously after putting up our suitcases at Gambir station. After that effort I had felt very hot and the feeling of having a temperature added to the pressure of the fear that we wouldn’t get a place to sit.

I fastened the buttons.

“You catch colds quite easily,” my wife added.

Coldly I didn’t respond to her reminder.

Now in my mind there appeared the sight of a grave, the final resting place of every person, despite certain people sometimes not finding a place in the womb of the earth. Yes, sometimes sailors, or soldiers in times of war, often they do not find a final resting place. And in my mind I imagined that it was my father who did not find a place.

I shuddered.

My eyes misted. But not enough for tears to fall.

“Ah, I do not want to listen to every thought in my head,” I screamed to myself.

And I thought. If only I could win the lottery. What a sweet dream that was. And that dream was ended by an old idea, the idea that at the end of the day every person passes away. Death. Sickness. And sickness brought my thoughts back to my father.

Once more I sighed.

“Hopefully your uncle should have waited before writing that letter,” my wife said. “Hopefully your father’s condition isn’t as bad as he described.”

Again I looked her straight in the eye. They were eyes that were now no longer of any interest to me. This time she lowered her head and rearranged her hair which was moved by the wind.

“Hopefully,” I said.

I turned yet again to stare out the train window. Rubber plantations chased each other. Small towns which I had often passed before I was once more going through again. And dozens of memories, some of which were bitter and some of which were happy, with a force I could not control assaulted my mind. And at that moment I became conscious. Sometimes people do not have the power to resist their own memories, and I smiled at this consciousness. Yes, people unknowingly are too strong and repress their awareness. I smiled again.

“What time is it, brother?” my wife asked.

I swung my eyes in her direction and again my gaze landed on her eyes, those once wonderful eyes that now held no interest for me. Just for a moment. Then I dropped my eyes to my watch.

“It’s almost nine o’clock,” I answered.

“Maybe he’s already received the telegram.”

“Hopefully he has,” I said.

And I swung my gaze to stare out the window again. The telegram now appeared in my mind. Just maybe the telegram which had said “Tomorrow arriving with my wife” would be of some comfort to my father. In fact this hope had not even been my own.

The previous night a friend had said, “You’ve been in prison so long. Two and a half years! And all that time your father was definitely wanting you to come home. And not only that. He was definitely worrying about how you were too.” And that is what had made me send him, I mean, have somebody else send him, the telegram. That friend had also said, “You have to go. Maybe you visiting him will make him feel better, help him recover.”


1940s Netherlands Indies Government Lottery Semarang

1940s Netherlands Indies Government Lottery, Gang Pinggir, Semarang (Source: http://reklamejadoel.blogspot.com.au)

Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

National Archive Photo Collection

Mata Najwa Generasi Antikorupsi #KitaKPK Photo Credit

Jihat Anti-korupsi Mata Najwa

Ain’t No Night Fair #3

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 2 (continued)

… I swung my head, and my eyes too, from her stare and gazed out the train window again.

We were at Lemah Abang now.

All at once an old memory shimmered into my mind. Before, four years ago. Completely out of the blue, the Dutch had rained shells on our defenses from three directions using between eight and ten Howitzers. The number could be worked out by the fighters who had previously been soldiers in the Netherlands East Indies artillery. The people had panicked and run out in the direction of the rice fields. I still remember the time. I cupped my two hands and shouted, “Don’t run! Get on the ground!” But there were too many of them, and they were too confused, too frightened, and they were incapable of hearing my voice. And when I fell to the ground behind a large tree I was able to see one, then two, three, four, five artillery shells explode among the mass of scattering people. Bodies. Corpses. And my mind ran through the blood, injuries, bodies, to the letter, my uncle, and finally, to my father.

I sighed. My heart ached. I was indeed sensitive. And my family was full of sensitive creatures.

I closed my eyes tightly so I couldn’t see the scene around Lemah Abang. But the remnants of those memories would not leave my mind. The extraordinary achievement of the Dutch shooting, four sheep killed in front of their pen. And this is what was so upsetting: one old sheep, pregnant, eyes gazing into the sky, head resting on the rail of a pen post, with its two hind legs kneeling and its forelegs standing up straight. And the sheep was dead. I rocked the body of the sheep slightly and it tottered to the ground. It didn’t move. Really, it was dead. A friend suggested, “Let’s just cut it up.” I stared at its eyes which were open and pallid. I could feel a shiver run down my spine, and I ran all the way home. It was three days before I could get the vision of the sheep gazing into the sky out of my head. The sheep! My memory circled back again, the sheep transformed into a person, and that person was my father.

I sighed.


Karawang sector, 23 July 1947

Karawang sector, 23 July 1947. A convoy of the Dutch 7th December Division in the town Cikarang on route Karawang. http://www.gahetna.nl

Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

National Archive Photo Collection

Anti-corruption Jihad photo credit

Burnt out car of a Brigadier A W S Mallaby

Ain’t No Night Fair #2

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 2

Early that morning the first train flew along its tracks from Gambir station. Now there was only a quarter of the number of the tall red earthen mounds left which I had seen everywhere before during the Japanese occupation each time I returned to Blora. Settled by the rain. Chipped away. Dragged off by the rain. Then suddenly a horrible feeling came over me as I noticed all of the mounds of red earth at Jatinegara station. Aren’t the lives of all of humanity chipped away every day, squeezed down, and dragged off like those mounds of red earth? And as I was married, and because my wife was sitting next to me, I turned briskly to look at her.

“We’re not going on a honeymoon. We’re going to visit someone in hospital this time,” I said.

Gambir Railway Station Jakarta

Gambir Railway Station, Jakarta 1945

The roar and hiss of the train that had started to move off once more prevented me from hearing her reply. Her mouth was all that I could see opening and closing.
“We get to Blora tomorrow at twelve midday,” I continued.

I watched her nod, then turned back once more to gaze from the carriage window. The morning mist was beginning to thin and then Klender station appeared from the window. The carcasses of Dutch armored pantserwagen, British brengun carriers and old trucks still lay scattered across fields and along the sides of the main roads, English weapons which had been disabled by the groups of youth militia fighters, and disabled too by their own old age. Then suddenly I recalled: the youth militia fighters who had been under pressure from the wealth of firepower of the foreign forces had made it to the other side of the Cakung River.

The train then passed through Cakung station. I had so many recollections of this tiny hamlet. Cakung, among the rubber plantations, where the situation had changed so often, youth militia fighters pinned down one minute, then the foreign forces the next.

I drew on my cigarette. Now the morning cold and cool breeze weren’t as unpleasant as before. Barren empty rice fields and rice fields whose harvest time had all but arrived exchanged places chasing each other through the window. And before in those fields, there were occasions when single-prop Dutch warplanes had dropped hand grenades on farmers. There were times too when planes had landed in those empty fields and stolen goats from villagers. Yes, I recalled all of these things now. And in that grass too there had been friends then defending the line of the railway track who had fallen sprawling, their blood spraying over the ever green grass.

“What time will we arrive at Semarang?” my wife asked.


And I returned to my memories. Kranji station, Tambun. Cikarang. These were a series of defenses before the first military action. And the train continued roaring along. And suddenly I again remembered the letter from my uncle, “has already vomited blood four times!” And my recollections stopped and circled in on that word blood. Then I recalled as well how his letter had continued:

I feel that our father can’t be expected to recover. You can come home, can’t you? Surely, you can come home.

I shivered all over, like someone with malaria. And the military performance disappeared from my head. My father once more filled my thoughts.

“We can’t stay in Blora too long,” said my wife.

I looked at my wife. I could feel my forehead creasing deeply and I replied sharply, “We’ll see how things are first.”

For a moment the memory of my father vanished.

“If we’re there too long maybe I might have to go home ahead of you.”

I was annoyed.

I stared at her. Before. Before when we were still engaged, I had felt her eyes were so completely wonderful. But the wonder had gone now. Yes, her eyes were now just the same as the eyes of anyone else, without any affect on my heart. And I answered her gaze. Perhaps it was my eyes which were awful, as indeed I had known since I was a child, no longer having any affect on her heart either.

I answered, “That’s entirely up to you.”

I swung my head, and my eyes too, from her stare and gazed out the train window again.

We were at Lemah Abang now.

All at once an old memory shimmered into my mind.


Pantserwagen in action in Weleri

Pantserwagen in action in Weleri 1 Augustus 1947 http://www.gahetna.nl

Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

National Archive Photo Collection

Ain't No Night Fair Cover Illustration By DA Peransi

Ain’t No Night Fair

Ain’t No Night Fair

By Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Chapter 1

The letter really wouldn’t have cut me up so bad if only, before it arrived, I just hadn’t send that letter of my own. My letter contained what can only be described as something that was going to be pretty unpleasant to read. The letter that I received went like this:

Blora, 17 December 1949

My beloved child!

There is no more profound a joy in this world than the rich joy felt by a father who gets his child back, his first born child, the child who carries all his swelling pride and his honor, the child who’s been kept away from contact with normal society for so long and been separated from the ordinary life of decent human beings.

My child!

I am able to picture the suffering in your soul. I can picture your suffering in that cramped place because I experienced that myself during the rebellion of the Socialist Youth militia, when I was moved to three jails in two weeks. From that time until now, every single night, I beg the Lord Almighty for safety and happiness for our family and for our future generations. I pray that He will forgive the sins of our family.

Yes, that was the start of the letter I received after being out of jail for two weeks. With me sending such an angry letter, and with me getting this reply, well, tears just welled up in my eyes. And I just promised to myself: I’ve got to not be so disrespectful.

I never had any idea my father had been held prisoner by the communists too. And six months later there arrived another letter from Blora. This time it wasn’t from my father. It was from an uncle.

If you can, please come home to Blora for a couple of days. Your father isn’t well. First it was malaria and a cough. Then he also got hemorrhoids and finally they figured out he’s got tuberculosis. Your father’s now in the hospital and he’s already thrown up blood four times.

To start with I was in shock reading the letter. My chest felt tight. Then I couldn’t say anything. In my mind I could see, first, my father, and then, the money. Where was I going to get the money to go home? And this is what made me hit the streets of Jakarta, hunting for my friends, and debt.

Was it hot! And the tens of thousands of cars threw up dust all over your sweaty body. And it was dust that contained a mixture of all sorts of things: dried snot, horse shit, pieces of car tire, bits of bike and becak tire and probably also some of my own bike tires that the day before had flown down the same streets I was riding down now. And the dust mixture stuck with your sweat like glue to your body. I couldn’t help swearing, just a little, to myself.

Yes, if only I owned a car, if only I said, none of this would’ve happened. At that moment I also thought, people who do own cars sure cause a lot of trouble for those who don’t. And they don’t even know it.

About half an hour after the sunset prayer time, I succeeded in acquiring the debt. If that decent friend hadn’t been able to hold out the money as he said “you can use this money for the time being”, I’m sure I would have been a bigger wreck than before. The angry letter I had sent first made me rigid with the feeling I had done something terribly wrong. And to make that go away I had a duty to go see my sick father. That’s what my heart told me.

Among the darkness and violet and the sun setting in the reddening west, my bike sped down the small streets near the president’s palace. The palace. It was bathed in the rays of electric lights. Who knew how many hundreds of watts it used. I didn’t know. I just figured that in my estimation the palace’s electricity couldn’t be anything less than five kilowatts. And if anyone had thought there wasn’t enough electricity, someone just had to pick up the phone and the palace would get more.

The President was, after all, a practical person, not like those people struggling to eke out a living every day along the side of the road. If you weren’t the president, and also weren’t a minister, and you wanted to get forty or fifty more watts of electricity, you had to have the guts to pay somebody off with two- or three-hundred rupiah. This was really very impractical. And if them in the palace wanted to go out and head for A, or for B, everything was ready – the airplane, the car, the cigarettes, and the dough. And to get to Blora I had to go all over Jakarta first and acquire some debt. Living like that was really very impractical.

And if you became president, and your mother got sick, or, take your father, or take any other member of your close family, the tomorrow or the day after that you’d already be able to go visit them. And say you were a low-level civil servant with a wage that was only just enough to breathe on, even asking for leave to visit someone sick would be difficult. After all, it makes those two-bit office bosses feel big if they can hand down some dictate that stops their officials from doing something.

All of this was just getting me worked up. Democracy is one truly beautiful system. You’re allowed to become president. You’re allowed to choose whatever job you like. You’ve got the same rights as anyone else. And democracy means you don’t have to bow or scrape for the president or a minister or any other lord or noble. Truly. This is one of democracy’s victories. And you’re allowed to do whatever else takes your fancy just so long as it’s stays within the limits of the law. But if you ain’t got no money, you’re screwed, you can’t move an inch. In a democratic country, you’re allowed to buy whatever things you like. But if you haven’t got any money, you’re only allowed to look at the things you want. This is also a sort of win for democracy.

All of this filled my heaving chest as I pedaled along with the borrowed money in my pocket. And, yes, debt too was a good thing, a kind deed even, when some person was caught in a difficult spot.

Debt! President! Minister! Lords! And sickness! Cars! Sweat and horse shit dust! My heart cried out.


Ain't No Night Fair Cover Illustration By DA Peransi

Ain’t No Night Fair Cover Illustration By DA Peransi


Source: Ain’t No Night Fair (Bukan Pasarmalam) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Dinas Penerbitan Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 1959.

For more background on DA Peransi see Indonesian Visual Art Archive.

Netherlands-India, old and new

RM Hario Soerjo Soebandrio, 1918

The Funeral of R.M. H. Soerjo Soebandrio, 1918

By Noto Soeroto

On 13 November 1918, Raden Mas Hario Soerjo Soebandrio, the younger brother of Z.H. Prince Mangkoe Negoro VII, passed away at the Hague at the age of 29 years, a victim of the current influenza epidemic.

On 15 November the funeral took place in a rather Javanese ceremonial manner, with the Committee of the Indian Association (Perhimpunan Orang India) acting as master of ceremonies. The funeral procession attracted the attention of those present because of the particular decoration of the coffin which was painted ivory. The middle part of this was covered with a white sheet on which were hung traditional Javanese flower arrangements. In addition, many wreaths of flowers filled the carriage, including those of Mrs. van Deventer, Mr. Abendanon, the Indian Association, Minahassans and Sumatrans, Solonese princes and many friends and countrymen. Five carriages of the closest friends who had already gathered at the house of the deceased at Fahrenheitstraat had already left in advance.

At the Old Oak and Dunes Cemetery, a number of Indonesians and interested people waited who wanted to pay their last respects to the deceased. After that his countrymen, all wearing white mourning armbands, carried the coffin from the funeral wagon, preceded by the wife of Mangoenkoesoemo, Noto Soeroto and Surya Ningrat, carrying respectively a bowl of flowers, a vessel for incense and the Quran, the coffin was placed in the van Deventer family crypt.

After the usual spreading of flowers and the reading of texts from the Quran by one of his Islamic compatriots, a brief eulogy was given by the chairman of the Indian Association, Dr. Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, who described the deceased as a quiet and serious man who was driven only by the desire for greater knowledge of Europe. Everyone who knew him, knew how friendly Soerjo Soebandrio was, how extremely kind and gentle he always was. The speaker described how not only here at the grave side, but also on his deathbed, his countrymen had surrounded him and that this could be seen by Soerjo Soebandrio himself with his own eyes. And now the beloved is not on strange soil in the family tomb of Mrs. van Deventer. 

Then a few words were then said by J. Oudemans representing the Minister of Colonies, Dr Tumbelaka on behalf of the Minahassans, Mr. Dahlan Abdoellah spoke on behalf of the Sumatrans in Malay, Mr. Soenario in Javanese, Mr. J. H. Abendanon and Mr. W. J. Giel. Soerjo Soebandrio’s teacher Mr. Herman Middendorp also spoke in moving words how the relationship between teacher and student had quickly become a relationship of two friends. Then how he had grown to know what Soebandrio was like: so good, so clever, so sincere and so straightforward. But that it had been in this simplicity that the depth of his soul had been revealed.



Netherlands-India, old and new (year 1918, volume 003, issue 008) (Stoomvaart-Maatschappij “Nederland.”. Nederlandsch-Indie oud & nieuw)

Indies Association (Perhimpunan India), 1918

Indian Association (Perhimpunan Orang India), 1918


Source: Netherlands-India, old and new (year 1918, volume 003, issue 008)

On the career of Noto Soeroto see Mirror of the Indies: A History of Dutch Colonial Literature, Robert Nieuwenhuys, p. 184.

For background on Dr. Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo see Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, Sang Visioner: Usia 15 Tolak “Politik Dinasti”.

For background on Indonesian students in the Netherlands in the early twentieth century see Indonesian Identities Abroad: International Engagement of Colonial Students in the Netherlands, 1908-1931.

Tugu Tani

Poem for a Student Meeting

By W.S. Rendra

The sun rose this morning
Sniffed the smell of baby piss on the horizon,
Saw the brown river snaking its way to the sea,
And listened to the hum of the bees in the forest.

And now it starts to climb into the sky
And it presides as witness that we are gathered here
To investigate conditions.

We ask:
Why are good intentions sometimes no use?
Why can good intentions clash with good intentions?
People say: “We have good intentions.”
And we ask: “Good intentions for who?”

Yes, some are mighty and some are humble.
Some are armed and some are injured.
Some have positions and some are occupied.
Some have plenty and some are emptied.
And we here ask:
“Your good intentions are for who?
You stand on the side of who?”

Why are good intentions put into practice
But more and more farmers lose their land?
Farms in the mountains are bought up by people from the city.
Huge plantations
Only benefit just one small group.
Advanced equipment that is imported
Doesn’t suit farmers with tiny pieces of land.

Well we ask:
“So your good intentions are for who?”

Now the sun is rising high in the sky.
And will indeed be enthroned above the palm trees.
And here in the hot air we will also ask:
All of us are educated to stand on the side of who?
Will the knowledge taught here
Be an instrument of liberation,
Or of oppression?

Soon the sun will go down.
Night will arrive.
The geckos chatter on the wall.
And the moon sails out.
But our questions shall not abate.
They shall live in the people’s dreams.
Grow in the fields that recede into the distance.

And on the morrow
The sun shall rise once again.
Evermore the new day shall incarnate.
Our questions shall become a forest,
transform into rivers,
And become the waves of the ocean.

Under this hot sun we ask:
There are those who cry, and those who flog,
There are some with nothing, and some who scratch for something.
And our good intentions
Stand on the side of who?

1 December 1977

This poem was presented to students at the University of Indonesia, and performed in the film “Yang Muda Yang Bercinta” directed by Syumanjaya.


Poem for a Student Meeting (Sajak Pertemuan Mahasiswa), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 38.

Image source is Yang Tegak Berdiri Kokoh dan Yang Lunglai Meleyot-Leyot: Tentang Patung, Ruang Publik dan Kekuasaan

Tugu Tani Today

Tugu Tani Today (Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BXhI9dYAb9J)

For background on the history and controversy surrounding Tugu Tani see Matvey ManizerKisah Di Balik Tugu Tani: Patung Pahlawan,  Banyak Ormas Menuduh Patung di Tugu Tani di Jakpus Sebagai Lambang PKI and the following article from The Jakarta Post ‘Tugu Tani’ a hero statue, not farmers statue: History book .

National Peasants Day 2017

National Peasants Day 2017 (Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BZarEQAnIRt)

Shu Li Peasant Heroes 1945 NGA

Shu Li, Peasant Heroes, c. 1945 NGA

Tanganku Mengepal: The People's Land, Resist Land Theft

Poem on Hands

By W.S. Rendra

These are the hands of a student,
Undergraduate level.
My hands. Oh my God.

My hand reaches out,
And what I grab is a beautiful hostess’s petticoat.
What an idiot. My hand goes limp.

My hand knocks on the door,
But no one answers.
I kick the door,
And the door swings open.
Behind the door there’s another door.
And always:
There’s a sign with the opening hours,
Which are short.

I shove my hands in my trouser pockets,
And I go out and sojourn.
I’m swallowed by Great Indonesia.

Dozens of hands used in life
Suddenly appear in front of me.
I hold out my hands too.
But they look out of place among the thousands of hands.
I’m worried about my future.

Farmers’ hands are covered in mud,
Fishermen’s hands are covered in salt,
I pull back my hands.
Their hands are full of struggle.
Hands that are productive.
My hands are anxious,
They don’t solve any problems.

But the hands of businessmen,
The hands of bureaucrats,
Are calculating, nibble, and very strong.
My anxious hands are suspected,
Brushed aside.

My hands close into a fist.
And when they open again are transformed into claws.
I reach out in all directions.
At every desk in every office
Sits a soldier or an old person.
In the villages
Farmers are just laborers for landowners.
On the beaches
Fishermen do not own any of the boats.
Trade goes on without supermarkets.
Politics only serves the weather…
My hands close into a fist.
But there’s a brick wall in front of me.
My life has no future.

For now I have my hands in my pockets.
I sojourn from place to place.
I scrawl obscenities
On the chancellor’s desk.

Jakarta Arts Center
23 June 1977

Poem on Hands (Sajak Tangan), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 34.

Image comes from https://www.instagram.com/p/BZYRUiSBrrtd13aM9EKfg8l9E5nrXfm3pJFNys0


Poem on a Young Woman and the Boss

By W.S. Rendra

What you’re touching me with however you like,
Where this is going, I’ve already got a pretty good idea.
I’m no rocket scientist,
But it’s already fairly clear
What this groping means…

Damn the education I got.
I was taught to count, type, do foreign language,
Office management and administration.
But they forgot to teach:
What if you’re grabbed from behind by your boss,
Then what am I supposed to do!

Now don’t just grab me however you like.
When not even my boyfriend would be as bold as that.
I already know clear enough where you’re going.
When you brush my tits,
I know what that means…

They taught me to hate sin,
But they forgot to teach me
How to look for a job.
They taught me lifestyle,
With accessories that don’t come from the environment,
That are controlled by the bosses,
Make up, air conditioner,
Synthetic vitamins, tonic,
Every kind of soda and a school diploma,
Education tied me
To their markets, to their capital.
And now that I’m grown up,
Where else am I going to run,
If it ain’t to the world of the bosses?

Don’t grab me however you like.
I’m no intellectual,
But I know enough,
All the work on my desk
Is going to head in that direction.
Don’t, mister, don’t!
Don’t grab me however you like!
Ah. Oh.
The money you slip into my bra
Is my education diploma.
Your fat belly
Presses against my stomach.
Your foul smelling mouth
Kisses my mouth,
As if everything you do
Is just perfectly normal.
Every member of the community helps you.
They all kiss your ass.
They spread my legs wide
While you climb over my body.

10 July 1975

Poem on a Young Woman and the Boss (Sajak Gadis dan Majikan), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 30.

Family member of Hamengkoe Buwono VII sultan of Yogyakarta c. 1885 by Kassian Cephas

On Black December, The New Art Movement and Being Contemporary – FX Harsono

Desember Hitam, GSRB Dan Kontemporer

FX Harsono*)

Original Post by Adhisuryo Mei 19 2013

Sebelum tahun 1975 kritik seni rupa di Indonesia didominasi oleh teori yang datang dari barat, yaitu Eropa dan Amerika. Dalam praktik penciptaan ideologi modernisme ini tidak sepenuhnya dilaksanakan sama seperti di Barat, tetapi pada dasarnya seluruh konsep seni rupa Barat dipakai sebagai landasan untuk menilai perjalanan seni rupa Indonesia. Dikotomi antara Barat, non-Barat, tinggi, rendah, pusat dan pinggiran semua lahir dari konsep modernisme.

Medium penciptaan juga tak lepas dari pengaruh modernisme. Demikian juga dunia pendidikan. Pada masa itu kami sebagai orang muda mengatakan bahwa arus besar disebut mainstream. Praktik seni rupa tidak bisa keluar dari batasan seni rupa modern, yaitu lukis, patung dan graphic art.


Ideologi modernisme tak disadari oleh para seniman pada tahun 1960an hingga 70an telah membawa mereka terjebak dalam putaran arus dikotomis. Pada satu sisi adanya keinginan untuk menempatkan kesenian mereka dalam arus universal pada sisi lain mereka ingin menunjukkan identitas nasional, yaitu identitas ke-Indonesiaan dengan menghadirkan gaya dekoratif yang direpresentasikan dengan dipakainya unsure-unsur ornamen, relief candi, topeng-topeng, kesenian tradisional dan semua yang dianggap sebagai benda tradisi.

Sepirit kerakyatan yang dikumandangkan oleh Lekra, dan Persagi dengan mencoba melukis masyarakat Indonesia dan kebudayaan luhur nenek moyang dianggap sebagai jalan keluar untuk menemukan identitas ke-Indonesiaan. Mereka tidak menyadari bahwa praktik seni rupa yang mereka pakai tetap mengacu pada ideologi modernisme. Dimana dalam ideologi modernisme tidak membarikan ruang pada masa lalu dalam bentuk apapun. Modernisme selalu berseberangan dengan yang telah lalu dan yang kuno. Demikian juga seniman adalah otonom dan tidak bisa diintervensi olah partai politik atau kekuasaan.

Latar Belakang Sosial & Politik

Peristiwa G30S di mana Partai Komunis Indonesia dinyatakan oleh pemerintah Soeharto telah melakukan kudeta. Peristiwa ini merupakan peristiwa politik yang membawa akibat berupa perubahan besar dalam perkembangan sosial, politik, dan ekonomi. Pengalaman traumatis dari seniman akibat dari peristiwa ini menimbulkan ketakutan untuk mengangkat masalah sosial ke dalam penciptaan keseniannya, yang kemudian dikenal sebagai trauma politik.

Sepinya penciptaan kesenian yang mengangkat masalah sosial dalam seni lukis, atau dengan kata lain, seniman tidak lagi tertarik oleh masalah sosial, bisa disebabkan oleh beberapa hal, antara lain trauma politik dan depolitisasi. Depolitisasi terhadap seluruh aktifitas kehidupan termasuk kesenian yang bertujuan menciptakan stabilisasi politik dalam upaya mensukseskan pembangunan ekonomi pada masa orde baru. Akibatnya, seniman takut untuk berbicara politik maupun ikut dalam partai politik, bahkan rasa takut untuk melukis rakyat. Melukis rakyat bisa diartikan msebagai aktifitas kesenian yang punya korelasi politik dengan sosialis atau komunis.

Kelompok Lima

Praktik seni rupa pada tahun 70an awal masih didominasi oleh batasan medium yang ketat. Yaitu seni lukis, seni patung atau seni grafis.  Yang semuanya dikategorikan dalam fine art. Penciptaan dan pendidikan seni terpusat pada dua institusi pendidikan resmi, yaitu Sekolah Tinggi Seni Rupa Indonesia ASRI dan ITB. Diluar institusi pendidikan resmi masih ada sanggar. Sanggar Bambu di Jogjakarta adalah satu-satunya sanggar yang masih bertahan setelah sanggar-sanggar dibawah partai politik berguguran. Semua ini dikarenakan terjadinya depolitisasi oleh pemerintah Soeharto, sehingga sanggar-sanggar dibawah naungan partai politik tidak popular.

Sanggar-sanggar yang bernaung dibawah institusi agama pun ikut redup. Diantaranya adalah Sanggar Latu Kuning dari kelompok Katolik, Sanggar Muslim dan sanggar Putih. Popularitas sanggar semakin menurun, nampaknya hal ini dikarenakan sikap individual seniman muda semakin kuat dan penolakan terhadap cantrikisme atau pendidikan seni rupa yang menjunjung tinggi senioritas atau patron dan klien.

Pada tahun 1972-73 muncullah kelompok-kelompok kecil yang diinisasi oleh para seniman muda di Jogjakarta. Diantaranya adalah Kelompok Lima Pelukis Muda Yogyakarta (KLPMY), yang terdiri dari Siti Adiyati, Nanik Mirna, Bonyong Munni Ardhi, Hardi dan saya sendiri. Kelompok ini pada awalnya didukung dan di fasilitasi oleh pelukis senior Fajar Sidik. Yang juga sebagai dosen dan ketua jurusan seni lukis di STSRI “ASRI”.

Kelompok ini mengadakan pameran di Solo, kemudian di Lembaga Indonesia Amerika di Surabaya. 3 dari anggota ini, yaitu Bonyong, Nanik dan saya kemudian mengadakan pameran di Balai Budaya Jakarta pada tahun 1974. Disini hubungan para seniman muda ini mulai bersinggungan dengan para pelukis senior di Jakarta, terutama dengan pelukis Nashar.

Gejolak estetika yang terjadi pada waktu itu sangat mewarnai proses penciptaan para seniman muda ini. Gejolak dan keresahan dalam penciptaan karya seni rupa (baca seni lukis) pada waktu itu lebih terpusat dalam dunia pendidikan dimana kami belajar. Keresahan ini memicu demo-demo dan diskusi-diskusi di dalam kampus yang nadanya menentang establishment dalam sistem pendidikan yang bersifat cantrikisme dirasakan mengekang kebebasan untuk bereksperimen.

Pemikiran dan aliran dari para senior banyak mempengaruhi para murid dan seniman muda pada waktu itu. Hal ini karena sistem pendidikan yang disebut sebagai cantrikisme tadi, seniman muda yang menjadi murid berlaku sebagai cantrik atau pengikut setia dari gurunya dan mengikuti pola penciptaan yang diajarkan dan tentulah dilarang melampaui atau keluar dari patron yang telah di tetapkan

Selain sistem pendidikan yang tidak memberikan kebebasan untuk bereksperimen juga diskusi-diskusi pencarian identitas yang sering dilontarkan oleh seniman muda di Jogjakarta. Sikap kritis ini dipicu oleh polemik antara Oesman Effendi dan Sudjojono pada sekita awal tahun 70-an di Koran Kompas, dimana tuduhan Oesman Effendi bahwa tidak ada seni lukis Indonesia dibantah oleh Sudjojono. Polemik ini menjadi pendorong diskusi dalam kelompok kecil untuk mempertanyakan identitas ke-Indonesiaan dalam seni lukis Indonesia. Pada masa itu identitas ditafsirkan sebagai ekplorasi visual yang menghadirkan ornamen, kesenian tradisional, artefak budaya masa lalu yang dianggap mampu memancarkan spirit nasionalisme.

Para seniman muda justru mempertanyakan, apakah menampilkan kebudayaan masa lalu dan kesenian tradisi lokal suatu etnis tertentu bisa merepresentasikan ke-Indonesiaan yang sangat beragam ini? Bukankah semua itu lebih diwarnai dengan eksotisisme? Pertanyaan-pertanyaan ini mendorong para seniman muda untuk lebih bergairah dalam melakukan eksplorasi pemikiran, teknik dan medium dalam penciptaan.

Munculnya gaya melukis geometris di kampus STSRI “ASRI”, gaya abtsrak ekspresionistis, gaya pop dan sebagainya. Yang mana eksperimen-eksperimen ini secara visual tentunya tak luput dari pengaruh seni rupa Barat. Meski pemahaman konseptual tentang seni rupa Barat kurang dipahami, dikarenakan minimnya kemampuan berbahasa Inggris dan minimnya informasi yang bersifat tekstual. Hal ini disebabkan pendidikan yang masih mengetengahkan teknik sebagai yang utama dalam penciptaan seni rupa, maka konsep, teori dan diskursus dalam seni dan kebudayaan bukan menjadi yang utama.

Desember Hitam

Pameran Besar Seni Lukis Indonesia yang pertama, yang merupakan cikal bakal Jakarta Biennale, pada tahun 1974 diselenggarakan di Taman Ismail Marzuki, Jakarta. Anggota dari KLPMY ditambah Ris Purwono mendapat undangan untuk ikut dalam pameran ini.

Karya-karya para pelukis muda yang dipamerkan tidak lagi mengikuti cara dan teknik melukis dari para guru dan senior mereka. Penciptaan seni menolak lirisisme, kedalaman (deepness), ketunggalan, penciptaan yang dilakukan oleh tangan seniman. Seluruh proses penciptaan yang menjunjung tinggi nilai-nilai estetis yang menempatkan seniman sebagai individu yang otonom. Semua nilai-nilai itu ditolak dengan menghadirkan karya-karya yang tidak lagi bisa diidentifikasi sebagai praktik penciptaan yang tidak lagi merepresentasikan aura siseniman, karena orisinalitas, ketunggalan dan keunikan dari jiwa seniman yang terpancar tidak lagi dianggap sebagai suatu yang penting.

Bentuk karya yang mencerminkan eksperimentasi ini mendapat kritik dari dewan juri. Dalam pernyataan dewan juri dikatakan bahwa: “Usaha bermain-main dengan apa yang asal “baru” dan “aneh” saja, dapatlah dianggap sebagau usaha coba-coba, cari-cari, atau sekedar iseng, atau bukti langkanya idee dan kreativita”.

Kritik lain yang berlandaskan pada orisinalitas, juri mentakan: “Anggauta-anggauta juri mengakui bahwa hal pengaruh seni lain ialah gejala budaya yang wajar di setiap tempat dan zaman. Pengaruh tidak menentukan kadar kreativita. Sebaliknya, kadar kreativita ditentukan oleh usaha peniruan, lebih-lebih lagi usaha peniruan yang mentah-mentah dan tanpa pengertian. Sehubungan dengan diatas itu, maka orijinalita mutlak tidak dapat dijadikan tuntutan. Namun demikian, pentingnya orijinalita mesti diakui, sepanjang ini memperdalam atau memperkaya makna dan pengalamanan”.

Lebih lanjut mereka menuliskan: “Sehubungan pula dengan yang diatas harus segera dinyatakan bahwa cara-cara dan kecenderungan-kecenderungan melukis yang sudah lama dikenal tetap dapat menyumbangkan makna dan pengalaman berharga.”

Pernyataan dewan juri yang bernada mendiskriditkan para pelukis muda ini segera mendapat tanggapan dengan protes dan keluarnya “Pernyataan Desember Hitam 1974”. Protes ini didukung oleh beberapa seniman diluar seni rupa dan budayawan D.A. Peransi yang telah menuliskan pemikiran para seniman ini.

Pernyataan ini pada intinya mengatakan bahwa, keragaman dalam seni rupa adalah niscaya dan itu sah karena mencerminkan sikap hidup dan kebudayaan yang beragam pula. Untuk itu, maka eksperimen diperlukan, dan establishment tidak lagi positif untuk perkembangan seni rupa Indonesia. Penciptaan sebuah karya seni adalah sah untuk berorientasi pada semua unsur kehidupan, yaitu kehidupan social, politik, ekonomi dan kebudayaan. Pernyataan itu ditandatangani oleh 13 seniman dan budayawan, lima diantara mereka nantinya adalah sebagian dari pencetus Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru.

Keresahan dan Konflik Estetis

Gejala ini dicatat oleh Sanento Yuliman – seorang kritikus dan pengajar di ITB, Bandung – pada  70-an. Sanento mengatakan bahwa karya-karya para seniman muda yang diwakili oleh karya dari mahasiswa ITB (Institut Teknologi Bandung) dan STSRI “ASRI” (Sekolah Tinggi Seni Rupa “ASRI” di Jogja) bersifat antilirisisme ini berlawanan dengan lirisisme yang dianut oleh praktik seni rupa sebelumnya.

Lirisisme menyaring dan mentransformasikan pengalaman serta emosi ke dalam dunia imajiner, maka dalam nonlirisisme seniman seakan-akan menghindari penyaringan dan transformasi. Bukan gambaran benda-benda yang diperlihatkan, melainkan benda-benda itu sendiri disuguhkan. Bukan rasa jijik yang ditampilkan dalam lukisan, tetapi rasa jijik yang ditampilkan karena hadirnya benda yang sesungguhnya. Karya seni bukan lagi sepotong dunia imajiner yang direnungi dari suatu jarak, melainkan obyek konkret yang melibatkan penanggap secara fisik.

Konflik yang bersumber dari lingkungan pendidikan di kampus ini kemudian menyatukan kelompok mahasiswa STSRI “ASRI” dan kelompok mahasiswa dari ITB. Kemudian mereka membentuk “Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru” dengan pamerannya yang pertama di Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM) pada Agustus 1975.

Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru

Pameran GSRB yang pertama ini diikuti oleh sebelas perupa muda. Mereka adalah: Siti Adiyati, Nanik Mirna, Pandu Sudewo, Muryoto Hartoyo, FX Harsono, Jim Supangkat, Anyool Soebroto, B. Munni Ardhi, Bachtiar Zainoel, Hardi danRis Purwono. Anggota GSRB ini setiap tahun bertambah dengan nama-nama antara lain: S. Prinka, Satyagraha, Nyoman Nuarta, Dede Eri Supria, Wagiono, Priyanto, Agus Tjahjono, Gendut Riyanto, Haris Purnomo, Ronald Manulang, Budi Sulistyo, Slamet Riyadi, Redha Sorana, Freddy Sofyan dan beberap lainnya.

Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (GSRB) mengeluarkan statemen yang menandai sikap mereka dalam penciptaan seni rupa. Statemen itu kemudian dikenal sebagai “Lima jurus gebrakan Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia” yang diterbitkan dalam buku Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia yang diterbitkan oleh Gramedia. Buku ini terbit pada tahun 1979, menjelang bubarnya GSRB.

GSRB  sempat membuat pameran beberapa kali. Kemudian pada 1979, pameran mereka yang terakhir kalinya, kelompok ini membubarkan diri. GSRB menyatakan diri bubar setelah dalam sebuah rapat di Bandung, FX Harsono, Satyagraha, Jim Supangkat dan Freddy Sofyan, sepakat untuk membubarkan gerakan ini. Alasan pembubaran berbeda-beda pada setiap individu dalam GSRB.

Pertengkaran dan upaya untuk mendiskriditkan karya-karya beberapa seniman yang lebih muda. Upaya untuk menjadikan dirinya sebagai pusat dari gerakan. Dimana semua ini telah menyimpang dari komitmen pertama GSRB, bahwa kebebasan individu dalam mencipta adalah mutlak. Individu lainnya tidak bisa mengintervensi apa lagi berusaha menjadikan seniman lain sebagai pendukung pemikirannya. Semua ini menunjukkan bahwa pemahaman anggota terhadap visi GSRB tidak sama. Setelah GSRB bubar maka ketidak merataan pemahaman nampak jelas dengan hilangnya mereka dari jalur seni rupa kontemporer atau absennya mereka dari praktik seni rupa.

Dalam hal ini Jim Supangkat melihat adanya dua sikap yang saling beradu. Yang pertama cenderung bersikap: Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru adalah gerakan pembaruan yang terus-menurus melahirkan kebaruan tanpa perlu memikirkan kehadiran seni rupa di Indonesia, tanpa perlu mengkaji dasar-dasar perkembangannya. Yang kedua lebih kompleks: selain mencari pembaruan – yang dianggap penembusan kemacetan kreativitas – juga mendambakan pengkajian berbagai masalah seni rupa, mempertanyakan kedudukannya dan kepekaannya ditengah masyarakat.[1]


Setelah GSRB bubar, para eksponennya melakukan aktifitasnya masing-masing. Nampaknya aktifitas untuk memenuhi kebutuhan hidup menjadi bagian penting dalam kehidupan mereka masing-masing. Sebagian besar dari mereka bekerja di perusahaan peiklanan, sebagian menjadi penulis dan sebagainya. Memang kesenian semacam yang ditampilkan dalam GSRB bukanlah seni yang bisa diserap oleh pasar. Pasar seni rupa pun pada tahun 70an akhir boleh dibilang belum terbentuk. Pasar seni rupa hanya diisi oleh para kolektor yang mau membeli karya-karya lukisan dari para master. Situasi ini yang menyebabkan para eksponen GSRB terjebak dalam kerutinan kerja industri periklanan atau penerbitan.

Setelah GSRB bubar memang tidak ada kegiatan seni rupa yang besar, tetapi juga  tidak saat itu bisa dikatakan vakum. Gelombang pengaruh gerakan ini mulai menjalar pada seniman muda lainnya, baik mereka yang berada di Yogyakarta, Bandung, maupun Jakarta. Hal ini bisa dilihat dengan bertambahnya anggota gerakan pada setiap pameran, dan munculnya gerakan-gerakan lain yang karya-karyanya mengacu pada bentuk-bentuk karya GSRB. Selanjutnya, muncul perubahan dalam kurikulum pendidikan di ITB (Fakultas Seni Rupa) dan Sekolah Tinggi Seni Rupa Indonesia “ASRI” (sekarang ISI, Fakultas Seni Rupa dan Desain) dengan memasukkan mata kuliah Eksperimentasi.

Di Jogjakarta kegiatan seni rupa yang bernuansakan eksperimen cukup intens. Para pelaku terdiri dari mahasiswa yang ikut dalam GSRB, mereka dimotori oleh Bonyong Munni Ardhi, Haris Purnomo, Gendut Riyanto, Wienardi, Mohamad Cholid, Ronald Manulang, Dede Eri Supria dan beberapa lagi. Hubungan dan diskusi antara beberapa eksponen GSRB dari Jakarta, Jogja dan Bandung masih berlanjut.


Selain kelompok Seni Rupa Baru, muncul kelompok-kelompok lain yang mempunyai bentuk karya yang menolak dogma-dogma seni rupa lama. Salah satu dari kelompok tersebut adalah Kelompok “Kepribadian Apa”  (PIPA). Kelompok ini mempertanyakan apa itu kepribadian Indonesia. Bagi mereka pemantapan kepribadian Indonesia dengan pola yang ditentukan akan mengurangi kebebasan dalam penciptaan karya seni.

PIPA yang terbentuk pada tahun 1978, diikuti oleh 17 mahasiswa STSRI “ASRI” Yogyakarta. Mereka diantaranya adalah: Dede Eri Supria, Gendut Riyanto, Haris Purnomo, Ronald Manulang, B. Munni Ardhi, Wienardi, Tulus Warsito, Budi Sulistyo dan Redha Sorana. Karya-karya yang dipamerkan meliputi performance art, karya-karya instalasi yang mirip dengan karya dari GSRB. Pameran ini hanya berlangsung dua hari,  kemudian ditutup oleh polisi. Sebagian besar dari peserta pameran ini kemudian ikut dalam GSRB dan mengikuti pameran GSRB pada 1979.

Kegiatan lainnya:

Tahun 1980, Haris Purnomo mengadakan performance secara beramai-ramai di sepanjang jalan Maliobor dengan tajuk “Culture Shock”.

Tahun 1981,  Gendut mengelar karya di sawah

Tahun 1981, Haris Purnomo, Dadang Christanto dan beberapa lagi mengadakan performance “Pertandingan Tinju” di aula kampus STSRI “ASRI”

Tahun 1982, Pameran seni rupa lingkungan di Parangtritis, yang diikuti cukup banyak perupa muda dan mahasiswa STSRI “ASRI”. Saya dan Gendut yang sudah berdomisili di Jakarta pun ikut dalam kegiatan ini

Proses 85

Tahun 1985, kegiatan lain yang perlu dicatat adalah Pameran “Proses 85,” yang diselenggarakan di Galeri Seni Rupa Ancol, Jakarta pada Oktober 1985. Kegiatan ini mengangkat tema masalah lingkungan hidup. Pameran ini diikuti oleh lima perupa: B. Munni Ardhi, Harsono, Moelyono, Haris Purnomo dan Gendut Riyanto. Satu hal yang patut dicatat dari kegiatan ini adalah kesenian sebaiknya mampu menampilkan masalah yang dihadapi secara obyektif dan proporsional. Maka pengamatan lapangan secara teliti, penelitian dan kerjasama dengan pakar dari masalah yang akan ditampilkan adalah perlu.

Dari pengamatan saya kegiatan ini adalah yang pertama dimana penciptaan seni rupa bekerjasama dengan LSM dalam melakukan penelitian. Modus praktik penciptaan ini kemudian dikembangakn dalam kegiatan seni rupa yang bertajuk “Pasar Raya Dunia Fantasi”

New Art Movement Exhibition 1987, Project 1: Supermarket Fantasy World "No 1 in America"

New Art Movement Exhibition 1987, Project 1: Supermarket Fantasy World “No 1 in America” (http://archive.ivaa-online.org/events/detail/14)

Pasar Raya Dunia Fantasi

GSRB yang telah bubar pada 1979, kemudian coba dihidupkan kembali oleh beberapa anggotanya, antara lain Harsono, Jim Supangkat, Siti Adiyati, Gendut Riyanto, Haris Purnomo, Priyanto, Wienardi, dan didukung oleh Sanento Yuliman. Selain mereka, ikut serta pula seniman dari berbagai disiplin kesenian lainnya.

Pameran Proyek 1 Pasaraya Dunia Fantasi pada 15 Juni 1987  didahului dengan riset dan pengumpulan data, serta inventarisasi karya seni yang dijajakan di jalanan. Sebuah pameran seni rupa instalasi ruang yang dikerjakan secara kooperatif dengan mengangkat permasalahan kebudayaan urban di Jakarta bisa dianggap mewakili kota besar di Indonesia dengan segala kompleksitas kebudayaannya. Di dalam pameran ini tidak ada karya individual.

Pameran ini diwarnai dengan semangat eksplorasi yang tinggi dengan keinginan untuk meninggalkan seni elitis dan menekankan pada seni rupa yang lebih plural. Hasil temuan benda yang bisa diidentifikasi sebagai budaya urban di duplikasi dalam ukuran besar. Iklan dan media-media cetak di buat ulang dengan plesetan atau dalam postmodern disebut apropriasi dan …

Gerakan ini juga tidak bertahan lama. Nampaknya pengembangan pribadi masing-masing individu selama masa vakum dari SRB ini telah menciptakan kesadaran dan keberpihakan terhadap masalah-masalah yang berbeda.

Kiprah di Forum Internasional

Setelah keinginan untuk menghidupkan GSRB tak terwujud, tidak berarti gaung dari praktik penciptaan karya seni rupa seperti yang di lakukan oleh GSRB terhenti. Tahun 1989 Jim Supangkat, Gendut Riyanto, Sri Malela dan Nyoman Nuarta mendapat undangan untuk mengikuti Artist Regional Exchanges atau ARX ke 2 di Perth, Australia. Ini pertama kali seni rupa Indonesia masuk ke forum internasional. Setelah itu, tahun 1992, FX Harsono, mendapat undangan residensi di South Australia University dan dilanjutkan dengan pameran di ARX yang ke 3, Perth, Australi.

Nampaknya ARX adalah awal dari masuknya seni rupa Indonesia ke forum internasional. ARX yang ke 4, tahun (1995), diikuti oleh 4 perupa dan seorang penulis. Mereka adalah: Moelyono, Made Jirna, Arahmayani, Rotua Magdalena, dan Enin Supriyanto sebagai penulis dan curator.

Kiprah di forum internasional tidak terhenti pada ARX. Tahun 1993 untuk pertama kalinya perhelatan besar Asia Pacific Triennale yang diselenggarakan oleh Queensland Art Gallery dengan melibatkan perupa dari Indonesia. Sejak saat itu Indonesia mendapat perhatian institusi seni rupa Asia, termasuk Jepang. Pada setiap kegiatan saya catat baik di Indonesia hingga di luar Indonesia selalu terdapat eksponen GSRB yang berpartisipasi. Hal ini membuktikan bubarnya GSRB tidak berarti selesainya praktik penciptaan seni rupa masih berlanjut dan terus menginspirasi perupa dari generasi yang lebih muda.

The Best of 75 (Paling Top 75) By Harsono 1975

The Best of 75 (Paling Top 75) By Harsono 1975 (Source: http://u-in-u.com/nafas/articles/2010/fx-harsono/img/11/)

Institusionalisasi Seni Rupa Kontemporer

Meski sebutan kontemporer secara resmi tidak pernah kami pakai dalam semua aktivitas GSRB, tetapi praktik seni rupa GSRB tidak bisa lepas dari konsep kekontemporeran. Demikian juga dengan penolakan terhadap ideologi modernism tidak pernah tertulis secara eksplisit dalam statemen Lima Jurus GSRB, tetapi secara implisit tersirat dalam pernataan “Lima Jurus Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru”. Di dalam pernyataan itu dituliskan penolakan terhadap batasan seni rupa seperti yang dianut dalam pemikiran seni modern, yaitu yang disebut sebagai fine art yang terdiri dari seni lukis, seni patung dan seni grafis sebagai praktik penciptaan yang terpisah. Seni rupa Indonesia sah untuk mengakomodir semua inspirasi dari seni tradisi, dimana di dalam ideologi modernisme segala yang berhubungan dengan tradisi dan yang lalu bukan menjadi acuan dari pemikiran modern. Semua ini tertuang pada jurus yang pertama.

Pada jurus ke-dua jelas dikemukakan penolakan terhadap sikap elitis dan avandgardisme yang menjadikan seni rupa menjadi terisolasi dari masyarakat dengan segala permasalahannya. Secara implisit bahwa pemikiran ini adalah menunjukkan penolakan terhadap kedudukan seniman yang otonom. Dimana individu yang otonom adalah jargon yang dominan dalam praktik penciptaan seni rupa modern.

Pada pernyataan selanjutnya menekankan bahwa sejarah seni rupa Indonesia mempunyai alurnya sendiri dan menolak universalitas. Pernyataan ini secara tegas mepenolak dominasi teori Barat sebagai satu-satunya kebenaran, atau yang dikenal sebagai kebenaran tunggal. GSRB berpihak kepada keragaman yang dilandasi oleh kesejarahannya sendiri dengan semua latarbelakang sosial dan kebudayaannya.

Dalam sebuah seminar postmodern di Universitas Satya Wacana pada tahun 1993, Ariel Haryanto mengatakan bahwa praktik kegiatan seni yang di dasari oleh pemikiran postmodern telah di lakukan oleh Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru. Artinya secara tidak langsung bahwa praktik seni rupa oleh GSRB sejalan dengan apa yang disebut sebagai seni rupa kontemporer, apabila landasan ideologi seni rupa kontemporer dilandasi oleh pemikiran postmodern.

Secara resmi istilah kontemporer baru dipakai dalam Biennale Jakarta ke 8, tahun 1993 yang dikurasi oleh Jim Supangkat. Dimana pemikiran postmodern dipakai sebagai landasan kuratorialnya. Kemudian pameran tunggal saya pada tahun 1994 di Galeri Nasional istilah kontemporer saya pakai untuk menunjukkan praktis penciptaan karya-karya saya.

Ken Dedes by Jim Supangkat 1975 (Remade 1996)

Ken Dedes by Jim Supangkat 1975 (Remade 1996) (Now at the NGS https://www.nationalgallery.sg/artworks/artwork-detail/1996-00215/ken-dedes)

Persoalannya bukanlah terletak pada penyebutan istilah kontemporer atau penolakan terhadap ideologi modernisme secara eksplisit, tetapi harus dilihat bagaimana praktik penciptaan karya-karya seni rupa baru pada waktu itu. Demikian juga bagaimana gaung GSRB mampu memberikan inspirasi bagi perupa generasi berikutnya. Semua ini bisa dilihat dari simpul-simpul peritiwa seni rupa yang saya uraikan di atas. Kalau saat ini hanya bisa diketemukan beberapa eksponen GSRB yang masih aktif berkiprah di dunia seni rupa tidak berarti bahwa GSRB gagal, karena spirit tidak dapat diukur dari kuantitas. Spirit adalah roh yang merasuk kejiwa para generasi yang lebih muda untuk terus melakukan eksperimentasi dan membuka cakrawala baru dan memberikan warna pada perkembangan kebudayaan saat ini tanpa harus silau dengan kebenaran-kebenaran besar yang tak berakar pada kesejarahan kita sendiri.

*) FX Harsono adalah eksponen GSRB yang terus aktif berkarya hingga saat ini, sebagai penulis seni rupa dan pengajar



Lima jurus gebrakan Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia

1. Dalam berkarya, membuang sejauh mungkin imaji “seni rupa” yang diakui hingga kini, (kami menganggapnya sebagai “seni rupa lama”) yaitu seni rupa yang dibatasi hanya di sekitar: seni lukis, seni patung dan seni gambar (seni grafis)

Dalam Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia, penetrasi di antara bentuk-bentuk seni rupa di atas, yang bisa melahirkan karya-karya seni rupa yang tak dapat dikategorikan pada bentuk-bentuk seni rupa di atas, dianggap “sah”  (Seni Rupa Baru).

Dalam berkarya, membuang sejauh mungkin imaji adanya elemen-elemen khusus dalam seni rupa, seperti elemen-elemen lukisan, elemen gambar dan sebagainya. Keseluruhan berada dalam satu kategori, elemen-elemen rupa yang bisa berkaitan dengan elemen-elemen ruang, gerak, waktu dan sebagainya.

Dengan begitu, semua kegiatan yang dapat dikategorikan ke dalam seni rupa di Indonesia, kendati didasari “estetika” yang berbeda, umpamanya yang berasal dari kesenian tradisional, secara masuk akal dianggap sah sebagai seni rupa yang hidup.

2. Membuang sejauh mungkin sikap “spesialis” dalam seni rupa yang cenderung membangun “bahasa elitis” yang didasari sikap “avand-gardisme” yang dibangun oleh imaji: seniman seharusnya menyuruk ke dalam dirinya dan mencari hal-hal subtil (agar tidak dimengerti masyarakat, karena seniman adalah bagian dari misteri hidup?)

Sebagai gantinya, percaya pada segi “kesamaan” yang ada pada manusia dikarenakan lingkungan kehidupan yang sama. Percaya pada masalah-masalah sosial yang aktual sebagai masalah yang lebih penting untuk dibicarakan daripada sentimen-sentimen pribadi. Dalam hal ini, kekayaan ide atau gagasan lebih diutamakan daripada ketrampilan “master” dalam menggarap elemen-elemen bentuk.

3. Mendambakan “kemungkinan berkarya”, dalam arti mengharapkan keragaman gaya dalam seni rupa Indonesia. Menghujani seni rupa Indonesia dengan kemungkinan-kemungkinan baru, mengakui semua kemungkinan tanpa batasan, sebagai pencerminan sikap “mencari”. Dari sini, menentang semua penyusutan kemungkinan, antara lain sikap pengajaran “cantrikisme” di dalam gaya seorang guru diikuti murid-muridnya, yang sebenarnya dapat berbuat lain, memperkaya kemungkinan “gaya” seni rupa Indonesia.

4. Mencita-citakan perkembangan seni rupa yang “Indonesia” dengan jalan mengutamakan pengetahuan tentang sejarah seni rupa Indonesia baru yang berawal dari Raden Saleh. Mempelajari periodisasinya, melihat dengan kritis dan tajam caranya berkembang, menimbang dan menumpukkan perkembangan selanjutnya ke situ. Percaya bahwa dalam sejarah seni rupa Indonesia baru ini terdapat masalah-masalah yang sejajar bahkan dimiliki buku-buku impor, dan mampu mengisi seni rupa Indonesia, baik kritikus, sejarahwan atau pemikir. Menentang habis-habisan pendapat yang mengatakan perkembangan seni rupa Indonesia adalah bagian dari sejarah seni rupa dunia, yang mengatakan seni adalah universal, yang menggantungkan masalah seni rupa Indonesia pada masalah seni rupa di mancanegara.

5. Mencita-citakan seni rupa yang lebih hidup, dalam arti tidak diragukan kehadirannya, wajar, berguna, dan hidup meluas dikalangan masyarakat.


Source: Desember Hitam, GSRB Dan Kontemporer by FX Harsono

For more of the work of Kassian Cephas



Demo reformasi di DPR

Not the Representatives of the Corrupt – Kompas Editorial

JAKARTA, KOMPAS – The House of Representatives is certainly not the representatives of the corrupt. “The Honorable” people’s representatives are paid with the people’s money. The plan of the House of Representatives Committee of Inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission to go on safari to meet corruption convicts in a number of prisons in Indonesia has deeply unsettled the sense of justice of citizens, the taxpayers. As stated by Deputy Chairman of the House Inquiry Committee Risa Mariska (PDIP-West Java), “the Committee wants to uncover information on how they felt while they were witnesses, suspects and convicts of corruption cases.” Risa is a Representative for the West Java VI constituency covering the Regencies of Bogor and Bekasi and received 25,578 votes in her electoral district. It is very easy to meet corruption convicts in prison. They would be very happy, overjoyed, to tell the House Inquiry Committee about the conduct of the Corruption Eradication Commission while they were questioned, while they were in custody, their beliefs that they are the victims of conspiracies, their feelings of being entrapped and any amount of other inhuman treatment. With that data, the House Inquiry Committee, being driven by a coalition of parties which support the government, will obtain ammunition to dismantle the anti-corruption institution. The aim of the Committee at the very least can be read from the statement of House Deputy Speaker Fahri Hamzah (PKS-West Nusa Tenggara), from the Welfare Justice Party House faction, is to review state commissions such as the Corruption Eradication Commission.

New Art Movement, Project 1: Supermarket Fantasy World Exhibition at Jakarta Arts Center 1987

New Art Movement, Project 1: Supermarket Fantasy World Exhibition at Jakarta Arts Center 1987

Reviewing is the same as disbanding the Corruption Eradication Commission, limiting the Commission’s authority or transforming the Commission into an ad hoc institution. The House Inquiry Committee’s target can actually be read and it is to emasculate the Corruption Eradication Commission. The declaration of some politicians that the Committee is intended to strengthen the Commission has not a shred of empirical evidence. From the beginning, several House of Representatives politicians have been agitated by measures taken by the Commission to erase corruption from this country. There are Representatives on trial, party chairmen and business people have been arrested. The Corruption Eradication Commission is indeed not without fault. However, the way to correct these mistakes is not to exercise the House’s right to establish committees of inquiry the legitimacy of which continue to be a problem. Members of the House Inquiry Committee should realize that they are the representatives of the people, not the representatives of the corrupt. Corrupt behavior by members of the government has resulted in violations of civil and economic rights of the people.

5 July 2017


Source: Tajuk Rencana Bukan Perwakilan Koruptor. Images from Detik Ini 17 Tahun yang Lalu Reformasi Dimulai and Masinton Ungkap Proses Konsolidasi Mahasiswa untuk Jatuhkan Soeharto. Members of the House of Representatives http://www.dpr.go.id/anggota.