On 20 March 2018 Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, visited the British Library to launch the Javanese Manuscripts from Yogyakarta Digitisation Project. Through the generous support of Mr S P Lohia, over the next twelve months 75 Javanese manuscripts from Yogyakarta now held in the British Library will be digitised, and will be made fully and freely accessible online through the British Library’s Digitised Manuscripts website. On completion of the project in March 2019, complete sets of the 30,000 digital images will be presented to the Libraries and Archives Board of Yogyakarta (Badan Perpustakaan dan Arsip Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta) and to the National Library (Perpustakaan Nasional) of Indonesia in Jakarta. The manuscripts will also be accessible through Mr Lohia’s website, SPLRareBooks.
(Read more here.)
This is the trailer for “Asimetris” (Asymmetric), the ninth documentary film in the ground-breaking Blue Indonesia Expedition series (Ekspedisi Indonesia Biru) on contemporary Indonesia following the acclaimed documentaries:
1. Samin vs Semen
2. Kala Benoa
3. The Mahuzes
5. Kasepuhan Ciptagelar
6. Lewa di Lembata
8. Gorontalo Baik
The whole film will be uploaded this coming March.
Source: WatchDoc Image Documentaries
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.
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.
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.
For background on the history and controversy surrounding Tugu Tani see Matvey Manizer, Kisah 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 .
THE ART OF LIBERATION
THE LIBERATION OF ART
The art of liberation is expression based on an awareness of the need for the liberation of the definition of art. The forms taken by this expression prioritizes declaration and the spirit of exploration based on an aesthetic of liberation.
The liberation of art is the initiative to change the definition of art. The principle idea of this awareness is that art is an expression of plurality which is based on a variety of frames of references. The definition of art currently recognized and acknowledged is shackled to the definition of art as only painting, sculpture or graphic design is art as bound to the frame of reference of “High Art”.
The definition of art as encompassing expression in only three fields, namely painting, sculpture and graphic design, is devoid of a conceptual framework.
The definition of the Indonesian term seni rupa is based on a direct translation of the term “fine arts” descending from a Latin definition from the Renaissance which is la belle arti del disegno.
It is not fully understood that this definition of art is rooted in the principles of artes liberales (Liberal Arts) from the frame of reference of “High Art” elaborated during the Renaissance in the sixteenth century, an outlook that believes in the existence of only one (high) culture and the one type of art which it has produced.
That art is an expression of plurality. That culture has a variety of frames of reference.
The current definition of art is the result of adaptation devoid of conceptual thinking, lacking consideration of the acculturation of aesthetics.
This formulation of the definition of art is trapped. The definition of art with a “High Art” frame of reference has become completely impoverished and specific. This formulation does not see the surrounding reality where a variety of expressions of art based on other frames of reference are found.
Throughout the history of Indonesian art, this groundless and contorted definition has held sway. On the other hand, art grounded in ethnic cultures, popular art from everyday life, crafts and design (art with other frames of reference outside the old definition) stand as phenomena which never gets any attention.
This is an ironic curiosity.
(VI) Paying Attention To:
The only expression of art which is in accord with that definition of art is the only one used by Indonesian Modern Art, part of World Modern Art (derived from artes liberales) in its connection to the principle that “art is universal”.
Due to the inaccurate formulation of its definition, Indonesian Modern Art is also trapped in a narrow circle. Once again there has been adaptation without conceptual thought or aesthetic consideration. Artists and critics of Indonesian Modern Art have in truth become blind and regard modern art – painting, sculpture and graphic design – as the one and only expression of art. Outside this, art does not exist. This attitude has become popular and is seen in the expression: “… is not painting”.
This is not fanaticism for a particular idea, rather a strongly held attitude which is baseless. The reality is truly: confusion. The absence of critical attention to this contorted definition is a sign of this confusion. In fact, there is no awareness of any definition at all. The activities of modern art itself proceed in a fragmented way with painting as the most popular of these.
Modern Indonesian Artists have made an idiomatic error, using the language of Modern Art but without an aesthetic understanding. They base their artistic activity entirely on incomplete fragments of the history of Modern Art, a belief in the history of art and only one understanding of aesthetics.
Modern Indonesian artists have become consumerist. They regard a variety of concepts of style within these fragments of the History of Modern Art as a source which has to be made sacred and embraced unconditionally. A contorted imitation of lifestyle also happens. A romantic lifestyle has turned into epigonic eccentricity. Internally exploratory individualism has been replaced by megalomaniacal egotism.
This advanced erroneous adaptation has led critics and modern artists into a preoccupation with matching expressions of modern art with a “dictionary” of art history. Modern artists truly do not practice a tradition of exploration.
Thinking about art in Indonesia is headed for bankruptcy.
Indonesian Modern Art, the only art consistent with the definition, is experiencing a deep stagnation. It is fixed on the early styles of Modern Art. It has stopped exploring, is incapable of reflecting inwardly in search of the basis for other developments.
Art based on other frames of reference has been expunged from thinking about art. The contorted definition of art has relegated this to obscurity. Art with a background in ethnic cultures has without exception been framed as belonging to the past. Graphic design as the product of technological and industrial progress is thought of as crude art regarded only for its surface beauty. Popular art which deals with everyday life is regarded as the product of mass culture and as devoid of value.
What is needed is the liberation of art. A framework of expression that prioritizes the dismantling of a misguided tradition of art. A framework of expression that is rational and which prioritizes expression based on an aesthetics of liberation.
What is needed is a redefinition of art, the liberation of art from the confines of a definition rooted in artes liberales, to search for a new definition capable of embracing every expression of art.
What is needed is the liberation of our thought world from a completely single perspective believing in only one frame of reference which begets one art, only one global community in a cultural form that is complete and integrated.
Jakarta, May 2 1987
(*) Translation of the Manifesto of the New Art Movement 1987 is based in part on the work of the Digital Archive of Contemporary Indonesian Art and is also available in the original at Manifesto Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru 1987. It represents the manifesto of the New Art Movement used for the Project 1: Fantasy World Supermarket (Pasaraya Dunia Fantasi: Proyek 1) exhibition in 1987.
One Hundred Thousand for Rubbish Art: A Review of Menanam Padi di Langit [Planting Rice in the Sky] by Puthut EA. Blog post by Wahyudin, January 2017
[…] Listen to the description of Bambang Bujono (Tempo, 11 January 1975): “Neither in the invitation to painters to participate in the 1974 Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition nor in the guidelines for the judging panel for the exhibition can you find a section normally found in judging guidelines, namely that the decision of the judges can not be disputed.
Maybe for this reason, a dispute arose that took the form of the “1974 Black December Declaration” and the delivery of a condolence funeral wreath on behalf of the community to the Jakarta Arts Council for the “Death of Indonesian Painting”. This happened on the last night of 1974, on the closing night of the 1974 Art Festival at the Jakarta Arts Center (Taman Ismail Marzuki or TIM). About the last thing, the condolence wreath, it didn’t come off because the security guards at TIM were the ones who “accepted” the wreath and they then stored and locked it in the TIM Dance Studio.”
Compare this with the description of Miklouho-Maklai (1998: 36-37). “On 31 December 1974 during the Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition which was held biennially at TIM, an incident occurred which marked the start of the New Art Movement. A protest against the judges which awarded prizes to a number of paintings expressed in the form of sending a condolence funeral wreath emblazoned with the words “With condolences for the death of our painting”.
The condolence wreath was sent on the last day of the exhibition, when the prizes were given to the winners of the competition traditionally accompanying the Biennial. This was intended to publicize their anger at the judges who only valued what the students regarded as “decorative and consumerist” painting. The protesters called themselves the “Black December” movement and it was also supported by the students from the Indonesian Academy of Visual Arts (ASRI).”
Look at this photograph:
[…] The first paragraph on page 69 says, “Apart from the wreath, there was also a manifesto written by the protesters, many names signed it, especially from Bandung, Jakarta and of course the five people from Yogya.”
The question is, who were the “five people from Yogya”? It’s very surprising that even with his overactive imagination, the writer of this book is unable to answer this question.
A short explanation on page 67 of the book makes it possible to speculate about the “five people from Yogya”. But the page only mentions four people, Bonyong, Harsono, Hardi, and Nanik Mirna. So who’s the person not mentioned? Because the answer is not provided in the book, we have to recall the historical facts about the Group of Five Young Yogya Painters.
As I mentioned earlier, according to Harsono (2013), the Group of Five Young Yogya Painters which formed in Yogyakarta in 1973 under the “guidance” of Fadjar Sidik (painter, STSRI “ASRI” lecturer, and member of the judging panel for the “Good Paintings” exhibition) was composed of five students from STSRI “ASRI” Yogyakarta, that is Bonyong Munni Ardhi, FX Harsono, Hardi, Nanik Mirna, and Siti Adiyati. (Also see Hendro Wiyanto, “FX Harsono dan Perkembangan Karyanya [1972-2009]” in Re: Petesi/Posisi FX Harsono, (2010: 41-187); Dermawan T (2013) and Miklouho-Maklai (1998: 33-34)).
At the 1974 Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition or Jakarta Biennial I, they were invited to participate. Apart from them, listed in the catalog were five other STSRI “ASRI” students who were also invited, namely Nyoman Gunarsa, Ris Purwana, Suatmaji, Sudarisman and Subroto SM.
Given these historical facts, I hope no reader is tempted to speculate and answer that what was meant by the writer of this book by the “five people from Yogya” is Bonyong, Harsono, Hardi, Nanik Mirna, and Siti Adiyati, because such speculation would take one down the road of historical liars and the anti-“Jasmerah” brigade.
How could it be otherwise as you need to know that although invited to participate in the 1974 Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition, there were only four members of the Group of Five Young Yogya Painters who signed the “Black December” manifesto, namely Bonyong, Hardi, Harsono, and Adiyati. (See Harsono (2013); Dermawan T. (2013); Wiyanto (2010: 70) and Miklouho-Maklai (1998: 36-38).) The one person who did not sign the Declaration, of course you can guess, was Nanik Mirna. This is why Nanik did not receive the academic sanction of being “suspended without time limit” from STSRI “ASRI” as was the case with Bonyong, Hardi, Harsono, Adiyati, and Ris Purwana. (See “Skors di ASRI”, Tempo, 15 February 1975; Dermawan T. (tt.: 135); Dermawan T. (2013); Miklouho-Maklai (1998: 38) and Dermawan T. (1979: 2).)
Black December 1974 Declaration
Recalling that over the past few years, artistic and cultural activities have been carried on without a clear cultural strategy, we have come to the conclusion that art and culture entrepreneurs do not display a shred of evidence of the slightest understanding of the most fundamental problems of our culture. This is an indication that for some time the development of art and culture has been destroyed by a spiritual erosion.
For this reason, we feel the need in this black December of 1974 to declare our opinion regarding the symptoms visible in the works of Indonesian painting today.
1. That while the diversity of Indonesian painting constitutes an undeniable fact, even so this diversity does not in itself display positive development.
2. That for development that ensures the continuation of our culture, painters have a high calling to provide spiritual direction which is based on humanitarian values and which is oriented around the reality of social life, and which is oriented towards the realities of social, cultural, political and economic life.
3. That creativity is the essential nature of painters who employ whatever means to achieve new perspectives for Indonesian painting.
4. That therefore the identity of Indonesian painting has of itself a clear existence.
5. That what has hindered the development of Indonesian painting to date is worn out concepts which are still professed by the establishment, art and culture entrepreneurs and established artists.
In the interest of saving our painting, now is the right time for us to bestow an honor on that establishment, that is the honor of being a retired culture fighter.
Indonesia, 31 December 1974
Images of the Declaration come from Desember Hitam, GSRB Dan Kontemporer.
Image of Garuda by Kanva Abas from Fase Perkembangan Sejarah Senirupa Indonesia Bagian 2.
The remote wilderness of Indonesia’s Maluku Islands provides a magnificent backdrop for this gentle journey of youthful discovery.
In a secluded village in Indonesia’s beautiful Maluku Islands, ten-year-old Salawaku’s older sister has gone. Salawaku takes it upon himself to find her and sets off on a grand journey into the wild heart of his country. Joined in his travels by the son of the village chief and a tourist from Jakarta carrying her own heavy burden, Salawaku will learn to see his sister in a new light after discovering that the world of adults is more complicated than it seems.
From rising star of Indonesian cinema Pritagita Arianegara comes Salawaku, an eye-opening and heart-stirring road movie set in a stretch of the world where roads barely exist. Nominated for eight awards at the Indonesian Film Festival, including Best Film and Best Director, it is a film of surprises and wonder, where difficult secrets and glorious landscapes combine into a tender and morally complex whole.
CLASSROOM DISCUSSION POINTS
Double standards for men and women in different cultures, attitudes towards sex and family, how romance is depicted in cinema, the divide between the country lifestyle and the city lifestyle, knowing how to behave ethically.
MIFF recommends this film as suitable for ages 10+
Very mild themes about unwanted pregnancy and abortion, all of which is mostly indirectly implied through dialogue, and none on which is shown. Some very mild impact scenes depicting characters being pushed around and slapped. One scene where adult characters get drunk.
Saya sering berkata “malas” untuk menonton film Indonesia. Bukan demi menunjukan sikap resistansi apapun. Tak ada pembenaran terkaitnya, karena mendukung perfilman Indonesia paling sederhana memang…
“The Batak peoples of north Sumatra are associated with a distinctive writing culture, with manuscripts written on a range of organic materials, primarily tree bark, bamboo and bone. Most characteristic are the bark books known as pustaha, written on strips of bark of the alim (Aquilaria malaccensis) tree, which is folded concertina-fashion, and sometime furnished with wooden covers, which can be beautifully decorated.” (Read more.)
“Probably composed in the late 16th century, Hikayat Inderaputera was one of the most widespread and popular Malay tales, and is known from over thirty manuscripts dating from the late 17th century onwards. The story is found from Sumatra to Cambodia and the Philippines, not only in Malay but also in Acehnese, Bugis, Makasarese, Sasak, Cham, Maranao and Maguindanao versions (Braginsky 2009). At its core is probably a Persian mathnawi based, in turn, on the Hindi poem Madhumalati written around 1550 (Braginsky 2004: 388), but it also drew on Malay Islamic epics such as Hikayat Amir Hamzah and Javanese Panji stories.” Read more.
Opening pages of the Hikayat Inderaputera, with the double decorated frames digitally reunited (as the MS is currently misbound). British Library, MSS Malay B.14, ff. 1v-2r.
By Muhammad Yamin, 1921
Fiery sunset still glows wondrously,
Saddening the majestic stars;
Becomes dim then the light is gone,
Rising and setting since time immemorial.
Dawn in the east arrives fiercely,
Spreading jewels all over the world;
Radiant bright as rare pearls,
Variety of colors, sparkling.
Slowly and gloriously,
Gradually rises the sun;
Illuminating the earth with beauty.
All the flowers spread their perfume,
The blooms are open, a splendorous array;
Covered in dew, beading the branches.
First published in Indonesian in the Dutch language journal Jong Sumatra : organ van den Jong Sumatranen Bond, Batavia, June 1921 via Pujangga Baru II/9, March 1935. Republished in Jassin, H. B. Pujangga baru : prosa dan puisi / dikumpulkan dengan disertai kata pengantar oleh H.B. Jassin [Pujangga Baru : prose and poetry / collected and accompanied by an introduction by H.B. Jassin] Haji Masagung, Jakarta, 1987, p. 327.
“The Hikayat Bayan Budiman, ‘Tale of the Wise Parrot’, is an old work of Malay literature, probably composed in the 15th century or earlier. It is based on a Persian original, the Tuti-nama, and is the earliest example in Malay of a framed narrative: a literary work comprising a compilation of individual stories. And like the…” (read more)
Source: The British Library’s Asian and African studies blog: The Malay Tale of the Wise Parrot