To recall mother
Is to recall dessert,
Wife is the sustaining main
Girlfriend the side dishes,
The perfect final,
In the great communal feast of life.
Her countenance is the sky at sunset:
The grandeur of the day that has completed its work.
Her voice the echo
Of the whisper of my conscience.
I look on the promise of the best in life.
Hearing her voice,
I believe in the good in the human heart.
Looking at mother’s photograph,
I inherit the essence of the creation of the world.
Talking with you, my brothers and sisters,
I remember that you too have mothers.
I shake your hands,
I embrace you in fraternity.
We don’t wish to offend each other,
So we do not insult each other’s mother,
Who always, like the earth, water and sky,
Defends us without affectation.
Thieves have mothers. Murderers have mothers.
Just as corruptors, tyrants, fascists, journalists on the take and members of parliament for sale,
They too also have mothers.
What sort of mothers are their mothers?
Aren’t their mothers the dove soaring in the sky of the soul?
Aren’t their mothers the gateway to the universe?
Would a child say to his mother:
“Mother, I’ve become the lap dog of foreign capital,
Who makes goods which don’t do anything to reduce the people’s poverty,
Then I bought a government mountain real cheap,
While the number of landless villagers goes through the roof.
Now I’m rich.
And then, mother, I also bought you a mountain too,
To be your resting place one day.”
No. This is not something a child would say to his mother.
But how then will a child explain to his mother his position as tyrant, corruptor, forest scourge and mouse plague overrunning rice fields?
Will the tyrant declare himself leader of the revolution?
Will the corruptor and lap dog of foreign capital announce that he’s the hero of development?
And will the forest scourge and rice field mouse plague label himself the ideal farmer?
But, then, what of the beaming gaze of his mother?
Is it possible for a mother to say:
“Child, don’t forget to take your jacket.
Remember to wrap up against the night air.
A journalist needs to stay healthy.
Oh, yeah, and if any fat envelops come your way,
Just pick me up some fried prawns.”
Mother, now I really understand your value.
You are the statue of my life,
Not a fake statue or a white elephant like Monas and Mini Indonesia Park.
You are the anthem Great Indonesia.
You are the rain I watched in the village.
You are the forest encircling the lake.
You are the lotus flower of meditation’s peace.
You are the song of the simple people.
You are the arrow of my conscience in all I do.
Pejambon, Jakarta 23 October, 1977
Poem for Mother (Sajak Ibunda) was published in State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 52.
We are the stuttering generation
who’ve been treated like children by an arrogant generation.
We haven’t been given official education
in relation to justice,
because we’ve been brought up to not get involved in politics,
and haven’t been taught about the basics of the legal system.
We find it hard to see a person’s true character,
because we haven’t been taught about the soul or about psychology.
We don’t get an explanation based on clear thinking,
because we haven’t been taught philosophy or logic.
Aren’t we supposed
To understand all of that?
Have we only been prepared
To become tools?
This is the average picture
of youth graduating from high school,
young people nearing adulthood.
The basis of our education is obedience,
not exchanging ideas.
School learning is rote learning,
and not learning how to explain something.
The basis of justice in relationships,
and understanding of how humans behave,
as groups or as individuals,
isn’t considered a subject worth studying or testing.
The reality of the world is only dimly visible.
We can’t connect all the signs,
which are visible everywhere.
We are angry with ourselves.
We resent what the future holds.
we just enjoy our ignorance and comfort.
As we stutter,
all we can do is buy and consume,
without being able to create.
We are not able to lead,
rather all we can do is rule –
just like our fathers.
Education in this country is oriented to the West.
Over there children are prepared
to be the tools of industry.
With their industry that rolls on endlessly,
But here we’re prepared to become tools of what?
We just become the tools of bureaucracy!
And bureaucracy has become bloated,
no use at all –
parasites in the trees.
Darkness. All I can see is darkness.
Education doesn’t provide any light.
Training courses don’t provide any jobs.
Darkness. My agony is darkness.
The people are living in unemployment.
What’s happening all around me?
Because we can’t work it out,
it’s easier for us to run and hide in dope poetry.
What is the meaning of all these complicated signs?
What does this mean? What does this mean?
Ah, in drunkenness,
a blood splattered face
is going to look like the moon.
Why do we have to put up with living like this?
A person with the right to a medical degree,
is thought of as an educated person,
without being tested on their knowledge of justice.
Meanwhile, if tyranny runs rampant,
he doesn’t say a word,
because his job is just to give needles.
What the hell? Are we going to continue being silent?
are just considered decorations for ceremonies,
while the law is stabbed in the back again and again.
are just regarded as plastic flowered,
while people go broke and corruption runs wild.
We’re inside a kaleidoscope
that is magic and inscrutable.
We’re imprisoned in a fog that befuddles.
Our hands reach out grasping for something to grab.
And when we miss,
we hit and scrape –
at thin air.
We are the stuttering generation.
Who have been treated like children by the arsehole generation.
Life force has been replaced by lust.
Enlightenment has been replaced by repression.
We are the dangerous generation.
Penjambon, Jakarta 23 June, 1977
Poem for Young People (Sajak Anak Muda), State of Emergency, W.S. Rendra, Wild & Woolley, Glebe, 1978, p. 18.
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
[..] Consider the description of Bambang Bujono (Tempo, 11 January 1975), “In neither the invitation to painters to participate in the 1974 Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition nor the guidelines for the exhibition judging panel can one find a section normally found in art exhibition judging guidelines stating that the decision of the judges is final.
Maybe this was the reason a dispute arose that took the form of the “1974 Black December Declaration” along with 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 which was the closing night of the 1974 Art Festival at the Jakarta Arts Center (Taman Ismail Marzuki or TIM). The condolence wreath was not effective anyway because the security guards at TIM were the ones who “accepted” the wreath and they then stored it locking it away in the TIM Dance Studio.”
Compare this to the description of Miklouho-Maklai (1998: 36-37). “On 31 December 1974 during the Grand Indonesian Painting Exhibition, held biennially at TIM, an incident occurred that marks the start of the New Art Movement. There was a protest against the judges who awarded prizes to a number of paintings which took the form of a funeral condolence wreath emblazoned with the words, “With condolences for the death of our painting.”
The condolence wreath was delivered on the last day of the exhibition when the prizes were given to the winners of the competition that traditionally accompanied the Biennial. This was intended to publicize the students’ anger at the judges who in their view valued only what they called “decorative and consumerist” painting. The protesters called themselves the “Black December” movement and it was also supported by students from the Indonesian Academy of Visual Arts (ASRI).”
Look at this photograph:
[…] The first paragraph on page 69 says, “Apart from the wreath, the protesters also wrote a manifesto, 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 is 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 is the person not mentioned? Because the answer is not provided in the book, we have to consider 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, namely, Bonyong Munni Ardhi, FX Harsono, Hardi, Nanik Mirna and Siti Adiyati. (Also see Hendro Wiyanto, “FX Harsono dan Perkembangan Karyanya (1972-2009) [FX Harson and the Development of His Work (1972-2009)]” in Re: Petesi/Posisi FX Harsono [Re: Petition/Position of 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, five other STSRI “ASRI” students were listed in the catalog 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-“Jas merah” brigade.
How could it be otherwise because 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 obvious in the works of Indonesian painting today.
1. That although the diversity of Indonesian painting constitutes an undeniable fact, nevertheless this diversity does not in itself represent a 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 in itself has a clear position.
5. That what has hindered the development of Indonesian painting to date is worn out concepts that continue to be 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 award an honor on that establishment, the honor of being a retired veteran of the culture.
Indonesia, 31 December 1974
Muryotohartoyo, Juzwar, Harsono, B. Munni Ardhi, M. Sulebar, Ris Purwana, Daryono, Adiyati, D. A. Peransi, Baharudin Marasutan, Ikranegara, Adri Darmadji, Hardi, Abdul Hadi W
Indonesian Police Mobile Brigade
Headquarters Prison, 16 August 2017
I was one of the people always being invited onto Metro TV’s talk show Mata Najwa. (Showing off a bit here 🙂 ) It’s clear there were a lot of supporters both for and against me appearing on the show. Why? Because Najwa was going to ask the hard questions, was going to fish, and box me in, at a time when the viewers suspected me of, or thought I looked like, I was guilty or lying. I think the host of the show Nana is a professional person and doesn’t try to win the argument all the time, or give the impression of cornering you. Nana only wants her viewers to get the truth from insightful questions, of course with that classic Najwa gaze. I’m grateful because the Mata Najwa show let me appear just as I am, and definitely to say it as it is. There was only one key to facing her questions and that Mata Najwa stare. I had to answer according to what was in my heart and conscience. My mouth and brain had to connect. By doing that, Nana and the viewers were going to accept all my answers. I pray that Nana is successful and full of joy wherever she serves. The Lord bless you, Nana.