Arts and Culture
This paper focusses on the trajectory of concepts of experimentation and experimental art in the Indonesian arts discourse between 1968 and 1975. This period brackets the inauguration of influential institutions and the emergence of the now canonical New Art Movement of Indonesia (GSRBI). This paper takes D.A. Peransi’s concept of redemptive potentiality of creative practice, art’s potential agency as a mode of redemptive intervention, as an entry point into this complicated terrain. David Albert Peransi (1939-1993) was a painter, writer, and film maker, and established experimental film at the Jakarta Institute of Art. He was the main author of the iconic Black December Manifesto (1974).
Beyond its context of the New Art Movement (GSRBI), little attention has been paid to the signatories of the manifesto comprised of visual artists, poets, writers, and playwrights. Some of them had recently returned from residencies abroad. Some were members of Angkatan 66’, hence already influential institutionally. They formed a momentary collective with a shared sense of urgency, claiming the autonomy to choose which cultural points of reference and traditions were relevant to the local discourse’s needs.
This paper moves beyond confines of the manifesto to engage Peransi’s concepts of a socially responsible experimentation in creative practices. After being a jurist for the Oberhausen Film Festival (1971-1974), Peransi reconsidered radical experimentation. Thereafter, Peransi articulates a relationship between experimentation, renewal and self-reflexivity, in which the artist is given a high degree of moral authority, tapping into a rich tradition of cultural activism in Indonesia.