Arts and Culture
As the honeymoon phase of Indonesia’s independence wore off, the conflicting interests of those once deemed nationalist revolutionaries began to show. In the realm of cultural politics this was marked by a divide between individuals deemed members of Lekra, the cultural organization associated with Indonesia’s Communist Party, and the signatories of the Manifes Kebudayaan or Cultural Manifesto, which called for a separation of art and politics. In the wake of G30S or the September 30th Movement (1965), with the subsequent elimination of Indonesia’s Communist Party, the normative narrative suggests that the signatories of Manikebu and those that believed in “art for art’s sake” emerged as the victors of an ideological struggle. This presentation reconsiders the validity of this perception by focussing on the context of Indonesian artistic production after 1965 as it developed in Jakarta, specifically around two influential artists of Minangkabau descent at the Jakarta Art Institute (now known as IKJ). Nashar and Oesman Effendi are especially significant for their production of both visual and textual works. A close reading of their abstraction in relation to written word points to a need for more critical examination regarding the effect of G30S and the elimination of Lekra, or how the political context severely hindered a desire for experimentation in the arts in the period after 1965.