Talking Indonesia: visual art and social change

Since the fall of Soeharto, Indonesian visual art has blossomed, and is attracting increasing global attention and staggering prices for some works. This is partly a consequence of a broader boom in contemporary Southeast Asian art, but the rich diversity of themes that Indonesian visual artists address is also mentioned as a reason for its popularity.


It is often assumed that Indonesian visual artists began highlighting social and political issues in earnest following the end of authoritarianism and the lifting of restrictions on freedom of expression that accompanied it. But to what extent is this assumption correct? And how have significant moments in Indonesian history – such as the mass killings of 1965 and 1966 – been represented in visual art, particularly by those who witnessed such events?


In this edition of Talking Indonesia, I discuss these issues with Dr Wulan Dirgantoro, lecturer in art history and theory at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore.


Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight, hosted alternately by Dr Dave McRae and Dr Ken Setiawan. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen to the entire Talking Indonesia podcast via Stitcher.


“Flying Angels” by Heri DonoPhoto by Flickr user Bernard Oh. 

Dr Ken Setiawan is a Lecturer in Asian and Indonesian Studies at the Asia Institute. She is also an Associate of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at Melbourne Law School.