Indonesian Art and Activism

One of Indonesia’s most prolific poster artists, Alit Ambara was a Visiting Fellow of the Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre. In collaboration with the Sir Louis Matheson Library, the Centre co-hosted a series of events featuring him under the theme of ‘Arts & Activism’.

One of Indonesia’s most prolific poster artists, Alit Ambara was a Visiting Fellow of the Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre. In collaboration with the Sir Louis Matheson Library, the Centre co-hosted a series of events featuring him under the theme of ‘Arts & Activism’. An exhibition of a selection of Ambara’s posters ran May 6-9 at the Library. It was officially launched by Mr Alfons Sroyer from The Consulate-General of the Republic of Indonesia, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Prof Ariel Heryanto (Director of the Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre).

Activism

In an engaging talk, Ambara shared his personal experiences as an artist and activist who lends his voice to a broad range of social and political struggles in Indonesia. The poster exhibition highlighted Ambara’s works on the 1965/66 trauma, resistance against a land reclamation project in Bali, and the women-driven protest against the opening up of a cement factory in Rembang, Java (see the online portal nobodycorp.org). Following Ambara’s presentation, Dr Birgit Braeuchler (Monash University) and Dr Edwin Jurriens (The University of Melbourne) provided additional insights into the Balinese protest movement and how Ambara’s work sits in a broader arts and activism landscape in Indonesia.

Earlier in the morning of May 6, Monash students had the great opportunity to engage with Ambara’s work and activism. In a Q&A session, they learned about Ambara and the broader scene of arts and activism in Indonesia. Ambara guided them through a hands-on poster session, where each student could slip into the role of an artist activist and raise awareness about an issue s/he is concerned about.

The Centre is grateful to the Jakarta office of the Ford Foundation/IIEF for the generous support for the event.