Artists summoned over
communist symbol exhibition

The East Denpasar Police has summoned a group of young artists for using symbols of the now defunct communist party during an art exhibition organized last September.

An art exhibition dubbed the G-30-S (30 artists' movement) was organized from Sept. 16 to 30 at the Denpasar Art Centre featuring contemporary art pieces that tried to redefine the meaning of some symbols, including communist symbols like the hammer and sickle.

"We want to ask about their motivation behind all of this because we all know that publicly showing or exhibiting communist symbols is prohibited," East Denpasar Police chief Adj. Comr. Gede Ariantha told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

A temporary 1996 People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) decree prohibits the Indonesia Communist Party's existence throughout the country.

The decree also prohibits the public display of the party's symbols.

The decree was made after Indonesians experienced the so-called failed coup on Sept. 30, 1965, an attempt that took the lives of six army generals and one army lieutenant.

Ariantha said two out of the 30 artists had been questioned by the police so far. The two -Gusti Putu Hardana Putra and Made Sudiadanaacknowledged that the use of some communist symbols at the art exhibition represented the artist's intention to impute new meaning into the symbols.

"They said the symbols were used for the sake of art and no other political purposes or motivations," Ariantha said.

"But we will still summon the other artists to collect and cross check some more information."

"The two artists also acknowledged that it was only one artist that used the communist symbols in his art pieces,"he said.

"The artist's name is Made Agus Swesnawa and we are going to summon him immediately to hear his perspective."

Swesnawa's artworks are now stored at the East Denpasar Police office after they were confiscated by soldiers of the Udayana Military Command from the art gallery.

"Soon after we noticed that the paintings contained communist symbols we decided to confiscate and bring them to the police for further investigation," Udayana Military Command' intelligence assistant Col. Mudjib Ali said.

He said the confiscation was conducted as a necessary caution because every symbol related to the communist party was still considered insensitive among Indonesians.

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.