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First-ever JIPFest captures struggle for identity

Josa Lukman

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Tue, July 2, 2019  /  05:48 pm
First-ever JIPFest captures struggle for identity

Who am I?: Visual artist Agan Harahap created a series of fictive portraits titled 'Mardijker Photo Studio' as his response to the rise of identity politics in many parts of the world, including Indonesia. (JIPFest/-)

Walk into the Rubanah art space in Menteng, Central Jakarta, one of these days and you’ll find a series of apparent portraits of Mardijker people. Mardijker, taken from the Sanskrit mahardika, means freedom. During Dutch rule in the 17th century, the term was used to describe Catholic descendants of freed slaves of Portuguese colonizers who settled in Batavia (now Jakarta). The collection titled Mardijker Photo Studio is of the creations of noted visual artist Agan Harahap. Agan says he created the fictive portraits in 2014 after being intrigued by the ambiguity of Mardijker identity, a people who were accepted neither by the Dutch nor indigenous Indonesians, then known as pribumi. “I created fiction from the Mardijker while highlighting the state of our nation these days, where politics has turned some into a sort of xenophobic super-nationalism espousing of...