Art Histories
2016/ 2017

Wulandani Dirgantoro

Memory and the Avant-Garde: Trauma in Indonesian Visual Arts, 1970-1990

Poster for the 3rd GSRB exhibition, 1989, TIM Gallery, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Wulan Dirgantoro is a researcher on Indonesian modern and contemporary art. Her research interests are transnational feminisms, and trauma and memory in Indonesian modern and contemporary art. Her PhD dissertation on feminisms and the writing of art history in Indonesia will be published by Amsterdam University Press under the title of Feminisms and Indonesian Contemporary Art: Defining Experiences in Fall 2016. She has contributed to various art publications in Asia, Australia and UK on Indonesian modern and contemporary art. Wulan recently participated in Ambitious Alignments: New Histories of Southeast Asian Art, a research project within the Connecting Art Histories initiative by the Getty Foundation with a project on affect and modern paintings in Indonesia during the 1970s.

Memory and the Avant-Garde: Trauma in Indonesian visual arts 1970-1990

As the biggest democracy in Southeast Asia and the world's most populous Muslim country, Indonesia has a vibrant art scene that draws its roots from traditional cultures, colonialism, religion and nationalist movements. Over the last decade Indonesian contemporary art has risen to be one of the key players in Southeast Asia's regional art scene and, more recently, the global scene. Scholars on Indonesian art, however, have questioned whether the current positive atmosphere for Indonesian modern and contemporary art really illustrates a smooth transition between the global and the local in Indonesia and whether the interest in the here and now, conveniently put aside historical and political trauma that shaped Indonesian art history. This project intends to address these questions through an examination of the works of the avant-garde groups such as Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru Indonesia (Indonesian New Art Movement) and PIPA group that were active in the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. In particular, how has the historical trauma of the anti-communist killings of 1965/66 affected the artists and their art making? In what ways have Indonesian artists engaged with the trauma of 1965/66 during the height of the authoritarian regime?