Expert Meeting at KITLV, Leiden (2011)

kitlv forum

Source: SPIN Network

On December 2, 2011, four Indonesian scholar-activists – Ugoran Prasad, Nuraini Juliastuti, Lisabona Rahman, and Intan Paramaditha — gave a presentation titled “Post-1998 Generation and Cultural Activism in Indonesia: From Intervention to Institutionalization” in an expert meeting at the KITLV. Moderated by Fridus Steijlen, the presentation offered a reflection on more than a decade of cultural activism in Indonesia from the perspective of post-1998 generation, who share the spirit of creating new spaces and making intervention after the downfall of Suharto. The four presenters have been taking part as researchers, public intellectuals, activists, and artists – often by occupying more than one position – in the fields of theater, performance, film, literature, visual arts, and cultural studies.  In 2009 they initiated the “Symposium on Performance in Indonesia” (SPIN) in Yogyakarta, an event that brought together more than 70 artists, activists, and scholars — mostly from the post-1998 generation – in order to draw a shared map of what has been produced in the past decade and explore new trajectories of network, collaboration, and, possibly, collective social intervention.

The presenters are involved in ongoing working-group projects aimed at strengthening the SPIN network, and during the meeting they used the symposium as an anchor to reflect on their individual research. Ugoran presented on topics discussed in the symposium and delineated keywords organically emerging from the event that could be seen as shared investments of the new generation. Some of the keywords such as performance, institutionalization, knowledge production, maps and archives serve as frameworks within which each presentation could be situated. In relation to knowledge production, Nuraini analyzed the rubric of “alternative spaces” that frames the practices of knowledge production and dissemination such as independent newsletters, journals, and research centers that exist outside formal institutions. Lisabona Rahman presented her work in progress, the restoration of the film Tiga Dara (1956; dir. Usmar Ismail), and used the case to comment on the discourses of history and memory within the practice of archiving and film restoration in Indonesia. Finally, reflecting on the discussions about the relation between cultural producers and the state in the symposium, Intan Paramaditha examined the performance of citizenship after 1998 by focusing on film activism, film policy, and debates around censorship in Indonesia.

The audience, consisting of academics, festival organizers, curators, and activists, were invited to respond to the presentation and bring their own knowledge and experiences to enrich the discussion. Based on the questions and comments from the participants such as Patricia Spyer, Joss Wibisono, Ratna Saptari, Sruti Bala, Bart Barendregt, Tom Hoogersvorst, and Wim Manuhutu, the forum delved into the issues of sustainability and regeneration, which remain one of the greatest challenges faced by Indonesian cultural activists today, and further elaborated on how the new generation differs from activists during the New Order regime. Participants also touched upon the secular position in the age of more prominent Muslim visibility as well as how this generation situates itself within the transnational landscape.