Agung Kurniawan in “Beyond the Dutch” Exhibition – Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 15 October 2009 – 3 January 2010By kedaikebun • Mar 22nd, 2010 • Category: Agung Activities
I make the series of the intellectuals’ betrayal since 2003. The series were started by the making of the manuscript, The Dictionary of Sexual and Politics (2003, collection of Nadi Gallery, Jakarta), Coloring book (2003, private collection), Museum Soekrodimedjo (2006, collaboration work), and then Raden Saleh atau Buruk Muka Cermin Dibelah (2008, collection of Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta).
Raden Saleh was considered as a hero and the pioneer of Indonesian modern art, he was a complex figure. He was confused, because he had to choose whether lived in Java, where he was born, or lived in Europe, where he grown up from one castle to another. As a Javanese who lived during the phase of Javanese war (1825-1830), political choice to be Javanese or not, it should be clear, at least easy to choose. But not for Raden Saleh Bustaman, he chose the Netherlands’ Queen as his haven, because he got social and economical secures there. I also see that kind of situation is happened at the present. During the era of Suharto or at any era, intellectual was gathered at the center of the power.
My works on Raden Saleh, was set on purpose at the rest room of Sanata Dharma University’s head office, it is one of the Catholic universities in Yogyakarta. It was strange, but it was real that Catholic intellectuals had great power in the machine formation of the New Order supremacy. It can be said that they were the “think thank”, the brain. By placing the picture of the intellectual who betrayed his people inside the room that always visited by the lecturers and academics; they looked at the mirror and saw their faces. Between those faces, there were texts from the pioneer of Indonesian modern visual art who became a “traitor”.
Artists are intellectuals; they are the biggest traitors, including me.
Haji Princen was a native Dutch person, who was born at the wrong place. He was raised in an eccentric family in Netherlands and then forced to sail to a tropical country which always became the shadow of Modern Netherlands. He came as a soldier for “hunting the terrorists” in Indonesia. Then, he fell in love with Indonesia through the women, and through its arts communities. Finally he chose to become Indonesian, although there were condemnations from his Dutch friends.
Was Poncke the traitor or Poncke the savior of the Dutch’s common sense?
My works tried to revisit Raden Saleh to his beloved country, the Netherlands. Meanwhile, I bartered him with Haji Princen. The rest room at Centraal Museum, Utrecht could be the right place to display those works, because it was the monument for the forgotten people. So, here was the place where they should be crowned as heroes; at the rest room where we dump our trashes and forgotten heroes.