Kedai Kebun

Arts – Plants – Kitchen

“Bualan Ikan: Narratives That are Swept Away” A Solo Exhibition by Adi Sundoro, Curated by LIR


A Solo Exhibition by Adi “Asun” Sundoro

Curator by LIR*


Recently Indonesian citizens have been exposed to various potential marine industries which should have been one of the nation’s sources of income since several periods of government have changed. The focus of public attention on life on land, as well as the ability of the government in previous periods to come up with a policy that seemed to override the potential stored in Indonesia’s territorial waters made people slowly forget what they might have long ago. Long before the corrupt behavior in covering the potential of the nation’s marine industry, the government had and is still covering up another story about fish in rivers and in the sea. The fish are a reminder of an event of violence that at the time caused mass fear.

One morning fifty years ago, a wooden raft containing a pile of corpses was put in the Brantas river. The party’s flag was forbidden above headless bodies: a terror and a message of death for some people. What followed was a dramatic milestone, a stark reminder to anyone who opposes this new power. In various places, river and sea water turns red with a rancid odor and decaying bodies that are swept away by the current. Meanwhile, residents around rivers and the sea stopped eating fish since rumors spread that the discovery of fingers or pieces of other human bodies in the belly of the fish.

Like excessive fish boasting, terror was peppered with rumors and stories from the beginning. It is said that the communist party has a list of people who will be killed complete with mass graves and eye-picking tools. It is said that children will be kidnapped and re-educated as happened in other communist countries. And it is said that if you do not kill – you will be killed. Hatred and fear awaken to create an increasingly tense atmosphere. Tense silence, before the mass hysteria began and this wave of fear was used to gain the power of the new government.

This massacre occurred because of two things: as a consequence of horizontal conflict due to agrarian problems in rural areas along with community agitation due to the monetary crisis; second, structured crime from the state and the eradication of the communist party to its roots. As the rumors were never clear in the beginning, the number of victims was never counted with certainty. Even so, statistics are cool things that make humans numbers and counts. Traces of trauma and hereditary guilt that accompany are not counted in them.

Years after the massacre took place, this feeling developed into myths and ghost stories to normalize past trauma from both sides. From inside the cave came screaming for help, a neat clattering sound along with the sightings of people marching headless in the forests, and curious ghosts roaming over the bridge. The public did not dare to approach these haunted places and did not dare to talk about what happened before. A uniform narrative is repeated. It took years of campaigning so that people would no longer be afraid to eat fish. Gradually the narratives of history, trauma, and other things are also forgotten — drifted away to the depths of the ocean floor and occasionally manifested as ghosts of the past.


One morning fifty years ago, a wooden raft containing a pile of corpses was put in the Brantas river. The party’s flag is planted on headless bodies: a terror and a message of death for some people. What happened a few months later became a dramatic milestone, a stark reminder to anyone who opposes the new power. Residents around the river stopped eating fish since rumors of the discovery of fingers or pieces of other human bodies in the bodies of fish.

Seventeen years have passed since the raft of corpses was dissolved, new bodies were found with gunshot wounds on the edge of an urban alley, in a deserted forest, in a sack near a trash can. Thugs and dug groups that were used as instruments of power to spread terror and fear were eradicated. The relationship that was originally just a business developed into a tool for the state to show off its strengths on the grounds of maintaining order, security, and providing protection for the people with decisive action.

Some time after the regime fell, fear that was once a tool to maintain power is now a new business area. Residents build high fences around the house and entrance, developers create a safe space with one main door under close surveillance, security guards check guest identity cards, gates are locked tightly in the dark, suspicion of people who are not local residents increases. The higher the price that is ready to be paid, the higher the security for those with reduced community trauma. Twenty years later, these fences remain as monuments of fear that almost lost their roots. Long-term memory space shapes the visual language of a place and makes it an everyday sight. However, memory is contestation. Collective memory will continue to change with each power change.

The political game of fear, or scaremongering, influences society through an ancient push for survival mechanisms. People who are always in a state of fear are easily controlled, social friction is easily triggered, and communal hatred is easily directed by the state to respond to targets with certain identities. Terror is reinforced with rumors and stories. Stories develop into myths and ghost stories to normalize past trauma. Power uses this wave of fear to gain and maintain power.

In this solo exhibition series LIR x KKF, LIR invite three young artists to present their response to terror and collective trauma during the rise of the New Order, when public unrest increased and trust needed to be restored, and at the fall of the regime. The narrative of this series goes backwards and presents fear in three variations of a single exhibition: Edita Atmaja who talks about the business of post-1998 fear; Arief Budiman, who talked about missing scenes from 1982 – 1985; and Adi Sundoro about the fear of eating fish around 1965.

About Adi “Asun” Sundoro

Born in Jakarta, January 16, 1992. Completed his education at Jakarta State University, Department of Fine Arts Education. Joined in Graphic Huru Hara since 2014, and joined in the program division. Besides being active at Grafis Huru Hara, he also works part time as a professional graphic artist specializing in letterpress printing techniques at one of the creative studios in Jakarta. Asun’s love of graphic arts made him work with various kinds of technical exploration. Starting from high print, deep, filter, until the alternative technique of flat printing kitchen lithography. The meeting between the drawing drawings on the printing plate, technical exploration, and presentations that left the conventional grip of graphic art can be found in his work. Asun often discussed the problem of natural resource potential and its relation to human survival in the geographical, political, economic and social aspects. His works have been exhibited widely both at home and abroad, including; To Give and To Expect Nothing in Return, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul – South Korea (2018), Pekan Seni Grafis Yogyakarta, Jogja National Museum, Yogyakarta (2017), Bongkar Muat; Jakarta-Surabaya Emerging Artist Exhibition, Ruru Gallery, Jakarta (2016) Art Up! Contemporary Art Fair, Lille Grand Palais, France (2016), Jogja International Miniprint Biennale, Sangkring Art Space, Yogyakarta (2016), Hong Kong Graphic Art Fiesta, “Xin Yi Dai; An International Student Print Exchange Exhibition ”, Koowloon, Hong Kong (2014), Asian Student and Young Artist Art Festival (ASYAAF) 2014, Seoul, Korea.

A Solo Exhibition “Bualan Ikan: Narratives that are Swept Away” by Adi “Asun” Sundoro

Opening : Friday, 15 November, 2019, 7 pm
in Gallery, Kedai Kebun Forum (KKF)

The exhibition lasts until 29 November, 2019

Open for public and free of charge
every day at 11:00 am to 9:00 pm
(KKF is closed every Tuesday)

(Poster design by Fitro Dizianto)

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