Review: ‘Revolusi! Indonesia Independent’

Installation view of Timoteus Anggawan Kusno’s Luka dan Bisa Kubawa Berlari (Wounds and venom I carry as I am running), 2022, mixed-media installation, dimensions variable, at “Revolusi! Indonesia Independent,” Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Curated by writer Amir Sidharta and historians Bonnie Triyana, Harm Stevens, and Marion Anker, “Revolusi! Indonesia Independent” centered people and their stories during the Indonesian War of Independence (1945–49). The Revolusi, as the war is known in Indonesia, ended more than 300 years of Dutch colonial occupation in most of the archipelago. The sole remaining Dutch overseas territory was the Papua region, which was ceded to the United Nations in 1962, even though Papuans were promised an independent nation state, and later incorporated as an Indonesian province through a 1969 referendum that is still protested today. The details of the Revolusi itself have recently come under scrutiny again, with three institutions in the Netherlands jointly releasing the findings from the landmark, five-year research project “Independence, decolonization, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945–1950” less than a week after the opening of “Revolusi!,” including evidence of the Dutch’s use of extreme violence during the conflict. In an interview about the project, lead researcher Gert Oostindie acknowledged, “we as a nation have a rosy self-image that is often at odds with how the Netherlands behaved.” As these events suggest, the processes and discussions around decolonization are ongoing, and are fraught with tensions.

Continue reading in Art Asia Pacific, Issue 128, May-June 2022 [pdf]