Art collective group Taring Padi, based in Yogyakarta, have been established since the late 90’s and are still a strong force in the Indonesian art and political communities.
Their work can be akin to the political cartoons we see in Sydney Papers – with extra labour of love and a lot more line work, every woodblock print they do makes a political message or outcry against the government for the people. Their work can be seen all over the streets in Indonesia, but also in well-established galleries and museums (although they don’t believe in “art for art’s sake”) and in 2011 they published a book displaying 10 years of hard work and material Seni Membongar Tirani translating to ‘Art Smashing Tyranny’.
Their controversial and powerful prints often include farmers and laborers or overarching government figures and the thick line work in the blocks give a dense sense of anger and emotion – similar in aesthetic to the paintings of Edvard Munch with their simplistic faces and wild line movement. The independent group from Indonesia was discussed in The Jakarta Post and parallels were drawing to the political state of East Germany which was a very intriguing comparison…
“The group instead seeks to rebuild a people’s culture, and therefore emphasizes its social commitment and the importance of siding with the people. To express its ideas, Taring Padi’s works often deal with socialist items and symbols that were forbidden for decades under authoritarian rule.”
I will never holey understand the meaning behind these posters and prints, not only due to the language barrier but also because of my placement outside of Indonesia’s political context. I will never be as angry or as upset as someone who directly suffers governmental injustice in Yogyakarta – but in the act of cross-cultural collaboration I believe the Taring Padi collective are very open with sharing their views and methods with other cultural groups, either in Yogya or internationally e.g. the Gang Festival of 2006 held in Sydney. “Acquisition of cultural knowledge takes time and energy, and there are tradeoffs to developing attributional knowledge.” (Bird, A, & Osland, 2005)
It’s not always just passionate protesting but the examination of old and unhealed wounds from the term of Indonesia’s second president Suharto – discussing and depicting in their prints shocking themes of mass murder and exploitation – they aren’t worried about if their art will be pretty, they are spreading awareness and making art speak for the people. Considering a lot of their material is illegal or criminal in their act of protesting I think this type of printmaking is courageous and brave, the carving of each block and the time it takes to make each poster is very intentional and saturated with meaning.
– Bird, A, & Osland, JS 2005, ‘Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration’, International Studies of Management & Organization
– Conference of Birds Gallery, (2009). Taring Padi’s Workshop at Worldwell Co.ltd., Protest Site. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDeTeRz1cFs [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– Deepdishwavesofchange.org, (2011). Taring Padi Woodcut Posters | Waves of Change. [online] Available at: http://deepdishwavesofchange.org/node/2365 [Accessed 30 May 2015].
– Eliot, K. (2011). Taring Padi Artist Collective. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sloVuTk9k1s [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– Justseeds.org, (n.d.). Justseeds: Other Artists: Save Our Earth. [online] Available at: http://justseeds.org/other_artists/17taring2.html [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– Keller, A. (2012). Art for the people – Inside Indonesia. [online] Inside Indonesia. Available at: http://www.insideindonesia.org/art-for-the-people [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– MoMA.org, (n.d.). Edvard Munch. Vampire II (Vampyr II) (1895-1902). [online] Available at: http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=75893 [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– Sydney Morning Herald, (2006). Cultural exchange makes a virtue of art with attitude.
– Taring Padi, (n.d.). Taring Padi. [online] Available at: http://taringpadi.com/en/ [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].
– Thejakartapost.com, (2015). Taring Padi: Yogyakarta artists steal attention in Germany. [online] Available at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2004/02/22/taring-padi-yogyakarta-artists-steal-attention-germany.html [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].