‘Indonesia Is Not Independent If Criticism Through Art Is Silenced’

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One by one the artists spoke about the erasure of murals and the criminalization that has been happening lately. Including the voice of a visual artist, Anagard, after making a mural with the words ‘art is not a crime’ in Yogyakarta.

Anagard issued his opinion on cases circulating in the realm of visual arts and became the talk of his friends.

According to Anagard, Indonesia is not yet independent when speaking or criticizing through the medium of art is silenced.

“How do you want to call it independence, just silence your voice in art. In fact, art is a subtle expression of expressing opinions,” said Anagard when contacted by SentraBerita.com.

The winner of the Southeast Asian painting competition also shared his personal experience when he was drawing in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, and was interrogated by local officials until he was imprisoned.

The incident that happened to Anagard happened last year while he was working.

“At that time I already got permission from the owner of the wall. It means that it was licensed, but the police came and threatened because they said I was talking about politics. I said I was talking about art, I didn’t involve politics,” recalls Anagard.

“The police said ‘our country can’t talk politics’. This case (which is happening now in Indonesia) is actually the same as Vietnam, I was also imprisoned but finally expelled by them because after finding out they believed I was an artist,” he continued with a laugh.

In Anagard’s latest mural in the south of Yogyakarta, he asserts that art is not criminal. He also asked to stop repression and discrimination.

“Art is not a decorative space. Art is sharp especially for street artists. It is in a democratic open space because it is an interesting way to channel its expression,” said Anagard.

On August 17, 2021, to coincide with Indonesia’s independence day, a critical mural was again removed by the authorities in Ciledug, Tangerang city. The mural that reads ‘The Real Plague Is Hunger’ is said to be illegal and is at other people’s gates.

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