Apr 22, 2024 Last Updated 1:12 AM, Apr 19, 2024

Demonstrating diversity

Demonstrating diversity

Photo-essay: Yogya’s community protests against the Pornography Bill

FG Pandhuagie

On 22 October 2008 Yogyakarta for Diversity (YuK! or Yogyakarta untuk Keberagaman) demonstrated in front of the State Palace against the Pornography Bill. The State Palace (also known as ‘Gedong Agung’ or the ‘Great Building’) has had an important part in Indonesian history. It was the first presidential residence during the Indonesian independence struggle in the 1940s, until the president moved to Jakarta after the Dutch agreed to withdraw from Indonesia. This history makes it an important symbolic place for the demonstration.

This demonstration was one of a series which have taken place both in Yogyakarta, nearby Solo (see edition93: 'New artistic order' ) and across Indonesia. The bill was passed on 30 October (see in current edition: 'Hot debates' ) this year and was ratified on 26 November as Law No. 44 of 2008.

YuK! is a network of about 150 community groups from Yogyakarta. The network is a broad coalition of women, transgender and student activists, and groups of youth and artists, as well as religious (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and mystical) groups. The Yogyakarta branches of the National Institute for Legal Aid (LBH) and environmental group, WALHI are also members.

For YuK! the Pornography Bill is not an appropriate response to the problem of pornography. The participants were concerned that the definitions of pornography it contained could cause problems in people’s daily life. Bathing in the river, breastfeeding a child in the yard of one’s house, wearing a kebaya (a women’s traditional lace blouse with a low neckline) and using the internet: all these things could be illegal under the bill. In particular, the group feels that women and children are the most likely to be affected by the bill, and that it could harm regional, traditional artistic performances. YuK! therefore declared that the bill has the potential to disrupt the unity of Indonesia.

The action on 22 October bore witness to the diversity and creativity of Yogyakarta’s community.

   Yogyakartan Native Americans

Spectators were drawn to a hybrid drama form which combined the Javanese jathilan (horse dance) art form with Native American headdresses. The banner in the background reads ‘United, together, the people of Yogyakarta reject the Pornography Bill’.

   Marching on stilts

Demonstrators marched in the streets. The bare-chested man on stilts is dressed in a style similar to the Javanese wayang orang (dance drama). He proclaims ‘The Pornography Bill oppresses Art’.

   Discussing the bill

Many well-known community figures attended the demonstration. This picture shows (left to right): Didik Nini Thowok, Gabriel Nunes, Nita Azhar and GKR Hemas. The group is in the middle of a serious discussion about the bill’s potential impact on women. GKR Hemas is a member of the Regional Representative Council in Jakarta. She is married to the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X. Nita Azhar is a fashion designer specialising in batik fabric who is a resident of Yogyakarta. She also does costume design for dance and theatre. Didik Nini Thowok (Didik Hadiprayitno) is an internationally-acclaimed dancer and teacher, renowned for his interpretations of traditional dances from many regions of Indonesia, including cross-gender dancing. Gabriel Nunes (wearing a t-shirt which advertises a nude beach!) is a Brazilian dancer-choreographer from the Amsterdam School of the Arts, who is studying traditional dance at Didik’s dance school, Natya Lakshita. Gabriel is studying cross-gender dancing in a number of Indonesian towns.

   Butet speaking in his own voice

Butet Kartaredjasa, the son of a famous Javanese dancer, the late Bagong Kussudiardja, has been active as an artist since he was small, particularly as an actor in the theatre. Butet rose to fame with his imitations of former President Suharto during the demonstrations that brought down his regime in 1998. Like GKR Hemas, Butet has been very active in his opposition to the Pornography Bill.

   Mother and daughter silenced

Demonstrators placed tape over their mouths as a symbol that women’s voices and actions would be restricted and they would become victims if the bill was passed.

   Three members of Three-in-One

The three men in the photograph are from Tri Tunggal (Three-in-One), a Javanese mystical group (kebatinan-kejawen), run by Romo Sapto Raharjo. Tri Tunggal is based in Yogyakarta and Central Java and has members who are both young and old, male and female.

   Messages for members of the legislature

As part of the demonstration, white cloth was put up on the fences of the State Palace, and the demonstrators and members of the public wrote messages on the cloth. The cloth was then taken to the regional legislature (DPRD) as proof that the community in Yogyakarta and its surrounds rejected the bill. The man on the left holds a sign which states ‘The Pornography Bill Bans Boxing Matches!’, a reference to the minimal clothing worn by boxers.

   The bill is a bummer!

Two scantily-clad friends protest against the bill by painting their bodies in the Indonesian colours, red-and-white. By painting ‘tolak’ (meaning ‘reject’ or ‘refuse’) the man states his objections to the bill.     ii

FG Pandhuagie (artsides@gmail.com) works as a journalist and photo-editor for the art and culture magazine, GONG (Yogyakarta). Pandhuagie has worked as a media relations officer for a number of arts events and is involved in documentation of a number of art performances in Indonesia. All photos in this article were taken by FG Pandhuagie.

Helen Pausacker prepared the English version of FG Pandhuagie’s article.

Inside Indonesia 94: Oct-Dec 2008

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