On the occasion of Europalia Indonesia 2017, Elisabeth Ida (1979) presented her new film, Saksi Bisu (Silent Witness). Let me take you to a tropical paradise at Strombeek Cultural Centre. In this film she continues her examination of the turbulent years 1965 and 1966 in Indonesia, when General Suharto carried out an anti-communist purge following the failed coup by the so-called ‘30 September Movement’. On the basis of the notion of the ‘guilty landscape’, she depicts a number of superb natural sites, such as the Gua Grubug cave in Yogyakarta, where the bodies of the murdered members of the communist party were dumped in large numbers.
Elisabeth Ida Mulyani is an Indonesian artist who lives and works in Brussels. She studied photography at the KASKSchool of Arts in Ghent. In recent years she has taken part in several exhibitions in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Indonesia, with photographs that offer a critical reflection on the history and identity of her native country. She is not only a photographer and film-maker, but also a researcher, exhibition-maker and performance artist.
[performance] Mengenangmu Yang Dihilangkan (2018) - 11.1.2018, 8 – 9 pm
(In Loving Memory of the Missing)
‘I want you never to go away, but I don’t long for you to be here, I just want you to exist…’
(Sipon, wife of the kidnapped poet and labour activist WijiThukul)
In the years 1997 and 1998, just before the fall of General Suharto, 22 pro-democracy activists were kidnapped by the soldiers of the New Order. Nine of them were released, but thirteen still remain missing.
This performance is a commemoration of those who did not return home; those of whom nothing more was heard. Their family and friends have since then made every effort to maintain public interest in the case. Which is why they have since January 2007 performed a weekly silent action in front of the Royal Palace in Jakarta and at other places in the country. These demonstrations are characterised by the open black umbrellas that protect the participants from the sun or rain, but also bear their messages.
In her performance, Elisabeth Ida wants to pay tribute to this ‘Aksi Kamisan’ (Thursday Action) as well as to the missing, because they symbolise the endless love for the kidnapped children, family and friends, and also the love for their native country. According to her, anyone who does not recall their past is after all doomed to repeat their mistakes.
The performance takes the form of a ‘last supper’ in which 12 participants sit down at a long table and dine together in the presence of an empty thirteenth chair.
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