FX Harsono: Indonesian Contemporary Art

FX Harsono, 'Writing in the Rain', 2011, single channel colour video, National Gallery of Australia,

In this public lecture distinguished Indonesian artist FX Harsono discusses his art and the inspirations behind his art. Harsono’s work has been acclaimed in his own country and internationally. In the mid-1970s Harsono, then a student, was a founder of the New Art Movement (Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru) and since then has been in the forefront of courageous advocates who have aimed to give voices to the powerless. During the New Order of President Suharto (1966-1998) his art utilised compelling symbols to indicate the silencing of dissent and was concerned with issues of justice and injustice, democracy, the destruction of the environment and human rights. For his commitment to social justice he was awarded the international Joseph Balestier Award for Freedom of Art in 2015.  Harsono is a sixth-generation descendant of Chinese immigrants and also has Javanese ancestry. The Chinese minority suffered discrimination under Dutch colonialists and the later New Order of President Suharto under which the Chinese language could not be used and Chinese festivals and ceremonies were banned. Harsono has in recent years explored this erasure of history and loss of culture such as in the video in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, Writing in the Rain, in which he struggles to write his name in Chinese characters which are continuously washed away. The end of Suharto’s New Order enabled the emergence of a new democratic political system in Indonesia and Harsono has continued to advocate for a truer version of history so that younger generations can learn from the failures of the past and create a more inclusive society for all Indonesians.

Presented by the Humanities Research Centre, School of Art and Design and Indonesia Institute ANU in association with the National Gallery of Australia.

Date & time

Mon 24 Jun 2019, 4.15–5.45pm


Theatrette (2.02), Sir Roland Wilson Building, Building #120, McCoy Circuit, ANU


FX Harsono


Caroline Turner
+61 2 6125 4357


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