PANEL 9 – Revisiting the Memory of 1965


Panel 9 – Revisiting the Memory of 1965: the Writings and Artworks of Indonesian Young Generations

This panel intends to discuss the memory of 1965 through the writings and artworks produced by the Indonesian young generation. In recent years, an increasing number of young ages have shared their understanding and perception of 1965. Unlike the survivors who focus on publishing testimonies in printed books or documentary videos, the young generation benefits from the technology era by placing their creative writings and artworks on the internet. Presenting on various digital platforms, their works reach the audience and allows the writers and artists to interact with the audience. Given that they were born when the New Order systematically buried the violence of 1965, these writings and artworks create a site of trans-generational dialog to reconstitute and shape a model of Indonesian culture.


Host institution: ALTERSEA (Backup: LP3ES)

Convenor: Gloria Truly Estrelita (CASE/EHESS); Yerry Wirawan (University of Sanata Dharma)

Chairperson: Grace Leksana (University of Negeri Malang)

Discussant: Saskia WIERINGA, Honorary Professor (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands)


Kelana Wisnu Sapta Nugraha (Padjadjaran University, Indonesia)Orchestrating Immutable Songs: Re-reading the Impact of the 1965 Mass Killings on Indonesian Music History

Abstract: The anti-communist purge of 1955—1965 in Indonesia that affect some mass organization that linked with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), such as the cultural and “progressive cultural workers” organization, Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat (Lekra), had changed the artistic production, distribution, and its history significantly. Prior to that time, music has contributed to imagining the role of culture to decolonize colonial legacy by conducting experiments, maintaining the life of music organization, and initiating research with an alternative working method named Turun ke Bawah and 1-5-1 artistic principle to the modernization of folk music. The achievements and progress in music history during that time were then eliminated by 1965 violence. This paper examines how the New Order regime fabricated and shaped the imagination of Indonesian music history by developing that argument in three parts. It tells how the precondition before 1965, such as an anti-US popular culture related to the Cold War, shed a way for Western culture and how the New Order maintained a leftist culture legacy by choosing which is that fit or not for Indonesian culture. Third, it outlines the impact of these things on Indonesian music history. By relying on written music archives, I argue that the annihilation of the leftist legacy in Indonesian music history was not unintended nor spontaneous but was systematically encouraged and directed by the army and New Order officials.

Keywords: 1965 mass killings, Indonesian Music, New Order. 

Bio & Contact: Kelana Wisnu Sapta Nugraha is an Undergraduate Student from the Department of Indonesian Literature, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung and editor-in-chief of Pustaka Pias. While he is currently researching the legacy of Bandung Spirit to global literature and the arts, he also actively contributes to Institut Sulur and researches in Kapital Space.

Video presentation

Rangga Purbaya, Sirin Farid Stevy and Debby Gea (FIS 1965, Indonesia)Faith in Speculations

Abstract: This work explores content management challenges facing oral stories regarding the mass killings in Indonesia in 1965. Being in between memory and imagination, this work tries to present an alternative history that differs from its official version provided by the military regime led by Suharto. Hence, our work offers oral stories incorporating technology, consisting of various multimedia modes such as cartography, graphics, and texts. In this presentation, we explain our strategies in virtualizing oral stories by discussing the process in four aspects: (1) the use of technology, (2) the role of oral stories, (3) the approach of process, and (4) the engagement of the users. This work aims to highlight that virtual oral stories combine both the art of storytelling and digital story. This presentation suggests implementing virtual oral stories to develop an awareness of the impacts of mass killing.

Keywords: 1965, oral stories, participatory, cartography, digital.

Bio & Contact: Rangga Purbaya is a visual artist interested in collective memory, narrative, archive, and history of the 1965 genocide in Indonesia. He graduated from the Photography Department in the Indonesian Institute of the Arts and a co-founder of Ruang MES 56, an artist-run space and collective focusing on the development of photography and contemporary art, crossing over with other disciplines in critical and contextual approaches. His work integrates different mediums, such as photography, text, mix-media, video installation, and performance.

Sirin Farid Stevy is a visual artist, graphic designer, and singer-songwriter in the band FSTVLST (festivalist) based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. He graduated from the Visual Communication Design department in the Indonesia Institute of Arts, Yogyakarta. Intergenerational communication, Popular Culture, Identity, and history are his main interests field. Through his visual art, graphic design, lyrics, and music performance with his band, Farid speaking to his young audience about equality as a response to socio-cultural discrimination and stigmatization issues.

Debby Gea is a systems architect with twelve years of experience in information technology fields for several banking and telcos. She holds a bachelor of physics from the University of Indonesia and currently takes a Master of Science in Computer Engineering.

Video presentation

Wulan Dirgantoro (Melbourne University, Australia) #1965SetiapHari: Transnational Spaces and Memory Activism of the 1965-66 mass killings

Abstract: This presentation will discuss the projects of #1965SetiapHari/Living1965, a research-relay collective founded in 2015. The collective, whose members are visual artists, journalists, cultural activists, and academics, including the presenter, are based in Indonesia, Australia, and the United States. The diverse background and geopolitical location of the member shaped the collective’s direction, namely that the representation of Indonesia’s anti-communist killings consists of multiple sets of dynamically overlapping and interacting transnational social fields and agents. Using a transnational framework (De Cesari and Rigney 2014; Erll 2011), this presentation proposes that the collective’s projects provide an optics or gaze that examines the boundaries and borders that emerge at particular historical moments and explores their relationship to unbounded arenas and processes in discussing and representing the killings of 1965-66. The transnational optics used by the collective allows the memory 1965-66 to be visualized differently: not as a horizontal spread on a map but as a dynamic operating at multiple platforms that involve interlocking scales and involving conduits, intersections, circuits, and articulations.

Bio & Contact: Wulan Dirgantoro is a fellow McKenzie Postdoctoral, School of Culture and Communication, the University of Melbourne, Australia.

Video presentation

Mega Nur (Studio Malya, Indonesia)Denoting the Generation: Youth Perspective and ‘65 Tragedy

Abstract: This presentation tells how the current youth generation in Indonesia deals with the history and memory of the 1965 tragedy through our collective project “Have You Heard It Lately?” (2019). The artwork itself is a hanged-tin can telephone installation which contains 64 voices where there are 20 youths out of 52 interviewees and a red telephone for attendees to respond to the issues. The youth generation tries to expose a variety of ‘facts’ stretched from individual and collective memories, which show two tendencies; first, family as a starting point for reconciliation; second, literature and oral stories as a non-violence approach to resist from state-driven propaganda of the 1965 tragedy. This presentation also explains how the project shows the youth generation’s endeavors to cope with the violent event and their strategies to support reconciliation, which is different from the previous generation.

Keywords: Indonesian youth generation, 1965 tragedy, reconciliation art project, truth and reconciliation, reconciliation movement.

Bio & Contact: Mega Nur is a member of Studio Malya and an Undergraduate Student from the Department of Sociology, UGM, Yogyakarta.

Hartmantyo Utomo is a member of Studio Malya and a Graduate Student from the Department of Sociology, UGM, Yogyakarta.

Yesa Utomo is a member of Studio Malya and the founding father of the “Doa dan Wisata” experimental music group.

Video presentation