Indonesian artist Agus Suwage knows what it is like to run up against the religious conservatives. Four years ago, he was hauled into parliament, where lawmakers accused him of blasphemy and of producing pornography dressed up as art. Today, facing an even more restrictive climate in Indonesia, Suwage refuses to be silenced and has made those restrictions the focus of his art.
His latest exhibition, which opened at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute this month, highlights what he sees as a growing conservatism in majority Muslim but officially secular Indonesia. Many of the works probably could not be shown at a big public exhibition space in Indonesia following the passage of a controversial anti-pornography law last year.
“There are more important things to address in law than pornography, like education. But everyone wants to win a political point and on this issue the politics come easily,” Suwage told Reuters in an interview.
Suwage’s latest works are a series of prints of female nudes overlaid with the actual text of Indonesia’s 2008 anti-pornography law, under which a person can be charged for any public activity that “incites sexual desire.”
See the full feature here. (Image: An Agus Suwage print “Behind the curtain” combining the text of Indonesia’s anti-pornography law with a female nude/Agus Suwage collection/Handout)