Allegiances | Keberpihakan

The style of the Beatles became a global representation of the 1960s. For President Sukarno, this craze, was a new kind of colonialism. During his 1959 speech to mark the anniversary of Indonesia’s independence, he exhorted, “Why are so many of you crazy about rock ‘n’ roll? Dancing to the cha cha cha? Listening to ngak ngik ngok?” Then, later he asked, “There are so many great Indonesian songs, so why go crazy about Elvis?” Not long after the Suharto-led New Order government assumed power, the Indonesian National Army (ABRI) held concerts throughout the country, where Western and Indonesian musicians performed together as a means to not only ingratiate itself with the people. Ronny Agustinus (Video, not all correct … 2003) reads this gesture as an effort to show foreign investors that Indonesia was not opposed to the West. 

In Chile, at around the same time, a social organisation known as Operación Verdad (Truth Operation), was born. Led by pro-democracy fighters, this movement rejected the dominance of a few large families who controlled the national media. The premise for their campaign was “radical communication”. They disseminated contrasting information to whatever was spread through official mass media channels which were written to suit the interests of those in power. The Truth Operation was a success and played a role in enabling Salvador Allende to become president and ‘democratic socialism’ to be the guiding principle of state politics between 1970-1973. During that short era, Chile established the Muse de la Solidaridad (Solidarity Museum) which was filled with donations from artists throughout the world who supported the struggle for freedom in Chile. The premise of the museum was “resistance as culture”, which referred to the culture of the Third World with a clear alliance: for the people, by the people. 

The cultural manifestations of thinking around the Third World, Non-Bloc, or the Global South, often refers to the Asian-African Conference of 1955 as being a significant moment. There were more than thirty nations represented in Bandung at that time. Some of these nations weren’t yet independent; others were since united or have become separated. At the time, the uniting factor was their shared anti-colonial and anti-imperialist spirit and the ideas of liberation which were on the side of the people. In the art world, this thread is kept alive in the implementation of, amongst others, the Bienal de São Paulo (since 1951); the Biennial of Graphic Arts (Ljubljana, since 1955); the Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean Countries (since 1955); Japan, Asian, African and Latin American Artists’ Association (JAALA, since 1958); Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (since 1979); Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh (since 1981); and Australia and the Regions Exchange (ARX, 1987-1999). 

Returning to Chile, the Solidarity Museum was opened in May 1972 with an exhibition featuring works sent by artists from all corners of the globe. Immediately after the opening, the next exhibition was formulated. The artists behind the founding of the museum wanted Pablo Picasso to send his work, Guernica (1973) for the exhibition. One of the main reasons that they wanted the great anti-war work, was that it was displayed in the US, “The country which caused the greatest war”. Picasso’s empathy with the people of Guernica, a small Basque city, was greater than their hatred of Nazi fascism. The cubist tendencies and the abstract approach of Picasso’s work didn’t dilute the sense of sadness, but re-affirmed it. The alliance of artists behind the Solidarity Museum with the victims of war and politics is seen in their request for this painting, as well as through the way in which they planned how the painting would be delivered. 


As a kind of rejection of the feeling that history is only well-written when it deals with politics and state power, the works in this section show the solidarity between people, between individuals, people with other groups and between classes. Starting from those which show societies that are oppressed (by the military, ideology or state) until societies which are compartmentalized by certain social or political conditions. How can a few people have the right to categorize others? What are the patterns of power that are at play behind it? What makes artists take sides? Semsar Siahaan (1952-2005) convincingly wrote that, “The essence of an artist is the human right to freedom”. Various kinds of human cruelty by artists through various approaches, arrangement of materials, craftsmanship, and the way they articulate their perspective. Artists’ allegiances  are inseparable from the various kinds of privilege which become a part of their baggage and their aims for a better future.