Anhar Gonggong Urges Indonesian Government to withdraw participation from Dutch Rijksmuseum Exhibition
CNN Indonesia, 27 January 2022
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Historian Anhar Gonggong urges the [Indonesian] government to take a bold stance against participation in the ‘exhibition of revolution’ which will be held at the Rijksmuseum, next February.
Anhar’s insistence followed the news that a guest curator from Indonesia, Bonnie Triyana, was being investigated for refusing to use the term ‘Bersiap’ in the exhibition that will last until June 2022. Anhar also criticized the Rijksmuseum’s attitude which in the end continued to use the term ‘Bersiap’ in the exhibition.
“The term ‘Bersiap’ has never existed, has never been known in Indonesia. Bonnie must dare to be consistent in his opinion,” said Anhar to CNNIndonesia.com, Thursday (27/1).
Anhar admits that the term “Bersiap” in the Netherlands is indeed framing Indonesian people who carried out the killings of the Indo-Dutch. However, Anhar emphasized that history cannot be cut off without cause.
“The problem is that the Dutch came to an independent Indonesia, the Indonesian people defended their independence,” said Anhar.
“The government must have the courage to withdraw from the exhibition, asking to return all collections belonging to Indonesia which are planned to be exhibited there,” said Anhar.
“Not being involved in the exhibition is the state’s firm stance when it comes to the selfishness of the Netherlands related to the history of this nation,” said Anhar.
Regarding the issue of Bonnie being reported to the police, Anhar believes that the [Indonesian] state should also provide protection.
“Bonnie is an Indonesian citizen who is entitled to protection from legal cases in any country,” said Anhar.
Bonnie was reported to the [Dutch] police after his article announced the decision to eliminate the term ‘Bersiap’ in the exhibition held by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam which will open on February 11 and last until June 2022. At the exhibition, Bonnie was listed as a guest curator.
Bonnie assessed that the term ‘Bersiap’ used would only thicken the stamp of racist sentiments against Indonesians during the period 1945-1947. The ‘Bersiap period’, in Bonnie’s view, always presents a narrative about the faces of Indonesians who are primitive, barbaric, and fueled by racial hatred.
“In fact, the root of the problem is the injustice created by colonialism, which forms a racially hierarchical structure of society to disguise the exploitation of its colonies,” Bonnie wrote in an opinion article on the NRC website, January 10, 2022.
Seven paintings from the collection of the Indonesian Presidential Palace are exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The exhibition is entitled “Revolusi! Indonesië Onafhankelijk” or “Revolution! Indonesia Independent” will take place starting Friday, February 11, 2022.
This exhibition of paintings by Indonesian painting masters will highlight the turbulent years in Indonesia after Sukarno declared Indonesia’s independence on August 17, 1945. The seven paintings became the stars of the exhibition because they were all important examples of artistic representation of the revolutionary struggle.