Archive for November, 2008

Equestrian statue

The story below is from a small collection by the Danish author Peter Adolphsen called ‘Små historier 2’ – Little stories 2. The translation is very unofficial and quickly made.

Here it goes:

Equestrian Statue
– Recipe of a sculpture

For this work of art is needed an equestrian statue made of bronze, appx. 20 electro-motors with cords and operating system, one sturdy steel pipe, nuts and so on.

All joints of man and horse are cut off, the neck of the rider, his shoulders, wrists, the horse’s ears, legs, tail etc., all places where it is possible and aesthetically appropriate. An electro-motor is installed in each of the cut-off joints so that it holds together the two parts and drives the one of them round. They revolve first the one way and then the other so that the cords – that are drawn on the inside of the statue and down through a steel pipe – will not become twisted. All motors drive slowly, but each at its own pace, to the effect that the finished statue once set in motion will never repeat exactly the same posture.

As regards the technical exhibition accessories, title of the sculpture, reflections reproduced on plates and in interviews, it is up to individual taste and temperament whether one will stress the status of the equestrian statue as a symbol of power in the history of art and claim that its unnatural movement is an illustration of art’s traditional surrender to the biddings of power, whether one will claim that the partially portrayed hollowness of the statue contributes to the old debate of shell and matter, or if one will let the visual impression stand alone to form a more naked presentation.

It is also up to the individual whether the sculpture should be in constant motion or be set in motion by the audience’s turning of a switch. Note that the latter solution appeals to children.

Peter Adolphsen
(I translated this from his “Små historier 2” (Little Stories, 2), Samleren, Copenhagen, 2000

Promoting Pluralism in West Java

I have previously posted on some depressing cases of religious intolerance. Those cases do seem more prevalent than cases of tolerance. Therefore it is all the more heartening to read occassional examples of the latter.

In the latest issue of Inside Indonesia, Joanne McMillan accounts for one inspiring West Javanese example of religious tolerance.

Notably, it is the story of a Kyai – Kyai Maman – who before 1998 found it obvious to side with violent groups against ‘unbelievers’ and people of other faiths than his own. Only after seeing the dreadful incidents of violence – in connection with the Jakarta riots – did he move away from this position.

He now works at both grassroots and more recently political party levels to defend the consitution’s granting of religious freedom in the country.

It will be interesting to follow the work of Kyai Maman and others like him. How will their general view of Indonesia’s political problems and understanding of religion’s place, square with those of other parties? How will voters value this issue in relation to others? At an organisational level, it will be important to see whether there is room for anything like a ‘coalition of religious tolerance’. Will PKB be a lonely champion in this regard, and will it be a strong or weak such? How about PKS, a party that on other issues may have views that are quite close to PKB, and whose constituency is similar also? How about Golkar, who under Suharto favoured a somewhat less dogmatist Ministry of Religion.

He slept on the floor

What news, what news! West Java deputy governor Dede Yusuf, on visiting a village in Sukabumi chose to sleep on the floor in the home a local resident, rather than stay in a hotel.

Viewed as a political strategy it seems highly effective. Former actor, martial arts champion, handsome selebriti now politician Dede Yusuf has glamour by the tonnes about him, yet elicits humility and respect for the common man. Great story; easily written (newspapers don’t need to send out a reporter), easily understood (“now that’s a guy you can trust”), and easily retold.

Therefore I think there are some important potential consequences of PKS and PAN pursuing this strategy.

Related discussion here