Jogja’s Political Street Art Flourishes / Indonesia
After hearing a reporter say that a militant had destroyed an American tank using an “anti-tank gun,” the artist, he said, “started using the name for all my personal projects, like T-shirts and ’zines.”
Today Anti-Tank, who lives in the Javanese city of Yogyakarta, stays true to his alias’s spirit. He plasters posters all over Jogja, as Yogyakarta is affectionately known, calling attention to human-rights issues and criticizing the Indonesian government. “I have no problem if people call my art political,” he said. “For me, everything is politics.”
Jogja is known as an arts community in Indonesia, with pockets of batik artists, puppeteers and poets. But it also has a history of political resistance. During the Java War in the 1800s, Yogyakarta-born Prince Diponegoro fought against Dutch colonists, and more than a century later, Yogyakarta became the Indonesian Republic’s temporary capital during the Indonesian National Revolution.
That sensibility can be seen in the city’s street art. Overnight, ephemera such as murals, posters and stickers crop up on Jogja’s walls, street lamps and underpasses, challenging capitalism and the country’s leaders. Most of it can be found in the city’s south side, a popular area among artists due to the relatively low living costs.