Arts diplomacy can take diverse forms. Practitioners of arts diplomacy usually intend to make some sort of argument about a region or country through the arts, but arguments might not be stated explicitly. Arguments might also fail to be coherent or consistent with government policy.
And regardless of cogency, it does not follow that an argument will be adequately expressed by the agents entrusted by the state, nor that it is apprehended by the target audience, nor that they will accept its validity Ang, Raj, and Mar Today among Asian countries it is South Korea and Japan that excel in the field of arts diplomacy—their efforts stand as models not only for Asia, but also for other countries around the world. Chinese investments in arts diplomacy, though substantial, with more than Confucius Institutes worldwide Yuan, Guo, and Zhu , remain controversial.
Other Asian countries, including Indonesia, are playing catch-up with these East Asian powerhouses.
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This exercise has a reflexive edge to it—for like many Indonesia experts, I have been involved or implicated in numerous forms of Indonesian arts diplomacy over the years, sometimes as a beneficiary of funding, sometimes as a member of the target audience, sometimes as a surrogate arts diplomat myself. Indonesia has yoked the arts to diplomacy since the birth of the Republic. Like other postcolonial nations, Indonesia was burdened with Orientalist images, such as being indolent and profligate, and having mystical tendencies, which had been projected and imposed upon it by its former colonizer, the Netherlands.
The new nation-state turned to the arts to assert independence and autonomy. Before independence was declared, in , Indonesian artists had participated in Dutch-managed cultural delegations to world fairs and international exhibitions, promoting export productions like tea and serving to validate Dutch arguments for colonial benevolence Bloembergen These public events aimed to demonstrate the sophistication of their cultures and counter colonialist claims of backwardness Cohen , During the first months of the Japanese occupation — , local organizing committees sprang up spontaneously around the archipelago to assemble cultural evenings to present local and cosmopolitan arts as a means to introduce themselves to Japanese officials and soldiers.
An arts school named Sekolah Tonil was formed in Jakarta in with the express aim of creating variety shows for entertaining Japanese military and civilian elites as well as disseminating propaganda. Established Indonesian arts organizations such as the Yogyakarta dance school Kridha Beksa Wirama were also pressed into performing for visiting Japanese dignitaries Cohen — Skills built up through creating propaganda art under the Japanese provided a basis for using art to tell the world about independent Indonesia. This office published articles and pamphlets about Indonesian arts and organized dance performances to demonstrate the vital, autonomous national culture and counteract Dutch propaganda that Indonesia remained a Japanese puppet Cohen —4.
One of the earlier post-independence efforts in arts diplomacy was the Dancers of Bali world tour of — Coast This tour took dancers and gamelan musicians from the village of Peliatan to the great cities of the world. It emphasized virtuosity, with lightning-fast changes in tempo and dynamics, flashy costumes, elaborate stage lighting, and a revue-style format familiar to cosmopolitan audiences and easily adaptable to television.
The year-old dancer Raka Rasmini was touted as a star Noszlopy The tour was produced by the English self-confessed balletomane John Coast and recapitulated some of the same programme items and artists that featured in the Paris Colonial Exhibition of Coast was excised from the group midway through the tour. These productions, with multi-ethnic casts of performers, were sent out to countries around the world during the s and 60s.
According to Edi Setyawati, a participant in some of these tours who went on to be the director general for culture in the Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Department of Education and Culture under Presidents Soeharto and Habibie — , these cultural missions played an important role for the artists themselves, one which was perhaps more vital than any message conveyed to outsiders.
This involved the construction of a foot-long open-air stage against the backdrop of the year-old Prambanan temple complex, which illustrates the Ramayana epic in its reliefs and was illuminated during performances by spotlights. The entire Ramayana epic was told without dialogue or narration over six nights by a cast of some dancers and 60 accompanying gamelan musicians. Another important form of arts diplomacy under Sukarno were performances created for visiting dignitaries. But the private functions Sukarno staged during the s and 60s, typically displaying Javanese dance for those visiting him in the presidential mansions in Jakarta and Bogor, or Balinese dance for those visiting his Balinese palace in Tampaksiring, enabled him to show his great charm at an intimate distance.
Sukarno favoured simple folk forms, such as the Moluccan dance tari lenso , as these facilitated participation by non-trained dancers. His head swivels constantly, and in this way not only recognizes his dance partner, a young woman in traditional dress, but also others of importance in the hall. Tito and Sukarno embraced and kissed at midnight—a mode of homosociality that homophobic American media questioned and even mocked.
Khrushchev was not immune to the charms of arts for diplomacy. The girls will be insulted. Do me a favour and stay. While the history of international relations has focused on declarations, pronouncements, and treatises, the emotional labour of participatory performances and the social and sexual solidarities that fructify from them are often the glue that binds individuals officially charged with representing state interests, and through them the countries they represent.
While Sukarno regularly sponsored wayang puppet theatre performances at the presidential palace in Bogor, and reportedly collaborated with puppeteers to insert policy messages and veiled critiques of government officials present Pink , in contrast, Soeharto rarely if ever attended an all-night wayang performance during his three decades in office—though as a good Javanist Soeharto made frequent reference to the symbols and figures and forms of wayang. New modes of arts diplomacy, however, were developed under Soeharto. This has been a primary mode for foreigners to train in traditional gamelan, dance, puppetry, and crafts in Indonesian tertiary arts institutions.
Many former Darmasiswa students return to their countries of origin to become teachers and performers, acting as unofficial cultural ambassadors for Indonesia. During the Sukarno period, embassy staff—and typically their spouses and children as well—were often devoted amateur performers of regional arts, who were called upon to sing folksongs or perform dances at embassy functions or local cultural festivals. But starting in the s it became policy to appoint artists—mostly gamelan musicians and dancers—to key embassies where there was local interest in studying Indonesian arts.
These embassy employees did office work in the day and taught community gamelan groups and performed in the evenings. The Javanese gamelan musician and dancer F. Suhardi Djojoprasetyo worked in the embassy in The Hague starting from , teaching and performing with groups in the embassy and around the Netherlands, and continued to teach and perform even after his official retirement. Two Javanese artists appointed in Australia, Poedijono in Melbourne and Soegito Hardjodikoro in Canberra, were the mainstays of Javanese classical arts in Australia for decades.
The embassy was aware that most gamelan groups in Britain play in the Surakarta or Solo style, so it brought teachers who espoused this regional performance style Lopez y Royo Kusumaatmadja was responsible for formulating, in , the notion of cultural diplomacy diplomasi budaya or diplomasi kebudayaan. An American-trained legal scholar specializing in maritime law, Kusumaatmadja is best remembered for his conceptualizing of the notion of the archipelagic state, signed into international law by a United Nations convention in This established that the exclusive sovereignty of a nation composed of a group of islands extended to the waters between them.
Significantly, though Kusumaatmadja focused on issues of sovereignty in maritime law, his cultural-diplomatic efforts were anything but proprietary. Cultural diplomacy was thus intended by Kusumaatmadja to complement political and economic diplomacy. Flush with oil money earned from the increase in oil export revenues in the s, Indonesia was well positioned to invest in disseminating its culture abroad and to compile evidence that its arts and culture were already influential internationally.
At Expo 86, a world fair held in Vancouver, Canada, the Indonesian government sponsored what was billed as the First International Gamelan Festival, a three-day celebration with 11 ensembles from the United States, Japan, Germany, Canada, and Indonesia performing both traditional and contemporary compositions, and a symposium with some of the most renowned international gamelan experts as speakers Chalmers The Indonesian delegation under the direction of post-traditional choreographer Sardono W.
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This mix struck a great cord with the non-Indonesian artists and experts present, who up until then had treated Indonesia largely as a root source rather than a coeval society in which the arts were continually evolving. North Americans were stimulated by this event to conduct research on Indonesian contemporary arts and enter into collaborations with innovative Indonesian artists with renewed enthusiasm for tradition. Expo 86 was a means not only to teach North American audiences about contemporary developments in Indonesian arts, but also served to validate North American gamelan practices.
Sumarlin singled out ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood, who had introduced gamelan to American university campuses in the s as a way of learning about a foreign musical culture through practice, for particular praise. British anthropologist Felicia Hughes-Freeland gave a scathing report of two government-sponsored cultural events in London in June —an exhibition of Asmat art at the Commonwealth Institute and associated events, and a dance performance by a troupe from the Mangkunegaran court at the Institute of Education, University of London.
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The former was intended to demonstrate Indonesian concern and benevolence towards a part of Indonesia where there was grave apprehension about human rights abuses. The condescending treatment of Asmat culture in talks by Indonesian academics and the degrading treatment of the non-professional Asmat dancers grated on Hughes-Freeland and others see also Sankey There was a cultural rationale for this, no doubt—most urban Indonesians in the late s associated gamelan and classical dance with wedding receptions in air-conditioned halls, not royal courts—but it showed marked disrespect to the performers and high-handed treatment of a royal court that has been venerated in Java for the refinement of its aesthetics since the mid nineteenth century see Cohen — What could have been used as an opportunity for exchange and capacity-building was enacted instead as a non-participatory spectacle.
It sounds like a Barnum poster. Three hundred dancers and musicians! Fifty performances! Four major art exhibits! A hundred smaller ones! Puppet plays! Film series!
Cloud and Upper Montclair! While Kusumaatmadja had stepped down as foreign minister by he was able to use his networks to solicit donations from Indonesian and American business interests—with many of the latter already invested in doing business with and in Indonesia.source site
SAGE Reference - Soft Power Diplomacy
Individuals involved in past Indonesian arts diplomacy were recruited. Sardono, who had curated the international gamelan festival at Expo 86 with great success, was charged with curating the performing arts component of KIAS. It simply was not possible to reconcile the Islamic with the Indic, tradition with contemporary, and so on, to create a coherent narrative of national culture. Against arguments for representing the Indonesian motto of Bhinneka tunggal ika Unity in diversity , were those who clamoured to assert that what was needed was portraying how Indonesians resisted unity—particularly the domination of the Javanese over other ethnic groups.
Cultural Diplomacy - Opportunities and Limits of Soft Power in Foreign Policy (Part 2)
Contributors investigate English, Italian and German plays of Renaissance theoretical texts on diplomacy, lifting the veil on the intimate relations between ambassadors and the artistic world and on theatre as an unexpected instrument of 'soft power'. Help Centre.
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Early Modern Diplomacy, Theatre and Soft Power: The Making of Peace
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