Imagining Islamic Art from Indonesia - Research Center for Material Culture
21 August 2018

Imagining Islamic art from Indonesia

International Workshop | 20-21 Aug 2018 | RCMC

It is a well-known fact that Indonesia is ignored in most survey books, exhibitions and museum collections of Islamic art and architecture. In the last decade, there have been repeated calls to expand the field of Islamic art to include hitherto excluded geographical areas, such as Southeast Asia. Often these appeals depart from the assumption that expanding the canon will confirm its underlying thesis of the spread of a particular visual culture through the Islamic religion. Some have nonetheless argued that geographical expansion will substantially challenge the conceptual parameters underpinning the canon.

Framing Indonesian art

This workshop will look into the possible consequences of the inclusion of Indonesian arts and cultures into the category of Islamic art. Taking the rich collections of the National Museum of World Cultures as a starting point, the workshop explores what transgressing the borders of Islamic art into Southeast Asia will entail on the level of both disciplinary and visual parameters. Not only has Muslim Indonesia, with its leading theatre tradition, produced types of art that fall outside the traditional scope of Islamic art history, the nature of collections from Indonesia also stands out: most objects kept in museums and private collections are not older than the 18th century and they were mainly collected under the heading of ethnology. In this workshop we’ll discuss what these institutional structures imply for our current understandings of Indonesian Islamic art.

The workshop takes place in the framework of the research project ‘Framing Indonesian art: colonial discourse and the question of Islam’, which is financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.


20 August

9:00-9:30 Registration and coffee

9:30-10:00 Welcome

Collecting Indonesia in the West

10:00 Ignoring Islam? Collecting Indonesia in the West - Chiara Formichi (Cornell University)

11:00 To collect or not to collect: Indonesia’s Islamic heritage and the legacy of Dutch collecting (1850-1950) - Mirjam Shatanawi (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)

12:00 Lunch

13:30 Tour of the Indonesia Gallery at Museum Volkenkunde - Francine Brinkgreve, Curator Southeast Asia (Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen)

Connecting to the fields of Islamic art and Southeast Asian studies

14:30 The far horizons of Islamic art history Margaret Graves (Indiana University)

15:30 Inclusion and exclusion of Islam in Indonesian historiography Bambang Purwanto (Gadjah Mada University)

16:30 Concluding remarks: Finbarr Barry Flood (New York University)


21 August

Curating Islamic art and culture from Indonesia

9:00 Development & Continuity: The Malay World’s Islamic Art Heba Barakat (Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia)

10:00 Diversity challenging unity: Curating Indonesian Islamic art James Bennett (Art Gallery of South Australia)

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

Focus on collections

11:30 Finding the Path through Forms and Materialities: Haryadi Suadi and Cirebonese Glass Painting Anissa Rahadiningtyas (Cornell University)

12:15 The Acehnese style of manuscript illumination Annabel Gallop (The British Library)

13:00 End