A Wall is a Blank Canvas: Street Art in Yogya

Yogya StreetArt

You won’t find any drab dabs of mismatched paint erasing tags and graffiti in Yogyakarta.

Street art and graffiti cover the walls of the city and on first impression, it would seem the local government endorses and encourages its citizens to express their political and social commentary in its rawest form.  Although street art appears to be illegal in Indonesia, Yogya is a city of contrasts with the oldest Javanese customs  and rituals sitting alongside the modern vibrancy that only a university town can offer.  There are more than 100 institutions of higher education in the greater metropolitan area including the Indonesian Institute of the Arts, the country’s renowned university in fine arts.  With this backdrop it is little wonder that the bare walls of this city have become an open canvas and an open air gallery.

If you want to delve a little further into the history and philosophy of street art in Yogya, I found this great article by art critic and consultant Michelle Chin who is now based in Singapore http://www.michellechin.net/writings/12.html.  And if this isn’t enough, there is something called the Indonesian Street Art Awards that is given out to a person, or organization who best documents this art form in Indonesia.  The photographs, video, essays and articles are compiled into a database that will be used for researching social commentary through time.  Wow!

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