Arahmaiani – Sacred Coke, 1994-2014

Arahmaiani. Sacred Coke, 1994-2014. Wooden table, organic rice, soil, Coca-Cola bottle and condom, 40 1/2 X 41 X 41 (102.5 X 457 X 71 CM)

Born 1961 in Bandung, Indonesia.

From A conversation with Arahmaiani by Susan Silas and Chrysanne Stathacos:

“Susan: The one place we haven’t mentioned is the United States. And in this exhibition alone there are two Coca-Cola bottles. Obviously, Coca-Cola is a symbol of consumerism but it is also a symbol of American imperialism. Because everywhere that America went, Coca-Cola went. And America is probably the most egregious polluter and set the example for China and India and has a very difficult time now telling them to stop doing what the U.S. did for so long to become a rich country. So I wonder where America fits in for you, because it is being alluded to in these works.

Arahmaiani: You do see the American flag in that piece there. And this is a very important point. I am addressing the problem of globalization and that is somehow connected to imperialism. In this case it is America. In the context of Indonesia as a country it is very important because after the colonization by the Dutch, Indonesia was considered to be independent in 1945, and actually the first Indonesian president Sukarno, was really trying to make the country independent and he formed this alliance with a group of countries and other leaders from these once colonized countries. But he failed in his attempt to make Indonesia and these allied countries really independent and this had to do with American control and power.

What I can see is that the independence of Indonesia from Holland was true but then it was an act of handing down Indonesia to America, basically. Because Sukarno was replaced by Mr. Suharto, in a coup-d’etat and Mr. Suharto was supported by America and its allies. After Mr. Suharto was in power he opened the country widely for foreign investment and it changed the country, it changed the lives of the people. For example, Indonesians are mostly farmers, maybe eighty percent, and since that time, with the dependency on and support from America, the Indonesian government introduced the so called Green Revolution program where all these farmers had to change their way of farming and get seed from America and also fertilizers and everything, including tractors. And since that time, the way of farming is not organic anymore and depends on resources coming from America. The price is somehow decided by those companies and also it is not good for the environment, it is actually destroying the environment. And this is just one example. There are many things. Like deforestation, mining. And everything is, how should I call it—looting of the country by these multi-national corporations. And people suffer in these countries because the source of their food is gone now. So this creates social disintegration and destruction of cultures. We have all these problems now. I mean, I am not against improvement of life but if modernization means just the looting and destruction of the earth, I don’t think that I can go with that.”

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