Bali’s artisans to keep working despite the passage of porn bill

Ni Komang Erviani, ContributorThe Jakarta Post ,  Gianyar   |  Mon, 11/10/2008 11:16 AM  |  Bali

Made Darma Kandi was giving the finishing touches to his sculpture one Thursday afternoon. It was a sculpture of a bare-breasted woman with a beautiful torso and an angelic expression.

“I have sculpted it over three days,” Kandi said.

Kandi is a 35-year-old sculptor who owns and operates a small art shop in Batuan village, Gianyar.

The village has been known as one of the island’s major producers of handicrafts. The village’s main street is lined with art shops selling various handicrafts, from engraved eggs to paintings and sculptures.

Kandi’s 21-square-meter art shop was filled with hundreds of small and medium-sized statues. Some were animal statues, from turtles to the mythical eagle of Garuda. He sells them for Rp 20,000 to Rp 500,000. The buyers are mostly domestic tourists from Jakarta and Surabaya.

The art shop also displayed statues of human beings, mostly of beautiful women, with a large number of them with their breasts exposed.

The passage of the controversial anti-pornography bill on Oct. 30 has not deterred Kandi from sculpting and selling the sensual statues. Kandi said he would continue producing such statues despite the legal threat posed by the bill.

The bill threatens those who produce or distribute any materials that could arouse sexual desire with considerable prison terms and hefty fines.

Kandi questioned the logic behind the bill, claiming that pornography had little to do with objects that existed outside a human body and had a lot to do with the mind that existed inside a human head.

“When your mind is dirty, you will see any object as a pornographic or as something that arouses your lust,” he said.

Moreover, Kandi insisted that his works were essentially artworks. Artworks evoke the sense of awe and admiration, not carnal desire, he added.

Kandi believed Bali should be exempt from the bill because the bill would suppress freedom of expression and artistic creativity.

“If the bill is implemented in Bali then all the artists and artisans on the island will meet their untimely deaths,” Kandi said.

Gianyar regent Cok Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati said his administration would protect local artists’ and artisans’ freedom of expression, adding that the passage of the anti-pornography bill would not influence that freedom.

“For us this is art. Non-Balinese outsiders might see it as pornographic, but for us these works are simply art forms, which do not stimulate any sexual desire,” he said.

“You can see for yourself, there are a large number of nude statues on the island, but they have never stimulated anybody to commit rape.”

The regent stated his administration would support the Balinese’s effort to contest the bill at the country’s Constitutional Court.

About erviani

Jatuh cinta dengan dunia jurnalistik sejak bergabung dengan Lembaga Pers Mahasiswa Indikator, Fakultas Ekonomi Universitas Brawijaya. Sempat bekerja untuk Harian Warta Bali, 2003 - 2005, Koresponden Majalah GATRA untuk wilayah Bali, anggota redaksi Media HIV/AIDS dan Narkoba KULKUL, TPI, dan Koran Seputar Indonesia. Menulis lepas kini menjadi aktivitas keseharian. Kini aktif sebagai kontributor untuk beberapa media yakni Bali Daily-The Jakarta Post, Mongabay Indonesia, dan Khabat Southeast Asia.
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