> Acts of Remembering

Writing In The Rain

FX Harsono (Indonesia)

Since 1967, based on the “Presidental Cabinet Decision No 127/U/Kep/12/1966,” I was made to give a testimony of my own will towards changing my Chinese name to an Indonesian one. According to this letter of mandate, every Indonesian citizen of Chinese descent is “advised” (read: forced) to change their original names to the names that an “authentic” Indonesian person should have.

My 18-year-old self was subject to this new regulation. I was then named Franciscus Harsono. Franciscus was my baptized Catholic name, which was given by my mother. Harsono was a name that I found for myself. “Writing in the Rain” highlights identity’s complexity and delicate nature amid an ever-changing word.


FX Harsono (b. 1949) is an important figure in Indonesian contemporary art. His artistic language addresses current social issues and cultural contexts. Since 2000, his work has focused on Chinese issues as a minority in Indonesia. Harsono’s own biography and family history are often the basis of his art, pointing at the disconcerting situation of minorities and the socially underprivileged against the backdrop of Indonesia’s own history and political development. This intersection of the personal and the political is particularly evident in his most recent works.

Employing a broad range of media, including sculpture, installation, painting, photography, drawing and performance, Harsono frequently uses language to simultaneously create and dissolve boundaries. He draws attention to the role of language in defining cultural identity and to injustices perpetuated through silence.