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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Cultural Antinomies, Creative Complicities: Agan Harahap’s Digital Hoaxes

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Moschovi, Alexandra and Supartono, Alexander (2019) Cultural Antinomies, Creative Complicities: Agan Harahap’s Digital Hoaxes. In: The Routledge International Handbook in New Digital Practices in Galleries, Libraries Archives, Museums and Heritage Sites. Routledge, London/New York, pp. 227-240. ISBN 9781138581296

Item Type: Book Section


This article explores how the online presence of colonial material and its postcolonial appropriation and interpretation as well as the possibilities for user interactivity and repurposing of content has opened new channels and networks for the critical examination of the colonial archive, its ontology, politics and power. The analysis focuses on the work of Indonesian photo-based artist Agan Harahap who operates within the colonial archive’s mnemonic function using the language of appropriation and parody to merge the colonial past with the postcolonial present. Harahap’s Mardjiker Photo Studio is presented as a fictional indigenous studio operating in the colonial era and specialising on culturally inter-mixed portraits: westerners appear in folk attire and postures and locals assume western mannerisms. This digital manipulated imagery is disseminated via different online platforms, namely Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under the name of Sejarah_X. The audiences’ participation in sharing and commenting upon Harahap’s seamless photographic collages of Indonesia’s colonial past hints at the endless realm of possibilities for how these series may be circulated, recontextualised and rematerialised. The online public interaction reveals different levels of awareness and knowledge of colonial history among followers: some are totally deceived by Harahap’s skillful hoaxes; others react to his absurd scenarios accusing the artist of trivialising colonial history. Harahap’s digital interventions purposefully interrupt the authority and integrity of the archive by asking viewers to think twice about what it is that they see while questioning the authorship and ownership of the colonial archive. Recontextualised and repurposed online on different platforms, his work becomes part of an expanding post-colonial archive and proposes a reframing not only of the politics of colonial representation, but also of the validity and veracity of the photographic image as evidence and historical record.

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Depositing User: Alexandra Moschovi


Item ID: 9871
ISBN: 9781138581296
Official URL:

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ORCID for Alexandra Moschovi: ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2018 12:59
Last Modified: 29 May 2022 02:38

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