“Obat Kuat” A Krack! Studio Project
Menambah darah, kuat badan, tahan lama
(Increase blood, strengthen body, last longer)
A Krack Studio project
Opening night on Thursday, 25 May 2016 at 19:00
Runs until 25 June 2016
East side of Lapangan Minggiran
Obat Kuat (strength medicine) is a tonic to increase virility in men. It can include Javanese Jamu (traditional medicine) produced locally in Yogya, or medicines imported from other overseas. Viagra is a popular contemporary Obat Kuat. Since the beginning of the 20th Century there have been Obat Kuat advertisements almost every day in the pages of Yogya’s daily newspapers. For this exhibition, Krack collected over 100 of these ads, spanning from 1899 until today. These ads tell an interesting story about how definitions of “being a man” have evolved in the last 100 years, in line with the prevailing ideologies of the city.
The colonial administration produced what they believed was the ‘ideal’ way for Pribumi men to behave. The Nationalist movement countered this with their own version of ‘protest’ masculinity. ‘Modernity’ provided yet another way for men to understand their bodies and enact their masculinity in public. The New Order attempted to turn men’s bodies into machines for the development of the State. Consumerism produced aspirational ideals that men could purchase their way toward… and on it goes.
Yogyakarta is currently undergoing a polarization between conservative religious ideology on one side and ‘Western’ liberal ideology on the other. Sexuality is emerging as one of the key areas of contestation. So now seems like a good time to look at what masculinity means in this city. These Obat Kuat advertisements provide an opportunity to review how constructions of masculinity have evolved in Yogyakarta, the power relations embedded in them, and the ways by which individuals have embodied them.