In the Time magazine article Indonesia’s Artists vs. Muslim Extremists,by Jason Tedjasukmana, the author decries the “Talibanization” of Art in Indonesia. He recounts a story of religious fundamentalists defacing a statue of nude women with spray paint. Government officials and police did nothing to intervene in this and other incidents within Indonesia. There is a certain sanctimonious tone to the story. “Here in the democratic West we are so much better than that” is the assumption of the article. “Our secular society does not allow the religious nutty fringe to dictate our policies toward art”…. but is that true?
Earlier this month, at a virtual worlds event, in the leading edge of 3D art, an installation by Rose Borchovski was summarily ejected by organizers because the art’s nude figures were in violation of the zoning restrictions in the virtual world. Last fall, Linden Lab, the creators of the Second Life virtual world caved in to pressures from American social conservatives to push “adult” content into virtual red-light districts. One would expect openness and sophistication in the high tech international community of virtual reality residents and the arts community. Instead Linden Lab seems to have chosen to “Taliban-ize” expression within Second Life more effectively than the Indonesians with spray cans.