Stories Left Untold (2015)

It was only after the end of the Suharto’s regime in 1998 that my parents told me about what had happened to my late grandparents. Boentardjo Amaroen Kartowinoto, my grandfather, was captured and probably killed during the massacres that occurred throughout Indonesia in 1965.

This story of my vanished grandfather brought a desire inside me, to dig deeper into our very private history. Almost every member of my extended family whom I have interviewed since then told me about the sadness and adversity they had experienced due to our family history. Still, most of them were reluctant to discuss this issue. It feels like opening an old wound. It was disheartening that some of the younger ones do not even know what I was talking about.

My research to find out traces and memories of my grandfather’s life faced a dead end. In the end, my documentation focus changed to more highlights the story of the younger generations in my family. It was instead through the pictures and memories of my grandfathers’ descendants that I could tell the stories, then through a few remaining artifacts or documents about their lives.

As the grandchildren of the victims and survivors of 1965, we were not directly traumatized by the tragedy. Still, we must learn to understand the history of our families to get a clear stance on this issue. This is substantial, mainly because the younger generations have to bear the brunt of the negative stigma until today. Through my documentation project, I hope we will be able to openly talk about our family background without being stigmatized in the future. 


Starting Point

Luweng Grubug, a vertical cave located in Wonosari, Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta and known as the killing location of communist party members and supporters. In November 1965 to January 1966, around 1500 people had been killed in this place.

Right People Walk On The Left

At the late of the ’70s, Siwi Kartini the youngest child carry out studies in Yogyakarta. Although all family members objected but she still did it, because she has a hidden agenda. During the study period Siwi always walk when traveling, she would always stop if it finds the figure of an old man on the road. As the youngest child, she was not too familiar with her father figure that ’s why she is secretly searching for her father. She hopes to find her father in Yogyakarta, but it never happens until the end of her study.

Boentardjo's Shaver

This shaver is keeped by Bima, the eldest son.

The Document keeper

Boentardjo’s documents and archives, contained with his diploma certificate, marriage certificate, letter of assignments and CV.

The Diary

Boentardjo diary used by Siwi Kartini to find out about her father

Mum's jewelery box

Jewelery box belonging Sulastri, Boentardjo wife.

On The Left Side

Collection of “Left”books belonging to Bima the eldest son

Siwi S Collection #1

Jewelery box belonging Sulastri, Boentardjo wife.


"I am so proud of them and feel so honored that I have their blood"


"I will always be proud of what Grandpa Boen was fighting for"


"He will always be my pride, not something that has to be hidden and passed by"


"Mother told me that Grandfather was carried away by that time, but I did not know, why and what he did wrong"


"Hopefully the old wounds can be patched up by his grandchildren’s happy stories"


"We wish to know and visit his resting place"


"This wound cannot be covered, but must be cured"

Mrs Aris

Before his arrest, Boentardjo said: "I am indeed a communist, but I am not a member of PKI“


"He worked hard to meet the needs of his seven children"


"The meaning of life and death is to keep the family alive"

At the corner of Nirwana

Wirogunan prison, Yogyakarta. Allegedly once a place of detention Boentardjo.