THE FACE OF MONEY: Currency, Crisis, and Remediation in Post-Suharto Indonesia



In the period of transition following Suharto's resignation as president of Indonesia in 1998, the image of the 50,000Rp bill bearing his face became a visual shorthand for the corruption and abuse of power that had characterized his regime. Accessible, decentralized consumer technologies enabled people to alter money's appearance, transforming it from a fetish of the state into a malleable surface available for popular reinscription. As the medium of money was “remediated”—absorbed into other media, refashioned, and circulated along new pathways—it became a means by which people engaged questions of state power, national integrity, political authenticity, and economic relations opened up by the crisis of Reformasi (Reform). The essay argues that remediations of public forms play a crucial role in times of political transition by enabling people to materialize alternative visions of political authority and authenticity. Moreover, remediated forms have become a characteristic modality of political communication in the post-Suharto period under conditions of democratization and an increasingly diversified media ecology.