Sunday, November 15, 2009

Indonesian weekly apologises over Last Supper Suharto cover

This article is about an Indonesian weekly apologizes on the imitation of the Leonardo Da Vinci’s last supper of the late Suharto on the cover of Indonesia’s top new weeklies magazine “Tempo”. Despite, the publication of the cover page, there were no intentions on disrespecting the Christians. As compensation, the apology will be extended in the next edition of the weekly “Tempo” magazine to show genuine apology in order to avoid the protest on this issue.

Figure 1: Suharto's last supper


Figure 2: Jesus's last supper


Images have angles of vision to fulfill perspectives and achieve the meaning of syntactic relations (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006). However, Kress &Van Leeuwen (2006) added that Language and visual communication can show meanings belonging to and also formed by cultures in certain societies. In relation to the article, the cover page of Suharto’s imitation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s last supper portray a message that Christians mislead it to be disrespectful. This has proven that different individuals see the meaning of images differently due to cultural differences and different perspective.

Creators often use signs to define what they want it to mean rather than defining it as how audience understand them (William, 2003). Generally, cross-culture will lead to misunderstanding and confusion if the context of the culture is not properly used. Signs from different countries do not share the same meaning. (Schriver, 1997), It is essential to understand the audience cultural knowledge in order to create a constructive image (Schriver, 1997).

An example shown above is the advertisement of the “P1 W1MAX” with the slogan “Potong Now” which means “Cut Now”. The slogan that is used in this advertisement may give a different meaning to different individuals. The verbal advertisement on the radio with the slogan may mislead some listeners to think that it is regarding a circumcise advertisement.

In my opinion, cultural difference effects tremendously on how an image is define. It is important to understand the cultural values and understanding of different countries before any misunderstanding occur.


ABC News 2008, 'Indonesian weekly apologises over Last Supper Suharto cover', ABC News, viewed 15 November 2009,

Kress, G & van Leeuwen, T 2006, Chapter 6: The meaning of composition, Reading Images: Grammar of Visual Design, Routledge, London

Williams, K 2003, ‘Ways of Making You Think: Theories of Ideology and Meaning’, Understanding Media Theory, Arnold, London.

Schriver, K.A 1997, 'The interplay of words and pictures', Dynamics in document design : creating texts for readers, p. 361-441, Wiley Computer Pub, New York.

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