Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Suharto's Last Supper?

One of Indonesia's famous magazine, Tempo offended Christians as they published a cover of Suharto (former president of Indonesia) in mimic of Da Vinci's Last Supper.

Source: AFP Google


In the first image, it is shown that Suharto is having a dinner with his six children and it is claimed to be somewhat similar to Da Vinci's famous artwork, The Last Supper. Some Christians, particularly Catholics felt that the cover is implying that Suharto is in a position like Jesus Christ and this upsets them. (, 2008)

Of course this is obvious that it is a wrong interpretation by many judging on the image given since everyone have their own point of view. At the same time, it is a clash between cultural values as the image touches on Christianity value.

However on page two of the magazine, it is written in the main heading stated, "Tempo Magazine Apologises" with the subheading, "We have no intention on hurting Christians". (AFP, 2008)

Based on this incident, this can be related to Kress and Van Leeuwen readings on The Semiotic Landscape where it is suggested that an image can be interpreted in many ways and in this case gives people semiotic analysis. As you can see, Christians interpreted it as Suharto being implied as Jesus Christ whereas the magazine is trying to imply the situation of after the former prime minister is gone.

Apart from that, informational value, salience and framing plays a role in this as well. (Kres and Van Leeuwen, 2006) Informational value meaning of the elements placed in this images has many similarities to the original artwork of Da Vinci in terms of colours, costume and background settings. Salience refers to the representational of the image where it attract the viewer's attention the most. Suharto is place at the center dressed in white which pretty much shows how obvious that the attention is on him. As for framing, since he is in the middle, spaces created in between him by his children makes it more obvious that the main focus is on him.

With such a misfortune to create an impact, the chief editor of Tempo, Hadad apologises on behalf of his company and will publish another apology on the next edition on the weekly. (AFP, 2008)


"Indonesian weekly apologises over Last Supper Suharto cover", 2008, viewed on 18 November 2009, on

Kress, G & van Leeuwen, T 2006, "Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Communication," 2nd edn, Routeledge, New York

Patung, 2008, The Last Supper,, viewed on 18 November 2009, on

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