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Artist channels ‘nature’s fury’ against environmental destruction, broken promises – Art & Culture

Artist channels ‘nature’s fury’ against environmental destruction, broken promises – Art & Culture

Guilty by association: People throw balls of clay at a wall bearing the word

A. Kurniawan Ulung (The Jakarta Post)

Jakarta   ●  
Mon, February 7, 20,22

Art & Culture

Arahmaiani, a Bandung-born artist, is well-known for her activism and art in fighting for the environment. She also helps local communities apply traditional wisdoms and methods to create sustainable farms.

Reflecting on today’s environmental perils, renowned artist and environmental activist Arahmaiani persists in her criticisms of the government for its lack of action to protect and preserve the environment.

She turned her fury into an artistic performance called Furious Mother Earth.

The performance begins with Arahmaiani writing the word “alam” (nature) in capital letters on a white wall as her audience sits beside a table covered with balls of clay. After she finishes writing, the woman grabs some clay balls from the table and throws them at her wall. Then, she asks the audience to stand up and throw the clay balls at the wall until it is covered in clay.

Guilty by association: People throw balls of clay at a wall bearing the word Guilty by association: People throw clay balls at a wall bearing “alam” as part of Arahmaiani’s interactive performance art, “Furious Mother Earth”. (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung) (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung)

Arahmaiani’s 20-minute performance art is his way of seeing that nature is suffering from the constant human harm it suffers.

The 60-year-old artist blames humans for many “natural” disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said, “This pandemic is a sign by nature to us all that it is time to change our mindsets and ways of living to stop us causing more destruction on this planet.”

Criticize the Government

Arahmaiani is a national artist who is well-known for using her art as a tool to critique religious intolerance and radicalism as well as calling for peace and interfaith dialogue. Her most recent works, however, focus on the relationship between human activity and nature that has led to environmental issues.

She used “furious” in the title of her latest performance art, she says, to “convey the message that Mother Earth is furious at us and we will suffer if we are not careful with our behavior toward nature”.

Arahmaiani was inspired to create a piece by President Joko Widodo’s promise to save the environment before the pandemic. So she created a piece entitled Shadow of the PastShe performed this act at Museum Taman Prasasti in Central Jakarta. Her face was covered with clay and she was embraced by trees as she walked the museum grounds.

Clay is often used symbolically by Arahmaiani, as its base components are soil and water.

Empty future: Arahmaiani, her face and head covered in clay, performs Empty future: Arahmaiani’s face and head are covered in clay as she performs “Shadow of the Past”, a performance by Arahmaiani at Museum Taman Prasasti just before the pandemic. The piece is a social commentary about President Joko Woldodo’s failure to fulfill his campaign promise to protect the environment. (JP/A.Kurniawan Ulung) (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung)

Beyond art

Arahmaiani used the opportunity to travel between Indonesia and Tibet to work with monks and also to complete her art projects.

Since the pandemic, and the attendant travel restrictions, she has been focusing her efforts on the development of organic farms in Yogyakarta (Bali)

She has teamed up in Yogyakarta with santri (Islamic board school students) from Pondok Pesantren Amumarta, Bantul regency, as well as residents, farmers, and other members of the Bumi Langit village, also in Bantul.

She worked in Bali on various conversation projects with the Sanggar Paripurna group in Bona village, Gianyar, as well as the Kebun Berdaya group in Tegeh Sari, Denpasar. The organic farms they created inspired others from nearby Balinese villages.

She explained, “The organic farms that Bona has developed are for rural people, whereas the Denpasar farms are for urbanites.”

Permaculture was used by Arahmaiani and other communities to create sustainable, self-sufficient agricultural ecosystems that were in harmony with local customs.

Permaculture is an Australian movement that uses the natural patterns of flourishing ecosystems to create productive, self-sustaining human habitats. It was founded by Bill Mollison, an Australian researcher.

Arahmaiani says that the technique was practiced by ancestral Indonesians long before Mollison invented it in 1978.

“In the past, people viewed themselves as part of nature and not the ruler of it. They had a harmonious relationship of trust with nature. Modern people are destructive, in contrast. Natural resources like oil, coal, and forests are being cleared. [taken]She stated, “for money.”

Ecological balance: Arahmaiani's art since the pandemic has focused on the unbalanced, unharmonious relationship between nature and human beings that she believes is the root cause of natural disasters, including COVID-19. (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung)  Ecological balance: Arahmaiani has been focusing her art since the pandemic on the unbalanced and unharmonious relationship between humans and nature that she believes is the root of natural disasters like COVID-19. (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung) (JP/A. Kurniawan Ulung)

All Benefits

Balinese puppeteer I Made Sidia also serves as art director at Sanggar Paripurna Arts Center in Gianyar. He expressed his gratitude for Arahmaiani’s help in helping his students better understand nature and love local traditions through her artwork.

He recalled Arahmaiani performing one of her famous pieces. Flag Project, at Sanggar Paripurna inviting his students dance during the performance.

Made stated that “This performance taught us how to be open-minded and to love the noble values in our nation, and most importantly to care for the environment, and fellow humans.”

He also stated that Arahmaiani taught his students how to grow vegetables and fruits organically, by splitting them into groups with farming-inspired names. Kambing (Goat), Sapi (Cow), Anjing(Dog) Ayam(Chicken), for a gardening contest at the arts centre.

Made shared that the competition helped students understand both the benefits and dangers of pesticides for the human body.

“They don’t litter now. Before Arahmaiani, they were not disciplined about properly disposing of garbage, especially plastic. He stated that after her stay at Sanggar Paripurna they had developed the self-awareness to do the right thing for the environment.

Krisna Waworuntu is an organic farmer who is part of the Bumi Longit community. He expressed gratitude for Arahmaiani’s cooperation.

He stated, “Our collaboration does not have to be too artistic, but it is functional, because I want its advantages to be sustainable for society”

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