Environmental sculptures are a big pain in my ass

Trip Start Jun 15, 2006
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Trip End Jul 15, 2006


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Today was the first day of our last workshop - sculpture. Our instructor is Anusapati, a very good looking Indonesia who was trained in the US at Pratt. When he was a student, he was so poor (I can certainly relate to that) that he couldn't afford clay, so he began collecting natural materials - sticks, coconuts, dried rice stalks, really anything he could find and he would use them to create works that are reminiscent of traditional Indonesian crafts. This is the basis of our workshop and the reason for my frustration.
The idea is to express something about our experience in Java, something that really made an impact on us as foreigners.
For me, it was gotong-royong. But how?
I decided that part of my sculpture is going to be a representation of Mt. Merapi upsidedown to show how a natural disaster (like a volcano erruption or an earthquake) can turn everyone's world upsidedown, but they all accept it, and work together to move on and turn it right-side up again.
After a couple hours of fiddling with the materials with no luck getting them to cooperate, I decided my idea was cursed. And then it hit me - I can't do a sculpture about gotong-royong alone! It has to be a collaboration! With a little help I created the frame for my Merapi and set out to inform others that my sculpture was a collaboration. But no one else seemed very excited about it. I sulked around, once again deciding my idea was cursed. My professor came up to me and said, "You know, when people in Java think they are cursed they find a pretty flower, a bit of rice, or a stick of incense and make an offering to the gods."
I had resolved to give up the whole idea and start fresh the following day on a new project, perhaps with some help from the gods.

Back at the hotel I was feeling very depressed about my project. Cassie and I had a very long conversation and she convinced me not to give up my idea for gotong-royong, I would just have to change my approach a little. Apparently my collective spirit does not jive with the individualist American artists I am surrounded by.
And a second project would not be a bad idea either... the "offering to the gods" is still rolling around in my head... perhaps I could sculpt a god?

We also went to a Wayang Kuit performance tonight. I'm not going to lie - it was kind of boring by my action-oriented American standards. It didn't help that the whole performance is in Indonesian and Javanese so I couldn't understand any of it. The puppets are really cool and it is interesting to see the production (the "fight" scenes were pretty amusing). One of those things that I am really glad I got to experience, but I would be hesitant to do it again. But there are these two narrator characters who lead the audience through the story and traditionally offer humorous commentary. Who would have thought that we would be the subject of such commentary...?

["Hey did you see the girls from the West in the audience tonight"
"OOO! I think I'm in love"
"Yeah, me too"]
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