FarBar, an initiative of the Gray Centre for Art and Inquiry (University of Chicago) presents ‘Land, River, And Sea: The Moving Landscape ‘Of Hunters and Gatheres’” – a screening program and online discussion – conceived by ‘Pollination’ curators Kittima Cheeraprasit and LIR (Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono). Inviting brilliant minds, from Indonesia and Thailand, to share their observations/experiences who work with the moving image, as they follow the trails of local wisdom through a farm in Bandung; to a sand river under an active stratovolcano in Yogyakarta; to a sinking island at the northern shore of Jakarta; all the way to the Mekong River basin where routes have been blocked by dams to create “The Battery of Southeast Asia”; ending at Klity village in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where this mighty water source has been contaminated by a mineral processing factory.
This screening program investigates the ecology of land, water and community, drawn to the plurality of knowledge in local experience, particularly the depth of memory such wisdom affords in the face of change. Featuring artists/filmmakers Tita Salina, Prilla Tania, Wut Chalanant, Nontawat Numbenchapol and Maryanto.
The online forum on the 29 April will be a conversation with curators Kittima Cheeraprasit, LIR (Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono), with artist/filmmakers Tita Salina and Nontawat Numbenchapol, with Zoe Butt. Taking cue from the moving images presented, this discussion will investigate particular environmental crises currently faced in Indonesia and Thailand, highlighting how artists can broaden perspective on the need for balance between human desire and its object, to assess the need for sustainable options which arise from understanding reality from differing angles, sites, and localities.
This event forms part of the public program for ‘Of Hunters and Gatherers’, the third edition of ‘Pollination’, initiated and organized by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre. This edition is curated by Kittima Cheeraprasit and LIR (Mira Asriningtyas & Dito Yuwono) and comprised of ‘The Hunters’ – an exhibition featuring Maryanto and Ruangsak Anuwatwimon (currently on view at the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai); ‘The Gatherers’ – an online symposia from 28-30 May (hosted by Selasar Sunaryo Art Centre with the support of the Gray Centre for Arts and Inquiry); and a dedicated website of newly commissioned text (going live on 28 May).
Sand mining is one of the reasons behind the destruction of nature along the river at the slope of Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta. Massive mining activities are considered a form of non-compliance with Nature’s cyclical mechanisms of sustainability. As a form of resistance to exploitative forms of mining, Nature thus often gives warnings that should be able to stop this mining. These warnings can come in the form of mudflows that drown trucks, or even the death of miners. This charcoal-inked animation depicts the sand mining industry landscape, with the voice of Mount Merapi’s people sharing fables, ghost stories, and other mythical tales that are experienced by its community along the river, under the volcano, where the sand mining operates.
This Dam belongs to the Neighbours; Rebuilt (2020)
Runtime: 7.38 min
Note: Vertical screen
In this documentary work, Wut Chalanant creates a dialogue between landscape, dam structure and the housing around Xayaburi Dam – the first dam located in the Lower Mekong River, on the border between Thailand and Laos. Initiated by the Laos government in 2005, this project adopted an economic oriented plan to be “The Battery of Southeast Asia”, by building a series of dams along the Mekong river. This video (in vertical format) shows the main structure of the dam construction and its surroundings, including how its construction workers live. Combining footage collected in 2018 (one year before this dam operated), the artist rearranges different stones from various associated quarries, suggestive of the man-made transformation of this once natural landscape.
Preserving Nyi Pohaci Sanghyang Asri (2021)
Video performance by Prilla Tania
Nyai Pohaci Sanghyang Asri, is the goddess of agriculture, the goddess of rice (and its rice fields), and the goddess of fertility, in Sunda culture (which is also known as ‘Dewi Sri’) in Javanese and Balinese culture. Since the pre-Hindu and pre-Islamic times in Java and Bali island, people have always worshipped Her. Once she was buried, Her body grew various plants that are very useful for humans. With this myth, it is possible that the ancestors wanted to convey the science of managing an ideal environment for a group of people through the composition of plants growing from Nyi Pohaci’s body – from head to foot – perhaps also explaining the head as a higher land, and the feet as a low land. Around the settlement there are various types of plants to meet the needs of the community, starting from food source; material for kitchen utensils, agricultural tools, domestic buildings; to medicine. In this video, which captures the artist performing such a landscape with her body, we are given a window onto how permaculture works.
1001st Island: The Most Sustainable Island in Archipelago (2015)
Documentary directed by Tita Salina
Runtime: 14.11 min
A giant sea wall is a solution offered by the Indonesian government to prevent floods and open new housing areas in its capital, Jakarta. They propose it will integrate seventeen artificial islands as land reclamation. Many people doubt this gigantic project could solve the urban problems as Jakartans still struggle with waste management and polluted water. Together with local fishermen in Muara Angke (a fishing port on the northern part of Jakarta) — apparently soon to experience the impact of the project — Tita collects marine debris and plastic trash from this area to create her own ‘artificial island’. With the help of a fisherman boat, the island is pulled and placed between the reclamation islands and Kepulauan Seribu (a chain of islands commonly referred as ‘A Thousand Islands’). Tita tries to connect issues of land reclamation with the plagues of waste in the sea that future traditional fishermen will have to face.
(Sai Nam Tid Shoer / สายน้ำติดเชื้อ) (2013)
Documentary directed by Nontawat Numbenchapol
Runtime: 71 min
Amidst the tranquility of the deep woods, the inhabitants of Klity, in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, have always led a simple life. They have fed on the fish populating the town’s creek, but for some time now the river has been contaminated by a mineral processing factory.
Conceived by the Gray Centre for Art and Inquiry at the University of Chicago (USA) as a way to maintain the ethos of our regular Sidebar series for the pandemic moment, FarBar is a vehicle for artistic and scholarly dialogue with practitioners from around the world. Throughout 2020-2021, our planned conversations with artists in Puerto Rico, Haiti, South Africa, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Philippines, and Chicago will revolve around translation, indigeneity, ecological and economic collapse, logics of extraction, crisis, and memory and the archive. Being online for the year will also enable the Gray Center to reach audiences well beyond our Chicago geography, so please invite your far-flung friends.