Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jatiwangi International Performance Art Festival 2008

Yet another year of participating in the fabulous Jatiwangi International Performance Art Festival. Unfortunately I had to come two days late because of the kemana pun project, and leave a day early because of the village library project (check out my other site: http://thevillagelibrary.blogspot.com/). So it's been a very busy past couple of months. But the JAF Festival was really wonderful, and I'm so happy to have had the opportunity to participate, again. Curated this year by Juliana Yasin and Heru Hikayat (who did an excellent job), the JAF Festival was spread across seven villages in Majalengka, West Java, and lasted over the span of nine days. Performance artists from all over the world participated, and countries represented included Thailand, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, United States, Malaysia, Dubai and various locations in Indonesia. All artists were unique and wonderful, and we felt like one big family gathering to laugh, make music, dance, eat and support each other in creating awesome performance pieces. Situated in individual family homes, each artist got a direct taste of life in Indonesia, and instantly felt a 'part of the family', eating meals together and playing with the hundreds of village children nearby. Each artist was also provided with a personal assistant to help them prepare for performance, and I was blessed with the lovely Umi Lutfi, my dear friend and kick-ass assistant. For my own project, I made a film that offered glimpses of the many different activities of people's hands in the surrounding areas of Jatiwangi. These activities included ironing, straightening out bent nails, applying henna design, cooking, playing music, sewing and more. For the performance, I set up the film to be displayed in the JAF rooftile factory (for more info read my past Jatiwangi post from June 2007), candle-lit and everything. In the end of the film, a series of images of many hands together was displayed. At this moment the audience was invited up to stick their hands in mud and leave their own imprints on the pictures reflecting on the projection screen. My hope was that this would invite the audience to focus on their own hands, and also create a sense of 'togetherness' between all audience members. All in all, the project was a success, and I felt really good about it. Additionally, for fun, I also had the chance to dance a Jaipongan mask dance (newer traditional dance style from West Java) with a local JAF member, Anex. We performed following the shadow puppetry performance of my good friend Carrie Morris (see link below), and it was a full audience of local village members and JAF artists and friends. The performance was a big hit, very funny, and in the end audience members came up to join in the dance. A hidden gift of the performance for me was that the sarong in my costume kept falling down in the end. This offered itself as a hilarious mix to the already crazy character, and the chaos of everything left audience members laughing out loud, which is always a key aim in my performances: laughter and enjoyment! So all in all, the festival was fabulous, I had a great time, and if I have the chance to join again in the future, I most definitely will. Thank you to all the organizers at JAF, all the wonderful people in Jatiwangi and surrounding areas, to Juliana and Heru, and all other amazing artists involved! Hope to see you again next year.

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