Fire and smoke

September 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

There are a lot of volcanoes in Indonesia. Yes, I’m stating the obvious there. But there’s something really exhilarating, confronting and thrilling in actually being able to see them RIGHT THERE on a frequent basis. Hell, I can even see Mount Merapi, one of Indonesia’s most currently active volcanoes, right up the street I live on. It’s an extraordinary reminder of human fragility and natural strength.

Mount Rinjani on Indonesia's island of Lombok is the second highest volcano on the archipelago.

Mount Rinjani on Indonesia’s island of Lombok is the second highest volcano on the archipelago.

Volcanoes peeking through the clouds.

Volcanoes peeking through the clouds.

One thing I find fascinating is the Javanese spiritual connection with volcanoes. In Yogyakarta especially, a busy city in the shadow of the very active Merapi, this reverence is particularly noticeable. On a clear day, you can make out Merapi looming over the city in sharp relief, and on several occasions I have looked up and gasped. It’s hard to ignore a volcano right there in your face. A few weeks ago, Jogja was looking rather gritty after a dousing of “hujan abu” – ash rain, covering the city in grey debris carried by the rain from the smoking monster. The most recent major eruption was in 2010, which led to thousands of people who lived on the fertile slopes to be displaced, and hundreds of people died.

In relation to the city of Yogyakarta, Merapi lies to the north, and the dangerous South Java Sea to the south. Right in the middle sits the Kraton, the royal court of Yogyakarta where the current king still resides. The people of Yogyakarta believe that the role of the king is to mediate between these two powerful forces, with the palace as a conduit.

Concepts of the elements – smoke, salt, fire, water – and their symbolic importance to the Indonesian people is something I find endlessly fascinating. People who live close to Merapi make offerings to the volcano, in hopes of calm days but continued fertility and good crops. Those who live to the south, closer to the ocean, make similar offerings to the Queen of the South Sea, who they believe controls the raging, wild waves and if not appeased, will happily take victims.

I am really interested in exploring these mythological concepts and their role in the contemporary context of Yogyakarta. There’s just something about volcanoes that sets you on edge, scares the daylights out of you but is so absolutely inspiring.  I think there’s something in this idea of being suspended between forces, acting as a conduit or “peace maker” for what those of us in Australian society would consider scientific phenomenon.

It's a bit hard to make out, but this is the street I live on in Jogja - and in the background, Merapi.

It’s a bit hard to make out, but this is the street I live on in Jogja – and in the background, Merapi.

Gili Trawangan, a tiny island off Lombok, is in sensational location for volcano-watching. To the east, you can watch the sun rise over the hulking Rinjani on Lombok. To the west, you can watch the sun set over the volcano Agung on Bali.

Gili Trawangan, a tiny island off Lombok, is in sensational location for volcano-watching. To the east, you can watch the sun rise over the hulking Rinjani on Lombok. To the west, you can watch the sun set over the volcano Agung on Bali.

On finding art and culture (shock) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

July 15, 2013 § 3 Comments

Yep, I know – it’s been an obscenely long time between posts, and obviously much has happened in my world. I thought it best now to focus on my current activities, but I’ll update my other pages shortly with some photo and video content from all the other things I’ve been up to over the last year or so!

Travel life.

Travel life.

At the moment, I am living in Yogyakarta (pronounced “Jogja”), Indonesia. As you may know, I grew up in Jakarta and am half Indonesian, so being back is like slipping into some well-worn comfortable leather shoes that you already know form to your feet. I am a recipient of the Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship 2013, on offer from the Indonesian government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the scholarship is to teach participants from all over the world about Indonesian arts, in one of five different arts centres across the country. My particular program is for “Indonesian diaspora” – people of Indonesian heritage living overseas. We are learning arts (Dayaknese dance from Kalimantan and Javanese dance, a bit of batik and gamelan, traditional Indonesian games), and about Indonesian democracy, Islam and other religions in the region, the role of women in society, economy, and so on. Maybe most importantly, while I already speak bahasa Indonesia, I finally am pushing myself to become more advanced.

Pancasila - the five main principals upon which the daily life of the Republic of Indonesia is based.

Pancasila – the five main principals upon which the daily life of the Republic of Indonesia is based.

Being in Jogja has been absolutely amazing. It is known as the cultural melting pot of Indonesia, as students from all over the country come for the universities here and bring the cultures of their individual regions with them. As a result, a strong scene of  traditional and contemporary art exists here. Basically, the perfect place for me to be in wanting to explore Indonesian art and my own personal practice!

Guide at the Sultan's Palace of Yogyakarta

Guide at the Sultan’s Palace of Yogyakarta

Javanese dance classes at the Palace.

Javanese dance classes at the Palace.

So far, I’ve been here a month, and have really taken the time to just immerse myself in anything and everything that’s going on. There are so many potential points of inquiry I’m not even sure where to begin most of the time! I’ve seen amazing art exhibitions, eaten spicy food, been frustrated by Javanese politeness and “saving face”, burnt myself on hot batik wax, driven 60km on the back of a motorbike to find the most perfect beach in a rural part of Java, met incredible new people and started to make plans for moving back here in the future!

Carving leather into wayang kulit.

Carving leather into wayang kulit.

This is mostly just a big catch up on where I am (lest this post becomes tl;dr), and a few photos of what I’ve been seeing. I’ll post later this week on what I’m looking to focus my artistic inquiries on. Sampai jumpa!

It took over 30km via motorbike over bumpy, broken roads in the middle of rural Java to finally make it to Klayar Beach. Stunning.

It took over 30km via motorbike over bumpy, broken roads in the middle of rural Java to finally make it to Klayar Beach. Stunning.

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s been a very long time since I actually juiced my brain grapes for the sake of blog writing. A very, very long time – to the point where I was concerned the emergent juice would have passed the stage of “good red wine” and would by now be “crappy homebrand vinegar.” And considering how long I’ve been directing people towards this blog, I’d say it’s probably due time I actually put something up!

It was great to spend a bit (read: a LOT) of time relaxing and just enjoying life after finding myself on the other end of a highly stressful degree. However, after a few months I found myself itching to be creating and making again. Having passed the six-months-out-of-university mark, I figure the best thing I can do at this point is write up a brief outline of what I’ve been up to, and hopefully in doing so, work out where I’m going from here.

Performance aid: Super Night Shot, by Gob Squad 

Super Night Shot by Gob Squad

Working my first gig out of uni in the Sydney Opera House? Yeah – no big deal, right? Gob Squad’s non-conventional make-a-movie-in-an-hour theatre piece as a part of the 2011 Sydney Festival was so much fun to work on. An absolute inspiration that forced me to rethink the definition of theatre, the Europeans charmed the pants off everyone they encountered.

Performer: Entrelazadas, self-devised

This movement piece, Entrelazadas (or “intertwined”), was a commissioned piece as part of ACON/Young Women’s Project for the Sydney Mardi Gras 2011. The brief was to create a piece addressing mental health issues in same-sex attracted women. Myself, along with Vanessa Londono and Che Walsh-Kemp devised a movement piece involving rope, puppetry, soul singers and fight sequences.

Stage Manager: Toy Box, by subtlenuance theatre company

Working with subtlenuance was an absolute pleasure. Not only did I continue to hone my stage manager skills, but I also had the opportunity to work with one of Sydney’s most lovely independent theatre companies. Written and directed by Paul Gilchrist, Toy Box is a study in family friction and disarray, and was perfectly suited to the TAP Gallery performance space.

Stage Manager: Cold, by The Earthcrosser Company

Straight off the back of Toy Box, I launched into Cold, the premiere work of a new Sydney-based independent company led by artistic director Shy Magsalin. Cold better suited my own aesthetic sensibilities, with its stark set and precise lighting beautifully used to highlight a terrifying text about racism in Sweden. I’m very excited to see more work from Earthcrosser!

Those four projects have made the biggest impact on me since January; on top of that, I’ve ingrained myself as a part of King Street, Newtown culture in my work as a manager at “Little Mexico” as I have lovingly nicknamed it.

But, the highlight? I successfully auditioned for the PACT Ensemble program for 2011. For the last three months, we have been engrossed in vocal and movement training, in addition to intensive creative development towards one seriously cool performance piece that will hit you in the face in November/December. Currently, we are spending a week at the absolutely splendid Bundanon Trust.

But more on PACT Ensemble soon. I think this post has probably reached its limit for mindless babbling on creative pursuits. If you’ve made it this far – damn, good on you. Thanks for the good vibes and all that.

Talk soon.

Annabelle x

Hello, hallo, hola, bonjour!

September 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Welcome to my brand spankin’ new bloggy website, another panda-oriented digital space representing me, Annabelle Marieza. Everything here is still in developmental stages, so to stay posted on what I’m up to, keep an eye on my Facebook page: Annabelle Marieza, or follow me on Twitter, @pandabelle.

Lots of love,

Annabelle xx

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