Thursday, August 14, 2008

Excerpts from thoughts during Jatiwangi Art Fest 2008

I articulate my stay here with a word ‘relearning’,relearning how blessed I am as a Singaporean, and how untainted the Indonesians in Jatiwangi, West Java, are. I come as an abomination somewhat, with my laptop and digital camera.Not that they have not seen them before, but they may not have the chance to ever own these things. Most of them do not have passports at all, when I naturally think everyone should have that. Yet this is beautiful land, the million stars hung up the sky like an artistic installation along with the space wide enough for my mind. It being untouched by the claws of modernization allows me into a land that belongs to the 80s. That is the stark difference between a first world and third world nation.

The language barrier also trains me to uproot my frustration and humble myself to be understood. I think I have been working hard with my Bahasa to improve the communication. I can only just keep on trying. But in all sanity, despite the fact that our communication is made up of gestures, and few words, there is a bond that exists between the people and I. A bond that spells out - respect for each other and humility in our spirit.

I had also thought that I needed to be here with significance. Not just a touristy Natasha or high-maintenance artist, but someone being radically different in the positive light.I thought my way of one-for-one exchange with the villagers who made clay with me was clever, until I realized I have overpriced English. It is not that important for them to learn English after all. They are not going to get out of Jatiwangi, perhaps only a few fortunate ones.Technology? They had their fair share of play with that dumb laptop. Yes it fascinated them awhile. But I re-evaluated. Isnt it taking away the true fun and joy of artistic creation by swirling around with a stylus pen? I felt that the kids too were irritated by the cons that technology brings.I have learnt new ways of folding an aeroplane, new ways of creating objects with clay, and diligence in living. They are the artists, not me. I am not so much different, just really that fortunate.

I thank God for being here with me. Even my bones shout of that. Beyond measure and above strength, I am always learning new things that enrich the soul. And the soul has travelled great a milestone this time.May the Lord be magnified in the prosperity of your servant here.

I had a dream the night before. Dreamt that I was already on the way back home, to the familiar people, except that I missed dear at the airport. When I woke up, I was shit, still here. And I slightly dreaded it, yet was talking in my head, ‘so what’s today about?’ Like I told Ezzam, there are really moments when I don’t want to be here. But yet, there are moments that can drive me to tears. I realized it is not just about the silent conversations we have and the many times we think we understood one another, it is about the life here. It is secluded, not that it is bad, but it is really just a long wait for death. And that itself, is hopeless. I get annoyed when things get abit slow, but annoyed also when I cannot meet up to certain expectations. I get paranoid when things are not being communicated, and I wonder what ‘Singapore’ I have brought to them. As I have articulated it, this is a beginning that is an ending itself. The happiness and joy here is shortlived because I am just not going to be here. Coming back? I don’t know. I really don’t know. I enjoy learning (brajah) Bahasa. I can finally have a little conversation with full sentences and not just words.

Since I am always asked the question of ‘When are you going back to Singapore?’ and ‘Are you married?’ and ‘When are you getting married? These are my answers in Bahasa:
Saya akan kembali ke Singapore pedan hari senin seplus augustus hari ini (I am going back to Singapore on Monday, 11 August this year)
Jika saya kembali lagi akan bersama swuami saya ( Next time I will come back here with my husband)
Saya bolem menika, Saya menika de bulan November hari ini ( I am not married, I will get married in November this year)

In fact, after tomorrow 100808- this will mark the end of my sojourn here in Jatiwangi, West Java. I do feel sad cos I think somewhat I have grown a little attached to the people here. And I know it can just be bullshit back again in Singapore. And also, no one will speak Bahasa with me in Singapore. I will do my performance tomorrow, I have worked hard and so may God bear fruits for me. Like what Demung will use, ‘the spirit (confidence)’ in performance. May I have the spirit tomorrow to plant a little seed in the hearts of people from anywhere who come to see the performance.

Goodbye Jatiwangi. I will miss being here. We are all rich creatures, rich in our souls indeed. I quote,’With God, life is easier. But with art, life is more beautiful’

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