A performance work in 3 acts filmed in Indonesia and India. In these performances the physical and metaphysical meet.

ACT 1: River elegy

In the once pristine river systems of Central Java, mining operations spring up in the riverbeds, disrupting flow, and polluting water, clogging local roads with heavily laden lorries, dripping their wet loads. Here also is the destruction of the rainforest. There are chainsaws, mechanical diggers, volcanic sands and wood being carted, in among this frenetic destruction of the environment young men race on trail bikes across this tortured land. An occasional gunshot rings out signaling another dead bird or mammal.

Today there is a roar of mechanical sounds where not so long ago the air was filled with birdsong and the gently drifting wings of Java’s butterflies.

It is here Arahmaiani, Andrea and I join our friends, artist Ismanto, daughter Sekar and son Marcel and ethnomusicologist Nurgiyanta. We are here to perform River elegy on the banks of what is now a riverbed mine.

"The performance is a prayer, through dance and music and singing and we hope the future of our environment, our surroundings will improve, you can see there is a lot of destruction going on. This is not only bad for the local people but for the whole planet. We want to raise awareness of these matters through our practice of art and performance. The song you here in the performance is a local prayer to ward off evil and to protect ourselves."
 

This is a performance full of hope as Sekar dances gently to the sounds created by Arahmaiani and Nurgiyanta. Ismanto covered in earth and rocks remains still as Sekar circles him. Nurgiyanta sings his delicate song, a cry for nature, a cry for planet earth, a cry for humanity. Can the spirit be woken?

All around us the mining operations, the diggers, the chainsaws, the trail bikes, all a great cacophony, against the gently unfolding performance.

ACT 2: Sera Mey and Sera Jey

We  meet Arahmaiani in Sera. Arahmaiani had arrived earlier that day and was waiting for us. So we were all together again, Arahmaiani attending her teachings.

Happy days were spent wandering around Sera, visiting friends and watching the monks attending their teaching. Over the days we were staying at the monastery some 19,500 monks had arrived in Sera from around the world to attend the teachings. Add to this number another 10,000 or so visitors to the teachings, all in all a lot of people.

ACT 3: Memory of Nature

Arahmaiani and Wukir perform the Memory of nature in Central Java. Borobudur is close by to where we perform.

Arahmaiani describes the Memory of Nature:

“My work refers to the basic form of Borobudur Mandala and using natural material such as wood, soil and vegetation.
I want to convey the nature and environmental issue. But I do not want this issue raised as a limited matter such as forest conservation, water, land and healthy organic foods. These matters just focus on the material aspect of mortal life on this planet and dwell on the side of materialistic science. There should be the values and ethics of life that support the harmony and respect for nature and the environment. Without a metaphysical science and the wisdom of life, the natural will simply be stationed as an object that maybe exploited as people please”.

The Tibetan Plateau

The Memory of Nature has a strong connection to the Tibetan Plateau. There is both a physical and metaphysical connection here. Environmental concerns about the Tibetan Plateau include the rapid increase in average temperatures on the plateau that is speeding up the glacial melt. The great river systems of the region including, the Yangtze, the Indus, the Ganges and the Mekong owe much to the stability of these glaciers over centuries past. Everything about the Tibetan Plateau is impressive, its extremes, in parts it is one of the least inhabited places on earth, the beauty of its mountainous terrain and escarpments, its rivers, wetlands and grasslands, its weather and its scale at nearly a million square miles.