The Narratives
of Indonesian


Krisna Satya / Mengwi, Badung – Bali

“Banjar: Between Individuality and Social Life”

Banjar: Between Individuality and Social Life

By Krisna Satya

Mengwi, Badung – Bali


I had time to write about the art journey that I did since childhood until I was able to dance in the city of Paris to register for DokumenTari Serie #1. But at that time, I failed, didn’t pass.

I was interested in the DokumenTari program because it discussed and explored a dancer and their life. I didn’t sign up for DokumenTari serie #2 since I am preparing Solo Part, a program that I designed with community friends in Bali. Not given up, I tried again to register at the third opportunity entitled Bodies of Care. At first, I was confused as to what the title meant. From what I read the DokumenTari Serie #3 takes the theme of care for the community environment. It’s interesting. Challenging my mentality as an artist who not only has to seek personal existence, but also build a morally and materially mutually beneficial ecosystem with community involvement.

To satisfy the curiosity of the DokumenTari program #3 in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, I found out about the mentors who would later guide. I found out about Melati Suryodarmo while at ISI Denpasar studio. Butter Dance by Melati is so interesting. Somewhat confusing but curious and amazed by the artistic presented. I hoped to be accepted into the DokumenTari Serie #3 and learnt directly from her.

In Bodies of Care selected artists would also meet with LIGNA in collaboration with the Goethe Institute. LIGNA is a German media and performance art collective that will share instructional artwork. What does the instructional art look like? Is this a new kind of choreography? I just heard this term, completely blind. Didn’t know what the relationship of instructional art has to with the theme of “care”.

Honestly, language barriers became one of the considerations of my involvement in the Serie #3. My English skill was not good and made me regret it a little. I wanted to be able to fix the obstacles I faced back in Paris; I could not speak a foreign language at all, so it was difficult to be abroad.

There’s a lot I didn’t know, a lot I couldn’t do, but I was just focused on finding ideas to put forward in the proposal. I wanted to pass and be able to meet other mentors and collaborators. I then thought about children as a group of people who are very important for the future. I have high hopes for children, so that the next generation will be much more sensitive to the environment and fellow human beings, not dazzled by western superiority, more mentally advanced. A productive generation with locality values, not only consumers and targets of large capital. But what have I done for the children?

Through dance, I don’t mean to make children to be great dancers. But I hope, by dancing children would learn the values of independence, learn to care and be sensitive to the surrounding environment. Learning to dance can hone sensitivity, build the mentality to be a person who dares to argue and be responsible.

But seeing the potential of children becoming objects in Bodies of Care made me hesitate and feel lost. I then saw where the kids were. In the context of Bali, where I live, Banjar is the space. In the Banjar system as a community, there are all groups of people: children, teenagers, adults, and parents. How do I explain about Banjar, how can the Banjar system exist? What is its role and how is it currently as a community space? I tried to explain so that ordinary people outside Bali can understand simply, the importance of Banjar as a system of communal living of Balinese people.

Banjar plays a big role in the preservation of Balinese culture and customs. In customary activities, indeed children are not involved because customary affairs are the responsibility of adults. But children who spend time in Banjar learn what their parents do. Banjar is the closest bastion of Balinese society from the negative influences of the tourism world, and children who make Banjar as a playroom will help defend Banjar in the future. This is what I wrote in the proposal.

Every night I always pray, not to miss asking for prayer from Gung Ayu (my girlfriend) and Kia (a dancer friend) for my proposal to pass. Great hope to be accepted, to have the opportunity to hone language skills while meeting with mentors and learning about instructional performance.

Sunday, June 6, 2021, at approximately 00:17 I received a short message from Bubbu Keni.

“Have you read iiiit?”

I smiled at the message, because I had read the email containing good news stating that I had passed in the DokumenTari #3. It was a very happy night. Bodies of Care would be my first international open call project. Chatting via text message on my mobile phone with Bubbu added to my happiness levels. Bubbu explained the strictness of the selection process and I was moved, because of the thirty participants who signed up, I was one of the selected.

Especially because I’ve been keeping the idea of Banjar for almost a year. It was submitted twice as an art program proposal and the result was nil. Previous failures broke my heart. Maybe since Banjar is not so popular, the universal problems in it are not visible, as if it’s not related to the lives of many people. Maybe for some people, Banjar is only an administrative institution in Bali, even though Banjar is the most intimate circle for someone who lives life in Bali. In the DokumenTari of Bodies of Care, the idea of Banjar was getting a chance, I was very happy that finally someone sees Banjar as something interesting.

Entering the workshop period, we contributors and mentors got to know each other briefly. I was a bit dizzy with the language barrier, afraid of not being able to catch what was being delivered properly. Presentation by LIGNA, by Melati, by Sascia Bailer, even the presentation of Butet Manurung is all delivered in English. The initial meetings contained a lot of material, but I felt like I was walking on the spot. I tried to listen, pay attention to Zoom meetings that lasted for hours, tried to overcome boredom, but was also afraid to throw questions.

Talking to fellow contributors was quite helpful. I dared to ask what I don’t understand to my friends. I came to know that from its presentation, LIGNA explained that the work they created did not focus on achieving the “cool” technical goals. From Butet Manurung I see how personal care is not necessarily needed by certain communities. It needs adaptation and takes time to get into a certain space and become part of the system.

The session with Melati provided a lot of references. She asked us to re-read the contents of the proposals submitted by each, questioning more sharply the concept that had been written. What feedback could I give to Banjar? What instructions could be presented? I remembered the activities of Ngayah involving Banjar, seeing how’s the expression of people when in customary activities amid their personal activities.

I positioned myself directly as an active society and began to understand how an instructional performance could work. There is also an element of feeling and a personal point of view that needs to be presented. In the process of writing the instructions, I recalled childhood experiences when I was a kindergartener. Clapping as an “act” of togetherness when singing and “reaction” when appreciating something. In clapping, there is spontaneity that sometimes does not match the tempo and does not have to be at the tempo. I see this as an expression of togetherness and there is freedom to express it.

In this Bodies of Care process, I realized that it is also important to emerge as yourself. Ideas, experiences, anxiety, were filtered and pursued, choosing what is important and priority. This process of sorting out is very important. Being yourself in a work of art is indispensable as a way to bring out the uniqueness of identity.

Instructional performance provides an opportunity for the public and society to be directly involved in a performance. A performance is no longer intended solely for the audience. This concept sharpens the sensitivity of reading, criticizing ideas, and carefulness in making artistic decisions. Furthermore, I became more sensitive to understanding the public presence. I am very interested in continuing and developing instructional performance in various situations for my artistic work, as it contains an openness that is interactive.

All the emotions took turns to be present, I was very happy to get to know mentors, collaborators, speakers, organizers, as well as general participants in my work. For me, everyone has its own influence. During the Bodies of Care process, Thursday is always a long day. Once in the middle of a workshop schedule, I had to attend an important family event, but this is where care is applied, finding a middle ground for all issues.

As a creator, I have concerns. But I also have faith. This faith made me survive in the world of dance. As stated by Melati… “Be yourself, show up yourself”

The Narratives
of Indonesian