I Made Yogi Sugiartha / Mengwi, Badung – Bali
“Instructions, Rights, and Authority”
“Instructions, Rights, and Authority“
by I Made Yogi Sugiartha
Mengwi, Badung – Bali
During this time, I narrated through a body that is actively moving. I then met DokumenTari, a body narrative platform that provides space for thought to discuss questions such as: what will I discover through reading myself and texts that speak of care (Bodies of Care) for the benefit of a community? I’m constantly looking for the context of self-care…
Do I care about my body?
Do I need to give my care to the community?
Am I part of the community?
What can I give to the community?
Is this work capable and has an impact on the environment?
These are endless questions. In seeking answers about who should care, and for whom care is given, I began to negotiate the personal space by positioning myself as a fragile body in the crowd of public spaces. Or should my body play a superior role and observe the other fragile bodies around me?
Referring to the concept of life as a performative act, I then tried to present an anti-breakage body as a modus operandi to protect myself and other bodies around us so that their strength was maintained.
Sometimes, all of this seems impossible. My thoughts revolve around how to become antibodies to a fragile body. And again, why do I feel like I should care?
There are conflicting thoughts. Very contrasting and equally strong. But if there are opposites, doesn’t that mean there is a distance? Between the distances there are lines, between the lines, there are points, between the points there are links. And between links, there is always a way to meet.
The word “in between” should be read with underline and bold. It always appears in bipolar categories: heaven and hell, black and white, right and left, male and female, and so on. Isn’t there a “between” from one extreme to another?
Humans are tired of being divided into special specifications that create distance and keep each other apart. If there are only two boxes, namely a male box and a female box, of course I cannot choose one. Advice says “when you don’t find one, then make one”, I then chose to make my own box. Maybe there is someone out there who feels represented and will vote for the box I created.
Questions on Identity Construction
Society identifies trans women as a deviation. Social construction forms a system of norms (even into beliefs), whose formulas and human psychology are divided into two types without considering the development of gender diversity, which includes sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, sexual characteristics. Religious guidelines, cultural values, dogmas, stereotypes are getting stronger in laying their foundations that often sideline human values.
Talking about gender, we will find terms such as discrimination, violence, abuse of rights. With such conditions, what can be proud of being a trans woman amid a social environment?
The body has the right to “be”, the way of becoming. However, trans women do not have the freedom to “be”. The process is stopped by the prison constructed by social norms. A body as history and a body as a record. The body reads the conditions and situations. This search journey becomes a fusion of the dualism of the gender concept, as well as making it a perfect unity. Although there will always be red lights and crosses along the way.
Bali, September 11, 2021
I did an experiment of the participatory performance activation before the D-day. During the experiment, I introduced the professional artwork system to my fellow dancers at ISI Denpasar. My journey and experience have grown since I went to Jakarta, and these differ from what I had in Bali. In Balinese society, there is a tradition called Ngayah. Basically, Ngayah means helping each other as the implementation of Karma Marga Yoga, which is a way to get closer to God through sincere work actions and not bound to the results of work, in short: voluntary work without compensation. Ngayah for certain is contextually a form of “care” from my friends regarding the execution of this work. But sometimes this becomes a shackle because on the other hand artists need to be professional.
In this experiment, I invited several art communities, gender communities, and several artists, hoping to get some feedback from them. It was relatively easy for this group of participants to follow the instructions broadcast over the speakers. Their bodies are aware of the arts and performances. I was relieved as my instructions turned out to manage to move their body, the visual imagination that I had been holding on to for so long could be projected.
However, it feels like something is still missing. It seems too easy. This work is made for the public in a public space. The results will definitely differ from this experiment.
Bali, September 25, 2011
The ego in me is a tug of war between the ownership of the work and the crisis of trust in others. It’s onerous. I was in Tokyo, while we did the activation in Gianyar, Bali. I handled the activation as best I could by using the body in absentia. Relying on instinct, I predicted events that might happen in the public space. I conveyed everything and discussed it online with the team.
In my first plan, the activation location was at Beach Walk Mall, Bali. Until D-3, the mall ensured that the technical aspects were safely under control. They permitted me to activate their space by allowing me access to all mall speakers and CCTV cameras. This certainly would benefit me in enriching the documentation. I imagined how the mall situation would be with instructions being heard in the corners of the mall. However, unfortunately, the H-1 General Manager of Beach Walk Mall refused the activation because of PPKM (public activity restrictions). Shopping malls in Indonesia became the primary concern of the government due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The mall unilaterally cancelled the cooperation.
It is an incident that I actually have predicted. Even though it’s bothering me, there was a sense of pleasure because this situation will force me to explore other public spaces and see other possible realities. I moved the location to the night market (Senggol) Batu Bulan, Gianyar. This location is quite challenging: fears of rain and potential resistance from the locals.
The raincoat is ready, the online audience is here on Google Meet. With all the circumstances and limitations, my team and I agreed to keep moving in a situational public space through the speaker (toa) installed in the office’s corner of the market management agency. Loud or small sound will depend on the direction and speed of the wind, said Bu Rai as the market administrator.
The first instruction was Where are You Going Today? by Densiel Lebang (Jakarta). At that time, people did not pay attention to what they heard, even seemed to ignore it. Many factors influence vehicle noise, market-specific music playing simultaneously. This instruction has the impression of not forcing us to move but demands us to focus on the auditory aspect.
Activation in Tokyo
Activation in Bali was far different from another one in Tokyo. While doing the Where are You Going Today? There were so many external indicators that triggered participants to be more imaginative. We carried out the activation in a park. Mio Ishida and Leu Wijee, fellow choreographers in Tokyo who co-activated the instructions with me, felt the same way. They regarded the doves in the garden as a navigator. There is a three-way connection through this event, namely between the body, the cellphone, and the animal. Ness Roque (a fellow member of residency in Tokyo) was stunned by the city visuals of Jakarta featured in the video Where are You Going Today? It’s very similar to the situation in Tokyo. It’s about the buildings, the sunny weather, and for Ness Roque, everything sublimates between digital and reality.
I got a lot of findings when Cross was performed in different places, at different times, with different participants. However, there is one common reaction, that the public also feels the intimacy between the instructions and the response to the body. Intimacy as psychic pressure that affects freedom of movement and thought, but at the same time, the body must move based on coercion. The freedom and practical instructions make us aware that the body is saturated and rebellious in a dictatorial system.
From this finding, I then thought, how can care be realized in a participatory and instructional performance? Where will care come from when freedom is on the verge of limiting?
In Bali, after Cross finished, we were cast out by a pecalang (security guard) for making noise too loud. For disturbing visitors and traders who are selling. The duration of activation was long, while we still had the Togetherness to run as planned. That energy went to Tokyo, through Google Meet, I explained to the audience about what happened, “The local police didn’t allow us to do the next instruction, so we will find another way to keep moving.”
Since I didn’t want to feel tense alone, I continued to share and explain what was going on during the performance. For us, the cast-out gave us a personal experience of the rule ruled by the elite and its position as the one who has the authority to open and close the door. We must take this superiority wisely to protect the production team’s friends, invited participants, and the public in the open space. Here we can see that we are actually in an unsafe space. I’m trying to create a safe space in uneasy conditions.
In our society, transgender groups have become targets of violence based on sexual orientation and gender. While most Indonesians adhere to hetero-normative values, violence can take place in extremes. With the concept of “ideal family” which is instilled since childhood, the opposite form of family relations is considered unnatural and breaks normality. Ironically, under the pretext of making people restless, the state apparatus often becomes the perpetrators of violence and takes part in escalating the emergence of parades of social hatred.
Coupled with the existence of discriminatory regional regulations that legitimize the masses to carry out persecution. This transphobic moral panic spreads fear in society. It becomes one of the ways the state dominates certain social groups, in the name of maintaining morals, subjugation and disciplining the sexuality of its citizens. Citizens are required to be obedient bodies, even for very personal matters. The private sphere of the trans women group is totally controlled.
We have the right to be free from violence of any kind. Free from acts that demean human dignity just for reasons of gender identity. Gender does not reduce a person’s value to be treated as a human being. “Equality is not a point of departure, equality is a starting point.” so said Jacques Ranciere.”
If there is an opportunity, I want to know how the two men who watched and took part enthusiastically in the Togetherness instruction by Eva Bormann, Ela Mutiara, Krisna Satya, and Izabella Herzfeld felt.
We had time to record when a man clapped very solemnly. An audible voice provoked him. He listened to instructions carefully in a standing position, being on standby position, even if he did nothing. This makes me wonder if this is the form of a body bound by instructions embedded in humans, that results in limitations and inability to move. If the body has its rights, then how do the rights and freedoms across space and time? His stillness raises a thousand questions: Does the body have the right to remain neutral in noise? Does care arise from curiosity? Is curiosity enough to practice care?
The BoC process raises a lot of awareness and questions about care. The curiosity on the relationship between “care” and “concerned”, as well as between care and inability in it. The body’s inability to express the emotional connection between humans. The attachment sometimes hinders the practice of care in everyday life. On the other hand, humans have the choice to stay disconnected from events happening around them and who is around them. By choosing not to be connected, is it wrong?
Before applying care to the community, it’s a good idea to keep asking whether we care enough about ourselves? Have we explored the sub-care and its implementation towards self, humans, and the environment?
But, have you cared about the care itself?
Care per se…