Tales from a Sinking City

Tita Salina, 1001st Island The Most Sustainable Island in Archipelago, 2015 Jakarta, Indonesia, 14 mins, 11secs, performance, installation, intervention, video

Whilst in Jakarta Maicie Annabel and I met with two wonderful artists from Jakarta,  Tita Salina and her partner Irwan Ahmett . Tita Salina’s  work,  1001st island – the most sustainable island in archipelago 2015 explores issues of community disenfranchisement, environmental pollution and government corruption as they manifest within the Indonesian government’s grand plan for the restoration and redevelopment of Jakarta Bay.

Jakarta Bay  is e impacted by extreme pollution, the reduction of important fishing stocks, and rapid land sinkage due to groundwater extraction that provides drinking water for Jakarta’s 10 million inhabitants. Combined with the threat of rising sea levels, these problems jeopardise communities of small-scale fishermen and coastal traders who live on and around the bay. The government’s solution to the complex environmental and social issues is to build a giant sea wall across the bay to transform it into a man-made lagoon protected from flooding, populate it with new artificial islands, and redevelop the foreshore areas, moving existing coastal communities outside the city precincts. Many are sceptical about the efficacy of the plan and criticise it as scientifically dubious, socially discriminatory and financially irresponsible.

To create 1001st island, Salina collaborated with local fishermen from one of the threatened communities to collect some of the plastic rubbish that plagues the bay. Wrapped in a fishing net to construct an artificial island, it was then dragged behind a fishing boat into the bay and released to become the 1001st island in the chain of islands north of Jakarta known as the Thousand Islands.

The most urgent problems are in North Jakarta, a coastal mash-up of ports, nautically themed high-rises, aged fish markets, abject slums, power plants, giant air-conditioned malls and the congested remnants of the colonial Dutch settlement, with its decrepit squares and streets of crumbling warehouses and dusty museums.

Some of the world’s most polluted canals and rivers weave a spider’s web through the area.

It is where the city is sinking fastest.

That’s because, after decades of reckless growth and negligent leadership Jakarta’s problems have acumulated.

Tita told me that  many believe that Atlantis is near Jakarta, so perhaps the city is preparing to meet her sister.

 

 

 

2019-11-28T17:08:16+09:30 November 12th, 2019|

The Monster Net Project

In an article in the Guardian this week.Greenpeace calls for global action over nets, lines and traps that are deadly for marine life .

“The world’s governments must take action to protect our global oceans, and hold the under-regulated fishing industry to account for its dangerous waste. This should start with a strong global ocean treaty being agreed at the United Nations next year.” Greenpeace, 2019

This is aptly timed, as I find myself in Indonesia on an Asialink Arts Residencry with Annabel Amagula and Maicie Lalara  from Anindilyakwa Arts  on Groote Eylandt with Kominatas Salihara, an International multidisciplinary arts center in Indonesia.

Before leaving for Indonesia Maicie Lalara finished weaving a large ‘monster fish’ from a ghost net retrieved from the sea near Groote Eylandt by the ferry driver.

This net was nicknamed  a ‘Monster Net’ by the Northern Territory News.

tps://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-27/monster-ghost-net-hauled-from-remote-nt-waters/109442 

Rangers believe the net may have come all the way from South-East Asia. The Fish, titled, Yilkwa, is covered in marine debris, including lighters and bottle tops, recently collected by a beach cleanup facilitated by the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers this month. Over 100 people from the Groote  Eylandt Community  worked together to collect over 2000 plastic bottle tops, 604 plastic cigarette lighters, 511 thongs, 130 tooth brushes  and 1295 plastic bottles.

As artists in residence we   are working  to make  new ghost  net into artworks, including sculptural animals, to weave the story of the impact that these nets, that often come from Indonesia,  has upon their coastal community and marine life.

Annabel Amagula says-“ We are making crabs, turtles , fish baskets. My granddaughter is making that  mini monster fish, that’s why its impotant we share our story and culture with Indonesian People”

 

Anindilyakwa Arts is proudly funded by the Anindilyakwa Land Council. The Art Residency is kindly supported by Melbourne University and Arts NT.

 

 

2019-11-12T23:38:31+09:30 November 10th, 2019|

Artist in Residence at Kominatus Salihara , Jakarta , September/ October, 2019

 

 

As a recipient of a Melbourne University Asialink Grant,  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a resident artist at Kominatus Salihara in Jakarta. My travels started with a stop on the way at the Threads of Life  dye garden and studio to learn traditional Indonesian Batik and plant dying techniques in the Soul of Batik workshop exploring Indonesia’s batik tradition with  respected International Batik artists Agus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam  from Brahma Tirta Sari studios in Yogjakarta .   The Soul of Batik Workshop involved  exploring both the processes of natural dyeing and  batik .

I  had a wonderful few days submerged in dye baths of indigo and mangrove root  and only burnt myself a little bit with hot wax  starting  new projects on paper and fabric to work on in Jakarta.

Upon my arrival at Kominatus,   I was  warmly welcomed by Enning, Rebecca and Selma and couldn’t help but feel like  Iwas in the right place at the right time, with the opportunity to see the incredible puppet production- Aquavitae: The Sea Dog,  by the French Theatre company ,  Teater Boneka.

A spectacular plea from the sea, the show resonated with  with themes close to my heart, namely ocean pollution and the ecological imbalance which is seeing the worlds oceans plagued  with unprecedented  populations of  jellyfish . The story is told beautifully, with puppets made by hand from ghost net and drift wood, along with dance and digital  media.  I loved the projections in a fish tank and the dancers dressed in plastic bags, beautifully mimicking the movements of  my favorite sea creatures.  I was overwhelmingly inspired and spent the following day at Kominatus, weaving ( more)  jellyfish from fishingline.

 

2019-12-01T16:27:07+09:30 November 8th, 2019|

A website is born…

Hello!!!

And welcome to my new website!!

 

I want to start my first  blog with thanks to  the Larrakia people, the first nations custodians of the beautiful  country where i live, walk, swim, dance, play, love, run, create, cry and laugh. Over the past 25 years   in Darwin,  I have found  a home, my people, my dog,  my children and endless inspiration  from  the Arafura Sea  and it’s  captivating creatures .

I first met  Aunty Bilawara 20 years ago, when she invited  me to weave with her and her family  at Rapid Creek where she introduced me to her country and ancestors.  Many years later we were weaving together again, to make a  large public  art work, titled Intertwined, a pair of large Bronze Jellyfish situated at East Point, commissioned by the City of Darwin in 2014. At the opening ceremony she  held a smoking ceremony, saying-

“Jellyfish totem speaks to us of simplifying our  life – that we should go with the flow of the currents and allow things to take their course. She shows us how to rest in the earthly realm and not to rush. We are encouraged to take a walk; get close to nature so you can see the world in a better light. How apt is this wisdom – it fits perfectly with where Aly’s wonderful jellyfish children are located”

I  extend my thanks to all the  the traditional owners of the many lands  I traverse to create, teach and learn, especially the wonderful  women   at Anindilyakwa Arts  on Groote Eylandt with  whom I  have been  fortunate enough to work with since  2015.

I also   acknowledge my own ancestors.    My  grandparents , who left the Netherlands with my father and his three Siblings,   boarding  a boat from Amsterdam to arrive in  Fremantle, Western Australia  in 1956. One of my earliest memories was spending hours in my Oma’s garden and green house, cramming flowers and leaves into bottles to produce  potions and perfumes . I am still  playing  with plants  and  find endless joy from stuffing  things in jars.

This  is a digital diary of  my creative adventures . Thank you so  much  for your interest ,  I am hoping through this  website and blog  I can share ideas,  recipes and stories so that you too are inspired .

After all….

A creative life is a blessed life.

Aly

Bernadette Watt, Aly de Groot, Maicie Lalara, Sharna Wurramurra, Image Cortesy of Anindilyakwa Arts, 2019 Photo Credit – Benjamin Ward

2019-11-07T20:47:28+09:30 November 6th, 2019|