The Jakarta Post
Duet: Split sees performers dancing in a progressively smaller spaces and shorter periods. (Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya)
A cavalcade of both local and international talent marks this year’s Salihara International Performing-arts Festival (SIPFest).
Split, by Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin, which opened the festival on Saturday evening, won a Helpmann Award in the Best Dancer category in 2017.
Guerin said she had created the choreography after a time working on some very large projects.
“I was working with some large companies, and there were commissions with artists I was not familiar with so much, but I felt that I wanted to go to my own studio, close the door, and just work with the more pure elements of dance and choreography,” Guerin said.
She explained that the piece, Split, was really about time and space, and it’s quite an intense work.
“The two dancers dance for 20 minutes in the whole space, and then they divide the space in half with a strip of tape and then they dance for 10 minutes in half the space. […] It keeps being halved; it keeps reducing the space and time in which they can dance until they’re just crammed up in a tiny back corner, just dancing for a few seconds,” she explained.
Guerin said she had had people interpret the dance in a number of ways, including “two sides of the same person grappling with their personality”, as well as “the fact that we have less space and time in our lives these days”.
The festival, which runs until Sept. 9, also comes at a time when the Salihara community and art center is celebrating its 10th anniversary, which fell on Aug. 8.
Peering: Lucy Guerin's Split received a Helpmann Award in the Best Dancer category in 2017. (Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya)
“SIPFest is the peak of Salihara’s cultural programs, representing the best of Salihara’s programs from a curatorial standpoint,” said the festival’s director Nirwan Dewanto.
He said this year’s festival would be different than previous ones since they also produced a contemporary dance performance from choreographer Otniel Tasman as well as a theatrical performance titled Monolog Sutan Sjahrir with director Rukman Rosadi and actor Rendra Bagus Pamungkas.
Otniel’s piece, titled Cablaka, featured five dancers, including himself, portraying the strength, honesty and firmness of Banyumas, Central Java, while being connected to the region’s traditional lengger dance.
Otniel, himself from Banyumas, said he was ketiban indang lengger (possessed by the spirit of lengger).
“Life with lengger is not as easy as it seems, as there is a conflict between the personal and the social. […] There will also be a dialectic between the masculine and feminine, as well as the merger between the two energies,” Otniel said.
Apart from award-winning performances, the festival also has lectures on music, theater and dance.
Pianist Ananda Sukarlan, for instance, will join a discussion on Piano Compositions of the 20th Century, while actor, choreographer and dancer Kwee Tjoen Lian, better known as Didi Nini Thowok, will give a talk titled Cross-gender Traditions in Indonesian Performing Arts.
Veteran actor Jim Adhi Limas, who is one of the founders of Studiklub Teater Bandung, will discuss the early days of contemporary theater in Indonesia and his group’s role in post-independence modern theater in a lecture-performance titled Indonesia’s Contemporary Theater and I.
Contrasting: Split is a piece about time and space. (Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya)
Jim will also present in Omongobrolan, in which he will read his own translation of short sketches written by French writer Roland Dubillard.
Other international artists, such as Ayelin Parolin of Belgium’s Heretics and Parallèles from France’s Abderzak Houmi, will also highlight the festival.
Meanwhile, music performers for this year’s SIPFest include Canadian string quartet Quatuor Bozzini, Ju Percussion Group of Taiwan, Quasar Quatuor de Saxophones of Canada and Malaysia’s Toccata Studio.
For theater, actors Reza Rahadian and Sita Nursanti will read the script of White Rabbit Red Rabbit by Iranian scriptwriter Nassim Soleimanpour, while Five Arts Center of Malaysia will perform a documentary play titled Baling, based on the history of Malaysia.
Apart from performances and lectures, visitors can also enjoy site-specific visual art installations by artists Achmad Krisgatha, Meliantha Muliawan and Gabriel Aries Setiadi.
Achmad said he had been exploring art by using the medium of light for the past five years. “Exploring light as a medium is interesting because a camera captures light as images, whereas our eyes capture light as a window to our souls,” he said.
Gabriel, who has a background in sculpting, created an art piece using LED lights that light up in the dark and wire mesh in the shape of a rock, which can be seen on Salihara’s rooftop area.
“With my background in sculpting, the site can be used in mischievous ways, such as toying with the public perception when seeing a large object situated on a corner. The element of light can also bring a contemplative mood to the piece,” Gabriel said.