The Jakarta Post
Tracks thud on the ground as a backhoe approaches a man in Balinese traditional garb. In prayer, he is motionless as the forked steel bucket of the backhoe pours a load of sand over him.
Time after time, the backhoe filled its bucket and brought its tines to within centimeters of Bayak's head, pouring sand over the artist until he appeared to be suffocating.
The symbolism was vivid during this contemporary art performance by renowned artist Made Bayak, part of the For BALI concert on Oct. 19: This is what the proposed land reclamation of around 800 hectares in Benoa Harbor will do to the people of Bali.
A crowd of hundreds that grew into thousands watched quietly over the 12 hours of the For BALI event, which was organized by Stt Yowana Dharma Kretih and Banjat Kedaton Kesiman.
As a tide, people came: Grandfathers leading toddlers in pink organza and spikey-haired metal punks; wave after wave of people descended upon Padang Galak beach.
For BALI is a grassroots alliance of people from all walks of life who are demanding a stop to the proposed man-made island in Benoa Harbor.
Another organizer, Agung Anom, said the idea for the concert was born while he was working in Switzerland for European music festivals.
'When For BALI started holding regular events, I was thinking that I have to contribute my energies and skills,' the international sound engineer said. Tolak Reklamasi [The Stop Reclamation Project] is a must and is really important for all of us in this generation.' said Anom. 'I started talking to Cok Sawitri and Chandra Rockfeller from For BALI and Agung Alit via text message. The basic idea was to make an event with all kinds of music, dance, theater, graffiti and a poetry slam; a universal arts project that all could join.'
In five weeks, the idea became a reality.
Teaming up with respected architect Yoka Sara, Anom and volunteers brought together 250 musicians, artists, and comedians to perform on five stages for the free concert.
Balinese philosophy was evident in Yoka Sara's stage designs, which were based on Nyegara Gunung ideas. An extraordinary flying stage represented mountains, sea and sky and there was also a movable stage of massive bamboo.
'I was asked to join by Anom, he's a good friend,' Yoka said. 'We tried to involve more voices from the heart. We are artists so we should express ourselves through art. It is so lovely, I feel, to gather together and share our voices. It is important to stop the reclamation project.'
The stages were an art installation acting as backdrop to the performances.
'For BALI is an alliance of groups and people from across Bali who have come together to fight the reclamation,' said For BALI's founder, the activist Gendo Suardana.
'Today's event is not only [attended by] activists, but it is a movement of the people to protect our culture and environment. This is from the people. It is a reminder and a symbol to our new President [Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo], who we ask to stop the permit process on the reclamation.'
Young men and women were out in force. Dressed in a black t-shirt with 'Guardians Calling' written across the back, 24-year-old artist Janur Cube said that as an artist, he needed to support for the Tolak Reklamasi movement.
'The reclamation project is an extremely brutal act by the government toward the people of Bali. The government does not care about the environment; it's only interested in investment and work. But on the jobs issue, the Balinese have become mere servants. They become like slaves to the big investors from outside Bali.'
A group of teenage girls had made their way by motor bike from Gianyar. Novi, Mega, Riska and Arika said with one voice: 'We want to join the Tolak Reklamasi movement because we don't want Bali destroyed. Maybe from this For BALI concert the government will see the extent of the public's disagreement with the reclamation project.'
' Images JB Djwan