Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Work begins

So I have been in Yogyakarta for 9 days. Because I got here earlier than most South Project artists, the first week was a good opportunity to settle in. This is my first time in Indonesia, actually anywhere in Asia, and it took a few days to adjust to the heat and the chaos. Thankfully, it did not take long to discover why lots of people rave about this city. After indulging in a sickening amount of fried tempeh, experiencing Karaoke Indonesia-style and meeting a whole lot of incredible local artists, I was raving about Yogya too.

Yogyakarta is clearly a fun city, where the pace is slow and relaxed due to the heat. I could easily spend a lot of time by the pool at Tulips Hotel (above), or discussing participatory art with the girls from Panther over a few Bintangs (below)… but with only 11 days left it is very much time to get some serious work done.

The project has started to progress well. After my meeting with Nuning (mentioned in the post below) we had a second meeting to discuss the practicalities of the project. In our conversations I have realised that local people here have a very different work/life balance to most Australians, with people often working 6-7 days a week. From what I understand, many Indonesians can take 1-2 weeks off a year to spend time with family over Ramadan or Christmas. Otherwise most people don’t have time for holidays, let alone afford one.

Thankfully this is all good news for our project! When I mention that I want to give an Indonesian a day off work, most people laugh and say that I will have no trouble finding takers. I guess now the biggest obstacle is finding someone who has a job that I can do!
As stated in a post below, we are keen to find someone whose job enables the leisure experience of Western tourists. Nuning (on the left in the picture below) and I have identified a few people that might be suitable.

Our first idea is to talk to someone who serves tables at a cafe. Today I went to discuss our project idea with the people at Via Via. Via Via is one of a handful of trendy cafes/restaurants here in Yogya that are frequented by tourists, with Indonesian and Western food on the menu, street art on the walls and a vibe that most “bule” (the word that Indonesians use to refer to white people) feel at home in. (Ha! Just while we are on the subject of “bule”, I just heard that there is a popular TV show in Indonesia called Bule Gila. The idea is that a western person must take on a typical Indonesian’s job for a day. Relevant huh?) Once I had explained the project the people at Via Via seemed more than keen to be involved, and said they would get back to me once they had determined who would be interested/free to participate in the project. I have left them with my phone number and hoping they will call back soon.

The second person I am hoping to approach is a Pembantu (helper/housekeeper). There is a particular woman I have in mind, who makes her livelihood cleaning the houses of foreigners and artists, and who is responsible for tidying the Cemeti Residency House (a place I had been staying at). I have arranged to meet her tomorrow to talk over the project. I hope she likes the idea. Fingers crossed.

I am particularly excited that this work might involve people I have already encountered; people who have already been responsible for serving and feeding me, changing the sheets on my bed and generally making my stay in Yogya more comfortable. I like the idea that I could have a more meaningful encounter with the local people whose labour has enabled my pleasurable experience of Yogya, one that goes beyond the usual interaction between locals and tourists.

Anyway there is much more to tell you, but it is late here. I’ll post more tomorrow with all the new developments.


1 comment:

  1. I am so excited about seeing this project evolve.
    Your work is wonderful ladies.