Ibu Sawitri and the A/Occidental Oriental

Monica Wulff


Abstract

This paper represents a companion piece or supplement to the paper titled Dancing in the 'contact zone'. In that paper I introduced Ibu Sawitri, her dance, and my experience of our embodied cultural encounter. The first part of this paper is also devoted to Ibu Sawitri, but is specifically linked to the ideas raised in the Ibu Box camera from the installation. Here I tell ‘my’ insights and interpretations of Ibu Sawitri’s life, which traverses a multitude of colonial and local patriarchies. The story is interwoven with transcripts of Ibu’s voice as presented in the installation and a range of other historical Indonesian women’s voices drawn from books and archives. In the second part of this paper I look at what it means to leave what Pratt terms the ‘contact zone’ (1992) with a body that is informed and shaped by this experience. Here I will discuss some of the main issues addressed in my camera box and the wall projection. I look at western audience reactions to the contemporary work I do in Australia with the dance and performance techniques learned in Indonesia. Based on these reactions I speculate about western perceptions of traditional and modern Asian art forms and what that says about our current western perceptions of Asia.

Keywords

Indonesia; dance; Australia; performance; postcolonialism

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