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Yang Tertinggal / What is left behind

In collaboration with Nindityo Adipurnomo


video installation- no sound, table, white bread
variable dimensions
A work for the Jakarta Biennale 2013 ‘Siasat’ at Museum Seni Rupa dan Keramik

‘Yang tertinggal’ is an installation inspired by the Tanjidor Musicians. The Tanjidor orchestra was developed by the Betawi community in the 19th century.

Betawi culture is seen as a syncretic culture; a blend of local Indonesian groups and ‘newcomers’ like the Portuguese, Mardijkers, Dutch and Chinese inhabitants. We can see this syncretism as a form of cultural wealth. But in the momentum of globalization how long is this cultural expression able to continue in a city like Jakarta? To what extent can we maintain what is left of the long history of this specific syncreticism? Has the Tanjidor orchestra turned into a nostalgia for the past and how are the Tanjidor contextualised into everyday life of Betawi people?

We followed a group of Tanjidor musicians called ‘Pusaka Tiga Suadara’ to weddings and other events. Almost all of the members were related. We observed that the gesture of the musicians was the strength of the performance and not so much the music. We really experienced Tanjidor culture and identity seeing the musicans playing. But how long are the Tanjidor musicians able to pass these characteristic gestures on to future generations? Is this ‘gesture’ of Tanjidor heritage enough to represent the community and as an effort to preserve traditional Betawi culture?

The Tanjidor group that we got to know rarely rehearses and doesn’t have a teacher or conductor but at the same time new music genres such as ‘ndangdut’ with added Sundanese elements become popular and slowly take over the original Tanjidor music.

So we wait for the moment to arrive when the Tanjidor becomes merely a symbol of syncretism and diversity of the Betawi community. This wind ensembles will die a natural death and the instruments will disappear along with the need to enliven ceremonies and celebrations with their music. What will stay is a diffraction, where most likely artefacts operate only as symbols such as the form of white bread (like the Batawi crodile bread / roti buaya) merely suggesting its historical significance.