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Year-End Reflection at Babakan Siliwangi

Culture | Sunday, 18 December 2011 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawe Setiawan

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My fellow Sundanese were meditating around the newly erected stones at Babakan Siliwangi (Photograph: Hawe Setiawan)

A series of event, which is called ‘Year-End Cultural Reflection,’ is underway at Babakan Siliwangi, an endangered green open space in Bandung, West Java, named after the legendary king of Sunda. Organized by Common Room, a non-governmental cultural network based in the city, it has been going on since Saturday, December 17th, and will take place up to Thursday, December 22nd.

Along with some artists and cultural activists, I myself participate in planning and organizing this event. Several questions have come into our minds in preparing this informal meeting:  (1) Is there such thing as common ground for all cultural circles in Bandung in particular and in Indonesia in general? (2) Does current development of art and culture have something to do with humanity? (3) Is there such thing as emancipatory agenda in current cultural/political affairs?

We invite some fellow activists and scholars from some cultural circles, mainly those who are based in Bandung, to share common interests in order to formulate a sort of culture strategy, or a conceptual framework in the field of art and culture, for the years to come.

A Sundanese community has erected a pair of big stones on the green open space. They look like religious monuments on ancient sites. The installment of the stones seems to me to be a symbolic gesture of my fellow Sundanese to reaffirm their attachment to the public space. Some businessmen and municipal authorities are said to had planned a sort of condominium building on the site. A ritual around the newly erected stones was held on Saturday morning to mark the opening of this event.

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Singer Trie Utami (lef) and musician Dewa Bujana (right) were performing 'Mantram Gayatri' at Babakan Siliwangi (Photograph: Hawe Setiawan)

A few moments later, on a ground not far from the stones, prominent female singer Trie Utami sang a celestial song entitled ‘Mantram Gayatri.’ Acompanied by the beautiful sounds of electric guitar played by well-known musician Dewa Bujana, her song sounded like a pray to the God. (I have uploaded my video recording of the performance on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maXSf85F3iM&feature=youtube_gdata_player)

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