a blog for the globe
Monday May 1st 2017

Ci Tarum: Paint with Pain

Culture | Wednesday, 21 March 2012 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawé Setiawan

An environmental message painted by some Bandung-based artists with river mud (Photograph: Hawe Setiawan)

Today I joined in a collective action at the bank of Ci Tarum, one of the most endangered rivers in West Java. Artists, environmental activists, and journalists were there, trying to express a collective response to the severe environmental damage. It was just a day before World Water Day.

There were artists from ke’RUH community, namely Tisna Sanjaya, Isa Perkasa, Deden Sambas, and Rahmat Jabaril, along with their fellow artists such as Abun Adira, Ali Meca, Dodo Abdullah, Herry Dim, Ibas (Harax), Jico Albaiquni, Ratman D. S., and Rukman Ranudinata. Some musicians from Bringbrung community and choreographer Ine Arini were among the crowd. There were also geographer T. Bachtiar, West Java Walhi (Indonesian Forum for the Environment) Chairman Dadan Ramdan, Greenpeace’s activists, and other participants. The action took place in Cigebar, Bandung.

Bachtiar and his fellow environmental activists from Walhi and Greenpeace marked the opening session by delivering speeches about how severe is the damage of the great river. He said that since time immemorial Ci Tarum has been giving innumerable advantages to the people living along the riverbank, yet from time to time it has been severely damaged.

Greenpeace Indonesia as the organizer of this event provided ten pieces of white canvases of 180 X 120 centimeters and a one hundred meters white cloth to be painted by the artists. Assisted by some boatmen, the artists created paintings with mud from the river. As the painters were painting, Ine Arini danced on a prahu accompanied by Bringbrung’s percussions and songs.

This event was entitled Air Seni Ci Tarum. The Indonesian term air seni has a double meaning: ‘artistic water’ and ‘urine.’ One of the outcomes of the action was a muddy banner —expressed in a sort of Sundanese and English bad language— that read: ‘cai aing pabrik sia, my water your f_tory.’ That was our protest to the environmental damage caused by industrialization.

We also visited the grave of the leading dalang ‘traditional puppet master’ Mama Atmadja (1885-1954), not far from the riverbank.

Leave a Reply