Tetiten Swarane Tandur - Hear the Seeds Sing”


Tetiten Swarane Tandur: “Hear the Seeds Sing”

Exploring Climate Change Through the Eyes of Indigenous Farmers in Indonesia

At Fusion Arts, we are excited to share the journey of "Tetiten Swarane Tandur - Hear the Seeds Sing," an exhibition highlighting climate change from the perspective of indigenous farmers in Indonesia. Over the past six months, Fusion Arts Marketing Manager Feng Ho and Soboman Artspace Production Manager Alya Gunara have worked tirelessly to bring this project to life. What began as a simple exhibition evolved into a residency for six members of the Soboman Artspace Collective from Yogyakarta, including artists Munir Al Sachroni, Clesia Christine, Sarjono, writer Ribka Barus, and documentation expert Deden Ardiansyah.

The exhibition featured a rich line up of events during Great Big Green Week, including a panel discussion, green arts gathering, batik workshop, land justice community meal, poetry workshop, and a closing event with art performances. These events engaged local communities with themes of land justice, food security, and climate change.

exhibition text in Bahasa and English

A Personal Journey

Feng Ho reflects on the exhibition's development: "The journey of 'Hear the Seeds Sing' is deeply personal for me. I connected with Munir through Instagram over two years ago, drawn to his artwork and our shared passion for activism and art. My grandmother hails from Semarang, and learning that Yogyakarta is nearby made our collaboration even more meaningful. Munir expressed his desire to showcase his work in Oxford, and I made it my mission to make it happen."

Their partnership flourished as Feng introduced Munir and Soboman Artspace to the Green Arts Oxfordshire Network. Munir participated in an online panel discussion on climate change during Great Big Green Week 2022. Feng also facilitated Munir’s collaboration with the Westbury People’s Gallery and curated a traveling mini-exhibition around Oxfordshire. In June 2023, Feng visited Soboman Artspace during their residency in Liechtenstein, not knowing that within a year, their collaborative efforts would culminate in this remarkable exhibition. They secured funding from the British Council’s Connections through Culture grant, which kick-started this collaboration by supporting the exhibition and two events.

Collaboration and Challenges

Working with Soboman Artspace was a collaborative process, though not without its surprises. The residency was confirmed just a month before the exhibition, with flights booked only two weeks prior. Despite these challenges, the team managed to achieve remarkable results.

Feng notes, "Reflecting on this, it was evident that Fusion and Soboman share a certain chaos in how we operate - a trait common to small arts organizations. I’m amazed at what we achieved despite the constraints of time, money, and people-power. Alya and I came together as a team, working tirelessly to get things done."

“Activating Space Through Shared Creativity”

Shared Creativity

As part of the residency, Munir, Clesia, and Jono painted a 10-meter-long mural. Presented partially finished at the opening, the mural was completed in stages throughout the exhibition. Visitors were invited to respond to the artwork, fostering a two-way creative conversation between local residents and Indonesian artists. This engagement aimed to bridge cultural connections, emphasizing our shared responsibility for the planet.

Batik Workshop

Participants also explored Indonesian Batik, led by Clesia Christine, learning about its historical significance and practicing new techniques. This interactive experience allowed attendees to create and take home their own Batik pieces. The exhibition also featured five Batik panels, showcasing this traditional art form in a modern context with messages of hope and resistance.

Poetry Workshop

The poetry workshop "Seeding Resistance," led by Javanese artist and activist Khairani Barokka, was a bilingual poetry writing session that switched seamlessly between Bahasa and English. Participants engaged with poems by Indonesian poets, responding to the artwork with their reflections in both languages. The workshop's written outputs were poignant and powerful.

Panel Discussion

The exhibition opened with an engaging panel discussion, "Harvesting Change," bringing together artists, researchers, and activists from Oxford and Yogyakarta. Ribka Barus from the Centre of Religious and Cross Cultural Studies at UGM, Munir Al Sachroni of the Kelas Bebas Collective, JC Niala, Dot from Land Justice Oxfordshire, and Yasmin Sidhwa from Mandala Theatre shared their work addressing climate change and land justice.

This was followed by an interactive discussion between the panellists and the audience, offering insights into the interconnectedness of global climate struggles and highlighting shared issues of power and ownership.

Green Arts Get Together

The Green Arts Oxfordshire Network get-together united people to swap seeds, share ideas, and explore themes of climate justice and land sovereignty over a community meal. Attendees came from diverse creative backgrounds, including spoken word, theatre, and visual arts, and included activists from the CUT Campaign and XR Oxford. We learned about activism in Southeast Asia and discussed ways to amplify voices from the global majority.

Community Gathering

"Feasting & Finding Home," another event led by Land Justice Oxfordshire, invited participants to bring a dish or recipe that reminded them of home. The event included craft activities that encourage reflection on the question, “What could make Oxford feel like home for you?”

Closing Event

The closing event was a celebration of everything the project aimed to achieve, bringing together local residents, including many Indonesians living in Oxford, to enjoy drinks and homemade vegan cakes.

An art performance by Munir, assisted by Jono, encapsulated land justice as the core theme. “Do you want freedom?” echoed through the performance as each audience member received a cup with longan seeds, along with a Cowongan doll cut from the exhibition, symbolizing the project's themes and community spirit.

A Lasting Impact

Alya Gunara reflects on the residency: "It's been a few weeks but I still can't believe we went there and had the exhibition! Me, Feng, and the other team members really had an amazing time with the community there whilst also building connections and sending the important message of what's happening in other countries, especially in Indonesia. We had many valuable discussions that we hope will spark continuity in many aspects of this project"

“"Hear the Seeds Sing" is about bringing communities together and making the climate crisis resonate locally. By sparking conversations, shared meals, and poetry inspired by the artwork, we aimed to create a real emotional connection to these pressing issues.”

Thank you to the Soboman Artspace Collective, Kelas Bebas Collective, Studio Mawar Bebas, Ellie Monk from Green Arts Oxfordshire Network, Dot from Land Justice Oxfordshire, Khairani Barokka at Nine Arches Press, JC Niala and Yasmin Sidhwa from Mandala Theatre, and of course, the Fusion Arts team.

We also extend our gratitude to Ovada, OFS, and the Randolph Hotel for lending us plinths and furniture for the exhibition. Special thanks to Yani, Shinta, Nazneen, and Benny for helping us promote this exhibition to the Indonesian Oxford community via the Indonesian Embassy and the Indonesian Oxford Student Association.

Our gratitude goes to the funders of this project - British Council, Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research & Technology, Atlantic Institute and Oxfordshire County Council / CAG Oxfordshire, this project would not have happened without your support!

“We hope this exhibition marks the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with Soboman Artspace. Thank you to everyone who came to the exhibition, and for supporting this important work.”

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Supporters of Fusion Arts

Oxford City Council Arts Council England National Lottery Funded Project Grant National Lottery Community Fund Oxfordshire Community Foundation Here for Culture Doris Field Charitable Trust BBC Children in Need Levelling Up South Oxfordshire District Council Christ Church College Jesus College