Kedai Kebun Forum, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

In January 2020 - just before the pandemic - I was artist-in-residence at Kedai Kebun Forum (KKF) in Yogyakarta, the cultural capital of Java. At KKF I researched the possibilities of a performance with the working title Parade Pedagang Keliling (Parade of ambulant street vendors). I was assisted by Uniph Kahfi and Mas Komar from KKF. Halfway the residency I had the open studio exhibition Silakan Duduk (Have a seat) and other works and in my open studio I had many conversations with the audience. In February 2020 I continued the research from our house in Yogyakarta.

During the two months I collected sounds of street vendors who go around neighborhoods: it is common in Indonesia that these sellers use various 'instruments' to get attention from potential customers: the sound of a fork on a bowl or plate, spoon on glass, wooden stick on bamboo etc. All sounds relate to a certain food, snack or drink, and there are local differences. In the sounds of lids, glasses, bamboo and spoons I already heard music since my first visit in 2011. 

With the sounds collected during the residency I aimed to write a music composition, to be performed by the vendors in some future. The composition was planned to be based on Javanese gamelan: traditional ensemble music with predominantly percussive instruments. Preparing that I had started to practise gamelan at Het Gamelanhuis in Amsterdam in October 2019, before the residency began.

Back in the Netherlands in March 2020 I continued practising gamelan and I applied for a Development Grant at the Amsterdam Funds of the Arts in order to develop composing and conducting skills, and to work with Dutch Indonesian composer and conductor Sinta Wullur and gamelan and music teacher Michiel Niemantsverdriet. In October 2020 I received the desired funding for the development of the project. In 2021 I learned about composition theories and methods, was taught western and Indonesian music histories, and I experimented with the footage I recorded during the residency at KKF.

In 2021-2022 I wrote the composition for Yogyakarta in collaboration with Sinta Wullur, and I instructed my fellow gamelan players to perform my ‘spoon-on-glass’ arrangements of two traditional, centuries-old gamelan pieces. From the process of leading the rehearsals with the gamelan ensemble, I learned lessons for working in the future in Yogyakarta.

In April 2022 I held a presentation of the research and development of my project at Het Gamelanhuis in Amsterdam. That afternoon, I guided, together with curator Imke Ruigrok, Sinta Wullur, Michiel Niemantsverdriet and gamelan ensemble Mugi Rahayu, the 100-person audience along Javanese music and sounds, ideas, experiments and video projections. We also performed my arrangements of Tropongbang (in the video on 11.37) and Kebogiro (on 46.50).

In December 2022 and January 2023 I returned to Yogyakarta with the composition to work on Parade with the ambulant street vendors again. Read more here: Parade.