INDONESIA: ABSTRACTS AND PAPERS
Performing Arts of Indonesia (Performance, Education, and Archives)
I Made Bandem
Performing Arts–music, dance, and theatre–have been an important part of Indonesian cultural life throughout the archipelago. It is very fortunate that examples of performing arts from many eras of Indonesia’s past still survive today, kept alive by the vital ways of life. Education in Indonesian performing arts is conducted in numerous ways, which can be seen from the kinds of systems to be applied. There are two kinds of systems used in Indonesian performing arts education: formal and non-formal education. It is widely known that teaching methods of traditional performing arts in Indonesia are still strongly based on oral tradition. However, the people of Indonesia as a whole have realized not only the importance of the exhibition of, and education in traditional performing arts, but also the necessity of a thorough archival system. Thus, over the last decade, many efforts in establishing libraries and archive centers can be seen throughout the archipelago. Through the utilization of technology, it is expected that these centers can be a reference source for many generations to come.
Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory (ICHI) of Indonesia
Indonesia is often referred to as a multi-ethnic nation. The Indonesian archipelago is inhabited by over 350 ethnic groups, each with its own culture, some of which are quite similar in nature and others completely different. As such, there is a great wealth of cultural works to be found in this nation, both tangible and intangible. These cultural works, including those passed down from our ancestors for many generations and also new works which are still closely tied to these ancient works, are of great importance to the Indonesian nation, not only helping to form our national identity but also as an indication of the level of civilization of the nation.
In this context, there is no problem concerning the ownership of cultural heritages which are of a tangible nature. However, intangible cultural heritages, because of their very nature, are often treated inappropriately, or misappropriated for financial profit or political gain. This kind of behaviour is also due in part to the nature of non-literate cultures in which it is not common practice to keep records or archives of cultural works. Therefore, when the world began to implement a system of ownership for cultural works (such as intellectual property rights), which incidentally originated from the literate culture of the West, the ownership of intangible cultural heritages of non-literate cultures, including Indonesia, can quite easily be transferred by those who are adept with the administration of such systems, for their own personal gain.
The Convention of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was sanctioned by UNESCO on 17th October 2003, not only aims to prevent the cultural heritage of a nation from becoming extinct, but is also an effective way of overcoming the problems of ownership, as outlined above, in the nations which ratified the convention. Although sanctioned by UNESCO in 2003, Indonesia did not ratify the convention until the year 2007. This is an indication of how little attention the Indonesian government gives to cultural matters.
Countries that have ratified this convention have the right to submit a proposal for various kinds of aid to help safeguard their cultural heritage, such as: making studies on various aspects of safeguarding; providing experts and practitioners; training for all the manpower required; learning how to set standards and other similar activities; developing and operating infrastructure; acquiring equipment and practical knowledge; financial and technical assistance; providing soft loans, and so on. However, at the same time, each country must also carry out its obligation to create an inventory of its own Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). The standards to be used in creating such an inventory are stated primarily in articles 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the convention. The inventory must be constantly updated and reported on a regular basis to UNESCO via the UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
It appears that Indonesia has been very slow to fulfil this obligation, despite the strong need for such an inventory of its cultural heritage. This is due to the numerous obstacles the country has faced over the past few years. In the mid-1990s, preliminary steps were taken towards creating an inventory of Indonesia’s cultural heritage, which was known as an Integrated Cultural Information System, designed by the Directorate General for Culture in the Department of Education and Culture, with the aim of becoming a national activity. However, this endeavour was brought to a halt as a result of the continuous changes in the structural organization of the government since the end of the Suharto era.
When President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono was first elected (in 2004), despite the fact that the Indonesian government had not yet ratified the above mentioned Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Directorate for Art and Cultural Values and Film in the Department of Culture and Tourism began to design a Cultural Map of Indonesia. This follows the standards and criteria laid out by the convention, and as such can be legitimately referred to as the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory (ICHI) of Indonesia, which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere in the world. This Cultural Map is in the form of a website which contains a database about the intangible cultural works of Indonesia, designed in the format of descriptions of research results, both of a textual and contextual nature, and also audio-visual presentations. Its physical network has already been compiled but work on the data entries has not yet been started, due to a variety of obstacles faced.
The human resources for this project, including researchers, writers, audio-visual programmers, and computer operators, are already available. With the current salary system implemented for government employees in Indonesia, it is possible to the manage the wages needed for the data entry technicians but as yet, the government has not taken the necessary steps required for the further implementation of this program. This is perhaps because the government is not yet fully aware of the importance of this kind of inventory of its cultural heritage.
Tracing the Existence of Javanese Gamelan Music Through the Role of Karawitan Masters:
The Pillars of the Existence of Surakarta Style Javanese Gamelan Music (1950s-1970s)
The existence of gamelan music is closely related to a number of important factors, such as: the process of transmitting the skills needed to play gamelan music, the contribution of gamelan music towards strengthening the Javanese culture, the development of its creative aspects, and its accommodative nature. Karawitan masters play an important role in supporting and colouring the life of karawitan in a particular area and over a particular period of time. Their knowledge and skills in the field of gamelan music, together with their cultural background, are strong assets which support their influential role. Javanese Surakarta style karawitan masters ensure the continued existence of gamelan music in a variety of ways. Therefore, it is important to trace the existence of Surakarta style gamelan music through the role of these master musicians.
It is a logical assumption that: Javanese karawitan exists because it was intentionally created or invented by man. The music grew, developed, and underwent changes because it was intentionally nurtured, developed, and changed by man. Those who have the ability to develop Javanese karawitan in this way are no ordinary people. They are creative human beings who have a forward looking perspective, a broad knowledge, and a sensitivity to various social, cultural, and artistic phenomena. For this reason, the rest of society idolizes them, looks up to them, and regards them as important sources of information and as leaders. In the world of Javanese karawitan these people are known as karawitan masters or Empu Karawitan. In the world of Javanese karawitan the excellence of these master musicians includes their knowledge, skill, creativity, and their ability to transmit or pass on this skill to others, so that they are able to influence the perception of other people to emulate their actions.
On this basis, tracing the existence of Javanese karawitan (also other kinds of gamelan music or genres of ethnic music) in a particular area and during a particular period of time through the role of these master musicians/leaders is a model/methodology which deserves to be given more attention in the field of art research. By tracing the steps of the master musicians who played an important role in preserving the existence and development of Javanese karawitan, the following points were discovered:
1. the process of transferring their skills and knowledge
2. the ways in which they musically interpreted the repertoire
3. the changes and innovations made
4. their views on karawitan
5. the ways in which they reacted towards the phenomenon of change in each era
6. the ideas behind their compositions
7. their contribution to developments in the life of karawitan
8. their influence on the life of karawitan
9. their methods of learning, creating, and formulating knowledge about karawitan
10. the ways used to ensure the continued existence of karawitan
11. the colour of their karawitan creations.