Attacchi di Pane

“Picture of Today” in the Eyes of Italian Contemporary Dance

[Jakarta, LTTW] December 6, 2017, Listen to the World had the pleasure to watch a contemporary dance performance from Italy; organized by the Italian Cultural Institute (Istituto Italiano di Cultura) at the historical Jakarta Art Building. The group presented a dance routine entitled Attacchi di Pane, choreographed by Federica Galimberti, performed by dancers from the E.sperimenti GDO Dance Company.

The theme of the dance is “Man in Society”, a political work of art that is reflected in the story about the struggle of people in life, both in the west and other places around the world. Just like any other arts that are born and developed in the West such as Rock, Breaking, Dadaism, and so on, this performance showcases that the West culture still responds to its locality. It is no surprise if the symbols used in the dance are stemmed from the culture into which it is born.

This dance is filled with symbols that are manifested in the movement, gestures, and stage properties as the media for the choreographer and the seven dancers to convey the message to the audience. Chairs are used as the symbol for territory and identity, and a large Italian bread, which is the center of the routine, symbolizes the source of life.

A scene in the dance shows how the dancers fight over the large bread, and the story ends with the bread cut in two and shared equally. In Italy (Europe), bread is like rice to Javanese.

Listen to the World sees the struggle in Attacchi di Pane as the reflection of the world’s current political condition that is getting more divided due to greed and the fact that humans are still maintaining their territorial nature. Take proxy wars for example; where big countries fight over for power by making use of smaller countries that are in conflict.

Serrano Sianturi (Chairman of Sacred Bridge Foundation) takes a deeper look on the bread scene. He suggests that the bread scene may be the representation of “break a bread”, a term stemmed from Christian culture in Europe. The depiction of “break a bread” can be found in John 6:1-14, in which Jesus shared five pieces of bread and two pieces of fish to 5,000 hungry people. But, the most famous depiction of this term can be found in the Last Supper, in which Jesus breaks and shares the bread to the Apostles on the eve of his crucifixion and says, “This is my body given to you.” With this story, bread can be seen as the symbol of love, friendship, solidarity, peace, and reconciliation.

Tyas, our colleague and a dance teacher at Namarina Ballet, shares our view. She caught some movements where the dancers imitate the gestures in the painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci. The connection between dance and other forms of art is nothing new, especially in contemporary dance, which is evident in the history of dance in the 20th century USA.

The pioneers of 20th century contemporary dance such as Marta Graham, Merce Cunningham, and Lester Horton have set a new perspective in the world of dance. Marta Graham integrates choreography with visual arts; adopting the artistic concept of Picasso, the architectural works of Frank Lloyd Wright, and Stravinsky’s compositions. Merce Cunningham is the first choreographer who used the Avant Garde approach in his works. Lester Horton pioneered in combining Native American and Afro dance style into Western style. Contemporary dance has continued adopting styles from around the world such as Yoga, Zen, and American Gymnastic to Hip Hop. It is no surprise if Attacchi di Pane also uses this approach.

Keep in mind that Attachi di Pane is from Italy, the country from which ballet is originated. This dance made a progress after the marriage of Queen Catherine de Medici with the King Henry II from France. Even though different in style and movement, ballet and contemporary dance are strongly connected, even more than we know.

While modern dance is the anti-thesis of the ballet tradition, contemporary re-incorporates ballet as much as retaining modern approach and searching beyond the West. Departing from Christian tradition, ballet attempts to move “beyond the limit of human capability” to depict an angel’s move: its grace and beauty. One can see how light and graceful a ballet dancer moves, as if they are “flying and floating”. Modern dance, on the other hand, incorporate human emotions into the movements, and emphasizes gravity in the motion.

This shows that the counter thoughts brought up by modern and contemporary dance traditions would not have existed without ballet. On the other hand, ballet would cease to develop without modern and contemporary dances as counter parts.

E.SPERIMENTI Workshop: Brief Interview with Namarina’s Students

The Attacchi di Pane program involved dance students from various institutions in Jakarta to take part in a dance workshop taught by the choreographer. Several students from Namarina Dance Academy (partner of Listen to the World) also participated in this workshop.

Before the routine was presented, participants were given the chance to perform their creations from the workshop. Listen to the World had an opportunity to briefly interviewed two participants from Namarina Dance Academy: Kirana Nasywadara (Ara) and Dwigdi Diksita (Didi). They shared their experience and expressed their hopes to Listen to the World.

Ara commented that she learned a new method and gained a new perspective that is different from the tradition of ballet and also learned basic breathing skill, how to use their abdomen. Didi said that she learned about how to direct the flow of her moves. They felt happy to meet new friends from other institutions. Didi and Ara were very enthusiastic in welcoming the dancers and choreographers from Italy, because this was a rare moment for them. Didi wished that the workshop had longer duration, while Ara wished that she could learn more about skills and techniques than choreography.

When asked about the conception behind Attacchi di Pane, they explained that none of the contents in the workshop touches such subject. Based on its experience in education and culture, Sacred Bridge Foundation believes that this workshop should teach more than just techniques. The participants should be encouraged to understand the conception and thoughts both in historical and cultural perspective, so the participants (in this case they are all Indonesians) learn how to respond to the local context and their identity, so they can be more creative and original.


English Translation by Riri Rafiani




A Delicate Weave: Folk Singers from Western India Celebrate Diversity in the Face of Intolerance

by Anjali Monteiro, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Jayasankar K. P., Tata Institute of Social Sciences

A Delicate Weave (Jhini Bini Chadariya), a documentary film set in Kachchh, Gujarat in Western India, traces four different musical journeys, all converging in the ways they affirm religious diversity, syncretism (blending of religions and cultures) and love of the other in a country where religious politics too often divide communities.

Drawing on the poetic and musical traditions of poet-mystics Saint Kabir of Benaras (circa 1500) and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai of Sindh (1689–1752), as well as the folk traditions of the region, these remarkable musicians and singers bear testimony to how these oral traditions of compassion are being passed down from one generation to the next.

Naranbhai Siju, Weaver and Community Archivist. KP Jayasankar
It can take several forms. In Bhujodi, a village close to the city of Bhuj, in Gujarat, a group of young men meets every night to sing devotional songs. They are all weavers and feel a special bond with Kabir, who was also a weaver. They are mentored by Naranbhai Siju, a carpet weaver by profession and a remarkable self-taught community archivist, who spends his spare time recording and annotating this body of devotional music.

The women from Lakhpat, an ancient port close to the border between India and Pakistan, quietly subvert gender roles through their folk music performances. They are the first group of women in Kachchh to perform in public – and this has changed their lives.

The women’s group at the Lakhpat Gurudwara. KP Jayasankar
Noor Mohammad Sodha is a master flautist from Bhuj who has been playing the jodiya pawa or double flute for more than 25 years, performing in India and also overseas. He has recently begun teaching three young people his skills, in the hope that this tradition will live on.

Noor Mohammed Sodha, Master flautist from Bhuj. KP Jayasankar
Jiant Khan, 60, lives in the Banni grasslands of the area. On two nights every week, he meets people who travel from far-flung villages to sing the verses of the Sufi poet Shah Bhitai in the musical Waee form, a style from the northwest of India and beyond, performed with string instruments. Five years ago, there were only three people left in India who sang this rare and ethereal form – now the number has gone up to eight.


Jiant Khan, Waee Singer and Teacher, Jaloo Village. KP Jayasankar
All these passionate musicians keep alive this delicate weave, committed to the project of what Naranbhai calls “breaking down the walls” – walls that have been built up through the politics of hate and intolerance that marks current times.

Pastoralists living in harmony

Since 2008, our team from the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai have been creating video documentaries of the music of pastoral communities, in the region of Kachchh in Gujarat. This has resulted in the making of our three films – Do Din Ka Mela (A Two-Day Fair), So Heddan So Hoddan (Like Here Like There) and A Delicate Weave.

Gujarat witnessed ethnic violence directed against the Muslim minorities of the state in 2002, in which more than 2000 people are estimated to have been killed. Kachchh, though a part of Gujarat, remained unaffected by this outbreak of violence. We were inspired to explore the socio-cultural fabric that makes Kachchh an island of peace in a sea of intolerance and embarked on a process of documenting the Sufi traditions of music, storytelling and poetry that is an integral part of the lives of the pastoralists that live there.

This region has a long tradition of nomadic pastoralism, with many different communities that moved from Kachchh, across the salt desert known as the Great Rann of Kachchh, to Sindh, now in Pakistan, with their flocks of cattle and camels in search of pastures, in a process of rotational migration.

This movement over millenia resulted in strong kinship and trade ties between Hindu and Muslim pastoral or Maldhari communities in Kachchh with their counterparts in Sindh and Tharparkar across the Rann of Kachchh.

In earlier times, their religious identities were somewhat inconsequential and fuzzy. Many of these groups were nomadic people, with their own beliefs and practices, and there were also strong fraternal relationships between different communities, across religious persuasion, supported by stories about these ties from mythology and folklore.

Harder borders

The 1947 Partition of India transformed the lives of these communities forever, accentuating distinct and mutually exclusive religious identities – the new border became a faultline for divides that had never existed. The pastoralists were now hemmed into recently imagined nations, which continued to re-enact the tensions brought into play by Partition, their movements restricted forever.

After 1947, the border was somewhat porous until the India-Pakistan conflict of 1965, after which crossing over became increasingly difficult and the Rann became a militarised zone.

The emergence of hard borders, that are fenced and fortified, is not the only threat to the semi-nomadic pastoralism of the Maldharis. The past few decades have witnessed a slow and steady destruction of these ways of life, through the state’s environmental policies, the promotion of industrialisation, the proliferation of ecologically insensitive tourism and the bureaucracy’s condescending and cavalier attitude to these communities.

Fragility of life

Sindh and Kachchh share a common heritage, based on Sufism and other syncretic practices, as well as a shared repertoire of poetry, folklore, embroidery, architectural practices and visual culture.

The Bhakti poetry of Kabir, the 15th century mystic weaver-poet, is sung and recited across communities and religions. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai the Sindhi Sufi poet wrote the Shah jo Risalo in late 17th century, a remarkable collection of poems that continue to be sung by communities throughout Kachchh and Sindh.

Many of these poems draw on legendary love stories, which speak of the fragility and finitude of life, the inevitability of grief and an ultimate surrender to and union with the infinite.

Our documentation work at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, has often been in collaboration with the organisation Kutch Mahila Vikas Sanghatan (KMVS) which spreads the belief that culture, music, language and lived traditions form an important component of empowerment initiatives since 1988.

One of these initiatives has brought together musicians of various communities, initially through community radio. The musicians now have their own association that helps in organising programmes, mentoring younger musicians and keeping these musical traditions alive and robust.

Over the years, but particularly after the earthquake of 2001, which killed more than 12,000 people, there have been many changes in the social fabric of Kachchh.

The earthquake brought in external intervention in a big way, in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation, both by the state and non-governmental organisations. Today, Kachchh has also become a tourist destination, with the state-sponsored Rann Utsav (Desert Festival) that takes place between November and February and brings in thousands of tourists, with obvious effects on the fragile ecologies of the Rann and the grasslands.

Salt desert — the Rann of Kachchh. KP Jayasankar

The effects of these changes are complex. While on the one hand, tourism and external markets have provided a boost to local arts, crafts and artisans, on the other, the ways in which they change relationships within communities can pose problems for community living. Exacerbating these changes is the shift towards parties on the political right in Gujarat, including Kachchh, which threatens the traditionally fraternal and symbiotic relationships between diverse communities.

The ConversationThis is the backdrop against which A Delicate Weave explores efforts to teach and learn these endangered musical traditions and sustain the utopian energies that characterise Sufi and other syncretic ways of being. These traditions affirm notions of diversity and peaceful co-existence within this precarious yet resilient social fabric.

Anjali Monteiro, Professor at the School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and Jayasankar K. P., Dean, Professor School of Media Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

teamLab, 21st Century “Cave Painters”

[Jakarta, LTTW] There’s an online discussion going on at Listen to the World about environmental deterioration caused by human behavior and how we should respond. If we look upon what we’ve been through so far, we can conclude that humans have a problem living as a part of nature.

While many of us still practice a relationship in which nature and human are going in separate ways, in Japan there’s a digital art group who acts otherwise.

teamLab and Digital Art

teamLab consists of interdisciplinary group of ultra-technologists ranging from artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians to architects seeking to navigate the confluence of art, science, technology, design, and the natural world.

According to its official website, “teamLab believes that the digital domain can expand the capacities of art, and that digital art can create new relationships between people.” They stated that digital art provides human with a greater degree of autonomy within space – to use and manipulate it much more freely. Moreover, in an interaction with the environment within space, viewers can instigate perpetual change in an artwork through interactive relationship between them and the artwork.

In our view, teamLab isn’t just trying to push the boundaries of digital art, but also re-connecting relationship between human, environment (natural world, urban, etc.), and technology.

In one of many teamLab’s interactive digital installations, Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together, 2014 highlights on how human can never be able to control nature, but can live together or cohabitating in Sacred Bridge foundation’s term.

“The boundary between the work of nature and the work of humans is extremely vague. Rather than nature and humans being in conflict, a healthy ecosystem is an ecosystem that includes people. Unlike people of today, people in the past lived on the assumptions that humans cannot grasp nature in its entirety, and that it is not possible to control nature. These people, who lived for a long time more closely aligned to the rules of nature, perhaps created this comfortable natural environment.”

And in Digitized Nature, Digitized City (teamLab’s art project) they stated that since digital technologies are non-material objects, it has no physical impact. Thus, nature can be turned into art without harming them, and cities can be turned into art without changing anything physical – maintaining the infrastructure of the city.

Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and Boats (2015), one of the featured works of Digitized Nature, Digitized City

“No longer does art need to be exhibited in nature; rather nature itself becomes art. Similarly art need not be exhibited in the city, but parts of the city itself can become art. We can then expand this concept, with an entire city becoming a huge artistic space without disruption to its normal functions.”

Tokushima Digitized City Art Nights – Luminous Forest and River (2016), one of the feature works of Digitized Nature, Digitized City

To us, this digital art is 21st century’s “cave painting” showing that human and nature is one using natural park and urban settings as the venues.

Real Vs “Digitized” Nature

teamLab’s approach is vital in promoting harmonious living between human and nature, especially in a time when we live so distant from nature. We should keep in mind, however, our relationship with nature must be physical and non-physical, not just virtual.

It’s noteworthy that while our awe toward all things digital is increasing, our concern and sensitivity to nature is decreasing, and this affects the way we appreciate nature. What teamLab does is extraordinary, but they must ensure that their objective – in this case is to signify nature in human life – is achieved. It is our hope that the outcome of this attempt will not be more appreciation on digital world and much less on nature.

Nature has possessed beauty since the beginning of time. Its beauty is forever far beyond the reach of humankind, let alone the digital world.  Nature has displayed its phenomenal and majestic “power” over millennia whether we are aware of it. Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), White Nights, Thunderstorm, Volcanic Eruption, Tornado, Change of Seasons, and Sand Dunes are examples that perhaps can recharge our memories on how mesmerizing the nature is.

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)


If we look at the above video and pictures (and for those who have been fortunate to witness these natural phenomena), we know that humankind can never do what nature does, no matter how advance our technology is. So we expect that spectators who experience the teamLab’s exhibition would also come to this conclusion, nothing less.

If you’re curious about teamLab’s digital installations, you should check their ongoing exhibitions Light Festival in Fukuoka Castle Ruins at Maizuru Park, Fukuoka, Japan, from December 1, 2017 until January 28, 2018. Another one worth noting is Future World: Where Art Meets Science at ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore – and many more!

Check out the schedule of their upcoming exhibitions here.


Source: TeamLab’s official website.

Muhal Richard Abrams, “The Renaissance Man” of 20th Century Music

Jazz lovers all over the world mourned the loss of a music legend, Muhal Richard Abrams. The New York Times reported that Abrams, 87, was found lifeless on his Manhattan house, October 29, 2017. Dubbed the “Renaissance Man” of 20th century music, Abrams’ roles in nurturing grassroots music through AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) has been widely recognized by critiques and musicians alike. He was known to possess deep understanding of music theory and interest in other disciplines such as spiritualism. He devoted much of his time studying Joseph Schillinger system, a music theory that departs from a mathematical geometry. Perhaps that what made him such an exceptional musician.

Together with Phil Cohran, Jodie Christian, and Fred Anderson, Abrams co-founded AACM, a non-profit organization with a mission to cultivate the next generation through music and education.  The organization is still striving to this day because its members have faith in AACM’s culture and core mission. The organization is central to its members. As Anthony Braxton put it, AACM has become the medium for musicians hungry for new approach, to explore and improvise.  Since its establishment in 1965, AACM has changed the face of the neighborhood, alleviating poverty that once overwhelmed the streets by giving people education. To this day, AACM still manages to produce quality individuals.

AACM’s continuous existence shows that this organization has been aiming at defining the meaning of life. It is free-willed and has been struggling against the mainstream culture by providing people with music education.

As the result, it has produced many outstanding musicians and forward thinkers, such as Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Henry Threadgill. Braxton is a soulful, unique saxophonist and composer of modern jazz who earned The McArthur’s “Genius Grant”. The Art Ensemble of Chicago is a free-jazz band that immersed itself in counter-culture movement. Lastly is Henry Threadgill, a prominent bass player, composer, and a winner of Pulitzer Prize. These individuals are the proof of AACM’s success in educating society through music.

Left: Art Ensemble of Chicago, Center: Anthony Braxton, Right: Henry Threadgill.

Abrams was a prolific music writer. He had been composing music throughout his life, producing a number of masterpieces. According to Discog, he had released albums from 1968 to 2016, ranging from solo, group/orchestral, and re-mastered albums. He also wrote many commissioned projects for big names such as Kronos Quartet, American Composer Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

One thing that we must learn from him is his tenacity. He may not be a famous musician; his pieces may not be easy-listening ones, but he couldn’t care less about it and continued to be do what he believed. This attitude should serve as a salient reminder for us today, when music industry is mainly geared towards money-making and less concern for the arts. Abram’s spirit of putting his art first should inspire the new generation of musicians.


  1. AACM Panel Discussion.

2. (2014 )NEA Jazz Masters Awards Ceremony & Concert, Part 2 (Anthony Braxton).

3. Muhal Richard Abrams, 87, Individualistic Pianist and Composer, Is Dead.(NYT).


Loving Vincent

The World’s First Fully Oil-Painted Film

[Jakarta, LTTW] “We cannot speak other than by our paintings” is a sentence from the last letter written by Vincent Van Gogh himself, which later inspired painter and film director Dorota Kobiela to create Loving Vincent, the world’s first fully oil-painted film about Vincent Van Gogh’s final days.

Derived from re-imagination of 94 Vincent Van Gogh’s original paintings; the filmmakers produced over 65,000 frames of oil paints on more than 800 canvases for the film. “Everything was a painting on canvas”, said Hugh Welchman, co-director of Loving Vincent.

They shot the film with real actors in live action combined with Computer Generated Layout Animatic as reference materials. The recorded film was then handed over to Painting Design Team, which consists of over 80 painters working at studios in Gdansk and Wroclaw. This team of painters meticulously turned each frames into a thick, expressive brushstrokes and colors mimicking Van Gogh’s painting style. Each frame was painted over and over for the movement of the shot.

“No tracing, no nothing. The opening shot, where we come down from Starry Night, took six hours per frame to paint. So you’re talking about two weeks to do a second. It might have taken 20 weeks to paint that 10-second shot – you’re looking at half a year of someone’s life”, said Welchman. Ten minutes fully oil-painted film is great, but for one and a half hours, it is breathtaking – especially when we are in the middle of technological advancement era.

That’s why the filmmakers didn’t just succeed in making fully oil-painted animation, but also pushed the boundaries of filmmaking by combining conventional technique with today’s technology. Another thing that needs to be well-pondered is that the film story was created based on the interpretation of Van Gogh’s paintings and letters, thus the filmmakers must also interpret each paintings and letters, and how one relates to the other. This is the reason why Loving Vincent leaves us flabbergasted.

Loving Vincent’s Official Trailer via Youtube

According to its official website, Loving Vincent took more than 6 years to complete.

The movie was released on September 22, 2017 in the US, followed by screenings and events in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) until early 2018.

If you’re still curious about how the film was made, you shouldn’t miss the Loving Vincent exhibition at Noordbrabans Museum in Den Bosch, Netherlands. The exhibition runs until January 28, 2018.


Sources: Loving Vincent Official Website and The Guardian