Bali Conference and Festival “North Balinese Culture”
A Â« different Â» Bali
Conference and Festival Â« North Balinese Culture Â»
July 30th – August 2nd
The town of Singaraja, sitting on the north coast of Bali, will host the conference and festival Â« North Balinese Culture Â», to be held from July 30th to August 2nd, 2009. Its projected goal is to study the cultural heritage and artistic identity of the Buleleng regency, as well as to stimulate the revitalization of its artistic activity, particularly its performing arts.
It is obvious that the culture of Bali is far more complex than what can be seen in tourist guides. What’s more, the many researches that have been conducted on the island, pertaining to numerous disciplines, somehow also fail to portray Balinese arts and culture in a way that could be qualified as Â« complete Â». Why is it so? One of the main factors lies in the fact that the vast majority of studies have been conducted in the south central region of the island (mainly in the Badung and Gianyar regencies). Consequently, southern Balinese cultural phenomena came to represent (at least for foreigners) Bali as a whole, therefore hiding from view many shades of this complex cultural continuum.
The conference and festival Â« North Balinese Culture Â» aims to correct the situation by drawing attention on a rather neglected, but nonetheless culturally rich area of Bali: the northern regency of Buleleng, where the dynamic kebyar musical style was born around 1915. Although Buleleng was subsequently overshadowed – economically, culturally and politically – by South Bali, a powerful and unique musical style and repertoire still survives there. The appearance of the North Balinese gamelan Tri Bhuana Giri at the first International Gamelan Festival Amsterdam (IGFA), which took place in the Netherlands in June 2007, was received with wild enthusiasm and recognition by the audience.
This performance was the initial spark that lead to the present conference, cultural festival and exhibition. Initiated by Dutch ethnomusicologist (and IGFA coordinator) Henrice Vonck, this multidimensional event is organised in cooperation with I Gusti Bagus Sudhyatmaka Sugriwa (president of the Foundation for the Preservation of North Balinese Culture), I Gede Yudi Gautama (leader of Tri Bhuana Giri) and I Wayan Dibia (former director of ISI Denpasar), and held under the auspices of UNDIKSHA (Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha Singaraja).
The Â« conference Â» part will feature a roster of international scholars who will deal, through presentations and lecture/demonstrations, with a broad range of topics relating to North Balinese arts and culture. Keynote speakers will be author and playwright I Gede Dharna and master dancer/musician I Wayan Dibia, Ph.D. Both of them will respectively address the two main goals of the conference: the study of Buleleng’s cultural specificities, as well as reflecting on the way to revitalize its performing arts. The many sessions will concentrate on various aspects of North Bali’s cultural identity. Performing arts, such as music, dance and chant will be discussed extensively, the region having been the centre of major contribution in these fields. Edward Herbst will present the remarkable recordings made by Odeon-Baka in 1928, restored to maximum audibility, along with a collection of brief silent film excerpts shot in the 1930s by Colin Mcphee, Miguel Covarrubias and Rolf de MarÃ©. Gamelan Gong Kebyar: Belaluan, Pangkung, Busungbiu, the first of a projected five CD series, will be released in Bali during the conference. North Balinese dance, and its interaction with the south will also be addresed and demonstrated by Balinese dancer Bulan Trisna and Dutch dancer Aafke de Jong. Professor Hedi Hinzler, from the Netherlands, will contribute in significant ways by presenting various collections of photographs, graphic art and artifacts, items collected during Buleleng’s colonial past (1849-1942) that tells us a great deal about these times of major changes in Bali. In a related matter, anthropologist and photographer Maurizio Rosenberg Colorni will discuss photography as a means of documenting the history of the last 150 years. Buleleng has a rich photo documentation of its past, presently scattered in various places, which he aims to (re)collect and make available. Tourism, an integral part of Balinese cultural identity, will also be dealt with, as the conference is also aiming to raise awareness of North Balinese culture in the tourism industry. Other contributors include Nazrina Zuryani, who will present a first evaluation of the results of two successive irrigation-cum-agricultural development projects in relation to the situation and empowerment of women farmers, and Vaughan Hatch, with a talk/demonstration on the preservation of classical Balinese gamelan.
Not to be relegated to secondary importance, the event will also present a cultural festival featuring many of North Bali’s most famous artists. Concerts will include an old fashion mabarung (traditional Â« battle of the bands Â» competition) with legendary North Bali gong kebyar orchestras, a presentation of rare and sacred types of gamelan, as well as contemporary and newly commissioned works by A.A. Bulan Trisna Djelantik and I Gusti Bagus Suarsana. On the last day of the conference, participants will have the chance to enjoy a cultural tour of North Bali, with stops in the most renowned villages for their painting and craft.
The event also marks the opening of Â« Roots of North Balinese Culture Â», an exhibition of old photographs of parba, drawings, prasi and other works that have been preserved in Dutch librairies, which retell the cultural history of North Bali from 1850 onwards (curator: Hedi Hinzler).
This is a unique chance to discover a Â« different Â» Bali, certainly not to be missed. For more information, visitÂ www.northbali.org.
We are looking froward to meeting you there!
Best regards, Ã‰ric Vandal
Organising committee : Ida Bagus Sudhyatmaka Sugriwa, I Wayan Dibia, Hedi Hinzler, Ã‰ric Vandal and Henrice Vonck