Nungkalik International Art Festival
Art Festival debuting in 2023 by Institute of Art Denpasar, founded on themes discussed by Dr. Sujana Suklu. Featuring Artists Bambang Herras, Agung Gunawan, Martina Feirtag, Diwarupa, Made Kaek, Putu Bonuz Sudiana, Robert Martin, Galung Wiratmaja, Steve Bolton, Dewi Dian Reich, Ketut Sumerjana and Dr. Mas Ruscitadewi.
Nungkalik International Art Festival. An introduction to a contemporary art festival debuting this year in Bali that is in its early stages already showing signs of extraordinary possibilities. In nature Nungkalik is bold, experimental and conceptual. Centred on the idea offered by artist and lecturer Dr. Sujana Suklu that artists on a daily basis are subconsciously learning a universal intuitiveness whilst responding to the world throughout their lives.
That is to say, whether through their movements, musical or visual expressions as well as verbal interactions. Their bodies and memories compile experiences that keep developing and transforming with each day that passes. Their sensitivity to phenomena that occurs outside of themselves inevitably gets stronger and becomes a substantive sensitivity in their respective internal worlds. We may say this transforms into an instinctive sensitivity that does not require conscious deliberation when external elements circle close to their internal world.
An artist in an open condition is perhaps a body ready to be, or a being ready to become. is an artist in an open condition. Uninhibited and in tune, this instinctive compulsion is ready to respond and interact with the world outside. The form of interaction is divided into two parts, interacting with nature and interacting with other artists. The Nungkalik festival is an interaction space for artists, and their beings to become. Conceptual experimental space, where the artist as an instinctive being proceeds through their processes, with extraordinary collective appreciation than before.Sujana Suklu
The Premise of Nungkalik Art Festival
Artists are invited to participate in this experimental study, from different backgrounds, geographic locations as well as varying creative disciplines. Throughout the festival, community members with specialty areas in sociology, psychology, education and music were also invited to participate and observe. The global theme for the Nungkalik International Art Festival 2023 was introduced as ‘Exploring Archetypes’ with specific explorations on associated concepts during each workshop day.
Participating artists were involved in these workshops together with members of the Fine Arts and Performance Arts student body. Our day beginning with a discussion circle. Together exchanging thoughts and ideas about the proposed themes and the significance of the chosen mediums. Within these discussions, it is interesting how very naturally, abstract ideas and concepts were articulated by all artists.
Nungkalik Mata Hulu
For example, in the workshop Mata Hulu, this theme means water source. This was quickly associated with a water source as the symbolic representation of the source of life. The spring of life was its proposed interpretation. The chosen medium prepared was recycled fabric, and artists including myself and Galung Wiratmaja, Mas Ruscitadewi and Ketut Sumerjana were to respond to the medium to represent this concept.
Image: The Spring of Life, Mata Hulu. Photography by Dewi Dian Reich
There are characteristics of fabric as a weave, that we identified. It being strands of cotton interwoven together..became a symbolic association with the woven threads of life. A pattern of natural cycles. Perhaps interwoven elements of ecosystems, seasons and energies. In our discussion group we explored medium, space and philosophical themes together. This process of interactivity plays a prominent role in the spirit of Nungkalik Art Festival.
The absorption into complex symbolism remarkably happens almost immediately. Arguably, you can safely conclude this is evidence that artists have an instinctive response strengthened on this subconscious level that is drawn out during these interactions. It is inherent knowledge, better characterised as instinctive.
Nungkalik Tengah Kalpataru
In the second workshop, the concept of Tengah Kalpataru represents the tree. We see again a leap into abstract concepts being articulated very quickly. The tree was described as a point of interconnection between the earth and the sky. As that of the middle. Rooted to the earth, but reaching to the sky. Being a physical living body in the middle, the association to a broader visualisation of life cycle became prominent. Introducing Time into the theme. As trees go through a life cycle from birth to death and rebirth.
The medium prepared for this workshop was that of wood which is a natural association. It is important to note that the shapes of the medium (as doors and windows were provided) also played a large role in the artists’ concept development. Doors and windows were soon attributed as metaphors of openings and closing, beginnings and endings. Gateways of passages connecting through time. Artists including Robert Martin and Putu Bonuz Sudiana, from different cultural backgrounds showed no disparity at all in expressing this symbolism and moved together to manifest this concept as one together with performance artist Dek Geh.
Nungkalik Bumi Teben
In the third interaction, the presence performance artist Agung Gunawan and writer Steven Bolton brought interesting elements of movement and music to the theme in discussions with Dr. Ketut Sumerjana. Physical pressure and intensity of movements were translated as weight and density in a visual framework. Musical formulas and compositions was also visualised into the theme during discussion. The concept of Bhumi Teben, is translated here as the deepest part of the earth. The densest and hardest depths of earth which was aptly represented by the proposed medium, metal.
During this workshop, we can see artists Made Kaek and Diwarupa expressing their interactions with the metals whilst Bambang Heras actively making installations with fabrics as a contrast to the hardness of metal. Meanwhile, many others creating a chorus of sound effects with Ketut Sumerjana was an integral component of the conceptualisation of this theme. Ultimately exploding into a vibrant performance that overflowed with a raw earthiness hard to surpass.
Mandala Semesta at Segara Ayu Beach
In the third place, the last workshop and open space community participation at Segara Ayu Sanur, Nungkalik Festival 2023 comes full circle. The first interaction held for Nungkalik, was here in response to a solar eclipse in April. On July 9th the interactive workshops are concluded here with a discussion and response to the theme Tri Tunggal, Mandala Semesta.
Modest Parameters Resulting in Profundity
Though perhaps difficult to articulate, the palpable energy during Nungkalik interactions is something unique. Generally speaking, we understand that interactions are something that happens within artists’ creative processes all the time. So what makes this unique? Bearing in mind, these are modest parameters that have been set for group participation. Perhaps the implementation of these modest condisitions together with the wholeheartedness of participants is crucial. The closure of our festival was celebrated by the open space performance.
The Truth Behind Nungkalik
Balinese philosophy is vibrant and spiritual. Exploring Archetypes through Mata Hulu, Tengah Kalpataru, and Bumi Teben, are mammoth universal philosophies. A vast room in which artists were invited to explore and respond. The contrasts given through the chosen mediums inspired tactile, visual and metaphorical associations with these archetypal concepts. The theme development that was occurring within a short amount of time was complex and perfect. Perhaps proving again the very truth that Nungkalik is hoping to share.
Artists are intuitive and have learned these sensitivities in response to place, mediums and through interactions with external phenomena their whole lives. And so as a result, when thrown together in this situation, their synchronicity surpasses language, culture, age or creative discipline. That is to say, it was simply, beautifully united.
Nurture, a Natural Instinct
Another interesting element of Nungkalik interactions is the presence of our students. Though many artists were invited from different professional areas and different locations, as we came together during the workshops, we already had one thing in common. We were hosted by our juniors, by the students of ISI Denpasar. On some level, I believe this impacts our psychology and behaviour in instinctive ways.
Everyone whether they are aware of it or not, was joined by the shared role of being mentors to the students. This perhaps also played a role in the fastening of instinctive bonds during our workshops. In conclusion, when we are placed in positions of caretakers, this taps into a predisposition to nurture. Which is very conducive to growth and creativity.
On a different subject but another key point is the choice of location. At the beginning of each workshop, it is explained to participating artists that one of the elements within Nungkalik framework is the choice of location. The location for each interaction was chosen carefully, in line with Balinese architectural philosophy. Our interactions being located in between sacred and social locations is said to aid the interaction through Nature’s elemental forces.
Creativity, a Universal Wisdom
Bearing in mind that the individual differences were by no means minor. Whether one is predisposed to be shy, introverted and private in their process of art, or comfortable with public performances, or traditionalists or abstractionists. Or perhaps working from behind a camera, it is remarkable, that an experimental interaction such as this, which would logically point to the likelihood of many communication gaps and barriers, instead manifested a seamless, complex, rich presentation of a collective human expression embodying a deep universal wisdom.
Nungkalik in itself means paradox. Art as in life is genuinely littered and decorated by the most beautiful and precious paradoxes. It is within these contradictions that truth is often hidden. All things considered, when searching for truth, one must be ready to encounter paradoxes.
A Search For Truth
So perhaps the essence of the Nungkalik Festival, through this experimental and conceptual framework of contemporary art, inviting multi disciplines to co-join and respond in our most intuitive states, is to dialogue with each other and conceptualise a united visual, oral, and physical language in response to a proposed theme. These are all simply parameters in which we exercise a search for truth.
The truth within this energy we call creativity. This compulsion we have to surrender to something that often defies logic or reason. There is our need to draw, build, sing, and move.. in a way that is not confined by conventional structures.
The Beginning and End of the Circle
We came to a circle, this is a very solidifying and meaningful action. A circle has no finish or end, everyone is connected and there are no outsiders. This is perhaps a powerful subconscious bond, a re-enactment throughout the Nungkalik program. We begin during a solar eclipse. The point of the beginning is also a circle. Each theme is begun by sitting together in a circle. And the closure of the festival back at Segara Ayu also finds artists and students coming full circle.
Another example is the rolling of the glass vase across the stones of the wharf which is also circular. Keeping this in mind, the final exhibition also presents the paradoxical circle in its layout. To put this in another way, an eclipse is a paradox. That is to say, the sun is up but it casts a shadow. The works in response to the eclipse are what encircle the works from the three explorative workshops. From the themes of Mata Hulu, Tengah Kalpataru and Bumi Teben. You can say the whole world lies within the circle of the paradox. To put it differently, providing perfect reflections that when artists enter the circle of Nungkalik they are proceeding into a realm to get closer to the truth.
Nungkalik International Art Festival is managed by a collaborative team of communities.
For information on upcoming events of Nungkalik Art Festival, direct message @nungkalik.fest or @sawidjiart