James Cameron’s Avatar (Mes 56)

2014 Performance

‘Put Up a Signal’ residency and group show
Performance 21 November 2014 at Ruang MES, Indonesia 56

Participating artists: Alfi a.k.a Setro Gondo Mayit, Greatest Hits, Agan Harahap, Yusuf Ismail, Oliver van der Lugt, Eugenia Lim, Rowan McNaught, Sean Peoples, Eldwin Pradipta, Wok the Rock and Emile Zile.

Curated by Agung Nugroho Widhi, Akiq AW and Channon Goodwin.
Supported by Bus Projects, Mes56, Asialink Arts.

Using my hand gestures to block and frame the projection of Avatar onto a screen I perform a re- ductionist shadow play, removing and reducing the effects of this multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster. The film is presented in it’s entirety, two hours and forty minutes. I reduce the film to ‘handmade’ status, returning the film to the hand rather than the render data farm. Through a series of hand- based ‘special effects’ I link this recent film to the origins of projected entertainment: fireside story- telling and shadow play in the cave. The Javanese tradition of Wayang shadow puppetry was also present in my mind when choosing to make this performance in Jogjakarta. I find Indonesia’s complex post-colonial history an appropriate context to invite the audience to re- flect on the narrative of Avatar, which has been criticised as an all-too easy allegory of a Western saviour in faraway lands.

Photography by KK+JLD.