CCL in Action: Budi Agung Kuswara, Ketemu Projects, Tumpek Uduh

Growing up, Budi Agung Kuswara describes how his world was intimately connected to, and dependant on, the rhythms of the natural environments. He states how he:

can feel the changes of the environment from the temperature, from the air, from the environmental change. I know because I’m, I come from . . . the fishermen community and we use old technology like viewing the star and counting the moon cycle. And I experience this is no longer accurate. Some changes happen. And because of that I ask why’.

Through CCL, Budi found it deeply inspiring to join a global community of people who recognised that these changes were happening and who were looking for ways to speak and think about them. Following CCL, Budi recounts how he wanted to develop a project that would help him bring these conversations about environmental protection back to his local areas. He describes how ‘in Bali itself this kind of discussion is very rarely happening here. Like this discussion about other than tourism industry is really really rarely happening’. He wanted to find a way of making climate change relevant to his local community, and particularly the younger generations. As such, Budi decided to design a CCL in Action project around a ceremony known as Tumpek Uduh. On this day, which happens every six months, it is tradition for Balinese people to their show gratitude towards the trees and natural vegetation. In order to renew a connection with trees, people will make offerings to the trees and spending time talking with them. This celebration is seen as a reminder that as humans we must express gratitude for the world that supports our lives, thereby establishing a positive relationship with nature. Budi’s project, called Kekasih Hati Sang Bumi, was a creative intervention that occurred on the day of Tumpek Uduh. The intervention required people to work with an artist to “cloth” a tree that they are making a connection to and to document the action for social media. There were prizes handed out to people who had the  best caption, the best photo, and the most likes.

Because Budi specifically wanted to involve younger generations in the event, and so invited a number of schools to get their students to participate. Although a few he contacted said they couldn’t be involved due to exam and holiday timetables, he eventually worked with one formal school and another informal community-based school. Alongside teachers and members of the public, they had 45 high school students and 35 middle school students participating in the ritual. To cover the tree, Budi taught students about cyanotype. This technique is a photographic printing process which produces a cyan-blue print. First, Budi asked the students to look for dried leaves, branches or flowers. Then they had to arrange the objects on a special paper that has been sensitized by the cyanotype chemicals. Next, they had to put the paper with the objects arranged on a special tray which had some glass covering it. They would leave this to expose in the sunlight. Finally, the students would remove the objects and develop the paper in water. The print is then hung to be air dried, and eventually attached to the tree. Once the tree was covered, students would have the opportunity to photograph and write about their experience on social media. Reflecting on the number of people who joined the celebrations, as well as the number of people it reached out to via social media platforms, Budi believes that the project was a successful event. Through putting out the ritual on social media, Budi hopes that ‘more people outside the culture of Bali will get to understand the practices here . . . We also hope that more youths in Bali can continue this practice independently’. Budi believes that if cultural leaders can help people establish bonds with their environments, people will begin to see environmental issues as a personal challenge and responsibility.

 

Image: Artwork at SMKN 1 Mas Ubud, Pejeng