Mid January intro:
Bali – It’s beginning to fade… London is not just a melt pot of culture, it is an alchemist for memories. Turns them into a white powder that soon becomes grey, like dust. Settles in the corners of your bedroom, and it takes accidental resurrections through photos, music or voices of visitors, to discover your old departed (s)elf. Well, yes, the whirl of events, people and tensions pull you out of your holiday phantasy-land into the drumming days of social being: a cosmopolis of job targets, passions, time schedule, exhibitions, museums, people, meetings, sport, and barely any time to sleep. It’s noisy, and not always warm hearted (like probably other big buzz cities – grinding machines for its inhabitants piecing you into a specific shape. We all veer towards a certain cell in the grid of existence, a shape that fits a complexity of references, from friends, relatives, colleagues, clients, strangers and in the end from how you imagine yourself to be. All of these chiselling you into a projected image that is comprehensible to this side of the world you live in). … today, it was both Mr Fahrenheit and Mr Lenny Abrahamson (with Room) that served another slice of core cold. De iure and de facto.
Last night it was Inarritu (Revenant) and a good dose of chilling heavy wet snowing that froze my mind when cycling back home at 2:30 AM. I barely managed to loosen the cold clutch when I saw the sun sifting through layers of thin clouds today. As if dusking throughout the jour, foggy alluring presence. Or when I danced a little in the night. Not enough. The violent picturesque of Revenant and the sorrow, damp solitude of mental breakdown in Room bent my mind so that on the dance floor I felt only repetitive and clumsy. Moving oddly. All in my head. But presently.
Was watching Rv these days.. she’s a picture. I can taste the pigment. But can’t smell that side of world.
Back to Bali:
Friday 1st Jan – Bali – woken at the girls house.
8 significant mementos of this beginning of Genaio:
1. Had 4.5h hours of sleep. Me&G Breakfast at Crate Cafe – my favourite on Batu Bolong
2. Zooming out to the Bali-from-Bali mansion for a key drop. Fast then onto Ubud. 2km of broken road first, of impressive rice paddies in a proper village environment. No holiday for these guys, full working day in the field.
We were rushing the fatigue out and the sun helped a lot. A sketchy fast talk to Maria – Creen’s connection in Ubud – got us booked for a room and an Eat.Pray.Love. experience for the 2nd Jan there. And now we were driving fast trying to catch a paint gallery and the Monkey Forest still open.
3. Got in time for Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)
Taken in immediately by the lush of moss covered statuettes: gods and monsters, ogres and fairies, praying yogis. A wrestle of symbols and energies erupt out of a Gilgamesh-Enkidu epic in these gardens.
We charged the modern art wing. Some notable pieces. But most of all I was drawn into I Pura Wirantawan‘s – a 43 year old indonesian’s fantastic cosmos of energies. A large triptych 4 meters tall stretching across a whole wall. With details I would be exploring thread by thread, story by story had I had time. Organic flow organised into a ritualic universe, like weaving Miquel Barcelo, taming him into a mythological Far-East.
Yellow blazed dancing ladies then on wooded planks,
and the mysterious submissions and body entwines of Putu Suta Wijaya. With very few exceptions G and I – we were both drawn onto the same artists. The last one in particular kept on coming back to us, even weeks after, connecting a thought across the oceans.
Some of his work reminded me of Juan Munoz’ people, stereotypic to each other but altogether and in-between each other connecting representations of a special fragile layer of communication, of empathy even. While some of Putu W’s crucifixions found online were of a similar texture of thought as that of G’s last tryptic.
The traditional art wing – a detailed cement cast of godly love at the entry. A broidery of grey on orange, G very convinced by the chromatic, I by the amount of details. Had little time, but stopped mainly onto those that drew myth out of visual with a refined web of details, or ritual dance, or casual eroticism.
4. RUDANA Art Gallery – the second day (2nd Jan). Again the modern art. I was barely keeping pace with G. We were both more impressed with the outer space, the wide very tall windows and the landscape of green and grey statues of elephants or idols they was opening to. The palpable exoticism in it.
I was a bit more forgiving than her on the quality (she discarded most of them with a funny note: her most impressive image was that of ants, lots of them, creeping on the edge of a pillar alongside a frame, drawing their own living painting amid art), pausing more often and giving more credit to a couple of modern frames or some masks.
In particular one with a white smile coming out of the flaming mouth of a dark ogre with bulged eyes and sharp edges. A gruesome pirate giving birth to a fair appearance. The demonic tongue and fangs framing the face of the divine.
Apart from the main two-storey building, the gallery had a string of intricate semi-opened chambers with gardens and water pools, nature flowing in and around the compound. You’d slip from one into another and save for the repetitive by now paintings of modern-traditionalists you’d feel a sense of vivid colours versus rich green grass and trees, with pockets of sudden statues of hindu deities. That felt right. Despite the near kitsch of some of the paintings. Out there two small monks with shaved heads bend over their crossed legs with faces buried in their palms, as if crying. A dragon and a fertility statuette between them
Lovers coupled, twice:
One of in-amorado-ed stone sphinxes holding hands while their serpentine thick bodies go around a small pound. Shady impressive. As if confrontational, as if mirroring, a door to each other.
Another wooden embrace.. with provocative variations. A kneeled girl kissing an etheric lover rising like an lily out of her arms. Too sweet. Reminds me of the statue in London near home, where they connect into an H shape with hands melting into each others like a pelvis, a welded continuum. Similarly here. Him without corporality. An oval on a curved stem growing out of her. He’s either her imagination, a romantic figure of kind love, or, as I preferred, a more erotic alternative. A sexual one. Her pelvic needs growing into a dream-reality, her actually kissing a penis. Or, in a more psychoanalytic way, an interesting visual parallel to penis envy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_envy. in the adult stage of sexual development.
5. The Monkey Forest. Well.. an attraction we pretty much missed. Stopped at the gates watching over the evening jungle as the day was over. A light devoid of shadows at that time of day, with the forest holding in for me an allure of anthropological adventures, at least in my mind. A piece of the forest in may childhood’s Romancing the Stone. G was actually more afraid of how aggressively interactive the monkeys could be, I was a touch more naive about it. Saw a couple of scenes, like a male forcing himself onto a female. Only interesting in the manner of limbs interconnection, like him holding her rear legs with his opposable thumb rear legs. Pretty gruesome in terms of female expression and reactivity otherwise. Then a little one being something in my hand went for it. I barely managed to trick it and hide that gimmick in my pocket faking my way out of a potential steal scene.
So yes, the visit could’ve been challenging. But the mysterious side of it turned inspirational to us, when, at a turn of the road, on a small entry into the side of the park we came up against a large(banyan maybe) tree with impressive multi vein trunk, a large canopy and lots of lianas on it or spreading out into the park. So we tried to capture its beauty as much as possible, to reinterpret it. I liked how G’s hair felt a part of it. Or how it would rhyme with the landscape. So tricked my camera into doing stuff. Fooled around a lot with it, and I believe the last snap of her silhouette sitting on the side like a genie of the place really captures the mix of play and mystery we went through. A smouldering evening. My Kathleen Turner of our tropical forest.
6. The antique shop: We were nearly out of energy for the day. At that moment when you can walk around slowly, in a quiet of the day, with no urge to crash. And started talking a bit more. Came across an antique shops, G wanted to show me some puppets dressed in newspapers, turned into sculptures. Interesting indeed. But then we came across a whole world of wooden sculptures, men and women. Sold in pairs for family representations. So many of the, such different physiognomies. Fascinated both of us. Walking in a world of living puppetry frozen in a smiling instance of their lives. Felt as if we were in a crammed version of the Terracotta Army compound. Stories about couples, and how a Tinder date can turn into a marriage proposal quite fast. Her experience with it.
7. The traditional dance show. In a culture theatre, a traditionally built single large room with wide wooden beams under an A shaped tiled roof. Quite sturdy. Large open windows on the sides and the back. We all needed a lot of air. They were struggling to fill up the audience. And delayed the show to do that. Not as good as the one from a two nights before in the royal palace, when I was in Ubud alone. But ok. Some of the same sketches. With just 1-2 dances different. Again admiring the twists of hands and flexibility of fingers. Most of the girls, now in her 20s – or even 30s some, trained since early childhood. We thought we saw a transgendered woman dancing pretty well. Not as nimble fingered as the one she was dancing with, but very refined. One solo dance by a guy, very skilled and convincing. Most notably however was that both G and I at some point felt overwhelmed by fatigue. Almost fainting with it. Could barely keep head up and a decent posture on seat without falling. Even though both of us were seated in different rows and could’t really see each other. So not an empathic effect. Maybe a drop/increase in atmospheric pressure? This episode lasted about 20’.
8. The Ubud girls:
Jerika first, and her blog www.thepeoplemap.com. Good looking 20 something american. A bit of adventure, quite a few travels. Lost soul in the vanituous search of redemption. Why vanity? too self conscious of what people would find in her, of her beauty. But fragile enough a material to find a way out of it onto a different level of .. knowing the world. I liked her, but not sure I’d find her easy to travel with. As maybe I’d provoke her way too often, or would shatter some of her illusions and golden glasses. A shakeout to the more tarnished but substantial beauty of truth, of realities. Me G met her and Maria at dinner after the dance show.
Maria and her blog www.myexoticdream.net – culmea, cat de putin asociam numele cu felul ei de a fi… prima Marie de felul acesta pe care o intalnesc. Soft spoken, si fragil curgatoare.
25ish venture out spirit, petite Romanian travel/yogic/alternate life style blogger. Former fashion designer (while she lived in Bucharest)… well some very insightful comments form G on this: any lost with reality chic bimbo in Buch would backup into a fashion designing attempt at a career. While similarly any hardcore bimbo in London would likely present herself as an interior designer.
M, while honest in her adventures and willingness to spiritualise her way into the world, to go for an alternative route to life, is pretty much holding hands with Jerika in terms of flirting with irreality (none of them falls into the “hardcore bimbo” category). And Bali is the perfect place for a westerner to shelter him/herself from a tough life.
I was pretty drawn in empathically by her story of love-about-to-be-lost; and the massive discrepancies between her heart-out genuineness and her boyfriend’s perfect money machine (him living in Romania and likely never joining her). Both young. Both delusional. But the geographical distance (and in her case spiritual as well) was too familiar to a couple of my stories not to be impressed by it. And I was almost flirting with her. While thinking at the same time how I actually profile much better as a money centred personagio. Nevertheless had the magic skills to weave in and out of that cash world and connect with her worries. Anyway, she has meltdown unblemished personality that would be obvious the second you hear her voice. Would be very interesting to see if one can get her shouting and into a storm of emotions. To open wings to other states, a bit more complex. She’s old enough to have at least sensed these, if not lived. But out of the shell lambasting self.. when?
Simona – mama Mariei – (next day – 2nd Jan at breakfast along with Maria) ne vorbeste despre eco villages / comunitati de tip utopic de impartire a resurselor si trai in comun, in care problemele de putere, sexualitate si mai era una, am uitat care, se rezolva pe cat posibil prin cerinta de a expune in mod deschis toate aceste dorinte si nevoi. In unele comunitati fluiditatea cuplurilor, relatiilor intime este liber acceptata.
In the end all centred around self sufficiency based on non abusive, non intrusive live off the land. Exemple:
Tamera – in Portugalia
We let the girls flow their ideas openly chiar daca pe ici pe colo mai vedeai usoare contrari si intre replicile uneia cu cealalta, fiica-mama, mama-fiica. Apoi cand G cand eu am inceput sa le contraargumentam. O polemica mai mult intre noi si Simona.
Well, S. e un pic mai complicata, obviously mai trecuta prin viata and having had that veil of self-delusion tested on numerous occasions. What I respect about her is the stubbornness with which she still pursues “the dream”, in a very entrepreneurial way, an ok one, with ups and downs, but let’s say a bit more resourceful than Maria at sailing through harsher realities. She’s actually been through some of these communities above. A wondrous spirit. What I don’t like less about her is .. well I don’t know, I do expect that in those contraries between Maria and her, hidden behind the very few words of discontent to each other that they accidentally slipped, there may or should have been a lot of measuring up of models… Mom’s against daughter’s, as similar as they may be and as much an influence Simona may have had on Maria. So.. a dependency of sorts, of one generation on the other, and yes, the fact that she didn’t shake her up more, felt as if some aspects of life had been left in suspense. And behind the smile of acceptance in Simona to us, there may have been a suspecting gaze, like that of a garden spirit of the night at the beasts that could savage the order. She wisely stepped the conversation down and paused when she felt our comments were escalating a bit into a more elaborate story. Somehow she’d already tagged us, me mostly as obviously not understanding Bali enough to know things are not easy to change here. But she was willingly trying to let us glimpse into the miracle of eco-life. I’m not contesting that now, just some of the thin perceptions of it I found in Simona’s (and/or Maria’s) interpretation of it. G & I were on the same page. She’d already been skeptical about what the two girls were standing for, almost avoiding to be annoyed at some point. To come to a sudden change of tone to the positive, a change way too obvious in my view, when Simona told us about her furniture project and her London business attempt with it. G. was very familiar with some of those works, and her artistic sensibility woke up to that admiringly. Again DKsu was coming up, he had a couple of S’s works.
Maria and her mum actually helped us with the accommodation in Ketut’s resort. A beautiful place. Even if still under works. Got a few good vibes about it and a terrace overview. Nothing out of this world, amenities still in need of a little push for quality, but cosy surrounded by nature. Some “ayurvedic” bungalows, and I mean it in a pleasant way.