Malam / Night

Performative installation Malam/ Night by Grace Tjang

Installation, video’s, drawings, costumes and performance Grace Tjang
Sound installation, ‘Imaginary landscapes’ Rombout Willems
Technical direction Ken Hioco
Technical coordination Tijs Michiels
Production management Marjolein Demey
Outside eye Emma van der Put
Artistic assistance Kasia Tórz

Production Needcompany
Coproduction Théâtre Garonne, scène européenne – Toulouse, Das Internationale Figurentheaterfestival Erlangen, MA Scène nationale – Pays de Montbéliard
Tax Shelter funding BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance NV/SA
With support of the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter and the Flemish authorities

Grace Ellen Barkey – born in Surabaya, Indonesia – is working on a new installation/performance. Obsessed with the night, tormented by insomnia and inspired by Wayang – the Javanese shadow play – and her ancestors, she enters into a dialogue with the obscure and invites the audience to share a meditative experience.

'For years, I’ve been looking at the plants in my garden at night. The structures, the light of the street lantern or the moon, the shadows, the mysterious glittering when it has rained. I looked so much that the structures became mine. In the Wayang puppet play, you can see the same organic forms and the play with light and shadow. I am the Wayang player, the Dhalang. I am creating the night of my observation and imagination but also the night from my memories and my parental heritage. Going deeper in the layers of the night, I honour my history, the stories of my parents, grandparents, ancestors. Every story in my family hides the whole colonial history and its wounds. It is striking that in the colonial history women are used and then put aside, forgotten. I decided that, for this project, I will decolonize my name and use the name of my grandmother.'
- Grace Tjang, May 2021

Grace Tjang began developing her new project Malam / Night by filming her garden in the dead of night. This led to her creating various records of plants, gradations of light, and shadows, with each coming to life in its own way. During a performance at Witte de With in 2019, she went one step further with her research. Starting from a landscape composed of her own night-time videos, Tjang made her way through the museum like a nocturnal gleam. The follow-up to her research is based on her own Indonesian roots. Inspired by Javanese wayang puppet theatre, whose name literally means ‘shadow’ or ‘phantom’, and which harnesses shadow and light effects, Tjang enters into dialogue with the obscure. In Old Javanese poetry, also known as ‘kakawin’, the poem Arjunawiwaha (dated between 1028 and 1035) is the first in literature to mention shadow theatre. There are audience member who cry in response to wayang; they grow sad and become distressed, although they are perfectly aware that it is cut leather which is moving and speaking. The same is true of a person who is attached to sensory observations. He does not comprehend that they are not actually there, that all things are an illusion.

Etymologically, wayang also means ‘imagination’, which is inextricably linked to wayang. Here the dalang or puppet master is the central figure bringing the imaginative puppets to life in Tjangs obscure universe, where the night will play a central role.

"As she moved, the birdsong fused with the images of dark leaves and the place took on a mystical charge as it became possible to drop all manner of thought and simply be."
- Ellen Mara De Wachter, Art Monthly, April 2019

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Performative installation Malam/ Night by Grace Tjang

Installation, video’s, drawings, costumes and performance Grace Tjang
Sound installation, ‘Imaginary landscapes’ Rombout Willems
Technical direction Ken Hioco
Technical coordination Tijs Michiels
Production management Marjolein Demey
Outside eye Emma van der Put
Artistic assistance Kasia Tórz

Production Needcompany
Coproduction Théâtre Garonne, scène européenne – Toulouse, Das Internationale Figurentheaterfestival Erlangen, MA Scène nationale – Pays de Montbéliard
Tax Shelter funding BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance NV/SA
With support of the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter and the Flemish authorities

Tour dates

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May 2021
13 MayErlangen DEinternationales figuren.theater.festival Postponed
14 MayErlangen DEinternationales figuren.theater.festival Postponed
15 MayErlangen DEinternationales figuren.theater.festival Postponed
16 MayErlangen DEinternationales figuren.theater.festival Postponed
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