Third Realm, a site specific project by Jompet Kuswidananto
The history of Indonesia, as part of the developing world and former colonized countries, can be read a narrative of a nation that is perpetually in an “in-between” situation or state of transition. From pre-colonial to colonial periods, colonial to post-colonial, agrarian culture to industrial, from industrial to post-industrial information era, from rural culture to urban ethos.
It is a culture that is located between two spaces: between the traditional and the modern, the original and the alien, the inside and the outside, the high brow and the low brow. It never makes the complete transition from one cultural space to another, instead building on a mix (and excess) of cultures — its “body” consisting of many different cultural layers.
Indonesia’s remarkable culture raises many questions: How are subjects or spaces formed ‘in between’, or in excess of the sum of the parts? How is the notion of subjectivity and spatiality formulated where the exchange of values, meanings and priorities may not always be collaborative and dialogical, but may be profoundly antagonistic and even incommensurable?
Referring to the spatial realities and identity formulation developing and persisting in Java, the answers to these questions may be evident in the creation of a third reality; third space, third body or identity. Third reality is a hybrid reality. A reality made from a blend of many things. Third reality is a post-colonial/third world/Indonesian reality composed from elements that are contradictory, unfinished, half-done, confusing and transitional or liminal.
As a metaphor, the third reality is a temporary and flexible term that attempts to capture what is actually a constantly shifting and changing milieu of ideas, events, performances and meanings.
Pertinent to the understanding of the metaphors is the insight that there is not just one single definition of body and identity but rather a multitude of approaches and perspectives.
In Java, for example, one can be a Muslim and a Javanese animist at the same time; one can be local and global; modern and traditional. One can exist in the space in-between different things.
As Homi K Babha once said: “The ‘in-between’ space provides the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood –singular or communal—that initiate new signs of identity and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.”
Written by Jompet Kuswidananto, May 2011. Parts of this text is written by Yudi Ahmad Tajudin and Jompet Kuswidananto for “Third Realm”, a solo show of Jompet in Parasite, Hongkong, 2010.