The installation consists of ten kindergarten chairs. Under each chair hung ten shadow puppets, each representing a world leader. Above the puppets were modified pots that look like bonangs (metal gamelan drums). The installation has electric hammers which will beat the pots if a button is pressed, producing gamelan-like sounds.
“I call it Shock Theraphy for Global Political Leaders,” said Heri Dono, the creator of the installation. Heri explained that the installation is his take on the issue of intolerance in many countries. Therefore, in the installation he proposes gamelan as a remedy. Heri considered gamelan as a very tolerant form of orchestra. “Every gamelan player is the conductor. Whereas Western music is led by just one conductor,” he explained in the press tour session of the “Serupa Bunyi” exhibition, Friday (10/8) at Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah.
Heri continues to explore tolerance values in gamelan. In his other work “Gamelan Goro-goro”, also exhibited, Heri created a kinetic installation which seem to produce random sounds, but in the end composed a harmonic gamelan rhythm.
Heri said it is in line with the nature of gamelan: how a group of people produced sounds from which a harmony emerged. In order for that to happen, each gamelan player cannot just focus on their own performance, but they also must be sensitive to sounds created by the other players.
“People can be tolerant when they are playing the gamelan, instead of just watching a performance, because by playing, they can know different rhythms from what they’re playing, and by seeing the difference, they can learn to respect differences,” Heri explained.
Enjoy Heri Dono’s and four other contemporary visual artists’ work in the “Serupa Bunyi” exhubition, open for public on 11–15 August 2018 at Taman Budaya Jawa Tengah. The exhibition is part of the International Gamelan Festival 2018, complementing gamelan performances and conferences.