The solar was setting over the Makassar Strait as my aircraft descended. The Jeneberang River wound by way of the town beneath. On the river mouth, I may see the 27-story Delft Condominium tower rising above the delta the place shifting sediments had as soon as created a maze of mangroves, mudflats, and waterways. The residential tower, constructed by Ciputra Group as a part of its Heart Level of Indonesia venture, was perched on the claw of a synthetic island reclaimed within the form of a Garuda (see picture above).
I used to be visiting Makassar to attend the opening of the fifth Makassar Biennale, which ran from 9 September to 30 October. The Maritime is Makassar Biennale’s “perpetual theme”, however the current proliferation of land reclamation in Sulawesi prompted the curators of this yr’s occasion to pick out a theme of Darat Kian ke Barat, or The Land Strikes West. Accordingly, the Biennale exhibited paintings that highlighted the speedy westward advance of Makassar’s shoreline.
If Makassar Biennale is much less well-known than its counterparts in Jakarta and Yogyakarta, it isn’t for lack of ambition. This yr, the occasion encompassed 5 cities, opening in Makassar earlier than touring to Pangkajene and Islands district and the town of Pare-Pare, each in South Sulawesi, to Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores, and to Nabire in Central Papua.
Every metropolis celebrated a unique theme primarily based on the ebook Riwayat Gunung dan Silsilah Laut (Mountain Historical past and Maritime Family tree), revealed earlier this yr by Yayasan Makassar Biennale. The ebook consists of 5 chapters, one for every location, ready by analysis groups affiliated with Makassar Biennale. (I used to be concerned within the analysis for Makassar, which acquired funding from the Environmental Justice and the Frequent Good Initiative at Santa Clara College.) Documenting shifting relationships between land and water, settlement and migration, every chapter represents a summation of the Biennale theme for its corresponding location.
Anwar Jimpe Rachman and Fitriani A Dalay are the considerate and soft-spoken couple who organise Makassar Biennale. Initially from the city of Rappang, they now stay in Makassar the place they’ve constructed an ecosystem of inventive, publishing, and analysis organisations that empower native college students, writers, and activists to doc and appraise the area’s historical past and tradition.
On the Biennale, artists celebrated Sulawesi’s cultural connections between land and sea and explored themes of loss, threat, and transformation. The works had been put in at three completely different venues, specifically Rumata ArtSpace, Artmosphere Studio and Cafe, and Siku Ruang Terpadu. The opening ceremony was held at Rumata ArtSpace, the place a signboard directed guests into a big out of doors occasion house by the use of a slim alleyway. The stenciled face of Munir, the assassinated human rights activist, smiled from the again wall. Within the nook, a stage supported a three-meter-long mannequin phinisi boat, full with sails. Rumata’s café bustled with exercise, and attendees sat cross-legged on tikar mats on the bottom. The gang was largely populated by younger Indonesians, each men and women.
A troupe of dancers attired in reds and yellows opened the ceremony with a efficiency of the Tari Padduppa. The ladies wore headdresses and carried followers, whereas the lads wore sarongs and passapu head coverings. After the efficiency, Ms. Fitriani took the stage to inaugurate the occasion. She invited the curation staff to the stage, adopted by the collaborating artists. Then, the lights dimmed for musical performances by Pelakor, Vinale, and D’Elite. Every of those teams carried out authentic songs that they wrote in response to Mountain Historical past and Maritime Family tree.
The doorways to the gallery had been opened final. The house was brightly lit, with excessive ceilings, unpainted partitions, and a easy cement ground. As guests entered the spare surroundings, they had been instantly confronted by Moelyono’s Suara Jiwa Padewakang (the Voice of the Padewakang’s Soul), wherein a four-meter-long mannequin keel of a long-distance padewakang ship was suspended from the ceiling (Determine 2). Choices had been balanced on the skeletal ship, a sandy seashore lined the ground, and a ghostly recording chanted mantras in a low voice. The work reinterpreted the centuries-old rituals that sailors carried out for cover on lengthy voyages to reap trepang (sea cucumbers).
Turning to the best, Makassar’s twenty-year spatial plan was splashed on the wall, reclamation zones glowing in crimson, blue, and inexperienced (Determine 3). The town planners’ angular imaginative and prescient of the long run was contrasted in opposition to schoolchildren’s imaginative drawings of the town shoreline, colorfully arrayed in traces spanning the wall. In doing so, Alifah Melisa’s Mangarra Bombang critiqued metropolis planners’ presumption that they’re the authors of the long run shoreline. On the again wall, Mimpi Buruk Pesisir Folks (Coastal Folks’s Nightmare), by Yahyakhan Natadias, exhibited darkly humorous visions. Cartoonish drawings with witty captions illustrated prophecies of polluted seashores, useless corals, jobless fisherfolk, and obscured sunsets. Lastly, behind the house, future visions had been inverted in Jim Abel’s Gementee Makassar (Makassar Municipality). Black and white images of Makassar’s previous lined the wall, whereas a metropolis map, constructed from a mosaic of archival supplies, conflated historical past and geography.
Throughout city at Artmosphere Studio, a curtain enclosed a room with no furnishings. Fishing gear hung from the corners of the room, framing a tv display screen in opposition to a white wall. The display screen performed Ketika Laut Semakin Menjauh (When the Ocean Strikes Away), a brief movie by Sokola Pesisir. The movie depicts the developments which have reworked the Jeneberang Delta by interspersing current video of the Heart Level of Indonesia with 15-year-old footage that one of many individuals had recorded as a toddler.
These reveals articulated the sense of loss and nervousness that coastal communities in Makassar have skilled as huge land reclamation initiatives disrupt livelihoods, communities, and the surroundings. The Makassar Metropolis Spatial Plan anticipates that land reclamation will develop the town space by a whopping 26% (Determine 3). On this context, the 157-hectare Heart Level of Indonesia venture is simply the tip of a 4,500-hectare iceberg. The Makassar New Port venture will assemble a colossal container terminal on 1,428 hectares of reclaimed land, and the Financial Strategic Areas abutting the Heart Level of Indonesia will reclaim tons of extra hectares of land alongside Makassar’s southwestern shoreline.
The Makassar metropolis authorities’s ravenous urge for food for reclamation echoes developments all through Indonesia. In 2019, there have been 197 reclamation initiatives in Indonesia, in response to information from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Reclaimed land serves to facilitate city growth into wetland and maritime “hinterlands” for the development of ports, industrial services, industrial areas, and multi-use “waterfront cities”. The initiatives are extremely worthwhile for the worldwide dredging firms that reclaim the land and the actual property firms that develop it, and they’re welcome sources of financial exercise and tax income for native and provincial governments. Nonetheless, reclamation initiatives generate appreciable environmental and social prices that disproportionately burden coastal communities. They dispossess communities dwelling inside venture footprints; seal off entry to the ocean for fishers and fish merchants; disrupt and generally erase inshore fisheries; degrade coastal ecosystems, together with mangrove forests, mudflats, and seagrass meadows; redirect flows of sedimentation, inflicting erosion; and reconfigure native hydrology, probably displacing flooding to neighbouring communities.
Of jail blocks and condos
On the sidelines of Changi Jail lies a fissure in an surroundings engineered to “invisibilise” Singapore’s social divides.
In consequence, coastal communities persistently reject reclamation, a sentiment institutionalised in quite a few tolak reklamasi (resist reclamation) actions all through the archipelago. Essentially the most well-known and profitable of those actions is the Bali Tolak Reklamasi motion, however comparable actions have emerged in Makassar, Manado, Palu, and Jakarta, amongst different cities in Indonesia, in addition to within the Philippines and Malaysia. These actions construct alliances between coastal communities and civil society organisations to lift public consciousness, have interaction native assemblies, carry litigation, and organise demonstrations. The extra profitable actions additionally incorporate enterprise teams, politicians, and customary leaders.
These dynamics are presently unfolding on Laelae, a tiny island and fishing village positioned one kilometer from the Makassar shoreline (Determine 4). The South Sulawesi provincial authorities has granted a allow to reclaim a land bridge connecting Laelae to Heart Level of Indonesia. Native islanders strongly oppose the plan, which they concern will immediate evictions and decimate their fishery. They’ve enlisted the help of native NGOs, similar to Walhi (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia, or The Indonesian Discussion board for the Surroundings), to have interaction the provincial authorities in negotiations. They’ve additionally circulated a petition and organised demonstrations to publicise their opposition.
A number of weeks in the past, the islanders staged the Songkabala, an annual ritual to beat back catastrophe, or tolak bala. This yr, the ritual took on the added burden of tolak reklamasi. Along side the Songkabala, Makassar Biennale sponsored the dance troupe Gymnastik Emporium as artist-in-residence on Laelae. The troupe collaborated with the islanders to choreograph a theatrical dance efficiency that dramatised their wrestle in opposition to land reclamation (Determine 5). The efficiency, which befell on 15 September, attracted tons of of tourists who witnessed Daeng Bau, an islander and participant within the Songkabala, pronounce, “We don’t want to be separated from the ocean and the coral.”
Many residents of Makassar share Daeng Bau’s sentiment that reclamation is threatening a long-established and deeply felt cultural connection to the ocean. That sense of loss is difficult to seize in a scholarly article, however artists are well-equipped to specific it. To that finish, Makassar Biennale supplied a discussion board for artists working in many alternative mediums to discover the cultural affect of land reclamation. The musical group Pelakor provided their perspective on reclamation in a track titled “In Change,” written for Makassar Biennale. The lyrics, introduced beneath, have been translated from the unique Makassarese:
Our village is affluent and stuffed with hope.
It seems peaceable to different villages.
However a time got here after we people forgot to handle our village.
However what has occurred? We simply stuffed within the waters, till the ocean was gone.
Allow us to handle our village collectively in order that we are able to stay peacefully with the world.
The roar of the waves is not any extra, misplaced due to our actions.
The issues that fill the ocean are so removed from what they need to be.
However what has occurred? We simply stuffed within the waters, till the ocean was gone.