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APARN2023 Asia-Pasific Artistic Research Network 2023 | by Ika Yuliana, (orcid link)



In ecological art, the materiality of natural objects is involved as a representation of the relationship between humans and non-human multispecies. In contemporary participatory works of art, Jatiwangi art Factory reinterprets land as an essential element for the people of Jatiwangi, West Java, who have been known as tile producers since 1905. This research is set in Jatiwangi and Kassel, Germany, where researchers are involved in a work of ecological art entitled New Rural Agenda. This performative conference presents human and non-human representations to discuss the new rural agenda presented at Documenta Fifteen, a historical event for contemporary world art. This thesis research uses the autoethnography method, in which the researcher reflects and analyses the bodily experience of "experiencing Tanah" on situated and views it from the paradigm of materiality turn in Anthropology studies. This research aims to narrate and describe the process of forming new materiality and collective memory of "Tanah" and other multispecies from experiencing art performance from the artist’s point of view.

Keywords: ..


Methods — Researching with Others — Reflection on Participation

This research departs from my bodily experience with soil or clay, in Indonesia we call it Tanah-- in the form of physical matter—can be touched, held, shaped, seen, but then shifted into something that has an invisible 'feel' and memory—personally it becomes immaterial in life experience and lived for five years in a a rural-urban area that has been producing clay roof tiles since 1905—so that soil has become an important element in the life of people in a district named Jatiwangi (West Java).

My research focusing on an ecological art entitled New Rural Agenda. This performative conference presents human and non-human representations to discuss the new rural agenda presented at Documenta Fifteen, a historical event for contemporary world art that held in the city of Kassel. As researcher and artist, myself, reflects and analyses the bodily experience of "experiencing Tanah" on situated and views it from the paradigm of materiality turn in Anthropology studies. This research aims to narrate and describe the process of forming new materiality and how knowledge are situated through actions. 

In accordance with the concept of the New Rural Agenda, this conference involves multi-species inhabitants of the earth who share situational knowledge. State officials and policy makers, as well as representatives of non-humans, who are mostly land, are present at the conference. Land presented from various places around the world, the territories of members of the Lumbung collective who agreed to attend the New Rural Agenda conference.

There is a pile of tanah displayed in the center of the rotunda, the pile of dirt that was collected from various regions, regions, and countries—from Mali, Colombia, Congo, Germany, Indonesia, Palestine. Together with other natural ingredients that activate the sense of smell —the smell of earth, turmeric, wood, also the fragrance of spices unites. Conference participants were asked to enter the room, then everyone was treated to a wad of “Clay Cookies” by the greeters wrapped in batik cloth standing right at the entrance. Everyone is asked to immediately devour it, a kind of welcome snack, which is given when entering the restaurant. Surprisingly, no one refused the order, whoever they were and whatever their position—the movement that was created was, they took it with both hands looking up, opened their masks for a moment, devoured the ground cake, then nodded while digesting the taste which was like a typical dry cake.

Until when everyone who entered the room and had eaten the cookies was asked to sit in their respective places, someone said using a microphone: "Welcome ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming and enjoying the serving of clay cookies, some of which are used to made from Palestinian soil which is represented by the Jatiwangi Sacred Soil, which is currently in your stomach.” Everyone who felt like they were eating the earthen dumplings glanced at each other while realizing what experience they just had from that situation.

New Rural Agenda Conference, Fredicianum
New Rural Agenda Conference, Fredicianum. Photo courtesy: David Wojcinski


Research Question: How The Knowledge about Materiality >> Immateriality are Situated? 

As artist and researcher see that it is very important that the agenda issued at this conference is supported by all ecosystem actors. Therefore, the presence of human and non-human actors at the conference is very important, as well as agrarians, artists, ecologists, indigenous leaders and policy makers. The presence of policy makers is necessary to accept the mandate of the New Rural Agenda and take an active part in this network to adopt, refer to, adapt, the agenda for a better ecosystem in the future. As the delegation are situated by human and non-human entity below: 

Participants of New Rural Agenda (Human & Non-Human)
Participants of New Rural Agenda (Human & Non-Human)


Trustee; officials and policy makers include:

Trustee; officials and policy makers include:
Trustee; officials and policy makers


The next scene, set in the first round of the conference: Multispecies Storytelling. This chapter focuses on the creation of the atmosphere and the actual changing conditions of the earth's ecosystems. This round invites conference participants to focus on feeling with the five senses/body sensory system, hearing—seeing—feeling all the activities that will be presented by the interlocutors, which will not provide a lot of direct translation, but with their own bodies.

Tisna Sanjaya, an interlocutor, was ready with spices and two white canvases which were spread out to the right and left of the pile of earth in the middle of the room. Tisna recited a prayer with a bowl of water in his hand, sprinkling the water all over the canvas, as if praying for a room he wanted to use. White paint was splashed onto the canvas which was covered with batik cloth behind it—a batik cloth donated by 99 residents of Cigondewah, Bandung. He then spreads the white paint on the canvas with a broom stick, then prints his left hand on it with turmeric powder and charcoal. Then he lays his body on the canvas by spreading the earth over it, he is printing his body on the canvas with natural materials. The body printing process was then continued on the two selected volunteers—Nancy from Iran, and Ila from Jatiwangi. They are both willing to be half naked to print their bodies on canvas and become works of art.

“Earth Dance” by The Question of Funding
“Earth Dance” by The Question of Funding. Photo courtesy: David Wojcinski

Silent situations alternate with footprints and the sound of dust on the body. Tisna covered each face with a cloth and continued to throw the natural material. Then he invites the audience to get involved in molding the body and free people to use whatever they want there. The land and everything that is there is united with surrendered human bodies.


The Question of Funding, a collective from Palestine, led the conference participants in the room to get up from their seats to make a movement around a pile of earth which they called the "Earth Dance". "Earth Dance" or earth dance, guided by Amany, a member of The Question of Funding from Palestine, raised the issue of land ownership conflicts that occurred in Palestine. Conference participants are invited to hold hands and follow a circular motion, alternately stomping their feet followed by hip movements like a dance ritual. Participants were brought to a specific position, recalling experience and knowledge about Palestine, immediately when the words Palestine and Palestinian Land were mentioned which were already in everyone's stomach. This situation does not become neutral based on the multispecies collectivity present – building solidarity in a circle around the land in the middle of the rotunda. Rotate around until the QoF read text speech is finished.


The Reflection

  • Knowledge that is situated or situated is always marked knowledge; this event was a re-marking, a reorientation of the LAND of the vast globalized map of the heterogeneous body of the world in which humans are separated from nature and other multispecies. NRA offers complex bodily knowledge and experience, by presenting land and rural stories that are allied to each other in the setting of art events.
  • Mutual sharing of situational knowledge, between each collective representation involved in presenting performatively at the conference, art practices and collective or community ecology respectively. The presence of state officials and policy makers, as well as non-human representatives. Land representation that cannot be represented makes it new materialism, which is presented from various places around the world, the regions of the collective members of the Lumbung who agreed to attend the New Rural Agenda conference.
  • The accumulation of the researcher's bodily experience as an artist in Jatiwangi, becomes a new situation which is formed from the knowledge located in the conference room, from beginning to end, which connects with others from the land and other multispecies.


The New Rural Agenda is a moment to absorb the other, how human and non-human relations exist and are intertwined through the land. From the experience of experiencing land, that land is not only about land or materials, but also ideas and ways of life. Soil and other multispecies become tangible, present, and give rise to connectivity between other communities or individuals who are in the same place.

Researching with others, and as artist itself, reflects this immateriality of tanah are situated by series of key moments at New Rural Agenda; series of participatory social events in which represent by human and non-human representatives. Thus it is based on a system of symbols, cultural meanings, historical background, attitudes and patterns of movement, that transmit and share that everyone was empowered to use, by sensory knowledge.  

In her influential essay "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective," Haraway examines the relationship between scientific knowledge and feminist politics. She criticizes the idea of a disembodied, neutral observer in science and instead advocates for a situated perspective that acknowledges the situatedness and partiality of all knowledge claims.

Haraway argues that embracing situated knowledge allows us to challenge dominant narratives and hierarchies of power. By recognizing that knowledge is shaped by social and political factors, we can question and deconstruct the authority of certain knowledge systems and explore alternative perspectives.

Furthermore, Haraway's concept of situated knowledge has been influential in the field of science and technology studies (STS). She encourages a critical engagement with scientific knowledge, urging researchers to consider the social and political implications of their work and to be aware of how their research is situated within broader systems of power.

Haraway's notion of situated knowledge challenges traditional conceptions of objectivity and highlights the importance of understanding the social, political, and historical contexts in which knowledge is produced. It offers a framework for critical analysis and a call to embrace diverse perspectives and challenge dominant power structures in the pursuit of knowledge.


Bruno Latour, a French sociologist and philosopher, is known for his influential work on the "materiality turn" in social theory. The materiality turn refers to a shift in perspective that emphasizes the agency and significance of non-human actors and material objects in shaping social processes and relationships.

Latour challenges the traditional divide between the social and the material, arguing that social interactions are deeply entangled with the material world. He contends that objects and technologies have their own roles and influences in shaping social behavior, networks, and institutions. In other words, they are not passive or inert, but actively participate in shaping human actions and social dynamics.

Latour introduces the concept of "actor-network theory" (ANT) to understand how humans and non-humans form interconnected networks of agency and influence. According to ANT, actors can be both human and non-human entities, such as machines, tools, or natural elements. These actors act and react upon one another, forming complex networks of relations that shape social phenomena.

The materiality turn challenges the dominant view that social structures and interactions are solely the result of human agency or social constructions. It emphasizes the co-constitution of social and material elements, highlighting the importance of considering the agency and effects of non-human actors. Latour argues that understanding the materiality of social life allows us to move beyond human-centered perspectives and better grasp the complexity of social phenomena.

Latour's materiality turn has had significant implications for various fields, including science and technology studies, environmental studies, and anthropology. It has influenced scholars to pay attention to the material world and non-human actors in their analysis of social phenomena, recognizing the ways in which materiality shapes and is shaped by social processes.

THe materiality turn challenges the notion of a strict divide between the social and the material, emphasizing the agency and influence of non-human actors in shaping social dynamics. It provides a framework for understanding the complex entanglements between humans and their material surroundings and encourages a more inclusive and holistic approach to social analysis.


Documenta Fifteen: Jatiwangi Art Factory: New Rural Agenda Summit



Haraway, Donna. 1990. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Routledge

Haraway, Donna. (1988). "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective." Feminist Studies 14, 3: 575-599.

Jatiwangi art Factory. Paririmbon Jatiwangi. Jatiwangi: Jatiwangi art Factory and Yayasan Daun Salambar, 2016.

Kent, Ellen. Entanglement: Individual and Participatory Art Practice in Indonesia. Dissertation. Canberra: The Australian National University, 2016. 


Lammli, Dominique. 2020.  “Art in Action Research: A Methodology for Researching Socially Engaged Art from Art Practitioner Perspective”. Humboldt University 

Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the social: an introduction to actor-network-theory


About The Author





Author name
Ika Yuliana