Saturday, December 20, 2008
I have been swept into other projects at the museum--Afghanistan programs, budget planning, Bhutan and Samurai exhibition planning--so my Bali posts have suffered. But over the past few weeks the curator, Natasha, our grant-writer, Dino, and I have been working on a grant proposal to the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide lead funding for the Bali exhibition. It has been fun to think again about our plans for this exhibition, which will be the first of its kind in the US, and the first of its kind at the Asian, in the sense that the performing and ephemeral arts will play major roles unlike ever before.
I enjoyed the attached article on how the Balinese distinguish between art for sacred purposes and art for commerce using the Barong and Rangda as examples. Just as the Barong and Rangda represent the polars of good and evil that are in constant flux and realignment (rituals are enacted to maintain a healthy balance), the two uses for sacred arts--ritual and commerce--may also be seen as a contiuum that the Balinese expertly keep in balance.
I was fortunate to see two Barongs enlivened, one in a temple procession and one danced on stage by professionally trained dancers (the latter in the picture above). Both experiences are etched in my memory and make me want to see the Barong again.