Sunday, September 18, 2011

the arts of survival

There's a remarkable, and fairly new gallery in the Santa Fe Museum of International Folk Art called the Gallery of Conscience, "a space dedicated" - I quote its publicity - "to exploring contemporary social justice issues facing folk artists in the 21st century."   In its current exhibition, The Arts of Survival: Folk Expression in the Face of Disaster - it invokes the horrors of earth, wind, water and fire: Haiti's earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 floods in Pakistan, and the 2010 eruption of Mount Merapi, in Indonesia.   This is a corner of a traditionally shaped tree of life puppet by Ki Enthus Susmono, called Gunungan Merapi Wayang, that shows the red lava spewing out of the volcano at the top, and sending ash and rubble down thousands of feet.   You can see here a couple of water buffalo that have been caught up in the destruction and hurled down the mountain side.   That big blue claw at the bottom belongs to the angel of destruction.   And yet, the puppet itself - like all the work on display - offers an extraordinary example of the resilience of art and creativity in the face of unthinkable devastation.

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