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Program : Installations


Wa’anak Witu Watu


Wa’anak Witu Watu, 2021

The Epoch of Mapalucene, 2021

Garden Amidst the Flame, 2022

Video installation, 24 min 37 sec

Artist : Natasha Tontey

Venue : Baan Trok Tua Ngork

Wa’anak Witu Watu is an investigation into the Minahasan cosmology in North Sulawesi, Indonesia through a lens of humans in relation to geological forces, rocks, lava, stones, and sediments that have their own ontologies. The video originates from a myth that the first person, a woman, gave birth to a stone, normalizing human-stone communications, and the understanding that we are made of the same material. Covering 75 percent of the Earth’s outer layer, stone is considered not as an exploitable resource necessary to the foundation of civilization, but as a sentient companion. The artist’s works contain glitches and embrace a digital aesthetics with internet and video game references. 3D mythological figures characterize a portion of the work and hint at a past manifest in the present, actualizing these fictions asking how we think of a time beyond humanity, to a geological time, or to the futurity of geological kinship.

The Epoch of Mapalucene accompanies Wa’anak Witu Watu and expands on this cosmology, looking at the collective economies of the Mapalus. Approaching stone’s versatility and immortality, not as that to be commoditized and traded but a source of life. With influences from Western colonialism, the gift economy shifted through capitalist beliefs into a stone-based exchange system. Indigenous peoples of Minahasa have rallied to pass the indigenous rights bill and scenes in this work show people practicing their trade as a collective call for a reimagining of society based on reciprocity across species. 

In Garden Amidst the Flame, a fantasy coming-of-age story is written after Tontey’s participation in a Karai Ritual with Minahasan warriors in armor that grants invulnerability. Recontextualizing the traditionally hyper-masculine ritual, Garden Amidst the Flame presents a different understanding of the possibilities of the practice as a mode of caring and empowering women. A young girl named Visray goes on a journey from present to past and back again meeting a gang of female youth warriors, Wulan Lengkoan. Entering the realities informed by Minahasan mythologies leads to the beheading of a Rooster beast, ayam jago, a rite of passage that transforms her into a warrior in kabsaran attire. Ancestral knowledge clashes and fuses with modern pop culture in this nonlinear story, where a living Coelacanth (one of the oldest fish that was thought to be extinct), raja laut, arriving on a bike is as much a part of the world as posters of Western celebrities. 

Wa’anak Witu Watu, and The Epoch of Mapalucene, 2021 are commissioned by Other Futures and transmediale in 2021.

Garden Amidst the Flame, 2022 is commissioned and produced by Auto Italia, London in partnership with La Becque, Tour-de-Peilz; Stroom Den Haag, The Hague; and Shedhalle, Zurich. With additional support from the Governance of North Sulawesi, Bank SulutGo, and the Department of Tourism and Culture of North Sulawesi.

Natasha Tontey’s participation at Ghost 2565 is made possible with support by SAM Fund for Arts and Ecology.