Rohing* Bayu ( The Spirit of Bayu)


Site Specific Project about Memory , a Spirit of Place in Architecture

on Bayu Village, Banyuwangi East Java Indonesia


Location :


The spirit of Bayu, is research based-art of exploring about memory and place. An intermingle between memory of the locals, history, myth and spiritual belief are explored in architectural imprints.  The five artworks use surrealism point of view, to cpature the intangible quality of the place. The imagined space, fact-fiction, dream-reality are became a spatial language to navigate the narration of the local collected during the reserach.  The local beliefs, full of metaphor, imagination and imply in their everyday reality. The lives in in between space – physical and metaphysical world. The ghost, supranatural figures, has become one with the meaning of place. Also, it became on of the most powerful social control, resonating the nasionalist spirits. This ‘irrational’ act is their unconisous defend mechanism, aganst the rational change -global capital, perceive as modern colonizer. This exhibiton held in Ulumampang Menanam program 2020, initiate by Studio Klampisan Bayuwangi fonded by Ministry of Edcuation and Culture.

*Rohing, is the Javanese term, mean ‘The Spirit’

Rohing Bayu # 1

Minatur Photo Site Specific (Pak RT’s guest room)

Various dimension



The guest room in the resident’s house is a part of identity reflection. On the walls of the guest room, many photos, calendars, paintings or other art objects are hung. The  décor of the  guest room seems to be a marker of the identity of a family living in the house. As if, the guest are  not only welcomed by the host, but also their relatives and spiritual figures.

The houses of the Bayu villagers, are spatially composed in horizontal relation. The terrace, guest room are facing the main road. Most of the houses has no fenced. It line up side by side with the neighbor’s houses . These horizontal relation, allows  each houses  connected by  a connecting door (side entrance) , and communal space in back of the house  (kitchen, bathroom, fields). As  well as the front yard of the house, their yard are connected to neighbor’s yard. The house located in compound, which has a shared space in between.  The perception of  private and  public, are not  divided by rigid  boundaries. In fact, even the main road can be considered a semi-private space. Sometime they turn the main road as the ‘collective event’ such wedding, religion event, blocking the vehicle mobility by consent.  Furthermore, a division of activity in interior space, such as eating, sleeping, watching TV, also does not have rigid boundaries. This spatial orders, shows life of the village as  community which   interacts organically. This relation traces back to architectural imprints as a reflection of  a ‘kinship’ way of life.

By turning Pak RT’s house, into a site of exhibition, an inquiries of public and private are questioned. In the living room of Pak RT (the neighborhood leader)  in this house, a figurine  photo is hung in guest room wall.  As located in the front room, this photo imply the transformation of house’s identity – the house became anonymous. The photo turn the house into surreal house, by capturing the familiar pose of the figurine, yet strange.  These “little people” are lives in their own micro-cosmos, invisible, yet able to observe.  In this case, Photo figurines, like turning the physical space of the living room into the metaphysical space / space envisioned. Pak RT’s house, has turned into a figure’s house, follows by other room : living room turn into video room, bed room turn into sound installation and photo. The series of art work, consistently  reveals the spirit of the place, by triggering memory  in surreal term. 

Rohing Bayu #2

Video in Living room

7 mins duration



In the video, an atmosphere of surrealism appears within the Bayu village. In video, the ceramic paintings, house paintings, statues , reliefs on monuments,  the doors, windows, curtains, come to life. Things have memories. Like a Mooi Indie painting, which is often kept by residents, to see idealization, the romanticism of nature, is a contrast to modern village developments. How do ceramic paintings of peacocks, tiger ornaments, phoenixes, seem to be fossilized in modern materials. Ceramic paintings with ‘guardian’ figures (such as tigers, lions, Dolog statues, etc.) come in ceramic materials, printed and pasted without special craft skills. Relief made with cement, imported statue from Bali, signifies a cultural crisis, in terms of finding the right metaphor of form.

Mooi Indie  paintings, which are rooted in the romanticism of the western  view an  exoticism of nature. The ceramic painting in Mooi Indie  style, reflects a villager  ‘fantasy’ the other world. The village’s architecture, try to miniaturize the concept of ‘other’. The other ,defines by the influence of western, offering a romantic style. This image has becomes the villager  idealization of the beauty. The romanticism of nature, becomes one of the identities, which forms the spirit of a place. In this case, the imprints on the interior space, as a  visual markers of a place, record the desire, the hidden imaginations of the residents which only appear in the imagined spaces. As their way of life, a mixture between superstitious and logic are practices toward every day realities.

The video story puts forward the traces of architecture, which contributed to the formation of the universe / cosmos, which was disrupted by the dark history (Bayu’s war) which is still connected to the memories of the villagers. Scenes, taken from important locations such house, lake, monument, street, gate. These architectural element  resonate the villager’s memory, belief and superstitious within public or privates sphere.

 Video Link :

Rohing Bayu # 3 and 4


Sound installation, Photo in bed room

Various dimension



The dramatic script read by the Bayu* villagers’ which tells about  juxtaposition of their way of life and  Soekarno’s* speech, at the opening of the 1955 Asian-African Conference. Some of the quotes in this speech were taken to be summarized with the citizen’s narrative. The script are read in Javanese language, followed by Javanese art song, as an appropriation of the local residents’ janger* art.

The narrative of the text reflects two paradoxes. On the one hand, the citizen’s narrative about their way of life,  emerges from the local spiritual belief. While in the other hand,  the script intertwined Soekarno’s speech, as a nationalism spirit of Indonesia. The narrative is read out accompanied by the macapat song, as an appropriation of the local residents’ Janger* practice.  

A sound installation, followed by a series of photos of the daily landscape of Bayu village, inhabit in the room of the local house.  The photo capture, a Clouds, fog, moves  sequentially from the top of mountain  to the city. The cloud, fog, are transitional substances between air and water. It has two elements, namely water and air. Two important elements in this village which geographically, form the sacred soul of a place. Clouds, fog are also a liminal element, because they are able to change shape to follow its space. Only  a certain air pressure,  condense the air, and moves it from place to place. These clouds also represent one myth occurs one of sacred water springs. The local belief, that the water springs has the aurora quality, sometime a light-fog enitity appear from the surface of the water. By this spiritual phenomena, the locals tend to perceive this site is sacred.


The series of photo try to  define the immeasurable quality of a space, by showing how a space has an intangible quality called  a spirit of  place. The clouds that walk from Rowo Bayu  *  to the monument of Bayu *  implying a historical-mythical relation of the locals, toward place.  


 Sound Link :



*Bayu is Javanese word of wind. This village has important geographical aspect :  water springs, mountain and forest. This three geographical element, define the sacredness of the place, due to theis cosmological belief.

*Soekarno is the first president of Indonesia.  He is very influential on putting the foundation of Indonesia’s way of life and governmental system.

*Janger is Banyuwangi, local folk-art for performing both ritual, dance and drama for enacting the local myth or folktale.

*Rowo Bayu  is the lake surround by several sacred water springs. Many people comes to this site to meditate, and communicate with the spririt for guidance.

*Monument of Bayu is a monument built for commomerating Bayu’s war (Puputan Bayu). This war is the one Java’s biggest war against the colonials. 

Rohing Bayu # 5


Sound composition in guest room table

3mins duration






The sound composition takes elements of the surrounding sound environment: the sound of tengekret, crickets, water, frogs, which are translated into the voices of the people reading the script and song. The script is about the villager’s way of life, syncornise with the Soekarno speech of Asia Africa Conferencies 1955. The composition is based on the distortion of electronic rhythms on tengkeret sound elements, which are then melodically filled with the script reader which is composed in polyphony style. Polyphony is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more independent melody lines simultaneously.


The polyphony composition is one characteristic of the romantic music, which is the reference for western art song  (lieder), while in Java/Indonesia coalled Kidung. Several Javanese songs, follow the standard of pentatonic composition, which also are arranged with the concept of polyphony. This sound composition, try to experiment the electronic adapation  mixs between the narrator voice (dramatic reading) , sound environment and gamelan pentatonic rhytm.  


Sound collobaorator: Yohanes Kelvin


 Sound Link :