The work explored the myth of Siluman (shape-shifter) originating from close surroundings of the volcano in Indonisia – Mount Merapi. White Tiger of Mount Merapi is believed to be a mythical being-an apparition of the protecting ancestor of the villagers beneath Merapi.
In further research, Siluman is actually know as a figure who has a fluid identity, the local inhabitants have different ways of reading and understanding, the form and its behaviour vary from village to village, and the hidden history and fluidity reading of it have captivated my attention. My interpretation is focusing on fluidity of concepts surrounding collective memory, the siluman myth and intersections between myth and geography, and how this myth has emerged from people’s desire for a connection with the past and things that have passed away, and how can we transforming collective memory as a figure/ object.
At first we have decided to assemble a group revolving around the topic of volcanoes. The topic itself is so broad that we had narrow it down to more specific context and narrative. We tried to stay organic in our methodologies which lead us to research local contexts through text, conversations and participation in traditional cultural events.
On our journey shared interests have started to form around an Indonesian shape shifter myth-Siluman. It is mainly recognised as white tiger myth surrounding the proximity of Mount Merapi. We have made a choice to focus on this myth because of it’s vague description and multiplicity of interpretations by different sources. Some of the locals have referred us to meet the spiritual leader of the five mountain region. This figure is appointed every five years by inhabitants of villages around Mount Merapi. The activity of the leader remains still a bit unclear to us, but from what we understand, the leader is responsible for preservation of traditional culture by organising events where local myths are performed in form of dance, theatre and any other suitable form.
During our meeting there were two of these leaders present the current one and the last one before him. Both of them have explained their own understanding of the myth and gave us references to star forming our own position. The research has led us to a decision to animate Siluman through a performance.
This decision was later reverted because of new information that have made the previous plan appear insensitive and inappropriate in local context. Afterwards, our group has decided to create two different interpretations of Siluman in the final project. First one was steming from Silumans mythological origin representing it in the shape of white tiger and the second one was depicting Siluman as collective memory of Merapi’s landscape.