If you are passing through the area of Subak Padang Dalem, Tegallalang Subdistrict, Gianyar, do not be surprised if you find the pillars of plowshares stuck in the rice fields woven like plowshares in a row, looking up at the sky. It is the installation art of Ketut Putrayasa, the artist from Badung. The work is unique, but has great meaning as a form of aesthetic rebellion by the creator. The installation art is displayed on a green expanse of rice fields.
Putrayasa’s latest work is entitled “The Last Stronghold,” the last fort which tries to proclaim massive land use change and then questions the ‘fate’ of the values existing in this farming activity. Uma (rice field) for the Balinese people is not just a medium for farming, but more than that. Farming for an agrarian society is one of the food security efforts that is full of values, such as educational values, religious values and cultural values. In the farming process, the community is ‘taught’ to honor the land, protect water and maintain the ecosystem of living things and be grateful for the grace of God.
In the process, then there are rituals (religious values) accompanying it, such as the procession of mapag toya (picking up irrigation water), mewinih (preparation of rice seeding), biyukukung (celebration of rice ripening), mantenin padi (post-harvest thanksgiving celebration in rice barn) and so on.
Then, during the break from farming, the agrarian community engages in artistic activities. Many arts are born from rice culture passed down from generation to generation, until now. Seeing such strategic function of rice fields, then when there is a massive land conversion, what will happen to the values that exist in farming activities?
This owner of Rich Stone sees the presence of verdant rice fields is not just a medium or an instrument for simply planting rice and the like. Rice fields are imaginary spaces as well as the knowledge structure of agrarian communities in building social relations and cultural spaces. The Last Stronghold is a language of expression for the problems of rice fields and the current condition of subak (Balinese irrigation cooperative) in the archipelago, especially on the Island of the Gods. Putrayasa sees and reads it holistically through the works of art.
Maintaining green rice fields in the current situation is indeed very difficult. However, looking at the current condition of the rice fields, it could be a material for reflection or contemplation. “I see the presence of green fields, not as a medium or an instrument for just planting rice and the like. I see that rice fields are imaginary spaces and knowledge structures of agrarian communities in building social relations and cultural spaces,” said Putrayasa.
Therefore, this work becomes a record whether the rice field is very important to be maintained. Aren’t there other sexier ways to meet financial needs than planting a patch of rice? However, Putrayasa sees that it is important why the rice fields should be preserved. To him, the relationship between rice fields and the community is not only in the form of material, but also in presence of rice fields with the concept of subak in the spirit energy for the community. The rice fields in their manifestation are the strongholds of an agrarian civilization. The establishment of a harmonious relationship between the community and its environment (eco-culture) is a priority value to date and cannot be exchanged for anything. (BTN/015)