John Hardy x Kita Poleng
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John Hardy x Kita Poleng

April 1, 2021

Introducing Amrta, Woven by Water: our first collaboration with Balinese performance art and activist duo Kita Poleng, starring contemporary dancer Jasmine Okubo.

In one of our archival pieces from the mid-1980s, our woven chain was made into a light belt symbolizing the Selendang, a waist sash that separates spirit from physical form. Any cloth may be wrapped as a selendang each day to create space between the head and body to connect more deeply, to honor, pray or meditate. Our hero transformable chain necklace is an evolution of our emblematic original belt –– rooted in tradition, resilience and connectivity.

Through the performance of Amrta, we follow Jasmine as she dances through the cycle of life, wearing two symbolic elements––her transformable chain and poetic white selendang. In a purifying Melukat ceremony, Jasmine’s body is submerged into water. We then experience the ancient practice of Mudras, a series of intricate storytelling and meditative hand gestures. Jasmine ushers us past the markets and landscapes of modern-day Bali before returning to the volcanic heights of the mountaintop, draped in symbolic garments as she reaches enlightenment.

As Jasmine continues on her journey, her transformable chain moves with her, taking on ever-changing states of self-expression. She is at one with herself, with the earth around her, fluidly moving towards her highest state of being.

Founded by Jasmine and Dibal Ranuh in 2015, Kita Poleng is a Balinese performance art and activist duo known for artful choreography that reworks and renews ancient Balinese rituals. Working across dance, film and multimedia installation, Jasmine and Dibal have reframed the foundations of traditional dance, using its language in contemporary art and activism. Their work touches on local and global stories: the climate crisis, the pandemic, disability advocacy in Bali. In 2018, they participated in Indonesia’s first disability arts festival with an interactive performance geared towards audience members with movement restrictions.

“Our mission is to produce innovative work with traditional aspects, in order to preserve the culture and to educate and inspire the younger generation,” Jasmine tells us. “We believe that art is a universal medium. It can reach across borders and can reach the disabled communities that are able to join us. Everyone has the right to interpret our work on their own terms—this is what makes each of our performances unique”.

Follow Kita Poleng on Instagram @kitapolengbali