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Heirlooms of the Everyday: The Material Performances of Slamet Gundono1


Javanese actor, puppeteer and musician Slamet Gundono (1966–2014) created performances with everyday objects and materials (mud, dried grass, cooking utensils, condoms and food) in combination with conventions from wayang kulit puppetry. His performances were based on personal, often controversial, interpretations of well-known stories, from the Mahabharata epic to the nineteenth-century literary work Serat Centhini. By analysing three of his performances, I argue that Slamet Gundono's objects become temporarily endowed with the status of heirlooms (pusaka). Each of his performing objects is a non-spiritual pusaka that is used to take attention away from the spiritual quests that dominate traditional wayang. Gundono invokes everyday objects to focus on the more mundane, though urgent, questions of gender inequality, religious intolerance and environmental destruction.

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Research for this article was supported by the Singapore Ministry of Education (Relocating Intercultural Theatre, MOE2008-T2-1-110; and Digital Archiving and Intercultural Performance, MOE2013-T2-1-011).

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Matthew Isaac Cohen , ‘Contemporary Wayang in Global Contexts’, Asian Theatre Journal, 24, 7 (2007), pp. 338–69

Tim Behrend , ‘The Millennial Esc(h)atology of Heri Dono: “Semar Farts” First in Auckland, New Zealand’, Indonesia and the Malay Word, 27, 9 (1999), pp. 208–24

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Theatre Research International
  • ISSN: 0307-8833
  • EISSN: 1474-0672
  • URL: /core/journals/theatre-research-international
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