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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Performing paradise : reframing tradition, modernity and identity in the work of I Wayan Tisna, I Wayan Bendi and I Nyoman Erawan Jaya, Rahasya Dawn


Over the past century there has been a tremendous amount of visual representation of Bali most of which has posited the island as being the last paradise on earth. However, this conception has not always been so. Constructed, in the past, to mask a devastating confrontation between a Balinese kingdom and the Dutch colonial military, this myth model has now become the underpinnings of a projected and idealized notion of Balinese identity. The colonial construction of paradise has formed the basis of the powerful 'myth model' of the island. Assumed as an ideal of Balinese identity this myth, of which beauty, tranquility and magic form its tripartite configuration, has been played out over the exoticized native female body. I will explore how the myth, which has been conflated with the 'traditional', has been recuperated as a formal and stylistic strategy and taken up by three contemporary artists. Through visual language and subject matter each of these works by Balinese artists raises questions of modernity and identity. My analysis seeks to investigate how these issues are intertwined with tourism on the island. This thesis is an exploration of the work of I Wayan Tisna (b. 1942), I Wayan Bendi (b. 1950) and I Nyoman Erawan (b. 1957), and how they are situated within unstable and shifting social and political contexts. Using the theoretical bodies of Stuart Hall, Geeta Kapur, Homi Bhabha, Apinan Poshyananda and Jim Supangkat my analysis explores the strategies adopted by these artists in order to maneuver within artistic institutions internationally and within Bali.

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