MEN, MOUNTAINS & THE SEA

Located at the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is home for more than 100 active volcanoes and distinctly marked by coastlines that span over 80,000 km. A geographic feature that makes the country prone to earthquakes and volcano eruptions. There were over 200 earthquakes and eruptions since 1980, including a 9.3 magnitude massive earthquake at the Indian Ocean in 2004 causing a devastating tsunami.

At least 700,000 people are affected in average each year by natural disasters in Indonesia. Despite long history of natural disasters, local communities are still living at volcanoes and at the very tip of the sea shores facing a perilous open sea. At Mount Merapi in Central Java province, villages exist for many generations before at its slopes. Volcanic ashes and soil make the land fertile for farming. For many they believe the volcano would not harm them and think as their protector. Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia, with as many as 84 massive eruptions since the 10th century. When Merapi erupted again in 2010, Surono a senior respected local said “Merapi is just sharing us its fertility now, we just need to stay away for a while. It will all be fertile again”.

This project also documented the life in the island of Bali where the majority of the population is Hindu. The mountains and the sea are two important part for their cultural and religious life. They pray everyday to keep everything in balance, in harmony. Ceremonies are held to pay respect for gods and ancestors who they believe live at the mountains and to cleanse evil spirits from their daily life and belongings towards the sea where they belong. In the mountainous region of Tengger in East Java resides three mountains that formed the Tengger caldera. The Tengger tribe who lives in surrounding villages of the caldera pay respect and gratitude by conducting the annual Hindu Yadnya Kasada festival where locals offer local produce like farm, chicken and cows and throw them to the crater of Mount Bromo, one of the active volcanoes among three, which they believe as the representation of their main deity, Hyang Widi Wasa.

In this project I want to document and show how these communities try to live in harmony with the two of major entity in Indonesia. To show how they relate themselves with nature and nature with them, religiously, economically and culturally. This is the story of Men, Mountains and The Sea.