Agus Nur Amal

Agus Nur Amal

Sundanese cosmology, Tritangtu, 2022

Video, 102'

A project by Agus Nur Amal PM TOH in collaboration with Ary "jimged" Sendy for documenta 15

Produced for documenta 15, Agus Nur Amal's film follows him in a rural region near Jakarta. It resembles a documentary road movie, except that the protagonist-narrator, after accelerating by car from Jakarta to Kuningan, gradually slows down to the village of Cileuley, then walks along the irrigation canals to the source of the water on the slopes of the Ciremai volcano, but also to the source of the Sundanese philosophy known as Trintangtu.

It's also a kind of musical comedy, since Agus Nur Amal never stops singing a capella throughout his journey, taking up the Sundanese principles of thinking in triangular terms about the relationship between God, nature and man, but also improvising with what he discovers and according to his encounters.

In this way, he talks with child fishermen, and with farmers cultivating rice paddies, asking them about their work, the rhythm of cultivation and the sharing of tasks. He shares a meal with one of them, who invites him into his home and in exchange offers to perform one of his storytelling shows in the village the following day.

Performed outdoors in front of the gathered families, the show will conclude the film by summing up the principles already set out along the water. In the same way as it did along the canals, it evokes in song the circuit of water between heaven and earth, and the place of the farmers who, through their work and thanks to the water shared by the irrigation systems, grow rice, feed themselves and take care of themselves and their animals.

Highlighted in the film by the addition of a few animated drawings, his rhythmic psalmodies are supported by simple, inventive puppeteering techniques. The clouds are made of bits of plastic bag, the sun is a plate.

Agus Nur Amal (PM TOH)

Born in 1969 on the island of Weh (Aceh, Sumatra)

Lives in Jakarta

After studying at the Jakarta Arts Institute, Agus Nur Amal, actor and storyteller, developed a performance style inspired by the narrative tradition of the Indonesian province of Aceh, on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, where he was born. He takes his simple, inventive methods from his mentor, Achenese Teungku Haji Adnan P.M. Tô, whose name he adapted for his own stage name.

A specialist in traditional epic poems, hikayat, he brings the verses to life using everyday props. All he needs is a yellow or orange plate and a few beer cans to signify the sun and stars as he tells and sings about the creation of the world. His art appeals to all strata of the population.

Agus Nur Amal is not content with old stories. He takes charge of the present, from political issues to stories of natural disasters to issues of public health in rural areas. In a culture where the religious is inescapable, he defends an Islam where reason and knowledge prevail over ritual and morality, which are likely to develop divisions and radicalism.

Since 2005, he has been using his own creative TV channel and social networks to tell his stories. He is regularly invited to perform and conduct workshops abroad, notably in 2022 at documenta 15, where his stories could be heard in the Grimmwelt Kassel, a museum dedicated to the Grimm brothers, great story collectors.

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