In Search of Nan Tar Tar Nan Tor Tor (The Dancing Goddess)   
On Celluloid  

Installation View


DOP: Patrick Tantra
Researcher: Raisa Kamila
Producer: Wibi Triadi, Madyn Nugeraha

Video Works:

Director: L. P. De Bussy,
Title: Lijkbezorging bij de Karo-Bataks. 1917
A two-part reportage about a funeral ceremony and the ritual religious practices of the Karo-Batak, an ethnic group in North Sumatra.
Produced by Koloniaal Instituut (Amsterdam)
Collection of Eye Museum, The Netherlands

Archival materials:

De Kamferboom van Sumatra (Dryobalanops camphora Colebr.): volgens Dr. F. Junghuhn’s waarnemingen op de plaats zelve, en door nadere onderzoekingen toegelicht
Author: W.H. de Vriese, 1851

Mémoire sur le Camphier de Sumatra et de Borneo
Author: W. H. de Vriese, 1856

Overzicht van proeven, in Nederlandsch Oost-Indië genomen met de cultuur can den Japanschen Kamferboom
Author: Ir. W. Spoon, 1929

Camphor oil
Barus, August 2022
Collector: Maskudin Simandjuntak

Various cine films (Celluloid)
Source: ebay (bidding)

Pustaha Batak
Source: British Library

In this project, I am interested in exploring the entanglement between colonial exploitation and the loss of camphor tree in Sumatra by examining various archives, myths, manuscripts, legends, family history, as well as collective memory.

A legend of the upland peoples narrated how camphor originated from the spirit of a woman named Nan Tar Tar nan Tor Tor (“the Dancing One”) who tried to escape a malevolent ancestral ghost by seeking refuge in camphor tree after camphor tree. (Faizah Zakaria:2023)

Since the tree has been disappearing from the area, one way to find Her is to investigate into the celluloid, as the materiality has been transformed into it during the colonial time. I believe, celluiloid is Her new hideout.

Exhibited at:
  • Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival
                     Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Photo credits:
Dani Huda (Intersection, Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival)

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