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Paris - France

Women in Bali

Paris From 21 July to 24 September 2017

“WOMEN IN BALI” is a photographic project between art and reportage, a travel in images at the heart of Bali and a tribute to the energy of all the women living there. Bruna Rotunno tells of the feminine universe and the creative power of nature in the island where water is still venerated as the sacred origin of life and as an element of purification.

The exhibition is realized in collaboration with the MAO, Museum of Oriental Art, in Turin, the youngest and the largest in Europe for knowledge and study of eastern art, which has long since started a program of temporary exhibitions to delve into themes which aren't met in permanent exhibitions and to present to the public other aspects of the extraordinary richness and originality of oriental cultures. The MAO, in addition to being an important cultural institution for the knowledge of oriental art, wants to represent a window for the Italian and European audience on the fascinating and complex world of Asian cultures.

In this eight years long work – inspired by a great attraction for the island, visited for the first time twenty years ago – the photographer has built an image story in which every gesture and character translate the essence of a unique place, characterized by a constant harmony. Taking the cue from the Balinese mythology, based on the cult of water – Holy Water, the Great Mother, a symbol of creation and purification – the photographs show the flow of the female side of the island. To that side are linked the sacred, the ritual, creativity, art, music and dance, told of through the everyday life gestures of the Balinese women.

They are the authors of the sacred offerings and magnificent decorations, created to attract the attention and benevolence of the gods. In this 'theater island' – as Bali is named – where beauty reveals itself as a fundamental quality of life, women move with grace and elegance, dancing and working in a universe where also the rice paddies, the lush tropical plants and the stones are animated by Shakti, the divine feminine energy.

In addition to offering us a report about the Balinese women's life, Bruna Rotunno focused her attention on the many foreign women who, attracted by the beauty and spirituality of the island, have decided to establish themselves there to create a new women's community and develop ethical, social, artistic and educational projects, often in the name of eco-feminism and sustainability.

Amongst the many, American Robin Lim, with her Bumi Schat Foundation, that helped giving birth to more than 5,000 children, reducing the high mortality rate, Indonesian Sri Adnayani Oka, who founded a micro credit bank to help the poor, Irish Nattalia Sinclaire, who opened a Montessori school on the island and English Mary Northmore, who, with her non-profit Smile Foundation, funds surgery to correct congenital malformations in children.

"Bali is a living island that has always stirred up mixed emotions in me – says photographer Bruna Rotunno – stimulated by its fluid and variable light, by a ritual made of gestures that make the invisible visible and above all by a widespread beauty that reflects a harmony in a constant state of becoming. Over the course of time, I met many women, both Balinese and from other parts of the world, who have started important artistic, ethical and social projects on the island. Through their portraits I tried to capture their essence, telling of the power of the feminine energy symbolized by water, a vehicle of ancient memories, and a healing instrument. The images brush against the everyday life of a place where everything is sacred and where the creative power of nature resonates with the creative energy present in each of us, making our dreams more lucid and realizable. This project wants to be a homage to the island and to all of the women living there."

The exhibition is made up of eighty photographs and a short movie about Bali, shot by the author, "The Island of Healing". To complete the exhibition, a group of small wooden female figure sculptures from the 1950's and a few objects related to Bali's culture, a loan from the Mariangela Faradella collection (Milan). The exhibition, inaugurated in 2016 at the India Habitat Center Museum in New Delhi, after the MAO in Turin will be presented in Paris.

Bruna Rotunno's search has been collected in an important volume, "Women in Bali" (published by Silvana Editoriale), with more than one hundred and fifty photographs, along with texts by Anita Lococo, an American resident on the island for thirtyfive years, and the Balinese writer Cok Sawitri.
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  • MAO Museo d’Arte Orientale
    10122, Torino
    Via San Domenico 11,
    +39 011 4436932

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Bruna Rotunno, Women in Bali - Materic Water #2, Photography

Bruna Rotunno

Women in Bali - Materic Water #2, 2017
27.6 x 41.3 inch