Sufi Bikers and Arab Saints
Mobility and the Formation of Emerging Islamic Movement in Urban Indonesia
A striking new phenomenon that has emerged in Indonesia since the fall of Suharto (1998) is the heightened public visibility of different Islamic groups that vie with each other for attention in the national capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere. This project focuses on the novel configuration of religious and mediatic practices employed by the voluntary study groups (Majelis Ta’lim) that began springing up in the early 2000s and are led by young Sayyid (members of the Hadrami diaspora recognized as the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad). The group’s organizing fulcrum is a weekly public multi-media spectacle that takes place on Saturday nights. Remarkably, these weekly events celebrate the Mawlid or birthday of the Prophet, which until recently was an annual event sponsored by the state as well as celebrated with a range of syncretic religious rituals. The movement’s followers are predominantly young, urban lower-middle-class men who are highly mobile - using motorbikes to get around the city - and adept at integrating Internet and mobile communication technologies into their religious performances.
The aim of this artistic and research project is to understand the formation of the urban Mawlid movement in Jakarta through their discursive practices as well as through their aesthetic formation. Aryo Danusiri concerns himself with meanings that emerge from physical religious experiences. This research requires an extended period of fieldwork to gain familiarity with the research subjects and to develop trust and rapport in particular contexts. Since he regards publicity and the visibility of religion as the central concerns of this research project, Aryo Danusiri will use media technology (audio-visual tools and Internet and mobile communication technologies) as an integral part of the methodology employed in the fieldwork. He plans to produce a multi-platform work of experimental sensory ethnography consisting of: (1) a single-channel video piece, (2) soundscape works, and (3) an installation exhibition as well as a written text.