Matthew Isaac Cohen, as he describes himself in his Blogger blog, is a Professor of International Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. The reason why he is picked as Blogger Indonesia of the week this time around is because of his another unlikely part-time profession: as a shadow puppeteer. Yes, he is one of those rare foreign dalang who are interested in Javanese art of wayang kulit.
His interest in wayang stems from his “research interests in Indonesian performing arts and traditions of puppetry around the world” as he further said in his blog intro.
Many interesting reports he made on his blog about Indonesian art he saw or perform himself such as this post written on August 8:
Yesterday afternoon (8 August) I attended the Gladhi Resik or Dress Rehearsal for West Java’s delegation to the Kraton Festival Nusantara. This is a biennial celebration of Indonesia’s courtly cultures – pomp and circumstance, humourless speeches on the greatness of tradition, occasionally interesting art works.
… The afternoon concluded with the handing out of charity baskets to the poor (who also attended the dances and procession) and a buka bersama meal.
A reporter from RRI interviewed me about my thoughts about Indonesia culture today and specifically the role the kraton plays in contemporary society.I tried to be as diplomatic in my responses.
Interestingly, he really is serious about being a dalang. So much so that he got some appreciation and awards. In another blog in WordPress.com, he told us about his Kanda Buwana an honorary name he received from Sultan Abdul Gani of the royal court of Kacirebonan in Cirebon, West Java. He also received a royal title from the sultan, Kyai Ngabehi, roughly the equivalent of a knighthood, for services rendered to puppetry and traditional culture.
The purpose of his blogging is “to report on all Indonesian performing arts – folk, classical, popular and modern – as well as visual culture on occasion.” This is the thing that we, academicians as well as students, are lacking: to spend a little time a day to report what one is doing, researching and observing through blogging. We underestimate the important of this free publishing tools. Instead we tend to be more active in such social media as Facebook and Twitter all of which are unsearchable. Meaning, your thoughts you have written will only be read by person you know i.e. who follow you whichs are not necessarily intrested in it. The writing in blog, however, will be read by both your friend and people who are interested in those topic through Google search.
May be, we might switch the trend a little bit by blogging more and facebooking or tweeting less as shown by Matthew.
Note about Blogger of the Week
After long interval, I restart the BOW (Blogger of the Week) feature of this blog. I hope it can be updated more regularly from now on. Also, this feature will be opened both for English and Indonesian speaking blog which talk about Indonesia or Indonesian culture written either by Indonesian or non-Indonesian.
If you have a good blog with original content please tell me about it here.