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Ep 3: Metaphorical Sites #1 – LAND “Another Land to The Utmost Happiness”, 2021
Jessica Ayudya Lesmana
In the theatrical performance entitled Another Land to The Utmost Happiness (2021), Jessica Ayudya Lesmana provokes the majority’s assumptions about names. Systemically it becomes everyone’s identity label; the name is basically political when attached to the subject, yet the named subject is often judged based on the spaces that determine how their identity is perceived socially. “Birth Name” (the name given at birth; administratively listed on the identity card) and “Life Name” (the name chosen and used by transwomen in everyday life) are two concepts that cannot be separated from the flow of transwomen’s life because both represent the conflict that accompanies their everyday lives. These existence of these two concepts also shows how institutions in the social system work repressively against marginal groups and how marginal subjects often try to deal with this repression. Jessica draws a connection between their background as a transwoman (who has to deal with the reality of the struggle for the right to have a name and expunge the labels that have been attached to them) and the identity of the Parangkusumo beach location (one of the locations where a number of transwomen groups maintain their social lives and positions). The artistic reflection on this relationship works to build a narrative about self-liberation from social shackles. Jessica uses the visual elements of the location, such as piles of garbage, sand, the view from the beach, as well as their theatrical response to these elements, as a metaphor for the journey of a transwomen’s identity. This work stimulates an observation about how minorities have their own potential to find happiness on land which has been dominated by the discourse of the majority and preserved in unequal power relations. Another Land to The Utmost Happiness is a celebration, an affirmation, of these realities, as a way to achieve a certain catharsis.