Dancing Shadows, Epic Tales: Wayang Kulit of Indonesia was developed by and exhibited at the Museum of International Folk Art from March 8, 2009 – March 14, 2010. The exhibition won an award from the American Association of Museums for Overall Excellence in Exhibitions, 2010.
An introduction to Solo-style wayang kulit, the exhibit featured a collection purchased for the Museum by the International Folk Art Foundation. The collection includes wayang from Ki Purbo Asmoro and Ki Enthus Susmono, two dhalang from Central Java.
The exhibition presented an introduction to the cultural context of Indonesia, interpretation for the basic elements of performance including gamelan, the stories and characters presented in classic wayang performance, aspects of contemporary performance, various forms of wayang found in Indonesia, and the incredible, labor-intensive process of making wayang kulit.
At the heart of the exhibition was a representation of a performance set-up. It included gamelan instruments and a performance video that could be viewed from the shadow-side or the performer's side of the wayang screen. That is, one side of the screen featured the dhalang’s performance, and on the opposite side of the screen, the audience could view a video of the dancing shadows. The video, which was filmed by the Curator in Eromoko, Wonogiri District of Central Java, was a performance demonstration by Ki Midiyanto. Ki Midiyanto performed short, but typical scenes found in wayang performances. The performance was primarily in English, yet the dhalang incorporated some Javanese so that American audiences could get a sense of what the Javanese language sounds like, while at the same time, understand the dialogue.
The gamelan, Gamelan Kyai Muncar (“The Venerable Sir Sparkling”), was a major part of the display and was borrowed for the exhibition from The Music Department and Center for the Arts, at Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT). More on Wesleyan University’s gamelan program can be found at http://gamelan.blogs.wesleyan.edu/