message in the bottle

Installation, terracotta


Terracotta Biennale I, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, 2015


Message in the bottle is a site-specific installation located in the village of Kasongan, which is famous for its ceramics and potteries. The installation aimed to connect to the local practices and at the same time reflect on environmental issues that are alerting in the region. Kasongan has a huge amount of plastic waste, mainly bottles, covering the streets and the river.


Message in the bottle uses the transition between kendi (traditional Javanese bottle) and stupa, a place for water storage and holy practice, articulates the importance of water as a vital element and holy source of life. Bottle itself has a very complex iconographic meaning: it is the symbol of secrets and mysteries, it may contain an elixir such as the aqua vitae (water of eternal life), it is the carrier of redeeming knowledge, secret wisdom and future revelations. The sailor who throws his bottle in the sea is actually putting his thoughts on water, and as such, even if the ship sinks, the message closed in the bottle will conquer death and destruction. With the use of the ornaments of Borobudur (Buddhist temple near Yogyakarta) on the main and some of the smaller bottles of the installation, I emphasize the holiness of water and the importance of environmental awareness.