Pain, or physical discomfort, is one of the most acute ways our body registers its physicality, and reminds us of the limits of this mass of flesh, muscle, bones and nerves that we inhabit. In her durational performance, Melati Suryodarmo leans against a 4-metre long pole from a height, its point pressed against her solar plexus. Several different nerves radiate from the solar plexus, and it is considered a dangerous or vulnerable point, particularly in martial arts practices, for a blow there can incapacitate and in some instances, result in immediate death.
Drawing on meditation practices from Javanese ritual traditions, as well as her years of training with butoh and durational performance practitioners, Suryodarmo enters an altered state of consciousness, bringing her body and mind into unified stillness, attempting an emptying-out of the body and hence, a transcendence of pain, discomfort and physicality. The title of this work, Alé Lino, is taken from the Bugis language and refers to the ‘middle world’ inhabited by humans, in between the ‘upper world’ of the heavens and the ‘lower world’ that lies beneath the surface of the earth. On her elevated plinth, Suryodarmo performs an attempt to move beyond materiality and this middle world with a long pole that simultaneously connects her to the earth even as it rests against her solar plexus – considered by many to be the seat of an etheric field and hence, of the transcendent body or self. (Tan Siuli)