Sand Run through Your Hand, Flow with the Water

Titled “Sand Run through Your Hand, Flow with the Water”, Dito Yuwono’s video scrutinizes the sand mining industry and the human-nonhuman relationship through the ecological perspectives within the local context of Mt. Merapi. 

The questions are rooted in the locals’ belief that things that come from the volcano are considered ancestral material inhabited by spirits. This is where ideas of local beliefs and ecological impact intertwined. 

The video follows the steps of a displaced spirit that is taken from Mount Merapi along with the ancestral materials that are being reshaped and transported to different cities and being used to build modern infrastructures. 

This research is ongoing and looking into three different types of sand mining, from the traditional one that uses bare hands to the exploitative one that uses excavators. As an extractive activity rooted on the idea of coloniality, the massive sand mining industry operates in contrast to the local wisdom that was circulated throughout different generations. The existence of the excavators in the site changed the idea of taking the sand moderately as it was said in the local wisdom to an extractive sand mining activity. 

The persistent and continuous extraction of the industry is not only damaging the environment but also eroding the relevance of local wisdom in daily practice. The video was made during the height of the government’s massive development of infrastructure– from international airports, highways, and a planning for a new capital city, causing demand for building materials to rise. 

This project was presented in 900mdpl: Genealogy of Ghosts and How to Live with Them, Yogyakarta – Indonesia (2022) curated by Mira Asriningtyas,and also presented in Jakarta International Photo Festival’22, Jakarta – Indonesia (2022) co-curated by Asep Topan, Ayos Purwoaji, and Ng Swan Ti.

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