01/08/2013
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Bali. There is no doubt that it is a lovely, magical place; the Island of the Gods. Millions of people spend a few days or weeks here every year, but as a tourist you don't get a true picture of what life is really like in a culture that is so foreign to your own. Only after living there can you get a true idea, or even begin to touch on what life is really like. Then your perceptions can be broken down by truth. And even then, you're still an outsider. As Westerners it's ingrained in us to want more, to want it now, to want it fast. You quickly realize that a place even as stunning and romanticized as Bali doesn't free you from your inability to just be. Our Western countries' inventions and attitudes combined with third world corruption are just why Bali is suffering. Our greedy societies market and sell garbage to the Balinese, which in turn pollutes their bodies, minds, rivers, land, and oceans. Welcome to paradise, the grass is never really greener.

It's the craft for every kid by every kid - they all fly them, they all own them and on a windy day you can count at least 30 kites flying from wherever you're standing. Most of the families build their own kites from found materials readily available on the island; plastic bags, sticks of bamboo and lengths of string. I find it truly representative of the local culture. Nobody needs a games console here, the community feels inspired to play simply by looking at the sky.

Thinking about it as a craft, you don't initially pay much attention - to the untrained eye they all look the same and they all look cheap. When I finally came to find some beauty in them I felt compelled to create a response, a series documenting my westerners perspective in south east asia.



Pineapple: There is so much fruit in Bali that by the looks of everyone's teeth you would think they were brushing with it.



Booze: If you want to get drunk you’ll go broke, or you’ll drink the local beer or arak (moonshine). The beer mysteriously sobers you up the more you consume, and the arak tastes like petrol. Want Absolut? You’ll literally pay 5 times more for it than you would anywhere else.



Toilet paper: You've got to go bad and you have a hole in the ground and a bucket of dirty water. This is why you never, ever shake anyone's left hand in Bali. They've taken our beloved toilet paper AND our dignity.



Tits and Milk: When you're in "paradise" and you're on the beach, you want to see at least one pair of tits. Not here. While driving through the countryside you'll occasionally see a hunched old woman letting it all hang out, but the tradition of women typically going topless has all but ceased to exist. Also, want some milk to go with that overly-sweet coconut dessert? Nope. They don't drink the stuff.



Bombs: There have been two terrorist bombings in the last 10 years in the heavily trafficked tourist areas along the coast where are scantily clad tourists hang out, disregard the locals, and spend all day getting wasted on shitty overpriced beer and working on perfecting their leathery tans. There really isn't much math that needs to be done.



Monkeys: One of the most sacred animals in Bali, they lie, steal, trick, pull your hair, and fornicate in public.



Garbage: Nothing is more picturesque than those terraced rice fields, especially when you're standing in a pile of garbage. Nothing is more refreshing than having to leap over a rotting pig corpse while running into the ocean, and then having to wade through plastic bags, soda cans, and an assortment of other floating debris. And there isn't anything better than waking up to the sweet smell of burning trash piles wafting in through your open bedroom window.



Rain: eat PAY love



Motorbikes: Motorbikes are the primary method of transportation for most Balinese, expats, and more adventurous tourists. Driving in Bali is like being on a road without lanes or even a particular side on which you drive, and if you didn't know better you'd think everyone was drunk and blindfolded. And ALWAYS holding something other than the handlebars, whether it's a chicken, an infant, bamboo, a sickle, all while their entire family is riding on the back. It's better known as the Southeast Asian minivan, or deathtrap.



Weed: A country where having drugs, even the tiniest amount, is punishable by death. Marijuana is as frowned upon as crack or heroin. One theory is that (seeing as how laid back and peaceful the Balinese are) they were all born with full THC receptors so they're all naturally high. If you've ever been to Bali, that theory makes a lot of sense.



Bad Smells: Smoldering (often rotting) human flesh from funeral pyres, shrimp paste frying in a wok at 5am, burning plastic, raw sewage, unfiltered exhaust, marketplace floors layered with years of decaying seafood, fruit, and animal flesh and blood.



Hot Dogs: No wieners here, but the men do frequently stroke their cocks (and fight them, too).



Hot Dogs: Close up detail.
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PRODUCED IN THE SUMMER OF 2011 IN LOD TUNDUH, BALI, INDONESIA BY KARIM CHARLEBOIS-ZARIFFA.
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THANKS TO GABRIELLE MATTE, INTERN WHO HELP WITH A FEW DESIGNS, TO KAT GRIFFITH FOR HER HELP WITH TEXTS AND TO SIMON DUHAMEL FOR PHOTOGRAPHING THE KITES.
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Object

01/08/2013

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I have a love / hate relationship with these styrofoam signs. I love the way they look / I hate their environmental impact and commercial associations. To me they represent an ugly part of the local business model.

The west's ongoing cultural invasion leads to craft processes founded in tradition and heritage quickly getting swept into the 'plastic fantastic' revolution - the Balinese signs haven't been spared any mercy. Originating as handmade gifts lovingly constructed from locally available materials (bamboo, leaves and the like); the signs now appear in the worst fluorescent colour clashes with poor emulations of western typography. At some stage, the design of these signs becomes so poor that they're left with this amateurish charm reminiscent of high school design projects.

The signs are typically gifted on occasions where we'd be more accustomed to sending a greetings card; the opening of a new business, funerals and marriages, construction of a new house. They appear as heartfelt offerings of luck and good wishes, but beneath any sentimental face lies the ulterior motive - self promotion. Giving a sign? Your name will always be more prominent than the recipients. Example in case: 'happy birthday stefan from KARIM'. Any thoughts of the donor's selflessness quickly become tainted; it's evident who's wanting to appear as the generous soul here.

Bigger than the problem of inaccurate portrayal of character is that of pollution. These signs are an evolution of popular local tradition and as a result are produced en masse daily, not so much of a problem when you're working with biodegradable materials, but bring the toxic permanence of styrofoam and spray paint into the equation and we've got a pile of single use chemicals that aren't going anywhere. Within a village when somebody of the first cast gets married you can easily expect to see 30 of these signs surrounding the front of the house. The orgy of colour and typeface is a beautiful site to stumble upon, but this beauty wanes when the material realisation hits you. Styrofoam isn't recyclable, spray paint is rarely connected with environmental stability. Indonesia is already well known for it's waste management problems and these signs are destined for nowhere but the beautiful beaches of Bali...
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Gusti: Brings the heat.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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Nengah: Bali mom cooking soto.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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Made: Minum Bintang dan makan jagung bakar pedas di Sanur.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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Putu: Mixing it.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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Wayan: Dollar fifty.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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Dewa: Much love brother.
- 100cm X 175cm . photo printed on canvas, metal frame.
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PRODUCED IN THE SUMMER OF 2011 IN PELIATAN, BALI, INDONESIA BY KARIM CHARLEBOIS-ZARIFFA.
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THANKS TO WILL VINCENT WHO HELPED ME WITH SOME OF THE COPY.
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