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tinker designs 'bali - welcome to paradise' exhibition for leiden museum volkenkunde

2018-10-12

On 12 October, the exhibition ‘BALI - Welcome to Paradise’ opens in the Museum of Ethnology. Tinker imagineers from Utrecht is responsible for the design of the exhibition, which shows the popular holiday resort as well as the other side of paradise. Visitors discover the invisible, spiritual world that lies behind the white beaches, photogenic rice paddies, and luxury hotels, and its importance to the Balinese. Although the Indonesian island is affected by mass tourism, the Balinese culture is still very much alive.

Paradise on earth
Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the planet. Holiday brochures and social media accounts are full of images of ancient temples, pristine landscapes, and vast beaches. The Dutch created this heavenly image during the colonial era to deflect attention from their conquest of Bali and the violence that went with it. Since then, the island has become a tourist attraction and refuge for relaxation and spiritual enlightenment. These days, mass tourism, urban development on the rice paddies, and plastic pollution threaten the image of the Indonesian island. Bali is representative of other 'paradise' destinations, and these problems reflect global phenomena.

Discover the real Bali
The exhibition takes you on a journey through Bali: after arriving at the beach, you take a trip through the interior and go to the market. After excursions into the colonial past and classical and contemporary Balinese art, you will enter a world that remains hidden from most tourists. The highlights of the exhibition are a visit to a temple festival and an introduction to the rituals of life and death that play an important role in the lives of the Balinese.

The special collection is laid out in seven colourful, thematic rooms, and multimedia exhibits introduce you to a number of islanders. Meet market vendors, find out how Hindu priests honour the traditions and rituals, and learn why Balinese activist artist Made Bayak keeps raising the plastic issue. You can also listen to a resident working in the tourist industry who sees a future on the island where rice fields are supplanted by hotels. Start your visit as a curious tourist and leave the museum with new insights and a more nuanced view of Bali.