Tulungagung Community History

Tulungagung, a city in East Java, Indonesia, is one of the oldest cities in Java. For the Web Residency »Solidarity is a verb,« Gatari Surya Kusuma would like to create a website that invites people in Tulungagung to collect, share, and tell their personal histories regarding the flood and connect their missing puzzle of community history.

Gatari Surya Kusuma / Yogyakarta, Indonesia — Aug 30, 2021

From the archive of Gatari Surya Kusuma. Courtesy the artist.

Tulungagung is surrounded by the marble mountain in the south and further into the city, a beach facing the ocean. Tulungagung is nearly close to sea level. Therefore, the city was founded by building the dam. Many photo archives picturing floods describe the history of Tulungagung. They came from different years. It looked from the color photo, the subject photos, and the trace of the place where the photo was taken. With the different years, they were still experiencing the flood. The oral history behind those photos said there are several reasons why the flood happened. It was not always about the disaster but also related to marble mining. Their common narration, however, is about how Tulungagung culture was constructed from their relationship with the river, such as the idea of an open toilet.


Gatari Surya Kusuma, called Gatari, is a researcher, writer, and curator based in Yogyakarta. After graduating from the Department of Photography at the Indonesian Institute of the Art in 2016, she did a lot of action research and deepened critical pedagogy with her group KUNCI Study Forum & Collective. She also conducts artistic production and ethnographic research related to food with a food study collective called the Bakudapan Food Study Group. Her current works are about ecology and collectivity.

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