Jayanto Damanik Tan
Jayanto is a visual artist whose practice to date includes installation, performance and poetry. He uses materials related to his Chinese-Sumatran heritages and his current home in Australia, all of which carry specific meanings and histories that expose different senses of belonging.
The Memoir of Red Tortoise Cake
Every time he goes to the temple,
the fragrances of the incense,
remembering him well to the scene commemoration of his Taoism father.
It was 45 years ago, he only five.
At that time, he couldn’t understand what it about
Next day, he wept to his Christian mother,
I saw Dad in my dream, mother. He was taking away by the light!
His mother wished him not to fear death
There are no perfect or ideal humans she said
She wished him also to face his fears
But he couldn’t understand what his mother meant
He saw his mother grieve in the cassava farm
He’d been through rough and traumatic times in his youth
his ‘friend’ dragged him to Sunday church
he loved him
I was sick they said
no messiah from the heaven
come with us, we will take you to the ‘GOD’
as he was attracted to boys
we will heal you, a happy, healthy and normal life…Halleluiah!
All his friends were Judases.
He found home in his solitude
he kills the lonely days by writing poems,
Poetry could save his adolescence.
KOMUNIS BANCI!, kicked the ball like a man, they screamed
recalls him from the old days, Sunday school.
Kids humiliated him in the football game
he felt like being choked,
people laughed at him
he missed all the balls.
His Indonesian community called him Banci kampung
behind his back! Awas AIDS!
He had no friends, he didn’t realise how sad it was
He was beaten almost to death
He couldn’t keep a secret any longer
he was burning inside
he ran away from his family home
From Fujian Province to The Straits of Malacca by boat
From Dolok Masihul via Villawood Detection Centre, a Police recorded
Shame on me, he said
he blamed himself, all his fault!
he was a coward, a man with tit
born into this skin ruined his life and his family.
an ugly duck soy sauce fairy, said the white Australian
takes him a while to pull himself together
you‘re never good enough! whispers in his ears
He had to remain hidden in the shadow
for shame and guilt
I was not into the gay scene, he said
Places like 357 will do, in love with random men in the dark
He will get AIDS! Someday
NO ASIAN! White queer men said,
he doesn’t fit into white men’s ideal.
Hate himself so much
he was the rubbish of Pak Suharto
where was my heritage name Pak?
he couldn’t find red tortoise cakes any longer
it was danger dancing in Moonlight Discotheque at Hayam Wuruk
get’s fined cruising in Lapangan Banteng
lancioa lang, a curve lotus, Hokkien people said
He’s tired of his spiritual journeys
He knew his time would come
when he touched him
his eyes already closed, his body already cold, his ears already deaf
he was the pieta
and he becomes art
his art was his passion
passion fluent to his spiritual journeys
the memoir of red tortoise cake in his hands
also bunga pacar air and offerings.
A gorgeous man who promised him once,
when I see you again, I’ll give you a kiss,
the kiss that I refused to give you before.
a soft red tortoise cake.