The Yogyakarta in which bikers wear special designed helmets, weighty and beautiful, stuffed with soil and planted with a tree
Monday, December 05, 2011
For Treebute to Yogya, Sara Nuytemans and Arya Pandjalu sent a gang of motorbikers through the streets of Yogyakarta, Indonesia, wearing helmets doubling as plant containers. “The performance is meant as a hommage to this very green city and also a wink to the idea for direct carbon dioxide compensation,” says a statement on the Szpilman Award website.
Cue parallel world.
The young men start gathering just before noon, on alleyways, back lanes and courtyards around Yogyakarta. Some attend to their motorbikes, making sure there's enough petrol in the tank, washing the dirt off the tires and polishing the chrome. Others water and prune their saplings on their helmet.
Then, when the last of their bike gang has arrived, they spill out into the city amid a sonic cloud of revving engines and rustling leaves. At designated strips, they meet up with other gangs whereupon one biker from each gang race one another. Weaving through the narrow, vacillating spaces in the traffic, they cock up their preening canopies, generating enough wind to show off their lushness. Along the route, other bikers sound their horns in appreciation. It's not who crosses the finish line first that decides the outcome but rather how one presents their organic coiffures to the city. Drag racing meets flower and garden show.
When these competitions began, just your garden variety houseplants were used. But as with all young men in other parts of the world, they sought out ever increasing thrills, a bigger adrenaline rush than their last race. So they started using larger and larger plants, making the races even more dangerous. And deadly. It seems like everyday you hear of a racer snapping his neck and killing motorists and spectators in the resulting crash.
However deadly these races may have become, the young men are still drawn to them. In a city blanketed by smoke produced by slash-and-burn agriculture, a permanent haze that traps them in mind-numbing indoor lifestyles, these reckless botanical races are their collective scream of environmental frustration, an outlet for green activism amid the suffocating smog.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many will become eco-terrorists, transforming their restless behaviors on the streets of Yogyakarta into acts of sabotage carried out on the palm oil plantations of Borneo. They will polish their guerilla skills in jungle hideouts, and when they've turned Borneo into the Afghanistan of green militancy, they will import their eco-jihadism to the rest of the world.