Suriawati Qiu, A Tale of Tenganan_Longing Love, 2011

Installation of betel nut cases with pearl inlay,
2.44 x 0.74m
Artist Statement

Everyone in Tenganan has a story to tell. After many visits I learnt of the more intimate stories of the women and their families.

Trisna is a great natural storyteller. Once, Trisna showed me the most original house of the Tenganan people, belonging to her distant great aunt, Ibu tua Semer. It was a basic house, complete with an old wooden lesung for pounding paddy into rice, and a wood fire cooking stove still in use. The elderly woman has forgotten her own age, but Trisna told me she is probably more than a hundred years old. Ibu Tua Semer has aged gracefully. Her movement is slow, but she has her long white hair all tied up in a bun neatly, and there is a certain quiet charisma about her that draws me towards her.

When we entered the house, Ibu Tua Semer was chewing on betel nut, with her betel nut case lying nearby. I was then told the story of her longing for her son. Apparently, Ibu Tua Semer spends her days chewing betel nut, keeping a lookout at the entrance. She is waiting for her son, who has a drinking problem and had left the village, to return home.

The story of the longing mother is especially dear to me. The longing mother reminds me of my mother who worked hard all of her life and sacrificed her youth to provide for us. The story reminded me of my roots, of who I am, and being a mother of two young daughters, of who I want to be. Longing Love reflects a Mother’s pure love and longing for her son.