Installation / Performance


Grace Tjang (Grace Ellen Barkey) / Needcompany

World premiere

Inspired both by her ancestors and the Javanese theatre of shadows wayang, Grace Ellen Barkey, who was born in Surabaya, Indonesia, enters into a nightly dialogue with the obscure and searches for forms of re-imagination in her installative performance ‘MALAM / NIGHT’.

A darkened room in which the shadowy outlines of a person and light reflexes can be seen.

Grace Tjang (Grace Ellen Barkey) / Needcompany: MALAM / NIGHT. The Sun Machine Is Coming Down

© Berliner Festspiele / Eike Walkenhorst

“For years, I’ve been looking at the plants in my garden at night. The structures, the light of the street lantern or the moon, the shadows, the mysterious glittering when it has rained. I looked so much that the structures became mine. In the Wayang puppet play, you can see the same organic forms and the play with light and shadow. I am the Wayang player, the Dhalang. I am creating the night of my observation and imagination but also the night from my memories and my parental heritage. Going deeper in the layers of the night, I honour my history, the stories of my parents, grandparents, ancestors. Every story in my family hides the whole colonial history and its wounds. It is striking that in the colonial history women are used and then put aside, forgotten. I decided that, for this project, I will decolonize my name and use the name of my grandmother.” (Grace Tjang, May 2021)

Grace Tjang began her project “MALAM / NIGHT” by filming her garden at night. Inspired by Javanese wayang puppet theatre, whose name literally means “shadows” or “ghosts”, individual images of plants, shadows and light drawings each come to life in a way of their own.. The first recorded reference to shadow theatre can be found in the ancient Javanese kakawin poem entitled “Arjunawiwaha” (dated between 1028 and 1035). As in Tjang’s obscure universe, attention is focused on the puppeteer – who acts as a dalang, breathing life into the figures and inviting the audience to question their own perceptions.

A project organised by the programme series Immersion.


Installation, drawings, costumes and performance Grace Tjang
Videos Grace Tjang except "Deer" in collaboration with Emma van der Put
Sound installation “Imaginary landscapes” Rombout Willems
Technical direction Ken Hioco
Technical coordination Koen De Saeger
Production management Marjolein Demey
Outside eye Emma van der Put
Artistic assistance Kasia Tórz

Producer Needcompany
Co-producers Théâtre Garonne, scène européenne – Toulouse, Das Internationale Figurentheaterfestival Erlangen, MA Scène nationale – Pays de Montbéliard
Tax Shelter financing Melissa Thomas
With support from the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter and the Flemish authorities