Sitting in a cafe in Ubud, Bali, I’m overwhelmed by traffic fumes. Each time I have visited, I have noticed the increase in traffic—especially SUVs clogging the streets. Heading out through the rice paddies, I see more and more hotels and restaurants catering to the ever-increasing tourist population. I commented on these changes to an Australian friend who has lived here for years, and she remarked, “I know, I’m so disappointed—imagine how the Balinese feel!” While my friend and I feel disappointed by these environmental changes, I wonder how the Balinese feel, to grow up in this area and witness such dramatic change. I walk past an old Balinese man, sheltered from the rain with the frangipani he is selling for the daily Hindu offerings. He gazes at the parade of cars and motorbikes, as though he is looking beyond them into another time in this same place, as though he is homesick for the Ubud that once was.
My work imagines solastalgia as a memory—perhaps embedded in human DNA—and depicts a cave in which “we” see through the eyes of an ancestor peering out from their shelter onto a landscape we have an uncanny longing for, like a primal homesickness.