Merkayangan: A Study of the Realms

Romila Barryman

1 Apr to 31 Aug 2022

Access welcomes Romila Barryman to PLOT to pursue early stages of the project Merkayangan: A Study of the Realms. This 4D audio project, simulating the seven kejawen realms using sounds in nature, traditional Javanese instruments and prose will be developed at Lobe Studio + Inscapes Spatial Sound in the summer of 2022. Of this project, Romila writes,

"Leveraging “modern” technologies (such as motion sensors and 4DSOUND) and spiritual technologies (such as kejawen mysticism and Javanese storytelling) this project aims to reconstruct a pre-colonial recollection of the kejawen realms. It is a reclamation project blending academic research and cultural knowledge to re-document these understandings into present-day discourse through auditory art...

"Colonial research is rewarded for its reclusivity; a practice done at arm’s length to convince a supposed “objectivity,” with its ultimate goal to be its output rather than process. With interest and a commitment in making Merkayangan a reclamation project (as opposed to a research project) I think that PLOT can act as an open source space of learning that would explore consent or (lack thereof) in research. I’m interested in discovering together the kind of relationships that can be cultivated when knowledge-sharing occurs by invitation. Simultaneously, PLOT as a place of public interface might also give insight into the ways decolonizing takes place in togetherness and with those to bear witness to our commitments. I look forward to also hosting workshops connected to these explorations during this residency."

We're thrilled to host Romila for this residency period, which begins with solitary research time. Please stay tuned for updates on the project and any public events that will take place later in the spring.


Romila Barryman is a writer, facilitator and cyber-mystic of kejawen and Zoroastrian ancestry based on the never surrendered, ancestral Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) village site of Sen̓áḵw.

Using storytelling as a portal and liminality as a venue, Romila's work explores futures we can remember and pasts we can reimagine. Child of a dream interpreter, great-grandchild of birthing doulas, Romila carries the gifts of intuition, groundedness and future-telling to hold spaces to gather in community through literature, spellmaking and ritual.


With gratitude as guests, Access is located on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.


Access additionally recognizes its location in Vancouver’s Chinatown, an area for the gathering of predominantly Cantonese-speaking Chinese labourers, settlers, and businesses since the nineteenth century. Our gallery borders the site of Hogan’s Alley, an important home to Vancouver’s Black population until their forced displacement through the construction of the Georgia viaduct fifty years ago.