Tag Archives: Indonesia

Dancing the sound of laborious work in Helatari Salihara 2017

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelago

Helatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara. think archipelago is a pround media partner of the event which runs from 8 untuk 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Helatari Salihara 2019 banner found in think archipelago website.

Photograph by Witjak Widhi Cahya, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara

The sounds axe, saw, knife, sandpaper and brush to make a traditional wood mask set the atmosphere for the choreographer Katia Engel’s latest work in Indonesia, From Starting to Cut the Wood. It conveys the process of the mask making process and its relation to the materials and work tools, which was interpreted by a solo dancer.

Ari Ersandi’s exploration and his response to the role character of a mask artisan was one of the most breathtaking performances at the Helatari Salihara 2017.

It began with a recorded voice by the seasoned mask artisan, “When I make a mask, first I choose the wood, second I cut the wood and thrid I choose what character I want to make.”

Another line from the same voice slipped into the middle, “When I paint I make two layers. I usually use red, blue, yellow and white and add for decoration an little bit of gold.”

Photograph by Witjak Widhi Cahya, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara

At the closing scene, the real mask artisan behind the voice showed up and continued his work in front of the audience. A life time dedication to a work of precision as represented in this case by the artist not only resulted in high craftmanship, but also made the work itself a spiritual journey.

From Starting to Cut the Wood is a dance based focusing on auditory sense created by wood mask carving, accompanied by the spoken words, and apparently with an influence of the choreographer, the frequent use of projected quotes by names such as:

‘Work is the fundamental condition of human life, and this to such an extent that in a certain way we have to say: it has created human mankind.’ – Friedrich Engels.

‘What is ahead of us, is the perspective of a working society, which is out of work-the only activity which it is still capable of. What could be more disastrous?’ – Hannah Arendt.

‘A mask is not what it represents, but what it transforms, and what it chooses not to represent.’ – Claude-Levi Strauss.

Katia Engel’s works

The sounds blend with the carver’s spoken words. Katia Engel creates performance works, installations, videos, photographs, and documentary films. She studied dance at Dance Institute Bremen and Laban-Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies New York.

Her works have been presented at many events, such as International Film Festival (Singapore), International Dance Festival Tokyo/Yokohama (Japan) and at Akademie der Künste (Berlin).

In 2012 Katia started producing dance work in Indonesia. As a choreographer and artistic director, she collaborated with former members of Gumarang Sakti Dance Company in the works of Tanah Air (2012) and In Between (2014), featured at the Indonesian Dance Festival Jakarta in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

An addition to her latest production in Indonesia is the documentary movie Barabah about the Indonesian choreographer Hoerijah Adam, screened at the Indonesian Dance Festival 2016.

Dance film performance in the streets of south Jakarta

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelagoHelatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 8 until 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.

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The interaction between dancers, people on the streets, cinematographer, and a technology-savvy all in real time presents an art-technology work of the choreographer Yola Yulfianti in a dance film performance, a bold idea that poses challenges in not only the unfamiliarity of the new medium, but also in the country’s current mobile data infrastructure.

Angkot is the Melting Pot uses live streaming to highlight the city transportation in Jakarta. For Yola, the Jakarta’s ubiquitous public minivan (angkot) suggests the physical closeness of the passengers crammed inside, but in the awkwardness of a heterogeneous society.

She also tempted to raise the impact of app-based transportation to the drivers that eats up a huge share of customers this traditional public transportation is so dependent on.

The two dancers in a public minivan started performing all the way from Pasar Minggu to Galeri Salihara, where it hosted the Helatari Salihara 2017. While several times being dangerous to perform in the boisterous afternoon streets, they intuitively responded to the circumstances, the angkot, the shops, the intersection, the city itself.

Technology makes possible

The 30 minutes street dance performance was captured by the camera phone, transmitted to the gallery and projected live at Galeri Salihara.

Despite lagging due to low quality mobile data connection, the audio visual artist Patrick Hartono said it was expected that he was half satisfied with the first trial at D-1.

Choreographer Yola Yulfianti and Cinematographer Purbo Wahyono talks to the press during rehearsal at Galeri Salihara, 17 June 2017

He admitted that the case would have been different in a more developed parts of the world, but he clinged to another view that art should not be affected by the perfect result, but more importantly, the clear evidence of the process.

Yola said that she had encountered the streets of Jakarta such as Kampung Melayu or Kwitang ever since 2009, and collected the observations in numerous places for the future basis of her subsequent works.

She added that the medium to implement her idea depends much on the technological possibility. Harnessing it would bring her works to the scope of audience an ordinary show cannot possibly reach, that is the people on the streets where the dance takes place, the audience sitting in the art venue, and the internet users stumbling across video sites such as youtube while browsing.

The purpose of this work is to explore the complexity of the city, about how to read the city and then write the city into a work and bring humanitarian interaction. The process of artistic research does not focus on mainstream art products and terminology.

Dance in social environment

Not a product of a work of dance or a film product but about experience in the realities of urban life. The ability of the body as a medium of expression relates to other mediums, producing work that grows organically born just as the process of extracting ideas.

As for the expression it becomes a total expression, the sensitivity of being a dancer through the digging of the media of digital technology revealing the symptoms of the city’s social environment.

Angkot is the Melting Pot is inspired by daily experiences when riding on Jakarta’s urban public transport, or angkot. Inside the public minivan, the distance between bodies seems negligible and yet so foreign.

About Yuli Yulfianti

Yola Yulfianti is a dancer and choreographer who graduated from Jakarta Institute of Arts. She received the Pearl Award at Dance Film International in Berlin in 2009. She also received Hibah Cipta Perempuan from Yayasan Kelola in 2014. Previous creations include Salma: A Little Escape (2013), Update Status (2013) dan I Think. . .Tonk (2014).

Helatari Salihara 2017

webbanner-2017-mei-helatari-think archipelagoHelatari Salihara 2017 is Komunitas Salihara’s regular dance event held in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 8 until 18 June 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.

This year’s Helatari showcases the development of dance in Indonesia departing from the influence of modern western dance, hip-hop, street dance or “free choreography”.

Lately, there are some choreographers who have developed a form of dance-theater in Europe. It also has departed from tanztheater or dance-theater during 1920s in Germany, of which the “theatrical” element began to play an important basis for choreography.

The choreographers have begun working on the idea of the banality of daily life, and the conflict it brought upon, by incorporating motion styles that the common dance fell short of noticing.

Helatari Salihara 2017 feature five choreographers with various concepts deriving from this banality.

The five choreographers

Helatari Salihara 2017 was opened by Emanuelle Vo-Dinh (France) with Sprint, supported by Institut Francais Indonesia. In Sprint, running is not just a symbol of displacement, nor a refuge, but an enlightenment, that is running because of something lurking and caused exhaustion. To run until exhausted, then comes natural rebirth.

Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh is Artistic Director of Le Phare, Center Chorégraphique National du Havre Haute-Normandie, France. He studied dance at Merce Cunningham School, New York.

In 1997 he founded the Sui Generis Company, as a place to create his distinctive choreographic style. He was awarded Prix d’Auteur Rencontres choregraphiques internationales de Bagnolet in 2000. With the concept of a single dancer, Sprint was created as a body enlightenment.

Melati Suryodarmo (Surakarta) will bring a Vertical Recall inspired by Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot theater script.

Melati stresses out that Vertical Recall is a philosophy interpreted into behavioral study of the Beckett’s script. It shows the human behavior that tends to surrender to difficult circumstances.

Over the past 13 years Melati’s works have been featured in numerous international festivals. Since 2007, together with Padepokan Lemah Putih, she organized Undisclosed Territory, a performance art program participated by Indonesian and international artists.

As for Mohammad Hariyanto (Surabaya), Ghulur Dance is inspired by Topeng Ghulur art in Barangan Village, Sumenep, Madura.

Katia Engel (Germany / Indonesia) presents From Starting to Cut the Wood, backed by the sounds of mask carvers while working.

Helatari will be closed by Angkot is the Melting Pot by Yola Yulfianti (Jakarta), which departs from reality in the city transportation (angkot) in Jakarta.

This event makes it obvious that dance inspiration in Jakarta has started to shift to the everyday life.

House museum stores thousands of antiques in Kemang

Panorama ruang keluarga
The living room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun

The former house of a lone businessman with a lifetime passion in hunting scattered Indonesian artefacts at auction houses abroad to be preserved as an object of study for later generations store thousands of collection of all sizes at literally every corner of what is now a museum in south Jakarta.

Brick-walled from dense district in Kemang, 80% of the total area of Museum di Tengah Kebun is dedicated for open space, whereas the twenty percent resides a single storey house with large openings to get the best of the surronding nature. On daylight, doors facing the inner garden would open to create an enormous opening at the living room, allowing plenty of light and air. The size of opening which similarly takes the entire size of the wall is also found in the bathroom, large enough to fit the capacity of the living room. The progressive plan is shortlived. It is now permanently shielded with nets to fend of mosquitos.

Apart from its size, the house museum exhibits mundane design with gable roof, as is popularly applied in tropical countries to better regulate the temperature and wash out dense rainwater.

Panorama dining room
Dining room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun which still serves its original function for the owner.

Named Museum di Tengah Kebun, or Museum in the Garden, this tropical style house retains a status as a residence and a public museum, which gives an example of the possibility of coexistence between the two, although unpractical as it may seem. But the founder has an overarching dream of his own. It is not noble because his act can be much triggered by insatiable need to own things. There are stories such as buying an object worth a luxury sedan, or obtaining a Hindu artefact in exchange for building a school in a remote village where artefacts are treated as stepping stones or washboard. But when the owner decided to let the public enter his private home for regular basis, it does not sound so selfish anymore.

It is unique in that the museum retains all of its original features of the house. The dining room, for instance, remains to serve its function, rather than redesigned to optimize viewing gallery, as is the common case for conserved and recreated historical buildings. Guest room and the living room exude the genuine feeling to welcome guests and to have a relaxing family time, respectively.

Likewise, the interior decoration accentuates typical home, just with a whole lot more stuff.

The home owner and founder of Museum di Tengah Kebun Mr. Sjahrial Djalil

In comparison with European patronage to turn lavish residences as museum such as Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam, or Netherlands’ national museum Huis Doorn, house-turn-museum is not new in this 70 years old republic.

The former residence of art patron Toety Heraty Roosseno since 1969 opened for public in 1993 as a museum. It frequently holds temporary art exhibition in what is now called Galeri 6 Cemara in Menteng, the upscale area of central Jakarta.

In 1962 Indonesian painter Affandi built his home in Sleman to serve as a museum a decade later.

The international painter Don Antonio Blanco settled in Ubud, Bali and has ever since opened a museum where visitors can see many of his works.

At a different extreme, a case of an ordinary villager Sriyanto in Yogyakarta turning his obliterated house into Museum Sisa Hartaku after Merapi volcanic eruption suggests Indonesians endeavor to preserve memory, even at grass root level.

Much older houses such as Rumah Tjong A Fie in Medan and House of Sampoerna in Surabaya has opened for public to learn the history of successful business ventures by Chinese immigrants in the then Netherlands East Indies, although perhaps it was made so without the consent of the deceased owners.

Museum di Tengah Kebun certainly gets the consent of the owner, a retired advertising business mogul Sjahrial Djalil, a protege of the so-called Indonesian forefather of advertising Mr. Nuradi. Widely known for his slogan for Piaggio “lebih baik naik vespa“, Mr. Djalil started working for Mr. Nuradi in Intervista in 1965.

Six years later he founded Adforce, which later became JWT Adforce, the Indonesian branch of JWT global advertising company, a subsidiary of WPP Group.

It was supposedly in this wealthy period that Mr. Djalil frequently made house invitations to Indonesian elites of late administration. In 1997 Adforce was bought and merged with JWT advertising, which led him to retirement.

He founded the museum under the management of a foundation Museum di Tengah Kebun, whose members consisting of muslim intellectual and the former chairman of Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah Ahmad Syafii Maarif, economist Faisal Basri who independently ran for 2011 Jakarta gubernatorial election, and lecturer Imam Prasodjo. Before stroke aftermath rendered him disabled, Mr. Djalil led the tour himself around the house.

In a frail enthusiasm, Mr. Djalil still welcomed new generation of visitors on a wheelchair before he took another rest in his bedroom despite having the visitors allowed to walk in as the house tour continues.

All those years of travelling the world and frequenting auctions had accumulated his collection of antiques and artefacts.

Nonetheless, in his bedrest he unassumingly watches through the window and hear beyond the wall, and through the open air in the garden, people interaction in his grand design: giving it all to the later generation to experience and learn about history he restlessly collected piece by piece.

To see more pictures of Museum di Tengah Kebun, visit think archipelago Flickr account https://www.flickr.com/photos/purnadiphanphotography/

Panorama kebun
A perfectly tended garden at Museum di Tengah Kebun with a Ganesha statue, god of wisdom and learning in Hindu mythology, placed beside gazebo.

A false promise in deserted sand quarry


Sand and gravel mining flourish around the small town of Rangkasbitung, the municipality of the enormously 3000 hectares Lebak regency, Banten. It is an old town dating back to the Dutch colonial era, developed to provide industrial supplies to Jakarta. Oil factory and gold processing plant had thrived during the industrialization period that began to take effect in Indonesia in the 1930s. The region has since supported the growth of the capital with numerous materials. Gravel is one of them.

The dramatic environmental impact seen a few kilometers north of this historic town bears testament to the crucial role this region has ever done to provide materials for the endless construction activities in Jakarta. Entering the capital’s outer ring road at night with a tarpauline-covered back, massive number of trucks carry sand and gravel mined from this region. Many parts of the road around Rangkasbitung are damaged as large trucks travel to Jakarta and back on a constant routine.

Sand mining area opened sporadically, and contained material volume lasting for several years of mining activity. Few have size and quantity that sustained a decade of exploitation. In one of the biggest areas left several years ago, large pit have become a pond that unnoticingly goes down to 20 meters deep, a villager said.

The open area located right in the populated village sustains heavy damage due to frantic and irresponsible mining. The excavation has created a long, dead crater, in contrast with the lush, green chunk of untouched land above it.

Similar to the high activity just half a kilometer away, this area used to be a bustling mining area. But there is no evidence of rehabilitation taken place.

There are at least two mining areas in the village. The road access to the village are beyond repair. The inhabitants are seemingly ignorant, even to such an extent that some saw an opportunity to offer misleading information that the abandoned area has substantial remaining volume beneath, often to gullible businessmen.

A peasant woman carries tools for soil work in a village in Rangkasbitung, Lebak, Banten.

In another village, a smaller size of sand quarry are left abandoned not so long ago. Heavy duty equipments remain in place for an unknown reason. An aged woman, seen walking around the empty facility and inundated pits refused to talk about the condition, or even her name. Working as a peasant, she lives in a shack near the pit.

Given the degree of sensitivity, she only gave a hint surprisingly through her question, “Where is he?” It is assumed that she is a local villager waiting desperately to meet the long absent site manager to demand a promise yet to be delivered. This quarry is also located near the population of a village whose access were made difficult as a consequence of what used to be a rampant mining in the vicinity. Her face evoked that of dissilusionment and helplessness.

Social and environmental problems are unspoken, but not unheard of. Lebak authority issued a ban on sand and gravel mining in 2016 in response to environmental damage by the hills of Cimarga district, reportedly to causing flood and water crisis in the region.

Protests of the road condition also contributed to the mining restriction. But afterwards, there were reports that several activities resume, supported by the local group of proponents to the industry that has brought them a promising income.

Reports of similar outrage has over the years occured in many parts of the country, from Riau, East Java, Central Sulawesi, and Bali, highlighting various complaints such as landslides, floodings, and health problems.

The complexity of the controversial issue has gone to the extent that while the government must deal with legal investors to make a just decision for the best interest of the country, they fight many more conspicuous, illegal sand miners operating throughout the country, such as the latest case in Mojokerto, East Java, seizing two excavators and seven heavy duty trucks.

She ain’t quitting

Dira Sugandi performs on the opening day of the 13th Java Jazz Festival, JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, 3 March 2017

Even a prominent Indonesian female jazz singer such as Dira Sugandi could make a confession in front of the sitting crowd who filled up the concert hall at JIExpo Kemayoran, Jakarta, and also to the dutch big band whom she shared the stage with, about how difficult it is here to make a living in jazz.

“There were times when I keep telling myself I wanted to stop singing,” she confided. But she is certainly not quitting that night, on the opening of the three-day Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival 2017.

Led by conductor Dennis Mackrel as of 2015, Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (JOC) a primary Dutch big band established in 1996, performed classy jazz tunes featuring Dira Sugandi, who showed up with modern white gown and her signature bleached short hair.

Dira should be proud as she now shares the same status as such Benny Golson and Chick Corea, some of the guest artists JOC had performed with. The latter also makes a presence in the 13th Java Jazz Festival.

They picked classic pieces from jazz standards notably popularized by Billie Holiday, whom Dira considers as one of her most influential artists. Johnny Green’s Body and Soul and Thomas “Fats” Waller’s Ain’t Misbehaving (Saving All My Love for You). There were also Billie’s original scores such as Good Morning Heartache and God Bless the Child.

The organizers allocated more jazz content in the total of 170 shows this time in response to last year’s criticism saying the event was too pop.

JJF 2017 now offers 360-degree view online stream, a feature improvement of last year, when they introduced live streaming on youtube. In addition, home viewers can watch live broadcast on one of cable networks.

Java Jazz Festival is heralded for its contribution in bringing talented yet lesser-known musicians into the limelight. And he prides himself for showing the world that Indonesia has a handful of bright jazz musicians. During press conference, founder Peter F. Gontha claimed that many newcomers had surfaced from this festival.

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Last no least in Jazz Buzz Salihara

web-banner-jan-2017-think-archipelago-jazz-buzz-2017-revJazz Buzz Salihara 2017 is the sixth jazz festival held by Komunitas Salihara in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the music festival which runs from 11 February until 26 February 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.

Imanissimo ended jazz event with noise in the final show 15 in Teater Salihara.

Imanissimo made a closing show of Jazz Buzz Salihara on 26 February, the same day they announced the launch of their latest album Enigma. Citing the term chaotic jazz, after a brief theatrical overture, the progressive rock band introduced one of the songs from Enigma with high pitches and deafening noise, of which they were relieved to see that right after kicking it off nobody left Teater Salihara.

But the following song Kampretos was similarly thrown to the audience with impunity, making them nervously expect the smallest hints of jazz presence in this final show.

Staying true to musical identity is important. But one wonders would it hurt to rearrange pieces to the audience who had expected improvisation and surprises more than the use of flute, kendang, or angklung just to be considered jazz enough?

Fifteen years of experience in the niche market contributed to the generally positive reception of the show. The nearly two-hour raucous concert extended with an extra song at audience wish.

There, the sound of jazz

Trace of jazz was clearer as the concert went further in Tembang Ambarawa, one of their latest songs. There was traditional vocal and composition, and lead guitarist Jordan exhibits his ability to play flute.

Later he would play saxophone to prove he has a knack for wind instruments. This is one of the things that convinced him to introduce jazz element besides the typical metal nature of the 15 year old band.It was a night of collaboration, as promised by Jordan that the progressive path of Imanissimo offers a variety of elements to make the best album ever. For instance, Indonesian senior soprano Siti Chairani Proehoeman offered vocal in Death of Love.

The contemplative song Echo in the Distances had two vocalists sang in two different languages simultaneously. It was as if the bilingual vocals translated one another. There were saxophone and kendang to provide light rhythm instead of drum, making us contemplate on the current national situation of deception and pretense. They could elaborate more with the use gamelan as is what originally present in the recorded version. Perhaps technical difficulty in the venue was unresolved.

Bassist Iman took the turn as the vocalist in another new song Impromptu Visit, talking about a traveler who is eager to get to know people of all social class.

Simponi Indonesia

The last two songs of the same title Simponi Indonesia has rock, jazz, and a feel of orchestra. It described classic feud between Indonesian and neighboring country Malaysia in claims of cultural identity. Agung said that the song aims at raising awareness of the things the Indonesians take for granted. It was a magnanimous musical approach of introspection. One wonders if this had suggested organizer’s particular agenda.

Imanissimo now comprise keyboardist Raden Agung, guitarist Johanes Jordan, drummer Marcellus Putra and the indispensable figure Iman Ismar. It is the same formation since 2013, the year that marked the end of long hiatus.

Xylophonist takes center stage in Salihara jazz event

web-banner-jan-2017-think-archipelago-jazz-buzz-2017-revJazz Buzz Salihara 2017 is the sixth jazz festival held by Komunitas Salihara in Teater Salihara, Jakarta. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the music festival which runs from 11 February until 26 February 2017. To see more of their schedule, please click the Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017 banner found in think archipelago website.

Arief Winanda (left) and members of Pamuncak Mudo perform at Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017, Jakarta

Arief Winanda, who is currently preoccupied with the development of urban art discipline in Institut Kesenian Jakarta (IKJ), has wit and, at times, cracking humor, in his show on Saturday night as part of Jazz Buzz Salihara 2017, an annual two-week event aiming at promoting alternative forms contrary of mainstream music.

The percussionist and xylophonist not only perform for his self-satisfaction, he diligently shared the work and knowledge of each piece to the attentive audience who otherwise would not have known the history of boogey, a popular genre in the 1940s marking the wake of American depression era, or another piece that was inspired by the dynamics found in the sound of wind.

It is also interesting to know that Marimba, originating from Central America, and now is the national instrument of Guatemala, initially applied only in light dance background diatonic music. But now original pieces came out of it, and frequently played at the center stage with more chromatic alternatives.

The concert began with the minimalist, rigid 4/4 Rhtyhm Song, a classic repertoire of 1984 by composer Paul Smedback, who took his postgraduate music degree Itacha College master’s degree in music, specializing in Marimba.

The following repertoire has more freedom in the rhythm. Upon brief introduction that sound are everywhere, and even in silence comes an inspiration to create a xylophone melody, Arief played Wind Sketch, by Japanese composer Keiko Abe. She is an important figure behind the early development of Yamaha Marimba product design in 1963.

Arief also presented Gitano by the Mexican immigrant Alice Gomez, an intense piece of work that describes the gypsies and the hostility against them in the US.

And then came the moment where Arief started to introduce pianist Angelica Liviana and other fellow musicians in Pamuncak Mudo in the last three dance-inspired pieces: Scottish composer Richard Michael’s Boogey, the dance composition in Spyrogyra’s Morning Dance and the eerily uplifting Dancing Tears by Dewa Budjana. This partly explains why the one hour concert was titled welt tanzen or the world of dance.

New year marks a new you

A man flies a sky lantern on new year’s eve

The often-cited words in the trying times is that hope keeps humans alive. And in a spirited gesture of placing that hopes sky-high in the new year, people who crowded a new year party event at a beach hotel in Bangka Island lit the sky lantern before releasing them up to the sky.

Moments after the collective act, the view above began to be surrounded by bright dots, and at a particular height they slowly turned to obscurity.

Indonesia welcomed the year 2017 with the kind of dimming hopes. Lowered state budget forecast by some IDR12 trillion compared to the previous year got people into conversation about another lackluster year ahead. “It will bounce back by 2020,” Tony said with a heavy tone. But at least he looked happy on the evening, bringing his family along to routinely celebrate the new year in his hometown.

He was one of the first to attempt flying a lantern, but failed for several times before hotel staff noticed about their customers dissatisfaction and offered a new one, this time successfully assisted.

Some people chose to slip away from the jovial crowd and released their lantern after a moment of prayers.

Stood by the jetty, businessman Mr. Himawan in his formal shirt kept his hopes for himself, silently watched his lantern flew away to join dozens other in the dark sky. “At this age, I need to constantly have a soul renewal,” he said when the trace of his lantern had gone, and he returned to the crowd, unsighted.

As a typical family recreation, this place is full of children. Their existence, most likely, are the driving force behind holding on tightly to the positive expectation of this year.

Despite the general uncertainty of tomorrow, survival of the offspring is a responsibility of eery household.

What 19 November has to say to the world

Peace rally in Jakarta, 19 November 2016, calls for national unity.
Peace parade in Jakarta, 19 November 2016, calling for national unity.

News about Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaya Purnama being named suspect by police over blasphemy allegation in a politically-ridden circumstances has garnered international media attention recently.

The double minority status of his Christian religion and Chinese ethnicity in a majority Muslim population plays well with the foreign sentiment towards the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, questioning the spirit of equality and harmony in diversity it brags so much about.

Especially the west, where the current mayor of London is a directly elected British Muslim politican, Sadiq Khan, who took up the office since last May for the next four years.

As there is hardly a debate about the governor’s performance index in the past two years, national media are caught up in the raucous rants of Muslim hard-liners, inciting hate speech and religious-style repression, to be responded with little action by the embattled governments.

As a result, the hard-liners plans to stage continuous rallies similar to the 4 November anti-governor protest that saw Jakarta downtown surrounded by a massive number of angry followers, demanding the arrest of Basuki. Some even went to far as to make death threats to him whom they believed has insulted Koran.

It is this primitive anger that fills the local news content. Unfortunately the media, increasingly divisive day by day for each of their political interest, feeds on this kind of primitive fear.

Little is exposed that there lies a more relevant threat to national unity. The 4/11 protest, which eventually went violent, with police truck set on fire, a convenient store pillaged, and the contained riot in North Jakarta, heightened the social tension in the face of municipal election next February.

The situation exacerbates as there occurred low-explosives bombing in Samarinda and Singkawang, Kalimantan province in the week that follows.

Basuki, who topped the poll before he uttered a verse in Koran during his work visit in front of the community in Kepulauan Seribu, runs for Jakarta governor as a suspect.

Now that the hard-liners want him arrested for violating the 1965-stipulated law and/or the infamous 156a KUHP criminal code concerning blasphemy, which many rendered biased and prone to misjudgment, or killed out of radical interpretation of Islamic holy book, the two other competing pair of rivals will get the edge.

Some who had fallen victim to the law, and in most cases brought to trial because of mass pressure, were literature figure HB Jassin, sentenced 1 year in 1968, chief editor Arswendo Atmowiloto, sentenced 5 years circa 1990, not to mention the accusations incriminating the chief editors of Rakyat Merdeka and Jakarta Post in 2006 and 2014, respectively.

Indonesians are now in the state of hate-mongering. The tourism slogan of harmony in diversity, and the image of Indonesian hospitality are fading in the brink of municipal election in 2017, to be held nationwide in 7 provinces, 76 districts, and 18 cities on 15 February, participated by 153 pairs of candidates. Never a municipal election in Indonesia caused so much uproar, all because of one person of religious and ethnic minority.

But the dynamics does not only lead to negative trends.

A giant stage erected at the center of the mass rally that calls for national unity.
A giant stage erected at the center of the mass rally that calls for national unity.

Occured after 4/11, a spontaneous movement led to a mass-gathering event on 19 November to stage a public outcry over the fear of a nation divided.

As election nears in, large number of people took to the streets in the capital to amplify the importance of national cohesion despite political upheaval that exploits race and religion. These people reiterated the principle term Bhinneka Tunggal Ika or unity in diversity, which is stated in the constitution since the founding of the republic over 70 years ago.

Many saw it as a direct and organized response to 4/11 rally, although it was more of a parade than a protest. Various group of ethnicity in Indonesia showcased their cultural identity in the form of dances, music, and dresses. All was there donning red and white shirts, the two colors of the flag, sweating under the afternoon sun, to promote tolerance.

The running event the next day was held, not so much by coincidence, in the same spirit. Another large number of sports enthusiasts took part in the 10K Tolerun down the main streets of the city center, sending a message about the importance of tolerance and unity during one of the critical episodes of Indonesian democracy since reformation era.

When hope that pertains to a value of a republic seems lost to radical influence, those on 19 November shared to the world that Indonesia has yet to be a ideologically-hostile country.

However, it was again very unfortunate to notice that the media reacted by comparing the number of participants seen in the parade and the religious groups protest that preceded it, rather than focusing on the substance. Not all was lost.

A lit up candle in the dark sheds the brightest.

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