Old banyan temple upholds new green policy

Liu Rong TempleLiu Rong Temple, with over 1500 years of history dated back from Song Dynasty, is a tranquil scenic spot for both Buddhist worshippers, scholars, and tourists, surrounded by ancient banyan trees seemingly hidden in the concrete jungle of Guangzhou, one of the largest cities in China.

The renovation in the 90s has introduced two modern symbols of the temple, the Gong De Tang praying center, and the learning hall center.

Before it underwent major and costly renovation in the 90s, Gong De Tang was in its antiquated shape. hence the growing community and visitors alike called for a restoration which, after its completion, was followed by a new policy “the modern civilization prayer service”, encouraged in part by the central government.

In the face of environmental issues, the temple prohibits visitors from carrying incense to perform their ritual in the temple, instead providing a limited number of 3 earth-friendly incense sticks per person for free.

There will be no more sight of excessive ashes from burned joss papers as in old rituals.

Another modern facility in the complex is the conference center to hold traditional, cultural, and art learning, taught by Buddhist scholars from colleges across China.

In the first half of 2018, over 12 seminars were held, attended by around 5000 guests, domestic and foreign alike.

Liu Rong Temple

Paralaks Fiksi challenges the norms in today’s art exhibitions

Paralaks FiksiParalaks Fiksi is a paper painting exhibition and other art installation by Cecil Mariani, held in Galeri Kertas, Depok. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the solo exhibition that runs from 8 December 2018 to 7 January 2019, among other agenda. To visit their official site, go to, or their instagram @galerikertas_art, and @studiohanafi.

Graphic designer Cecil Mariani’s solo exhibition Paralaks Fiksi was opened by Ugeng T. Moetidjo, Hanafi and Heru Joni Putra, and a repertoir by young composer Gema Swaratyagita with Laring Project.

Ugeng spoke of Paralaks Fiksi as an exhibiton of three main layers: the conventional paper art, a new discourse on artist space to study, or a studio, and art paper workshop.

Studio Hanafi Person in Charge Heru Joni Putra said that the concept of Paralaks Fiksi is drawn upon a consensus that everything is engineered, or at least what it intends to show, concerning not the artworks themselves, but also the work space activity that some described as a lab or studio, and the exhibition space, or a storefront.

Geger Riyanto described Cecil’s works in this exhibition in one word, Grotesque, in what he saw as an awkward forms and movements of human body to an extent that human features no longer exist.

Cecil herself described her anxiety to challenge the predisposed idea of what an art exhibition has become, the pretext of social issues that have a tendency to justify it, its norms, intentions, hence work on some possible alternate versions than a mere urban commodity.

The exhibition precedes discussion presenting speaker Geger Riyanto and moderator Agung Hujatnikajenong, as well as the workshop Paralaksis Institut, where the artist work with a bunch of aspiring your artists, part of the agenda of Galeri Kertas’ exhibition program, on experimental paper painting methods involving design, art, and technology.

After graduated from Visual Communication Design, Pelita Harapan University, Cecil Mariani took master’s degree of Fine Arts in the School of Visual Arts, New York.

Cecil is a teacher at Institut Kesenian Jakarta graduate program, and a researcher at Purusha Research Cooperative.

Some of her works have been featured in 2017 OK Video-OKPangan, Warung Kolektif & Bank Kolektif, 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair, 2015 Orde Baru, Indonesia National Galery, while her first exhibition was in 2001 Philip Morris Indonesian Art Award Finalist, Galeri Nasional, Jakarta.

Cecil Mariani

Cecil Mariani’s paper-medium artwork in Paralaks Fiksi, Galeri Kertas, 8 December 2018 to 7 January 2019

Reanimating cultural polemic in the National Theater Week 2018

undangan depanNational Theater Week 2018 is an annual theater event initiated by the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia, and Jakarta Arts Council, since 2017. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the week-long event which runs from 6-14 October, Graha Bhakti Budaya, Jakarta.


Theatrical piece SIDE B 47:17 [speech, noise and effect] by Teater Ghanta, Graha Bhakti Budaya, Jakarta, 9 October 2018

Compared with the first event last year held in Gedung Societed Komplek Taman Budaya Yogyakarta, and participated by 10 group of theaters from 10 provinces of Indonesia, Pekan Teater Nasional or the National Theater Week 2018 involves 16 groups across 15 cities, categorized into three types of city, community, and campus theaters.

Among the lineups are Teater Language (Sumenep-Madura), Sandiwara Pettapuang (Makassar), Teater Sakata (Padangpanjang), Komunitas Polelea (Sigi, Sulawesi Tengah), Teater Ghanta (Jakarta), Teater Selembayung (Pekanbaru), Teater Bel (Bandung), Teater Akar (Tegal), Teater Yupa (Samarinda), Teater Sirat (Surakarta), Akarpohon (Mataram), Teater Rumahmata (Medan), Nara Teater (Lewolema, East Flores), Teater Tobong (Surabaya).

Jakarta Arts Council Theater Committee Head Afrizal Malna stressed out public participation in the country’s modern theater, serving the purpose of education and performer regeneration.

Besides daily performances throughout the week, twice a day at 16:00 and 20:00, the event also exhibits archival collection, performing arts education timeline, forums, and the 16 director profiles hung in the main hall.

The opening day was marked with a ceremony awarding Teater Koma’s director Nano Riantiarno for his 53 years of dedication, and as pointed by curator Seno Joko Suyono, Teater Koma is the only group that has successfully built followers of three generation since 70s. At 69 years old, he showed little hint of slowing down when Teater Koma has just performed Gemintang, the 159rd work of 2018.

Director General of Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture Hilmar Farid said that although Indonesian theater as an industry is still underdeveloped compared to Broadway performances that have generated tourism revenues, Riantiarno’s relentless works could pave a way for such a business model.


Teater Ghanta performs at National Theater Week 2018, Graha Bhakti Budaya, Jakarta, 9 October 2018.

Head of Jakarta Arts Council Irawan Karseno said that theater groups in their quest for increasing prominence can no longer count on themselves, but also the public, and the municipal support.

Such is Teater Ghanta, founded in 1995 at Universitas Nasional, Jakarta, and in 2014 decided to become an independent community theater, collaborating broadly with artists and institutions across discipline in response to social issues.

SIDE B 47:17 [speech, noise and effect] is a performance-presentation of the audio recording of a 1970 lecture by Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana in Jakarta Arts Council, entitled the history of the cultural development of the world community, and identifying Indonesia’s position in it. It attempts to revisit the lost polemic about Indonesian culture.

Studio Hanafi mix of art and social work in VidaFest 2018


VidaFest 2018 is a cultural festival held by Vida Bekasi in cooperation with Studio Hanafi. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the festival which runs from 27 until 29 September 2018 in Bumi Pala Vida Bekasi, Narogong Raya. To visit Studio Hanafi official site, go to, or their instagram @galerikertas_art, and @studiohanafi.

Real estate company PT Gunas Land collaborated with Depok-based art community Studio Hanafi to hold this year’s Vidafest in Vida Bekasi, Narogong Raya, 27-29 September 2018.

Held annually since 2015 with differing themes from such as organic farming, coffee workshop, architecture seminar, et cetera, VidaFest 2018 contributed to the pioneering effort for the creation of art ecosystem in Bekasi, while specifically for the joy of the people of Vida Bekasi and the surrounding area of Bantar Gebang.

Vida Bekasi 2018  exhibited musical perfromance, dance, theater, and visual art based on ethno-social preliminary studies in early 2018, thus proposed the theme “Berbeda Hulu, Satu Muara” in reference to Bekasi river, the cradle of life for the inhabitants.

In his consistency to present community-centered events, Vida Bekasi Director Edward Kusuma said Vidafest 2018 is a presedence to make Vida Bekasi, a 130-hectares in total of housing and business development area, a new cultural hub in Bekasi.

Meanwhile, Studio Hanafi remained committed in their social movement to develop art through socio-cultural and ecological studies, social movement “VidaFest 2018 is an effort to mix art work and social work,” said Studio Hanafi writer Heru Joni Putra. Art Programme Director Adinda Luthvianti added that it is a medium to express gratitude to Bekasi in a variety of artistic potentials.

The festival provide the opportunity to express the high spirit of the people, bringing local communities together, from the children and youth of Vida community dance and theater groups, Teater Artery Performa, Teater SD Dinamika of Bantar Gebang, Teater Korek of Universitas Islam 45 Bekasi, Hartati dance group, Sanggar Matahari, angklung ensemble of Bunyi Sunya, and many more.

A number of artists were involved as directors of each groups, namely Lawe Samagaha as musical director of Bunyi Sunya, Hartati as choreographer, Dendi Madiya and Adinda Luthvianti as theater directors for their respective works, and artist Hanafi leading the on-site live painting among local painters Ridwan Rau-Rau, Galang Monsart, and Guntur Priahadi.

The trend continues to see property industry carry out their marketing campaign by bringing in art scene to their turf. Similar to Vida Bekasi, the international hotel management of Tauzia, on the promotion of its budget hotel brand Yello Hotels opening in Hayam Wuruk, Jakarta, involved a number of grafitti artists and street performers.

gunungan bantar gebang

Dendi Madiya’s Gunungan Bantar Gebang by Teater Artery at Vidafest 2018. Photography by Igra Aghrari, courtesy of Studio Hanafi


Traces of cross gender in Indonesian traditional dance

SIPFest 2018 is a performing arts bienalle held by Komunitas Salihara in conjunction with the art center’s tenth anniversary. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 4 August 2018 onwards until early September. To see more of their programs, please click all the SIPFest 2018 banner found in think archipelago website.

Didik Nini Thowok

Didik Nini Thowok in SIPFest 2018, Jakarta, 7 August. Photograph by Witjak Widhi Cahya, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara

It is likely to spark controversy whenever such an issue is brought up amid the majority religious people at the present Indonesia, but cross gender has been a part of the traditional performances across the archipelago which now become the sovereignty of the country.

Dancer cum choreographer Didik Nini Thowok, a 1982 graduate of Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta, whose birth name Didik Hadiprayitno, and who has carved a name on the short list of a patron of cross gender dance remains unshaken by the prevailing sentiment.

He is adamant at preserving cross gender dances in many of his works. One of them was presented in a lecture-performance in SIPFest 2018, Jakarta.

Moderated by Joned Suryatmoko, Didik’s unabated traditional dances and his ability to embody the female character dazzled the audience. All the more precious was his extensive research on cross gender traditional dance shared to public in one occassion. It revealed that the issue is not a new, abhorrent influence. It has thrived in the society before long.

He listed references to cross gender cultural and historical presence in a number of Javanese masked dances, Ludruk, Ronggeng, Balinese theatrical dance, Tari Gandrung, Buginese ritual, and in current times, the cabaret-styled Oyot Godhong in Yogyakarta, whose performers are mostly ISI students.

The routinely-held grass-root entertainment often involves  comedy show and lypsincing, savoring popular songs local and foreign-alike.

In comparison to European classic piece Swan Lake, the humorous Trockadero Ballet,  the Indian Stree Vesham where men perform as women similar to Japanese Kabuki, or the opposite movement of Takarazuka where women perform as men like the Chinese Yueju Opera, and mask dances in many Asian countries, Indonesia has a variety of cross-gender performance of its own, apparent across social groups, from grass root level to the royal castes, from entertainment to rituals, as follow:

  1. Langendriyan, a Javanese Opera performed in the palaces of Yogyakarta sultanate as well as in Surakarta. The opera played in both kingdoms differ in the gender. While the opera group in Yogyakarta consisted of men, the Langendriyan in Mangkunegaran Surakarta was performed by all women dancers.
  2. Wayang Wong, an epic Mahabarata-inspired theatrical dance which reached its zenith in 20th century, also performed before the sultanates of Yogyakarta and Surakarta
  3. Tari Golek, performed following Wayang Kulit
  4. Tari Topeng Cirebon, a female-led mask dance impersonating male character originating from the west coast of Java, such as in Palimanan and Indramayu
  5. The folk performing arts of Wari Lais, whose history can be traced in Cirebon, Cilacap, and Lasem
  6. The popular Ronggeng in Banyumas, which was later called Lengger Banyumas, where female dancer staged Tari Baladewan of male character to accompany local peasant ritual
  7. Lengger Wonosobo, whose origin dated back to Hindu era, performed by male dancers impersonating female eroticism
  8. A play and mask dance of Malang, called Tari Beskalan Putri Malangan, derived from folk tale Panji and played by male impersonators, to accompany ritual ceremony
  9. Ludruk Tutik Bintang Timur from Surabaya, a famous Ludruk group in 1950s, famous for the play Sarip Tambakyoso, a tale of indigenous heroism during the Dutch colonization
  10. Tari Gandrung Banyuwangi, documenting male dancers with female costumes holding drum and violin
  11. Drama Gambuh of Bali, influenced by cross-gender performances of predominantly-Hindu India. It is common to see such type of dance in Hindu society, where one of the goddess Shiva is depicted half male and half female. In Bali, other dances of similar fashion are , Legong Muani, Nandir, Trunajaya, Panji Semirang, Wiranata, Margapati, and so on, making it a land of opportunity for artists to thrive freely, such as dance group Sekaa Gong Kebyar Wanita, Topeng Wanita, Kecak Wanita, Gambuh Muani, and Arja Muani. (Muani means male).
  12. Folk theatrical dance Randai, whose origin can be traced in Padang, West Sumatra. Randai dance required a night-long performance, which explained why dancers are all males replacing the female dancers who are supposed to play their characters by nature due to the local customs of deriding women seen outside homes at night. Ronggeng is an acculturation of Javanese and Sumatran culture, hence the resemblance of Ronggeng and Randai.
  13. The sacred ritual Bissu in South Sulawesi, a tradition of Buginese as written in epic La Galigo. Performed with violent content by male monks, Bissu involve feverish dance and sing to the state of possessed-like and result in self-inflicted stabbing to limbs.

Jim Lim’s old tale of contemporary theater

SIPFest 2018 is a performing arts bienalle held by Komunitas Salihara in conjunction with the art center’s tenth anniversary. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 4 August 2018 onwards until early September. To see more of their programs, please click all the SIPFest 2018 banner found in think archipelago website.

Indonesia’s theater legendary Jim Adhi Limas, also known as Jim Lim, delivered a lecture on the early development of contemporary theater in the late 50s, and a performance with Wawan Sofwan and Joind Bayuwinanda in SIPFest 2018.

Dubbed as the founder of Indonesian contemporary theater, Jim Lim was credited for being one of seven founders of Studiklub Teater Bandung (STB), 1958, besides university colleagues Suyatna Anirun, Thio Tjong Gie, Tin Srikartini, Sutardjo A., Wiramihardja, Adrian Kahar, and a journalist Soeharmono Tjitrosuwarno.

Led by Jim and Suyatna, the country’s oldest modern theater club had a mission to promote the not so popular subculture at the time. Jim directed their debut performance Jayaprana, playing Raja Buleleng Anak Agung Gde Jelantik, and Suyatna as I Gusti Ketut Putus. Some of the archives were presented in the lecture program Omongobrolan in Komunitas Salihara.

The former headed for France in 1967 on scholarship program, and decided to stay there ever since, leaving Suyatna to lead the band alone, and had continuously made prolific works in decades that follow, such as Karto Loewak, the adaptation of Ben Jhonson’s Volvone (1973), and Kavia Sang Natha from Shakespeare’s King Lear (2009).

Not only performing foreign scripts by Goethe, Chekov, Moliere, Schiller, H Von Kliest, or Tennesee Williams, STB had popularized local scripts by Ajip Rosidi, Utuy T. Sontani, Misbach J Biran, Kirjomulyo, Saini KM, and Bakdi Sumanto.

Jim’s constant presence in French filmography also made him continuously appear since 1973 until recent time, where he was known for Diva (1981), Gwendoline (1984), the Bitter Moon (1992), un Amour de Sorcière (1997). His latest act was in 2017 sci-fi movie Les aventures de Spirou et Fantasio. 

In his homecoming interview in early 2018, the 80 year-old Jim said that having started in theater made him easier to adapt in film industry, but might not be vice versa.

Wawan Sofwan were among aspiring actors in Bandung who joined the theater club. He then founded Main Teater.

The birth of many modern theater groups in Bandung similar to Wawan’s Main Teater is claimed to have its partial origin in STB, namely Actor’s Unlimited (AUL), Laskar Panggung Bandung (LPB), Bandoengmooi, Teater Re-Publik, or the 25 years existence of Teater Bell.

Just like Nano Riantiarno’s Teater Koma, or the late W.S. Rendra’s Teater Bengkel, Jim’s and Suyatna’s STB shares the status as celebrated Indonesia’s modern theaters.

Omongobrolan at SIPFest 2018, Jakarta

From left: Joind Bayuwinanda, Wawan Sofwan, and Jim Adhi Limas, in a performance in SIPFest 2018, Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta, 12 August 2018

Gaby’s philosophical quest and the earned freedom in Studio Hanafi

Setengah Isi, Setengah Kosong (Half Full, Half Empty) by Fiametta Gabriela is Galeri Kertas’ fifth exhibition featuring paper paintings and other art installation. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs for a month starting 3 August 2018. To visit their official site, go to, or their instagram @galerikertas_art, and @studiohanafi.

Fiameta Gabriela exhibition

Fiametta Gabriela performs an art installation on the opening of her sole exhibition Setengah Isi, Setengah Kosong in Galeri Kertas, Depok

Galeri Kertas run their fifth exhibition with promising young artist Fiametta Gabriela entitled Setengah Isi, Setengah Kosong as she opened her sole exhibition in that cloudy afternoon with a performance involving a washed out papers hung on the line in a room and a bucket of water.

The transformational process of wet paper is said to be an analogy to the forsaken old form in search of a new thesis. Not only the artist herself, visitors can experience how to interact with the materials that form, or in the process of forming the artwork, and the personal impact towards their respective emotion. This also involves paper dillution.

As a teacher of philosophy at University of Indonesia Tommy F. Awuy pointed out, the young Gaby is on a deep philosophical quest, distancing her abstract-oriented works from the tendency of poppish art by her peers. He noted that Gaby asserts the impression of understanding space and time as the understanding to the constant problems of our daily lives, such as a problem identifying oneself, the culture, religion, the nationhood.

And he thinks that the value art derives from the imagination to the ways of addressing the problems, which if applicable, will become a knowledge.

In this sense, he stresses out the inclination to accept that humans are always enduring process for the better, but never become perfect. To be half is to remind that the other half is there to complete only if we incline to accept them, the process, represented by the natural flow of water.

A Nanyang Polytechnic graduate in visual communication, Gaby saw the water as a medium to purification process, to remove impurities. She said that the project, started in March, is also a process approach to sort out personal matters of her life, and she is not ashamed at making mistakes in that particular process.

Gaby’s concept of using water as part of the elements in her exhibition is impressive, Tommy described while adding the concept of Panta Rhei by Heraclitos, that everything flows.

Besides, there are 24 series of paper paintings to get scrutiny in the newly built art space in Depok as the expansion unit of Studio Hanafi, exclusively run by the senior artist himself. Instead of resuming his prolific artwork there, Hanafi spends his effort to attract aspiring minds to seek artistic possibilities and pursue how far can those possibilities go under his mentoring and loose direction.

In the opening speech, Hanafi spoke about his studio’s term on creative freedom, where the younger generation across disciplines maintain the freedom they have earned without any market restraint, but to cultivate new markets with fresh discourses of their own. It is the kind of creative freedom that is earned, not given.

Following the exhibition, Studio Hanafi is preparing a workshop by Gaby, and in doing so, has selected several young artists to earn their freedom and find themselves new thesis to be presented to the current art market. Neither the studio or Gaby dictated the use of any medium, but promoting the use of paper as quality artwork is in core mission of Galeri Kertas.

Interactive art installation made from chinese ink on tissue entitled “to be or not to be”

SIPFest 2018: a reference to universal humanism

SIPFest 2018 is a performing arts bienalle held by Komunitas Salihara in conjunction with the art center’s tenth anniversary. think archipelago is a proud media partner of the event which runs from 4 August 2018 onwards until early September. To see more of their programs, please click all the SIPFest 2018 banner found in think archipelago website.

Creating an exhibition in the awe-inspiring vicinity of Komunitas Salihara was both suitable and challenging to Jakarta-based sculptor Gabriel Aries Setiadi, whose artworks involving LEDs are among the three visual artists brandishing their new media art installation.

Together with Achmad Krisgatha and ARTJOG 2018 winner of Young Artist Award Meliantha Muliawan, they took part in three months preparation, from concluding survey to locate the spot for their artworks, to creating process by adapting to the architecture of Salihara, and the final step of installation which had taken them by surprise.

The result of the contemplation was what the artists aimed to share with the audience of Salihara International Performing Arts Festival 2018. “Artists should aim at facilitating the public through ideas,” Gabriel said before his arched light art gracing a silent corner of the second floor. More striking spot is Achmad’s giant blue LED installation hanging  cold and lonely at the apex, increasingly pervasive as the dusk fell upon visitors staring from the viewing deck of the third floor.

Curator Asikin Hasan who prides the art center he works in as the country’s best among other buildings of similar function by Ikatan Arsitek Indonesia, said that in its tenth year, Komunitas Salihara has progressed from a mere place of exhibit into a public space, and currently being a place to form discussion.

Themed Di seni senang, (Happy go artsy), the art space’s co-founder Nirwan Dewanto said SIPFest continues to be a small recreational party for the exceptionals. “The majority of our audience aged between 20-30 years old who fill the 220 seats at its most capacity with a different kind of art expectation. I think that entails critical discourse we have been nurturing here,” he said.

He added, “We do not simply invite Didik to have him dance here, but we want to raise the transgender issue often entailed in his dances.”

In a similar notion is choreographer Otniel Tasman chosen to perform Lengger, a dance only recently brought to light after being shunned for long in the place of its origin in Banyumas.

“I put honesty above everything else in my work, about how our culture perceive Lengger all this time, the discrimination those minority men face for dancing like women,” he said.

A theater by Rukman Rosadi, the Yogyakarta-based proficient director who gets less scrutiny, about Sjahrir, played by Rendra Bagus Pamungkas (starred in Wage as Wage Rudolf Supratman, 2017) talks in parralel about the universal value of being human.

Universal humanism, a non-violence and non-discriminatory movement since 1969 by its founder Mario Rodriguez Cobos, has always found a relevance in many of Salihara’s program, a necessary identity reminder especially at the onset of of religious extremism.

Among a plethora of programs, from visual art, theater, dance, music, to their latest addition, the art lecture, the SIPFest 2018 feature promising local and international artists alike to share the platform in Komunitas Salihara for a month ahead with names such as choreographer Lucy Guerin (Australia) whose Split won her the Helpmann Award in 2017, musical duo Quatuor Bozzini (Canada), Ju Percussion Group (Taiwan), Toccato Studio (Malaysia), Nassim Soleimanpour (Iran) , whose script read by Reza Rahadian an Sita Nursanti, master choreographer Jim Adhi Limas, dubbed the founder of Indonesian contemporary theater, and many more.

Jazz Buzz last day: Trodon

The last performance in Jazz Buzz Salihara 2018 by progressive rock band Trodon brought unrelenting hard beat and the harshest sound you could expect in the genre, but in a melodic arrangements. They incorporate ear-piercing hard rock with the harmonic tones of classic and modern composition notable in video games.

It bodes well with the theme Myth and Draconis they presented, where each song sequence was accompanied by displayed graphics on the backdrop about the legend of the dragon.

Trodon interpreted the many characters in the legend with a variety of style. There were middle-east music theme, fantasy melody, and the rhythm chosen to build the atmosphere that support the story of each repertoires.

Most of the songs were composed by the lead electric guitarist Biondi Noya, who is accompanied by the rest of the band consisting of keyboardist Irene Pattinaya, drummer Peter Lumingkewas, bassist Aprila Sitompul, synthesizer by Alexander Jason, saxophonist Nadya Romanenta, and cellist Adela Batfutu.

The saxophone and cello in their formation partly explains Trodon’s uniqueness, of which they produce progressive rock jazz pieces by taking the inspiration from, as contrast as it sounds, video game sound elements and European classics such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Holst, Igor Stravinsky and Claude Debussy.

Their performance since 2013 display all the complexities of the unique combination.

Trodon has graced numerous stages from Piston Brake Cafe, Rolling Stone Cafe, Leitstar HQ, to festivals such as Solo International Performing Arts in 2016, and Jazz Sans Frontieres of Komunitas Salihara, 2016.


Trodon at Jazz Buzz Salihara 2018. Photograph by Witjak Widhi, courtesy of Komunitas Salihara.


Pianist and drummer experimental collaboration in Jazz Buzz 2018

It took a year for Adra Karim and John Navid to prepare a collaborative work in a duo called Mirak Div. They recalled Tony Prabowo, a music composer with contemporary taste, whose initiative led to the group formation, and later they accepted the invitation to play in his annual event, and eventually staged their maiden performance in Jazz Buzz Salihara 2018.

It was meant to be a recording project, as John described it. But when the plan slacked off, the duo realized they had to take whatever the chance coming at them.

Having trained for the past three months, they did not rely that much on anyone else to do the preparation. John’s sound experiment, for instance, was developed through self-observation of his surrounding, while Karim said that, unlike other mainstream jazz events, here they were more involved in setting the stage and doing the sound check.

The performers are more concentrated to their respective works performed in the much segmented event such as Jazz Buzz Salihara.

John, an IKJ graduate in percussion, and the drummer of the pop-retro band the White Shoes and the Couple’s Company, said the most interesting part of playing in this event was the hunt for items to be made rhythm instruments and to be used to exploring new dimension.

Karim, on the other hand, told that collaboration led to unexpected findings such as in Mirak Div. Having applauded John as a knowledgeable musician with his background and experience, Karim is definitely not new in the world of experimentation. He is a member of contemporary jazz band Tomorrow Ensemble People.

After all. their aim is only to prove that they could compose an alternative music experience to audience of Jazz Buzz Salihara 2018.

Although John admitted that there are less listeners in the country for this kind of experimental music compared to pop or electronic, but it is in the lesser number where he sees the opportunity.

When asked about the challenge and opportunity, Karim, who obtained master’s degree in Prince Claus Conservatorium, Netherlands, has less worry about the level of reception among the Indonesian audience, as he is convinced there are a lot more who can appreciate the different style in music.

But he attributed the challenge to the key players of the local music industry whom he perceive as a little too hostile to experimental music like what they have worked on.

“I am more concerned with those people up there who keep on making notion that the listeners are not ready for this kind of music, or that a certain style fits only to a certain audience, and so on,” he added.

On stage, Karim and John seemed to have played for their own, whereas actually they both play a collaborative, complex composition. Karim’s synthesizer created the deep ambience, amplified with the dim stage, a proof of a good lighting work. As he improvised and switched between his keyboard, organ, and grand piano, John scratched his drum, and later on created a diminishing effect of echo by using his drum stick.

Their composition create a sense of solitude, but also raucous with the use of unlikely sound inducing items, such as duct tape, kerecekan tukang patri (street smith worker’s tool), toys, ping-pong balls. Even he was seen pedaling bicycle to bring out the sound of chain gear.

Just when they showed a piano drum interaction in a more rhythmic sense, suddenly they continued with another eerily sound experiment, and progressed to traditional Indian arrangements and rhythm, perhaps influenced by John’s long period of practicing tabla in Indian Cultural Center. It is all a well-planned experimental performance.