Have you noticed? Indonesia is rapidly gaining a global audience for her arts and letters. The spark ignited in 2015 at the massive Frankfurt Book Fair, which chose the theme of 17,000 Islands of Imagination. Indonesian writing and culture took center stage, and emerging writers and poets were feted for their rich contributions to world literature.

Possibly the greatest honor given Indonesia by the world’s contemporary arts community has come from Europe’s cutting-edge fine art event, Documenta, a German-based international happening that explodes on the scene every 5 years. The Documenta finding committee unanimously granted 10 – member, Jakarta-based, multidisciplinary arts collective Ruangrupa, the curatorship of its 2022 exhibition. Documenta is generally considered the world’s most prescient exhibition, discovering global art trends not previously recognized, and the top art reviewers, collectors, and critics always pay close attention.

In its capacity of Artistic Director of Documenta 15, Ruangrupa expands its own credo of inclusion and democracy by bringing into the curatorial conversation a large number of other art collectives from around the world. Using a lumbung analogy, Ruangrupa has started a global discussion about what artists are exploring and creating right now.

This is pretty exciting, and there’s plenty of time to plan for it. The upcoming theme is Universes in Universe, and it’s on view in 2022 from 18 June through 25 September in Kassel. Look for wide choices in public participation and an atmosphere of fun and experimentation.

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Closer to home, you can follow Art Jog’s many Indonesian trailblazing artists by going to the annual event’s social media pages. Java’s most exciting crucible from the minds of young artists, Art Jog is an important happening. There’s still so much to see on #artjogMMXX and the Art Jog facebook page, so it’s just fine to stay home for this.

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The Galeri Nasional Indonesia still has up for full viewing its fabulous all-video Manifesto Pandemi show. I offer full disclosure of my own participation in Manifesto Pandemi. Pardon the self promotion, but you can see my piece at

but do not miss Seminyak-based artist Frederico Tomasi’s work at

and the work of I Gede Adi Surya:

Also very engaging to international viewers like yourselves, I would suggest checking out the following video works. Note that this exhibition features the work of well over 200 artists, all of whom were in Indonesia at some point during the CoVid19 pandemic. Their reactions are often poignant and relatable. with artists Pengpeng X Bonetski from Indah Dwi Astuti

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I’m super excited to announce two upcoming events for Bali art lovers to plan for now.

Digital and live for small local audiences as a pandemic-era incarnation, Kembali 2020 is a much-anticipated fusion of the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and the Ubud Food Festival. Depending on public health guidelines of the day, interested punters can choose from a number of podcasts, talks, book launches and workshops. 29 October – 8 November.

Dive in at

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If you saw Filastine and Nova at Betelnut or performing Drapetomania at a past Ubud Writers Festival, you will definitely want to see them at the end of October!   Extraordinary performers and electronic musicians Grey Filastine (USA/Spain) and Ruth Nova (Indonesia) have brought their multimedia, music performance and environmental teaching extravaganza (aboard their ship Arka Kinari) to Indonesia.

The journey of this specially refitted wooden ship, powered by sun, wind, and pure gumption, is nothing short of a triumph. Embarking from the Netherlands in a more innocent time for public health, it is Indonesia’s honor and privilege to welcome this international crew of activist artists. Right now their sites are set on performing 23-25 October, somewhere in Benoa. A minor inconvenience, considering that the ship has come so far and under such extraordinary times, but a great excuse to reconnect with Bali’s seaport.

Not virtual in the slightest (unless you count their use of the ship’s sail for a shadow artistry feature), this series of performances is said to undermine borders and promises to enthrall audiences. Fully accessible to all islanders, each event is a bilingual teach-in for environmental awareness, so inform your local friends and families.

Absolutely not one to miss; connect to #arkakinari and @arkakinari and

or visit Arka Kinari Patreon page at

On that note, I leave you with the page where you’ll find the beautiful Crown Rule: A Quarantine Mixtape, from Filastine and Nova:


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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