So Much to Celebrate!

Bali is back!And we can start celebrating right away with outstanding live music from around Indonesia!

March 24-27 in Museum Puri Lukisan, Ubud, features IMEX, Indonesian Music Expo, a four-day extravaganza of Indonesian music. This has government sponsorship, so it will be grand indeed, with nearly 20 acts listed on the poster.

We’ll get a chance to hear great Balinese stuff like the Jegog Suar Agung (the massive bamboo instruments that thunder right into your heart) as well diverse sounds such as the electrified Riau Rhythm (search them out on YouTube). I am personally intrigued by the name of NTB Cilokaq on the poster. I have no details about this ensemble, but I expect this to be one of those sweet Sasak blends of Arab and Balinese influences. Just go! 10 am to 10 pm daily, expect diversity and new sounds.



Anyone tired of the status quo of a few tall poppies either dictating or slavishly consuming the contents of white cube galleries, might take notice of an audacious take-over in Germany this year. Jakarta’s multitalented arts group Ruangrupa have raised some eyebrows by turning the prestigious international event documenta fifteen into a showcase of the world’s grass roots art movements.

In their appointed curatorial role, Ruangrupa sought out artists and art movements that few critics and collectors have bothered to learn about. From June to September, these individuals and artist collectives will take the city-wide stage in Kassel, Germany. Whether humble or bold, but surely innovative, these unsung heroes of communities from Tunisia to Cambodia and beyond, are expanding their reach into the rarefied realm of documenta’s every-five-years magnet for art lovers and the art establishment.

So many Indonesian words and concepts have gone into documenta fifteen, the event website has created a glossary of these terms. Our familiar lumbung community rice barn is the watchword, but majelisis the word of the day here, a borrowed word from Arabic which means an assembly. One suchmajelis webinar is open to the public on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. 9pm WITA. There is still space at press time, but prior registration is mandatory.

If you can’t get to Germany this summer, support these Indonesian trail blazers by attending some of the many online events. Take part in any of the pre-event live online discussions by going to the documenta website ( and subscribing. Some of these webinars and events have been archived there and can be viewed now.

Here are some short online videos about some of the artists taking part in documenta this year:

Thai KorakritArunanondchai:


Various lumbung members:

Javanese social justice artists Taring Padi (check out these amazing oversize puppets):



Bali Spirit Festival is back, 19 -22 May, in or near Ubud, so save the dates! This hugely successful celebration of healthy living, yoga, world music and spiritual culture, has something for everyone. The outstanding international and local music which frames the lineup of workshops and activities will begin with the festival’s Lift-Off Party on May 15. Be watching social media for full schedule.



Although the Ubud Food Festival aims to foster networking and support Bali’s culinary community, this three day extravaganza of Indonesian cuisine is open to the public. June 24 – 26, the dedicated festival grounds on Jalan Raya Sangginganare filled with delights. Expect to see old family recipes shared in exciting cooking demonstrations, as well as international and local chefs dishing out pro tips to home cooks.

Not interested in improving your terrible, average, or already superb cookery skills? Check out the UFF’s daily award-winning documentary film screenings and nightly live music. Headlining speakers include top activists for sustainable agriculture, health and nutrition, and environmental conservation, as well as our favorite restaurateurs and cookbook authors.

Although you’ll find most everything free, including the right to browse through the one-of-a-kind festival market, there are always some hot ticket events such as one-off luncheons and dinners created by some of Bali’s top international chefs. Set in Bali’s most beautiful venues, these are sumptuous affairs where you’ll rub elbows with sophisticated foodies like yourself. Tickets to these showcase events go quickly, so click subscribe on the site, and keep checking social media for updates.



Quick art gallery note: Purpa Art Gallery at Jalan Mertanadi 22B in the Seminyak/Kerobokan area is worth a look. There’s a really beautiful mixed media work with Spaniard Mersuka Dopazo’sinky brushstrokes playing deftly with control and gravity, on Purpa’sfacebook page.Lots of blue chiplocal artists’ work rounds out an impressive collection. WA Ari at +6281999408804 to ensure you’ll arrive when they’re open.

Mersuka Dopazo, artist: mixed media (detail) courtesy



Want overseas exposure for your art? America’s best website for art competitions happens to list a lot of exhibitions open to applicants from anywhere in the world. What’s coming up with April and May deadlines? Design a bike rack for a municipal park, win a residency, or work garbage into a piece of art. There are plenty more:


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

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