We Need to Talk

Freedom of expression, cancel culture, and political agendas are all germane in a living culture. In the arts we can easily find an increase in political and social content. Curators constantly follow the works of individual artists, are inspired by emerging ideas and creative methods, and try to organize unique events for expanding our consciousness. But what about their own fixed ideas and agendas?

As can happen with any human communication, once an artist, curator or arts institution takes a public stance questioning society or politics, we get a debate. Art lovers can feel manipulated, or abandon the fray, but in the right arena, it can be an invigorating opportunity for arts professionals and audiences to confront new viewpoints. No matter what, controversial art exhibitions sell tickets. In the best scenarios, the public welcomes a little invigorating discussion and a chance to be immersed in the worlds proffered by artists of a variety of disciplines.

Indonesia’s art professionals who make up Ruangrupa, directors of this year’s massive documenta-fifteen art exhibition in Germany, were charged with anti-Semitism by some local voices. Ruangrupa called an art world time out to rationally discuss this and related points. Ruangrupa created Art Freedom Solidarity, a series of discussions organized for you and the entire global audience, to bring out from the margins various topics which concern artists today. How much tolerance and common ground can be achieved? Have a listen.

The live stream discussions are scheduled for Sundays, May 8, 15, and 22.

2–5 pm (CEST) and 8-11 pm WITA here in Bali.

In German and English with simultaneous translation between the two.

Livestream via YouTube: https://bit.ly/WeNeedToTalk_ArtFreedomSolidarity or subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHmY2lCLPDN0Msn66xVe7wA



Save the dates! The Bali International Film Festival, known locally as the Balinale, happens at a new time of year, Thursday 9 June – Sunday 12 June.

Cinema XXI Beachwalk Mall in the heart of Kuta Beach is the venue.

Exhibitions, demonstrations, events and screenings will be held in-cinema, on-line and in the open air.

Submission period has now closed, and the team is in the process of finalizing selections and programming from a record number of entries.

Program highlights we can plan to join:

AICEF Cross-Cultural Filmmaking Prize

Created in 2021 with Balinale and the American-Indonesian Cultural & Educational Foundation (AICEF), New York, this year a first- or second-time Indonesian filmmaker will participate in a USA film festival and present their film that robustly embraces cross-cultural themes. This year’s winner will have their work screened at the Balinale.

Last year’s prize winner was Harvan Agustriansyah, for his film EMPU: Sugar on the Weaver’s Chair.

Making Waves: Navigators of Hong Kong Cinema

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Balinale will showcase a selection of new and restored Hong Kong film classics. The program will include an exciting, never seen before in Indonesia, live hologram presentation with leading HK Filmmaker Stanley Kwan. Demonstration and discussion will be followed by a special screening of his restored 1988 classic Rouge, which typifies unique spiritual and death themes in HK’s popular culture.

In Rouge, you’ll see Hong Kong’s pre-Handover Beyonce, the late Anita Mui, in the role of Fleur, a highly sought-after courtesan working the bordellos of 1930s Hong Kong when she meets and falls in love with Chan (Leslie Cheung), heir to a successful pharmacy franchise. Chan risks losing the support and rank of his family by staying with Fleur, so they agree to meet in the afterlife after a suicide pact. When Fleur can’t find Chan, she decides to return to the living half a century later to search for her missing lover.

Asian Cinerama Comes to Jakarta in September

This cultural exchange film program brings the outstanding creativity and rich cinematic storytelling of the region. Hong Kong filmmakers will be in attendance to present their work and conduct seminars, Q&A, and audience meet & greet events.

There are other surprises in store for this year’s Balinale, so watch this space, and subscribe to the film festival’s various social media platforms: @bali.nale, balinale.com, and BALINALE on facebook.



Bali has recently lost two notable players in the enrichment of life here. Writer, actor, and film director Richard Oh was a Java-based creative talent of the contemporary literary world, co-founder of the Kusala Sastra Khatulistiwa award for Indonesian writers. Strongly opinionated and outspoken, his sharp eye and wit were valued by fans, critics, and students of the arts. He also spoke freely about human rights and political issues, connecting literacy to an enlightened voting public. Oh was frequently in Bali to give support and share expertise at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and also the Balinale. He was 62.

Muriel Ydo was an environmental activist, cultural bridge builder, and longtime Bali resident whose generosity and energy benefited thousands who may never have seen her cheerful face or heard her contralto voice. Twice a President of the Bali International Women’s Association (BIWA), Muriel organized help for young AIDS sufferers, helped raise island awareness of garbage problems and solutions, and was a key player in reorganizing and revitalizing BIWA when its future fell uncertain. Today BIWA is strong, thriving, and serves thousands of needy Balinese families.

Her fluency in many languages served the global community, notably when she commandeered the Sanglah Hospital phone lines in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings, and helped families the world over find their loved ones, and manage more easily the sad task of receiving bodily remains.

She took her charitable projects very seriously, and never sought praise or recognition. At large social events, Muriel had a knack for connecting other environmentalists with engineers and community activists. She could light up the most crowded room, and still find time to sit with a new friend and make them feel special. Holding the hands of her two grown sons, she passed away at home in Seseh, of lung illness just weeks shy of her 64th birthday.

Life in Bali, across the full spectrum of its citizens, has been enriched by the good work of these two heroes.


By Renee Melchert Thorpe

Spreading art news? Make comments and suggestions by email: mala.arts.bali@gmail.com

Copyright © 2021 MALA Art & Culture

You can read all past articles of MALA Art & Culture at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz