LIFEs 2017 in Viva! Reborn!

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A short note on Membaca Amerika Latin: Viva! Reborn! [Reading Latin America: Viva! Reborn!]

In 2017, Komunitas Salihara presented Literature and Ideas Festival (LIFEs), a program which evolved out of Bienal Sastra Salihara [Salihara Literary Biennale], first held in 2011. Unlike the Literary Biennale, whose programs skewed toward reading and discussions, LIFEs felt fresher with its exchanges of ideas and thoughts, and a desire to provide the audience with various artistic experiences through performances.

“Reading Latin America” was the theme for LIFEs 2017, with Viva! Reborn! as its tagline. As a region and as a cultural entity, Latin America offers many important ideas: dependency theory, liberation theology, magical realism—just to name a few. Indonesian readers have always been highly interested in Latin American literature and ideas, perhaps more so than readers from many other parts of the world. Add to that, the popularity and appeal of dance, music, film, and culinary products from this region. Latin America may also be compared and contrasted with Indonesia across many aspects, from colonial histories, Cold War experiences, military regimes and democracy, environmental concerns, to the meeting between local- and Abrahamic religions.

We may gain greater insights and new ideas by delving into the encounters between Indonesia and Latin America. “Reading Latin America” culminated in October, to coincide with Language Month. Various programs were held from 7 to 28 October 2017—an exciting intertwining of dance Tuesdays, reading Thursdays and literary fiestas on Saturdays and Sundays.

Dance, Literature, and Fiestas

To celebrate the connections and intersections between Indonesia and Latin America—in literature, culinary, or other fields and issues—Komunitas Salihara created discussion- and performance programs that brought together writers and litterateurs from Indonesia and Latin America. LIFEs 2017 also hosted various workshops—such as Salsa dance, literary critique/criticism, storytelling, and literary translation workshops—with mentors who hailed from various countries: Brigitte Schär (from Switzerland), Sergio Chejfec (Argentina), Victor Heringer (Brazil) and Pablo Jofré (Chile).

LIFEs 2017 also hosted Xalisco, a Place, a theatre production directed by Ines Somellera (Mexico-Indonesia), with stage installations created in collaboration with the artist Hanafi (Indonesia). Other program highlights included Musik Puisi (Musical Poetry) by Adimas Immanuel & Sri Hanuraga (Indonesia), a Chilean piano concert by José Riveros (Chile), and Mooi Indië featuring Boi Akih (The Netherlands), Iksaka Banu and Joss Wibisono (Indonesia). In addition, the art exhibition Xalisco Performative Exhibition: Juan Preciado was also held, showcasing works by Hanafi, created as the artist’s response to Juan Rulfo’s novel Pedro Paramo.

Exchanges of ideas and thoughts were facilitated through discussion programs: Diskusi Kamis: Klasik nan Asyik [Thursday Discussions: Exciting Classics], Diskusi sore: Tamu dari Seberang [Afternoon Discussions: Guests from Afar], Klub Buku Foto Membahas Gagasan dalam Buku Foto dari Indonesia dan Amerika Latin [Photobook Club: Discussing Ideas in Indonesian and Latin American Photobooks], as well as Indonesia Millenial Forum (IMF) at LIFEs and Diskusi Meja Bundar [Round Table Discussions]. Speakers and panelists came not just from Indonesia, but also from Latin American regions such as Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia), Veronica Stigger (Brazil) and Carmen Boullosa (Mexico). There were also screenings of films with Latin American themes, including Mi Vida Dentro (Mexico), Pedro Páramo (Mexico), Tropa de Elite (Brazil), Gabo (Colombia), and Habanastation (Cuba).


Indonesia reading Latin America

The Membaca Amerika Latin [Reading Latin America] stage yielded interesting discussions between Indonesian panelists, among them Dewi Candraningrum, Nirwan Dewanto, Ronny Agustinus, Yusi Avianto Pareanom, Berto Tukan, Lala Bohang, Lisabona Rahman, Ziggy Zezsyazeoviennazabrizkie and Goenawan Mohamad. In addition, Komunitas Salihara collaborated with several book publishers to hold a book bazaar, Bazar Buku, showcasing interesting and important books published in Indonesia. Bazar Buku sold books on literature, philosophy, history, politics, and other categories closely related to the world of arts and ideas. Through Bazar Buku, translated works from Latin American authors were able to reach a wider public at Salihara.

LIFEs 2017, Reading Latin America: Viva! Reborn!, also explored interesting global issues of the time, such as media variety in today’s technology-driven era; discussions about women writers in Latin America; issues surrounding faith and politics; as well as discussions about the development of Latin American thoughts, ideas, and literature globally. There were also socio-economic-political discussions and talks that reexamined Latin American leftist ideologies. Each program was well-condensed without compromising its substance and acuity.

Komunitas Salihara will continue to present diverse and current themes in subsequent LIFEs editions.

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