Komunitas Salihara presents a festival of literature and ideas: LIFEs (Literature and Ideas Festival)—a new name and format, evolving out of Salihara’s Literary Biennale, first held in 2001. Several editions of LIFEs have been organized around carefully selected themes such as Viva! Reborn! (2017) showcasing Latin American literature; My Story, Share History (2019) which discussed Indonesian-Dutch relations; and Arab Asyiq (2021). In 2023, LIFEs returns with Frankofon [Francophone] as its theme, and mon Amour! as its title.

This two-yearly international literary festival showcases the developments of Indonesian and global contemporary literature, alongside traditional and classic works. The festival hosts discussion programs, stage talks, keynote speeches, and performances. Indonesian writers and litterateurs include Nirwan Dewanto, Goenawan Mohamad, Ronny Agustinus, Yusi Avianto Pareanom, Dewi Candraningrum and Felix K. Nesi. LIFEs editions have also welcomed foreign writers such as Victor Heringer (Brazil), Pablo Jofré (Chile), Carmen Boullosa (Mexico), and Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia).

In 2021, LIFEs turned its spotlight on the wealth of linguistic and literary heritage of the Arab peninsula. One perspective views Islam and the Arab language as inseparable. However, another perspective holds that the two aren’t always synonymous. LIFEs 2021 invited the audience to celebrate the intellectual wealth of Arab literary heritage.


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