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Salihara’s Literature and Ideas Festival (LIFEs) 2017: A few things you need to know!

Blog / Festival

October 4, 2017 — by Valent Mustamin

Last updated on July 20, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Three-week-long Salihara’s Literature and Ideas Festival (LIFEs) 2017 is coming up on October 7-28 across various Komunitas Salihara venues in South Jakarta. Before the series of event takes place, check out a few things below.

1 — The festival originated from The Salihara International Literary Biennale (Salihara Biennale) in 2011. Since then, several festivals were birthed into life, which are Utan Kayu-Salihara Biennale 2011 (October 8-29, 2011), Salihara Biennale 2013 (September 20-October 27, 2013), and Salihara Biennale 2015 (October 3-25, 2015).

While Salihara Biennale featured programs which focused on reading, LIFEs aims to put an emphasis on discussing ideas and sharing thoughts.

Long beforehand, the biennial literary festival was previously known as Utan Kayu Literary Biennale, held by Komunitas Utan Kayu since 2001. Held in Jakarta and Jogjakarta in collaboration with Winternachten of the Hague, the Netherlands, it was an unprecedented international literary event showcasing the performances of authors and poets from ten countries including Indonesia. The Utan Kayu Literary Biennale 2009, the fifth festival which was held in Komunitas Salihara for the first time, was themed Merandai (“Traversing”).

2 — After Klasik nan Asyik (“Exciting Classics”) in 2011, Sirkus Sastra (“Circus of Literature”) in 2013, and Sastra dan Rasa (“Text and Taste”) in 2015, this year’s theme is VIVA! REBORN! focusing on Membaca Amerika Latin (“Reading Latin America”).

Be it a territory or a cultural entity, Latin America offers many important ideas such as dependency theory, liberation theology, and magic realism, to name a few. There is a significant amount of interest shown by Indonesian readers on Latin America’s literature —not to mention dance, music, film and culinary heritage— perhaps even more than those of other parts of the world.

3 — Therefore, numerous discussion forums will be addressing those topics. This will open the dialogue among Indonesian literary and cultural activists as well as guest writers and artists.

Thursday Discsussion: Classic Fantastic will bring in The Indonesian Literary Heritage on October 12 and Young Writers’ Forum, a collaborative program between Komunitas Salihara and Lontar Foundation, on October 19.

The Indonesian Literary Heritage and LIFEs will pay a tribute to Danarto and Hamsad Rangkuti while remembering late prominent authors Korrie Layun Rampan, Leon Agusta, and Gerson Poyk. The facilitators will be Heru Joni Putra, Ni Made Purnama Sari, Hasan Aspahani, Esha Tegar Putra, and Berto Tukan.

The evening sessions include book discussions on Before Publication with two publishing professionals—Siti Gretiani from Gramedia Pustaka Utama and Anton Kurnia from BACA Publishers—and After Publication with John H. McGlynn from Yayasan Lontar and Aldo Zirsov from Goodreads Indonesia. Book launch and live reading of The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Poetry (LAIP) and The Lontar Anthology of Indonesian Short Stories (LAISS) will follow.

There will also be a series of Evening Discussion: Guest from Across the Sea which consists of:

Photography Book Club on October 7, 14, 21, and 28, discussing the ideas found inside photobooks from Indonesia and Latin America; Indonesian Millennial Forum in LIFEs**, discussing everything from art to nationalism in this new technology era, on October 14; Memoirs of the Revolution: Guest from Across the Sea with Hector Abad Faciolince (Colombia) and Tosca Santoso, moderated by Ayu Utami, on October 21; and (Her)story: Guest from Across the Sea with Veronica Stigger (Brazil) and Carmen Boullosa (Mexico), moderated by Lisabona Rahman, on October 22.

Coming later on October 28 will be Discussion: Criss Crossing Stories from Two Lands which connects actors over a Latin American cultural discourse. Nur Iman Subono, Ito Prajna-Nugroho, Yustinus Prastowo, Dewi Candraningrum, Nirwan Dewanto, and Ronny Agustinus will be presenting their pieces on these topics: From Marx to Pope Francis: Latin America and the Leftist Thought, and From Kartini to Juana Ines, from Pramoedya to Juan Rulfo.

4 — A closer look at the schedule shows a selection of music, literature, and culinary delights.

On October 7, under the glittering sky of Jakarta, Yusi Avianto Pareanom, F. Aziz Manna, Ziggy Zezsyazioviennazabriskie, and Pablo Jofré (Chile) will be on stage in Teater Anjung for Stars under the Jakarta Sky* program. The first day will end with Literary Dinner, an opening dinner celebrating poetry with food, raw materials, and cooking techniques unique to Indonesia and Latin American nations.

LIFEs also brings together Indonesian authors alongside their Latin American counterparts during Night Stage: From the South*, at Teater Salihara. Not only is this a platform for live reading, but it also provides a space for an open dialog. The program consists of:

Moving Critiques, with Feby Indirani, Sergio Chejfec (Argentina), and Veronica Stigger (Brasil), on October 21; Politics and Beliefs, where Nirwan Dewanto will discuss politics and beliefs in the third world countries with Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia), Carmen Boullosa (Mexico), and Victor Heringer (Brasil), on October 22; also Mooi Indie Night, with Boi Akih (Netherlands), Iksaka Banu, and Joss Wibisono, on October 24.

Wrapping up the festival will be the lecture Reading Latin America by M. Chatib Basri at Teater Salihara and a musical presentation Telar Sonorus, featuring an Indonesian/Venezuelan duet collaboration — Karim Camprovín and Nur Kholis Sumardi.

5 — There will also be a host of paid workshops** which are definitely too good to miss:

Art in LiterARTure, with Victor Heringer (Brazil) and Pablo Jofré (Chile), on October 7; Writing a Literary Critique, with Goenawan Mohamad, on October 8 (this workshop will discuss the theories and examples of literary critiques to help participants construct their own critiques); Translating Literature, with Apsanti Djokosujatno, and Sip a Story, with Yusi A. Pareanom and a barista from Kopi Kecil as facilitators, on October 15 (the facilitators will guide participants in writing coffee-related stories); What’s in a Name?, with Sergio Chejfec (Argentina), and Story Telling, with Brigitte Schar, on October 21; last but not least, young composer Sri Hanuraga and poet Adimas Immanuel will share their stories during Music/Poetry on October 22.

Just as a heads up, Art in LiterARTure and What’s in a Name? sessions will be held in English.

6 — In addition to the listed programs above, there will also be special events including My First Book every Saturday/Sunday during the festival and Final Stage on Comparative Literature Critique Competition for High School Students on October 28, which will compare the novel Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo (Mexico) with Bukan Pasar Malam by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. LIFEs invites the public to enjoy a four-day book bazaar on October 19-22, a series of Latin American film screenings, and a number of collaborative performances and art exhibitions.

7 — This year, LIFEs is supported by around 50 participating authors, artists, and filmmakers. Among them are particularly established names, range from Adimas Immanuel, Anton Kurnia, Apsanti Djokosujatno, Ayu Utami, Berto Tukan, Esha Tegar Putra, F. Aziz Manna, Feby Indirani, Goenawan Mohamad, Hasan Aspahani, Heru Joni Putra, Iksaka Banu, John H. McGlynn, Joss Wibisono, Ni Made Purnama Sari, Nirwan Dewanto, Ronny Agustinus, Siti Gretiani, Tosca Santoso, Yusi A. Pareanom, Ziggy Zezsyazioviennazabriskie, to Aldo Zirsov, Dewi Candraningrum, Ito Prajna-Nugroho, Lisabona Rahman, Nur Iman Subono, and Yustinus Prastowo.

8 — As in the previous years, there is a compilation of all works read during the festival, published as an anthology and distributed in both Indonesian and English. A few titles we know so far include Klasik dan Asyik (2011), Sirkus Sastra (2013), and Sastra dan Rasa (2015).

9 — LIFEs culminates in October, the month of language, which is one of the reasons why Salihara chooses to hold this biennial event in October. There are, however, programs that already started in July as preliminary events. As part of Book Club: Talk about Indonesian Literature in English program, these events include Reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian Poetry after Chairil Anwar, Surrealism or Magical Realism in Indonesian Novels, Indonesian Novels and the ’65-’66 Incident, Puisi Mbeling (Mischievous Poetry), Puisi Gelap (Dark Poetry), Indonesian Novels at the end of Military Regime, and Reading Goenawan Mohamad and the Indonesian Literary Polemics.

10 — Entrance to the festival is mostly free of charge for almost all programs unless otherwise indicated, either as *) free with registration or as **) paid programs. Full details of the programs are available on the official website. Save the date! Follow Salihara on Twitter for updates, and use #vivareborn to join the discussion. (LT/EA)

(Disclosure: we are a media partner of the event.)

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