Cita Merdeka 2020 
All pictures by Dico Bascoro

Cita Merdeka

When we celebrate the Indonesian independence day, it is common that we are also to be reminded about the yet-to-be-fulfilled ideal of independence (cita-cita kemerdekaan). But what is this ideal of the independence that is so often spoken yet vague and becoming a cliche at the same time? Some problems came to our mind, as Indonesian living abroad: the concern for discrimination (be it race, gender, or religion), social stigmas (due to political association or sexual orientation), and the (after) effect of colonialism (and its many possible responses to it, in many fronts of life). Even in independent Indonesia, it is apparent that those aspects exist too, taking different forms. How can we respond to those problems and challenges? How should we view freedom and thinking about freedom in the face of these realities?

This event starts with the traditional way of the celebration: by games and foods which we share with friends and family. But there are collective bitter contemplations that often arose in our inner heart: is there more to this celebration? Hence, we invite everyone not only to enjoy and share the festivities of games and foods but also to accompany us in confronting some of our bitter contemplations. We believe that there are some aspects of the human experience that transgress ethnicity, geography, sexuality, and even believes. Sharing these experiences, we hope that it offers perspectives so that others may confront their bitter contemplations as well.

And again there are foods, and there are games: a reminder that there are more flavors than just bitterness in life.

Dirgahayu Ibu Pertiwi!


Different Longings

Lecture-Performance (20 minutes) and Q&A

Ardi Kuhn

Moderator: Ragil Huda

Using Karen Strassler’s idea of the Image-Event, Mas Ardi selects a series of media images central to his on-going formations of an Indonesian queer political imaginary. On this Tujuhbelasan, he invites viewers to co-cultivate space for the ambivalence of queer belonging as a member of the diaspora. He will be joined for the Q&A by Ragil Huda of 'Queer' Asia.

Ardi Kuhn is an American/Indonesian activist and cultural curator, currently in Germany as a MA candidate in SE Asian Studies at the University of Hamburg. He believes that research in Area Studies should actively reground academic inquiry in lived experience.

"Ragil Huda (he/him) is a graduate student at the Asien-Afrika Institut, Universität Hamburg. He co-founded QTIBIPoC Hamburg (Queer, Trans*, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color) and currently runs the 'Queer' Asia in Berlin collective. His community engagement specifically centers on queerness, intersectionality, community building, anti-racism, and the social-political realities of marginalized people through various methodologies and creative activism."

Deconstructing Stigma: “Dasar Kamu Komunis!” // “You Communist”

Participatory Talk (25 Mins)

Stigma was any form of physical and social attributes or signs that diminish the social identity of an individual, disqualifying the person from full social acceptance. Erving Goffman (1968)

It has been more than half a century that the stigma of communism in Indonesia remains deeply sensitive. No one has ever been held to account. It is why the ghosts of communism continue to be dredged up even though the ideology has been outlawed here since 1966.

In this participatory talk, Gugi together with the participants will try to deconstruct the stigma from their collective memory perspective to get a better picture about the issue. The talk will be held in English.

Gugi Gumilang is a Berlin based social researcher and has been involved in arts and culture management since 2013. He obtained his Master Degree in Global Studies from University of Freiburg, Germany, FLACSO University Buenos Aires, Argentina and Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand. His research and interest include social construction of memory and deconstruction of stigma. He is currently part of Indonesian Art Collective, Soy Division.


Grains of unconscious racism”

A/V Ariel Orah & Nindya Nareswari 

A package of acoustic quanta, very short in its duration, tend to challenge our hearing perception: such a sound phenomenon we call a sound grain. Parallel to this is the package of electromagnetic radiation energy which we call photon: a phenomenon of the transmitted light. The granular sound, with its distribution of grain in time, the nature of its sound wave, and the envelope that shapes it forms the totality of our sonic experience; the dispersed ray with its changing projection, shapes, temperatures, color, and the perceived sensation when it arrives on our retina: contemplating on these physical interactions is my way of enjoying this work of Ariel and Nindya.

But the work is imbued with another type of contemplation from their side: that of granularity of racism. What seemingly meaningless small particles of sounds or light when given a structure and a medium of projection may create complexities of sound textures and fascinating geometries; a small racial remark, harmless aversion due to a stereotype, given a power structure and an object of hate projection create a circle of suffering and an impression of a lasting conflict. Racial discrimination may have its root on granular acts of racism that creeps slowly to our mind, determining our action beyond our consciousness.

"Series of Indonesian Gay and Trans Magazine Covers from the 80s, 90s and 00s"

Queer Indonesia Archive (QIA) Digital Exhibition

Back in the pre-digital days of Orde Baru, before the virtual cruise spots that are Instagram and Grindr, queer Indonesians created printed magazines to communicate and organise across the archipelago. These magazine covers were created by GAYa Nusantara, Ikatan Persaudaraan Orang-orang Sehati (IPOOS) GAYa Betawi, GAYa Celebes and Persaudaraan "G" Yogyakarta. The covers may shock younger Indonesian queers with their explicit showcasing of queer Indonesia. However, as British novelist L. P. Hartley said, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”. These covers represent a different Indonesia, a country hopeful for a future for queer liberation and the fall of an authoritarian regime. By exhibiting these covers and looking to the past, we invite you to step into their imagining of Indonesia’s future and in-turn reimagine our own.

Queer Indonesia Archive (QIA) is a digital archiving project committed to the collection, preservation and celebration of material reflecting the lives and experiences of queer Indonesia. It is a non-profit and volunteer run. QIA was co-founded in 2020 by Harits Rasyid Paramasatya, a contemporary artist and recent graduate of Museum and Heritage Studies and Beau Newham, a queer community organiser and student of Archive Studies.

Sleep Tight, Maria

Film Screening and Q&A

A quirky yet insecure girl named MARIA V (17), who’s raised in a catholic family and school, always masturbates before she goes to sleep. One day, her school arranges a church camp, in which requires all of its students to pray and spend the night together in a secluded place.

A few days before the camp, Maria V finds out that she has to share her room with MARIA P (17), the smartest, most beautiful and religious girl in her school. To save her pride, Maria V struggles to fall asleep that night without having to masturbate.

Born in Jakarta in 1991, Monica Vanesa Tedja loved to film her family vacations ever since she was young. Her curiosity towards filmmaking was developed during the documentary film workshop “Think, Act, Change” held by The Body Shop Indonesia. Known for her works that often look at issues that are tabooed in society, this genre-bending filmmaker has found her freedom in expressing her concerns through filmmaking. One of her latest projects was with Kalyana Shira Foundation and Ford Foundation in Project Change! 2013, which she had participated in and produced a short narrative film, Sleep Tight, Maria, which also won at the Short Film Competition in France Film Festival 2015 in Indonesia. A year later, she moved to Berlin to pursue her master degree in Film Directing at the Film University Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. She is currently working on her thesis film, Dear to Me.

OKNUM - Garuda Pancasila

Lecture performance

Description: Ariel and Bilawa in their minimalist set and almost acoustic? (electronic music without AC electricity?) On the occasion of celebrating Indonesian independence, Bilawa also read a selection from his poem Stories for my daughter Arudana accompanied by Ariel’s improvisation and movements, which recites some forgotten symbolic meaning related to the country’s emblem: the Garuda.


Bilawa with Jelena and Jordan
Format : Fish Bowls discussion

Duration : 30 mins

Description: Calling someone with an ethnic group labels to which one (presumably) belongs might be done jokingly and seem harmless in Indonesia. But can this be concealing seeds of ethnical/regional sentiments? Unfortunately, westerners cannot avoid being labeled as bule or londo in some situations in Indonesia. Let’s talk about a bule being ndeso in Java.