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OzAsia Festival’s Indonesian events supported by the Australia-Indonesia Institute

Cultural events are not only about bringing visitors to a place. Cultural events are ideal for enabling people to understand and appreciate other cultures, renew and establish ties and collaborations amongst nations and local communities, as well as boost and revive cultural identities. The OzAsia Festival at Adelaide, an annual event, is an exemplar case study of a cultural event supporting significant socio-cultural and political benefits to various stakeholders along with generating important economic impacts to the South Australia tourism and wider economy.

An incredible array of music, dance and workshops presented by Indonesian artists as part of Adelaide Festival Centre’s 2017 OzAsia Festival has been made possible thanks to support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia-Indonesia Institute (AII). It has enabled 35 artists and staff to travel to South Australia to showcase the distinctive cultures of the region throughout the sixteen days.

In early 2017, OzAsia Festival also received support from AII to enable South Australian artist Steven Cybulka and West Java artist Arin Dwihartanto to collaborate on a public artwork, to be completed in November 2017 and on permanent display nearby Gedung Sate, Bandung. This artwork will demonstrate the positive relationship between South Australia and West Java, also commemorated at the 2015 OzAsia Festival by the signing of a memorandum of understanding between both states.

AII was established by the Australian Government in 1989 to contribute to a more broadly based and enduring relationship between Australia and Indonesia and to project positive images of Australia and Indonesia in each other's country.

OzAsia Festival’s Artistic Director Joseph Mitchell says: “Support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australia-Indonesia Institute has enabled OzAsia Festival to place arts and culture from South East Asia at the forefront of our annual festival program. As a result of the support received, we have been able to invite artists from Indonesia who have never been to Australia before. A particular interest for OzAsia Festival is to provide Australian audiences with deeper understanding of the diverse and contemporary cultures from across Indonesia.”

On the festival’s opening weekend at Nexus Arts, Air Bandung brings together two Indonesian post-rock bands – Under the Big Bright Yellow Sun and TRAH – both from Bandung, with two Adelaide groups, to produce one amazing evening. Under the Big Bright Yellow Sun was created in 2007 and cites inspirations such as Sigur Ros, Caspian and Mogwai for their experimental compositions. TRAH performs modern adaptations of traditional Indonesian music, in order to demonstrate that new technology does not have to remove or replace cultural traditions but rather can enhance it.
Sat 23 September, 8pm, Nexus Arts

The Australian premiere of Specific Places Need Specific Dances brings together Papua’s Darlane Litaay and Germany’s Tian Rottevell in a contemporary dance piece that looks at waiting as a work of art. Both of them invites the other to enter his respective daily "spaces" – clubs, rehearsal studios, theatres, city locations and even online – at different times of day, and then explore the act of waiting there, combining East and West, high art and pop art, and electronic and ethnic music. Darlane is a dance graduate of The Art Institute Indonesia, and has graced many local and international stages, including the 2015 World Dance Alliance in Singapore. He received a Cultural Activist Program (2016) from the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia, and currently works as a dance lecturer at Indonesia Institute of Culture in Papua.
Wed 27 & Thurs 28 September, 8pm, Nexus Arts

Australia-Indonesia Institute Interim Chair, Associate Professor Greg Fealy says: “The Australia-Indonesia Institute has been a strong supporter of Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival for many years. There is so much more to contemporary Indonesian arts and culture than most Australians realise. OzAsia Festival helps spread the message about the vibrancy and diversity of modern Indonesia.”

In their first Australian outing, performing as part of OzAsia Festival’s free music program at the popular outdoor Lucky Dumpling Market are West Java’s Mocca, with a 70s-era musical style also boasting influences of swing, bossanova, jazz and Swedish pop in their sound. Formed in 2001 by four friends and with awards including MTV Indonesia’s Music Award for Best Video, and Best Album at the Indonesian Music Awards, Mocca has released three albums and also contributed to numerous movie and television show soundtracks.

Drapetomania on the closing weekend is another Australian premiere from Indonesia and takes its name from a 19th-century term diagnosing the urge to escape from slavery. Combining music, live cinema and dance, it is performed by Indonesian hip-hop artist and vocalist Nova Ruth together with her regular collaborator, Barcelona-based composer Grey Filastine.  Living in Malang, East Java, and one half of Indonesian rap duo Twin Sista, Nova is a proud feminist, social justice activist, and advocate for gender equality and a borderless world.
Sat 7 Oct, 8pm, Nexus Arts

The grant has also enabled local primary school children to learn about Papuan culture and language through dance via the sold out Animal Pop workshops, performed by Jecko Siompo and his dance team with a barnyard of animal dance moves. With many traditional dance moves already inspired by animals, Jecko was moved to create Animal Pop after imagining primitive man’s move to modern human, and give it a hip hop twist. A master at Javanese, Sumatran and Minang ethnic dance as well as ballet and hip hop, Jecko has studied via scholarship at Germany’s Goethe Institute and participated in international dance forums and arts festivals across Asia, Europe and the United States.

Adelaide Festival Centre’s OzAsia Festival 2017 is supported by the Government of South Australia, Arts South Australia, and Brand South Australia. 

Photo caption: credit Claudio Raschella