'Split,' a dance by Lucy Guerin featuring Melanie Lane and Lilian Steiner. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Guerin Inc via Komunitas Salihara)

Happy Go Artsy: Salihara's SIPFest


AUGUST 02, 2018

Jakarta. Artists from eight countries will take part in the biannual Salihara International Performing Arts Festival, or SIPFest, at Komunitas Salihara in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, from Aug. 4 to Sept. 9.

The participating countries are Indonesia, Australia, Belgium, Iran, Canada, Malaysia, France and Taiwan.

This is the seventh time the festival – that used to be called Festival Salihara before it was rebranded into SIPFest in 2016 – has been held.

This year's official theme is "Di Seni Senang" ("Happy Go Artsy").

Festival director Nirwan Dewanto said during a press conference on Wednesday (01/08) that SIPFest is an important event for Salihara since it showcases both seasoned and emerging artists.

"Split," a dance performance by Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin will inaugurate the festival on Saturday and Sunday.

The piece will involve two dancers, Melanie Lane – the daughter of Indonesianist and Pramoedya Ananta Toer's translator Max Lane – and Lilian Steiner.

The dance explores the tension between the public and private selves in a world where resources are getting more limited.

Split received a Helpmann Award for Best Female Dancer for Lilian Steiner last year.

Guerin was the winner of the Bessie Award in 1996.

Guerin said Split has been interpreted as "two sides of the same person grappling with different aspects of their personality, or two people trapped in a claustrophobic situation or the fact that we have less time and space these days."

Other dance performances include "Heretics" by Belgium's Ayelen Parolin, that features complex and precise physical movements, as does the contemporary dance and hip-hop fusion "Parallèles" by Abderzak Houmi from France.

The festival will also have musical performances, including Canadian musician Quatuor Bozzini performing songs by Indonesian composers Marisa Sharon Hartanto, M. Arham Aryadi, Stevie Jonathan Sutanto and Matius Shan Boone.

Ju Percussion Group from Taiwan will perform a retrospective of their 30-year career called "Stunning Virtuosity."

Malaysia's Toccata Studio will perform "Space Age: The Phantom Power," an interdisciplinary show combining music, visual art and science.

Theater performances will include "Baling" by Malaysia’s Five Arts Centre. The play will tell the origin story of Malaysia.

Jim Adhi Limas, an Indonesian-born actor who has spent the last 50 years working in France, will perform skits by Roland Dubillard, which Jim has translated himself into Indonesian under the title "Omongobrolan."

Reza Rahadian and Sita Nursanti, having performed together on stage as legendary poet Chairil Anwar and his wife Hapsah in Agus Noor's "Perempuan-Perempuan Chairil" ("Chairil's Women") last year, will reunite playing two unknown characters who will only find out who they are when they open the sealed script on stage.

This performance, titled "White Rabbit Red Rabbit," is by Nassim Soleimanpour from Iran.

The festival will show not just old works that have been touring festivals around the world, but also commissioned new performances.

One of them is a contemporary dance piece based on the Lengger, a traditional dance from Banyumas, Central Java, titled "Cablaka," choreographed by Otniel Tasman.

Otniel, who is originally from Banyumas, said Lengger is a gender-fluid dance tradition, with men often playing female roles.

The choreographer said the dance will show how people can "live together peacefully without condemning those who are different as 'the others.'"

The piece will have five dancers, including Otniel himself, from different dance and performing arts traditions, including hip hop.

Actor and stage director Rukman Rosadi directs a monologue titled "Monolog Sutan Sjahrir," starring Rendra Bagus Pamungkas with a script written by Ahda Imran, one of the writers of "Perempuan-Perempuan Chairil."

Nirwan said Sutan Sjahrir, one of Indonesia's founding fathers and an uncle of the poet Chairil Anwar, should be remembered as someone who preached humanism and universalism before they were en vogue.

The festival will also present a new program called "lectures as performances."

Pianist Ananda Sukarlan will talk about 20th-century piano compositions; dancer Didik Nini Thowok will give an address on gender fluidity in Indonesian performing arts; and Jim Adhi Limas will explain the history of an old theater company he helped found, the Studi Teater Bandung (STB), one of the pioneers of Indonesian contemporary theater.

"STB is 60 years old this year, and most of the founders have passed away. I've traveled to Yogyakarta, Solo [Central Java] and Jakarta, and the theater scenes in these cities are so alive. But in Bandung [West Java], it’s sadly dormant," Jim said.

As always, there are also arts on display throughout the festival, this time as part of an exhibition called "Karya-Karya di Ruang Terbuka" ("Works in Open Space") by three local artists, Achmad Krisgatha, Meliantha Muliawan and Gabriel Aries Setiadi.

The exhibition is site-specific, which means the artists had to custom-fit their artworks to various corners of the Salihara building where they are displayed.

Meliantha will show an installation made of resin – similar to what she did last year in "ARTmosphere," while Achmad and Gabriel are experimenting with light art.

Achmad’s works can be spotted in several corners of the Salihara complex, while Gabriel’s blue wire-mesh sculpture – that looks uncannily like the Space Stone in "Avengers: Infinity War" – hangs from the building's rooftop.

Gabriel Aries Setiadi's 'light art' installation at Salihara. (Photo courtesy of Komunitas Salihara/Witjak Widhi Cahya)

"All the artworks fall into the category of 'new media art,'" exhibition curator Asikin Hasan said.

Schedules and tickets to SIPFest are available from Salihara’s official website.