Fashion designer Vinora Ng. (Photo courtesy of Vinora Ng)

The Next Big Things in Indonesian Culture


DECEMBER 14, 2015

Jakarta. The landscape of Indonesian culture in 2015 was a constantly changing one. Throughout the year, a handful of noteworthy talents — from filmmakers and musicians to artists and writers — have created work that has managed to provoke discussion and garner critical acclaim, while simultaneously resonating with a wide audience.

Here, we cast the spotlight on six emerging names who are making an indelible impact in their respective fields who will likely become even more influential in the coming year.

Film: Ismail Basbeth

Film director Ismail Basbeth. (Photo courtesy of Kapanlagi)

Yogyakarta-based director Ismail Basbeth has been making short films for 10 years and finally presented two feature films this year. One of them is his non-narrative, feature-length debut "Menuju Rembulan" ("Another Trip to the Moon") starring Tara Basro, which premiered at the Hivos Tiger Awards in Rotterdam International Film Festival in February. A few months later, "Mencari Hilal" ("The Crescent Moon") starring Deddy Sutomo and Oka Antara hit Indonesian cinemas and bagged seven Citra nominations including for best picture, best director and best original screenplay. The 30-year old is currently working on a Japanese drama, "Laugh Tomoko Laugh" and will shoot in Japan in mid-2016. His third film "Talak Tiga" ("Three Separations") is a comedy starring Reza Rahadian, Vino G. Bastian and Laudya Cynthia Bella and set for release on Feb. 4, 2016.

Music: Teza Sumendra

R&B singer Teza Sumendra. (Photo courtesy of Teza Sumendra)

R&B singer Teza Sumendra is often dubbed Indonesia's Chris Brown for his appearance, but true credit goes to his mesmerizing voice and dance choreography  minus Brown's bad attitude. Teza has been singing since he was 7 years old. In 2006, he joined a television talent competition and captured the attention of composer Indra Lesmana, who eventually became his mentor. He was involved in high-profile musicals such as "Laskar Pelangi" ("Rainbow Troops") and "Ali Topan the Musical." After performances at the annual Java Jazz festival and collaborations with Indra, Amanda and Andezzz, the 27-year-old finally released his first album this year, now available on iTunes.

Art: Tromarama

Tromarama's Herbert Hans, Febie Babyrose and Ruddy Hatumena. (Photo courtesy of National Gallery of Victoria)

Tromarama, an art collective consisting of Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans Maruli and Ruddy Hatumena, was formed in 2006 when its members — all graduates of the Bandung Institute of Technology — met during an animation workshop. Since then, the Bandung-based group has grown into prominence with its vibrantly colorful animation pieces that are often incorporated in an installation setting. They have participated in a host of art festivals and exhibitions in Indonesia and abroad. Most recently, the trio held their first independent exhibition in Europe at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in June. Deftly manipulating mundane everyday objects with advanced digital-imaging tools in its work, Tromarama sets the bar high for the next generation of Indonesian artists.

Literature: M. Aan Mansyur

Poet M. Aan Mansyur. (Photo courtesy of M. Aan Mansyur)

Poet M. Aan Mansyur has published an array of poetry anthologies since 2004, but he gained most of his new fans through his Twitter account, @hurufkecil (meaning “small letters”), where he posts his poetic and whimsical thoughts. Aan is equally adept when it comes to stringing together novels, as exemplified by his work in “Perempuan Rumah Kenangan” ("Women Home Memories") and “Lelaki Terakhir Yang Menangis di Bumi” ("Last Crying Man on Earth"). But the writer is at his best when penning poetry, in which he touches on themes such as heartbreak and family. For his 2015 book, “Melihat Api Bekerja,” ("See Fireworks"), Aan collaborated with the artist Emte who brought his evocative words to life through hand-drawn illustrations.

Fashion: Vinora Ng

Fashion designer Vinora Ng. (Photo courtesy of Vinora Ng)

Among the emerging young designers in Indonesia, Vinora Ng stands out with her singular point of view. Her eponymous luxury ready-to-wear label, which caters to both women and men, is characterized by clean lines, the use of impeccable materials and careful construction. The twenty-something designer's penchant for modern art also influences her designs. Vinora's latest collection, for instance, is inspired by Italian painter Lucio Fontana, where she incorporates a slit running through a simple top, mimicking one of his punctured canvases. Having displayed her collection recently at Jakarta Fashion Week, Vinora showed immense promise with her drive for perfection.

Technology: YesBoss

(Photo courtesy of YesBoos)

Indonesia's latest virtual personal assistant company had quite a breakthrough this year after introducing its SMS-based service. It's a clever strategy, because it means it can cater to all types of mobile phone users. Founded by Irzan Raditya, Muhammad Reynir Fauzan, Wahyu Wrehasnaya and Christian Franke, YesBoss will provide assistance in shopping, food delivery, house cleaning, ticket booking and making restaurant reservations. It is currently free to use, except there is a charge for the text message service. Although it takes up to 30 minutes to get a response, the team behind YesBoss is investing in its own artificial intelligence auto response system to process informal conversations. Due to an extremely high demand for the facility, YesBoss currently has more than 18,000 users on its waiting list.