“The Margins Talk Back: Introducing KAUM Discourse Events “

Text by Rosalia Engchuan & Ferdiansyah Thajib

This text previously featured in KAUM Festival 2021 Catalogue Book

Check out our discourse Archive videos here 👉🏻 #1 (Negotiating Belonging in Eastern Indonesia)

The margin is an off-center space. It comprises the majority actually, yet people inhabiting it are constantly positioned as the subordinate other to the self-constructed, geographical, political and ideological centers. In Indonesia, marginality assumes many faces. It is reified through historical, political, religious, sexual, gender, cultural, ethnic, economic and social differences that constitute the supposedly pluralistic country. It operates through different forms and intensities and is threaded by a common pattern of violence. To be part of marginalized communities often means to be made vulnerable to disenfranchisement, impoverishment, inequality, intolerance, stigma and discrimination.

KAUM Indonesian Alternative Performance and Film Festival pays tribute to individuals and communities that have long been marginalized in Indonesian public spheres. In its premiere edition, the festival programme highlights at least six out of the diverse fields of marginality that encumber Indonesian societies, namely sexual and gender minorities, women, Chinese-Indonesian communities, various ethnic groups in Eastern part of Indonesia, and people who are taking action against environmental destruction as well as those who are coping with mental health issues.

Each topic highlighted in the festival has distinct historical, sociocultural contexts, and involves differing effects of adversities. The films and performances being showcased in the festival do not only foreground these multiple facets of marginality, but also the nuanced differences between them as well as their interconnections. Following the festival’s aim in representing the varying aspects of marginality in Indonesia, we are holding a discursive space which involves various actors from different background who fight against marginalizations at the grassroot level. This discursive space also serves as an opportunity for these actors, mostly based in geographically dispersed locations across the vast archipelago and in Berlin, to share strategies and build affinities.

In the discourse events, we will engage in conversations around different kinds and experiences of marginality, holding space for people to represent their stories as their own on their own terms. ‘Between joy and survival: Transgender Activism in Indonesia’ is a hybrid online panel in collaboration with Queer Asia hosted by Ragil Huda. It will pivot around the question of transgender activism in Indonesia through the screening of two films and a discussion with one of the protagonists, Mamy Rully. 

The ‘Feminist Organizing in Indonesia’ discourse brings together extraordinary women who are all engaged in struggles related to gender inequality. Their strategies are diverse, ranging from performance art to grassroots activism and from the gaps of these multiple approaches we will highlight the many challenges and joys of feminist organizing in contemporary Indonesia. The event ‘Understanding roots: Being Chinese-Indonesian’ is a conversation among three Chinese Indonesians from Berlin and Jakarta who are left with many questions regarding their identities. The conversation will also move towards questions of a hopeful and self-defined future. The ‘Negotiating Belonging in Eastern Indonesia’ discourse invites activists from Maluku and West Papua to screen their films as documents to the ongoing violences and share on their struggles and experiences. 

The workshop ‘Wayang Kardus as tools for environ(mental) justice’ led by Taring Padi members, Hestu A. Nugroho and Dhomas Y. Soegianto is held as means for addressing environmental destruction and repair by means of storytelling.

These discursive spaces are not for the curious consumption of outside observers but are an attempt to create safe and respectful places, for those who care, to come together and engage in a conversation. Some of the panels will be live-translated and audiences are encouraged to take part in the conversations.

About the Authors

Ferdiansyah Thajib (he/him) is a researcher whose lifework is situated at the intersections of theory and praxis, with specific interests in queer modes of endurance and forms of affective entanglements in everyday life. He completed his doctoral study at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin. He is a member of KUNCI, a transdisciplinary research collective in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, which since 1999 has been experimenting on modes of producing and sharing knowledge through studying together.

Rosalia Namsai Engchuan (she/her) is an artist and researcher based between Berlin and Southeast Asia. Her PhD research looks at practices of community filmmaking in Indonesia, investigating how cinematic epistemologies produce and socialise knowledges. Her video works are speculative vessels that aim to undo the underlying structures of colonialism, race, gender and class that shape the production of our worlds and from there, collectively with her research collaborators creates worlds otherwise. Rosalia curates screenings and dialogical encounters with a focus on independent and experimental works from locales of the ‘epistemological’ South, often in collaboration with the Berlin based collective un.thai.tled and the Southeast Asia based initiative The Forest Curriculum. She is the 2021 Goethe-Institut fellow at Hamburger Bahnhof and artist in residence at Purple Tree, Thailand, researching for her upcoming video on alternative medicinal knowledges and healing. Rosalia is one of the co-founders of co-founder of the space with the rubbles, a conceptual and physical space of communal study that develops its research through art, film, dance, performance, literature and critical theory, in Berlin.

Published by

Ariel Orah

Ariel Orah

Ariel William Orah is a Berlin-based Indonesian artist who explores themes related to identity, memory, and scarcity. He fancies the durability of homo sapiens and the fragility of the machines. He is working with variety of media, ranging from sonic and other multi-sensory performances, physical and interactive installations, and moving and/or still images. He co-founded an empathy driven artist collective L-KW , Bandung-based progressive rock band “Vincent Vega”, and Indonesian gastronomy initiative SOYDIVISION.BERLIN. Selected works included commissioned installation for Tanz im August Festival Berlin (2016), film-music scoring for “Deeper High”- Germany (2018), CTM Festival Music Maker Hacklab 2020, solo album “Scarcity” (2017) and “WIM” (2018) under alias ravenative.