What is poetry: GONG LAUT

GONG LAUT is a cultural event initiated and organised by the Indonesian MANIK BUMI Foundation and various partners in Germany. In October 2018 an international group of artists will get together on Bali for a workshop to put together a programme, both working across disciplines and involving local communities and groups. The aim is to break down stereotypes and patterns of perception which stand in the way of the dialogue around global problems and the search for common solutions. The project will concentrate on marine and environmental topics. The island of Bali, shaped as it is by tourism, stands as a paradigm for purely economic thinking, in which nature and culture, tradition and social ties must take a back seat. The project seeks to mobilise the forces of cohesion, make possible new kinds of perception and unleash the social potential of the arts.

DIVERSITY AND CONNECTING SKILLS The project offers a secure environment for artistic collaboration, draws in social groups and even young business people
alike and embraces reciprocal respect. The participants
will see themselves as human beings and social players
representing diversity in the group, withstanding disagreement and being creative together.

BEARING RESPONSIBILITY TOGETHER – THE MASTER NARRATIVE Nature, environment and social justice will be viewed holistically and as a global challenge. The title, ‘Gong laut’, cuts right to the heart of the project’s intentions: the gong is understood all over the world as a wake-up call; and laut is the German for unmistakably loud/audible. In the Indonesian language, ‚laut‘ means sea or ocean, and thus the space which connects us all and for whose protection we as a global community are responsible. In the island state of Indonesia, with its hundreds of different ethnic groups and languages, it represents both cultural diversity and, nevertheless, the ability to converge as a unit.

ARTIVISM – THE GUIDING CONCEPT The ‘Gong laut’ project wishes to explore new avenues in the communication of art and to encroach upon social space. A doctoral thesis is currently being written on this topic at the Geneva Graduate Institute for International Studies and Development, and the scholar involved will be accompanying the project. Each and every day the world is fed stories and disquieting news through all kinds of channels.
Climate change, terrorism, poverty, drought, the extinction of species and weapons of mass extinction seem to freezing humanity in a constant state of shock. And politics don’t seem to be capable of reacting appropriately. The arts could take on a significant task in this context; they ought to be awakening people’s interest, enabling participation, reinforcing their sense of responsibility and evoking awareness.

OVERSTEPPING LIMITS The main constituent of the project is its cross-disciplinary, cross-genre approach and the collaboration between international artists. The participants will work together towards a programme which will be presented as the concluding climax of the project on an open-air stage in Lovina on the north coast of Bali. In the same setting, and in cooperation with local artists and street artists, the idea of the traditional bazaar will also be captured. For three days, writers, musicians, dancers, theatre people and visual artists from the regional, national and international community will meet together. The project will enable encounters and bring its artistic approach into the heart of society. An attendant programme in schools, universities and for young business people is also at the planning stage.

IMPLEMENTING GLOBAL THINKING AT LOCAL LEVEL That is what the venue is the very symbol of. Historically, Singaraja was one of the most important shipping hubs in Asia. We chose this north-coast provincial capital as the location for the festival because it was this region which, in the history of Bali, stood for cosmopolitanism, trade and exchange. The ethnic, religious and cultural diversity which resulted from this is traditionally seen in Singaraja as an opportunity and not as a threat. Over the centuries, an inclusive society developed here which can be regarded as a viable, sustainable and ground-breaking model. Currently, a strain is being put on the north coast of Bali by the building of large coal power station. And yet, barely 40 kilometres away, a tourist resort is being planned on the island of Menjangan, a holy place for the Balinese; and the island is actually in the middle of a marine sanctuary. The foreseeable consequences for the environment, cultural identity and the local economy have aroused fears but also mean an impetus for new approaches. ‘Gong laut’ gets these forces involved and gives a voice to the communities affected.


Manik Bumi Foundation – The Balinese foundation was established in Singaraja and promotes activities related to environmental protection and sustainable development. Manik Bumi backs projects explicitly geared towards the needs of the local population. The foundation cooperates with both urban and rural marginalised communities. Its main goal is to develop strategies suited to connect actors from all areas of society. Artists, environmental groups and companies dedicated to sustainability are meant to profit from the advantages of intersectional knowledge and develop viable concepts. Under the roof of the foundation, artists, educational institutions and young business people come together on equal terms for the first time.
Infos: http://manikbumi.org/

IDKA – For the past five years this charitable institution for German-Indonesian Cultural Exchange has organized the annual “Pasar Hamburg” cultural festival lasting several days. After the first four seasons, which were hosted by the city’s Ethnological Museum, the festival’s popularity made a move to the Hamburg Exhibition Halls necessary, where more than 10,000 visitors took part in the extensive program in October 2017. The organisation’s declared goal is to promote Indonesia’s exchange with Europe, preserve the country’s cultural wealth, breathe life into the concept of “Unity in Diversity” and advance open discourse.
Infos: http://pasarhamburg.com/

Literaturhaus Bremen – The virtual ‘literature house’ is a forum, platform and workshop for the literary scene at the interface between literature and digital media. Cooperative educational projects constitute the main part of its program – apart from international exchange and networking. The project “What’s poetry?”, initiated by the Literaturhaus Bremen, has brought together artists from every part of the world, carried out/accompanied ‘Poetry Caravans’ in Asia and on the African continent, and facilitated artistic interaction through large-scale translation projects. The Literaturhaus has received several national awards for its projects, including as a “Global Mover” (german: Weltbeweger) and as one of the outstanding actors in the “Land of Ideas”.
Infos: http://www.literaturhaus-bremen.de/

Sylt Foundation – Initiates and supports innovative contemporary literary, visual art and performance projects with the aim to encourage cultural dialogue and artistic interaction on an international level. In 2016 the Foundation was responsible for the continuation of the “What’s Poetry?” project in South Africa and Zimbabwe. With its residency programmes it offers international multi-disciplinary artists, performers and writers the opportunity to live and work in a quiet environment on the island of Sylt, in Johannesburg or in other places, where the Foundation works together with its partners. Residencies are one or two months long and every resident either works on his own project/reflection or on a project of the Sylt Foundation.
Infos: https://www.syltfoundation.com/

Mare Publishing House – Elisabeth Mann Borgese gave the impetus for Mare. The expert for Law of the Sea, co-founder of the Club of Rome and daughter of the Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Thomas Mann, invested some of her inheritance into the conservation of the ocean. Elisabeth Mann Borgese urged the young maritime biologist Nikolaus Gelpke to found a culture magazine that focuses on topics related to the sea. The aim of Mare has since been to raise public awareness of the ocean as a living environment, economic area and cultural space. Mare is not a trade journal that presupposes technical knowledge. Rather its publisher Nikolaus Gelpke follows the basic assumption that problems related to the world’s treatment of the ocean, reflect the global undesirable developments in politics and economy which preoccupy us today. In addition to Mare magazine, there is also the Mare publishing house. Mare Radio (Radio Bremen) and Mare television (NDR) are also produced independently albeit under the same roof.
Infos: https://www.mare.de/

Aulia MeidiskaINDONESIA. Writer, journalist, translator and content strategist. Aulia Meidiska commenced her writing career in 2014 at Cosmopolitan Magazine Indonesia as a Feature Writer covering women’s lifestyle in urban cities. Since then she has worked for many notable publications inter alia the hellobalimagazine where she is an editor and contributes articles on topics ranging from art to lifestyle and travel. Aulia Meidiska also works for other exceptional institutions such as GO-JEK Indonesia, SOHO Global Health and Krona Indonesia Digital Agency as a content strategist.

Bagus Suitrawan – INDONESIA. Actor, director and movie producer. At the age of 18, Bagus Suitrawan made his screen debut playing a deaf boy in Bermula dari A, an Indonesian short film that received several awards at international film festivals. Following the completion of his high school education, he established a film production company named Lotus Cinema. Since then, Bagus Suitrawan has produced and directed several movies and has received awards at international film festivals across the globe inter alia for his collaboration with the renown Iranian director Amir Masoud Soheili.

Juli Wirahmani Biesterfeld – INDONESIA/GERMANY. Is committed to the cultural exchange between Germany and Indonesia. She founded the association for Indonesian-German Cultural Exchange, in short IDKA e.V., and has been directing the major cultural festival “Pasar Hamburg” for 5 years. The festival displays Indonesia’s intellectual and artistic wealth and promotes international dialogue. In Bali Juli Wirahmani Biesterfeld, who lives in Hamburg and Singaraja, established the MANIK BUMI Foundation which aims to unite the topics environment, society and culture.

Dorothea Rosa Herliany – INDONESIA. Poet, prose author, journalist and organizer of events, at which writers, scientists and artists discuss important contemporary themes. For 15 years, she has been managing “Dunia Tera”, an art and book facility. Rosa has published more than 20 volumes of prose and poetry. She has been widely honored, receiving numerous awards. She has served as writer-in-residence in Australia and with a longterm scholarship at DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.

Dudy Anggawi – INDONESIA. Actor, translator and event manager. He studied journalism and became a member of the famous Bengkel Teater Rendra in 1984. Since then he has been working as an actor and as a group manager locally and abroad. In 2002 he was one of the organizers of “Poetry International” in Indonesia. In 2011, Dudy Anggawi founded the “Forum Penyair Internasional Indonesia”, an organization that has connected poets, cultural institutions and supporters of literature worldwide.

Silke Behl – GERMANY. Silke Behl, a literary scholar, has worked as a freelance journalist for the German broadcasters NDR, WDR and DLF since the early 1980s. From 1986 to 1991, she taught German literature at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta. In 1991, she began working as culture editor for Radio Bremen, where she covers literature. Silke Behl was co-founder of the international literary festival ‘poetry on the road’ in Bremen and is chairperson of the Literaturhaus (Literature House) Bremen. She wrote several books, amongst them travel guides about Java, Sumatra and Bali.


Afrizal Malna – INDONESIA
Poet, performance artist and dramatist – one of the most important driving forces for the artistic avant-garde in Indonesia. Following his studies of philosophy in Jakarta, he founded the theatre group SAE, whose productions questioned the Suharto regime in the 1980s and 90s. Today Malna occupies a leading position in the ‘theatre’ section of the Jakarta Art Council. In 2016 he was a fellow in the DAAD Berlin artists’ program. His artistic work portrays a fragmented present in which the individual along with his or her cultural roots threatens to drown. Consciously he bridges the divide to the worldly wisdom of ancestors who still viewed themselves as a part of nature and searches for new artistic expressions with which language and the world of things can be recovered.
Infos: http://www.berliner-kuenstlerprogramm.de/de/gast.php?id=1248

Ayu Laksmi – INDONESIA
Known as the diva of Indonesian world music, she originates from Singaraja in the north of Bali. As a singer, composer, dancer and performer she is famous far beyond her ancestral island. Beginning her career as a rock singer, Ayu Laksmi travelled through almost every musical genre before settling on her own personal style in which she combines artistic expressions of different Indonesian cultures with contemporary elements. Combining traditional and modern elements has since become her trademark and set a trend in Indonesia. Critics praise her music for meeting modern standards without – in keeping with the times – masking or undermining cultural singularities.
Infos: http://ayulaksmi.com/home#

Carolyn Forché – USA
Poet, human rights activist and university professor. With her first volume of poetry “Gathering the tribes” she already distinguished herself and received several awards. Since documenting the impact of the civil war in El Salvador for ‘Amnesty International’ in the 1970s, Carolyn Forché has been posing fundamental questions on the relation between poetry and politics. She released the world-famous anthology “Against Forgetting” in which writings of 145 authors are collected, chronicling the systems of injustice of the world. “Poetry of Witness”, a recognized term in academia and literature, was established by her. Bearing witness that remains at the center of her writings. Carolyn Forché has received several international awards for her work. She is the director of the ‘Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practise’ at Georgetown University in Washington. The Lannan Center represents an innovative and socially involved notion of art that links poetry to other art forms.
Infos: https://lannan.georgetown.edu/about

Chris Soal is an emerging artist living and practicing in Johannesburg. Chris Soal’s artistic practice, is concerned initially with materiality. Specifically thus far, the materiality of objects which are available en masse and utilised daily by millions of people globally and then disposed of. These objects (toothpicks and bottle tops for example) are not only easily attainable, but are so common that they have become invisible to our eyes. They are manufactured for a single utilitarian purpose and are then discarded, once having served their purpose. They hold no value beyond that moment. These objects are manufactured to become debris. They exist on the margins of human existence, and they are indicators of a capitalist system that has a hierarchy of value, in relation to objects, materials, and even people. The choice to use these marginal materials was not immediate however, as the artist himself was entrapped by these very systems of value which he seeks to critique, and initially dismissed toothpicks and bottle tops as “unworthy” material for an artwork.
Infos: http://chrissoalart.tumblr.com/

Cok Sawitri – INDONESIA
Author and dramatist, journalist and activist. She has published numerous books. Her articles and essays shape the national discourse in Indonesia. Early on Cok Sawitri developed a passion for expanding the traditional scope of Balinese art and joining it to modern styles. In her stage performances tradition and avant-garde encounter each other setting in scene a feminist backdrop and the interest in social issues. A majority of her choreographies are based on her own writings and research. Since the early 1990s she has worked on international collaborations with artists from around the world. Ayu Laksmi regularly leads workshops on literature, dance and theater. She is one the foremost activists in Indonesia and is equally involved in the social, cultural, interreligious and humanitarian sector.
Infos: https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/contributor/cok-sawitri

Di Lu Galay – MYANMAR
Born 1986, he is among the most influential authors/translators of the recent generation of poets in Myanmar. As of 2013 he organized the “Midnight Poetry Festival” through facebook, a sensational event for the younger generation of authors. The recordings of the festival were later published as a book. 2014 followed an anthology with the title “Jiva Faut Pan Mhu”. Di Lu Galays poems discuss the enormous upheaval and social questions in his home country. His messages are conveyed unconventionally through the “message-to-message”-method, with which in each case new messages are encouraged and – with minimal means – make the complexity and multidimensional nature of world views accessible. Resulting in a sort of neo-surreal chain reaction which simultaneously scrutinizes the origin of human values. In 2017 his volume “The Murderer’s Handwriting” with poems in Burmese, English and French was published. Together with fellow authors he implemented a web-based project on maritime topics.
Infos: http://beuntexed.com/contributors/di-lu-galay/

Guy Helminger – LUXEMBOURG
Writes poetry, narratives, novels, radio dramas and theatre pieces. The author from Luxembourg has received many awards. He lives in Cologne and travels the world with his eyes wide open. In 2006 he was writer-in-residence in Hyderabad (India), 2007 he resided in Teheran as part of the project “westöstlicherdiwan”, 2008-2009 he was author-in-residence in Sanaa (Yemen) and 2015 in South Africa. Together with his colleague Navid Kermani, Guy Helminger presents the “Literature Salon International” in the Cologne city gardens since 2006. He presented the program CULTURE from 2010-2012 and currently presents the program DNA for Luxembourg television, as well as numerous literature events in Cologne and Luxembourg. Since 2015 Guy Helminger is a member of the jury of the Heinrich-Böll-Prize of the city of Cologne. In his literary work, Helminger deals with inter alia the existence of the individual in seemingly unalterable macro structures, the general human longing for a better life, questions of failures, and rigid structures and taboos.
Infos: https://helminger.wixsite.com/website

Hagar Peeters – NETHERLANDS
Studied history of ideas, culture and mentalities. During her studies she was editor of the satirical magazine Propria Cures. Following her first volume of poetry and her performances as a rap poet she already celebrated a breakthrough and was nominated for the national culture award. Many more volumes of poetry and awards followed. In 2009 she was on the shortlist “Poets of the Fatherland” with four other authors – the most important award for dutch authors. Her work was set to music of renown musicians including Herman van Veen, Wende Sniiders und Martin Buitenhuis. In 2015 Hagar Peters published her first novel: ‘Malva’ deals with the story of Malva Marina Reyes, daughter of Pablo Neruda and his Dutch-Indian wife Maria Hagenaar from the former colony of Java. For her literary approach of the biography Hagar Peeters received the renown Fintro Literary Award. In 2012 Hagar Peeters participated in the international poetry caravan “What is Poetry” that traveled through Java.

Curator, author, translator and journalist. She published a series of books called “Africa Wunderhorn” that can be viewed as pioneer work and focused on introducing contemporary African literature to the German readership. She translated many of the novels that were released at Wunderhorn herself. Through her foundation “SyltFoundation” and its South African counterpart in Johannesburg she enabled numerous authors to connect with international networks. Indra Wussow developed and currently directs two international longterm projects that engage with memory, identity and transgenerational transfer of trauma in Myanmar, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, South Africa and Germany. Both projects integrate art, culture, community work and activism as well the exploration of new forms of memorial work. Indra Wussow lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Infos: https://www.syltfoundation.com/

Jaco van Schalkwyk – SOUTH AFRICA
Born 1981 in Benoni, South Africa, he grew up at the headquarters of the Latter Rain Mission International. This experience formed the starting point from which his world views and understanding of society developed and became the foundation of his artwork. Numerous exhibitions in South Africa and in countries all over the world showed Jaco’s paintings. His art hangs at the Reserve Bank of South Africa, Barclay’s Bank, RMB, the University of Pretoria, the University of Johannesburg and Ellermann College. Since 2002 the Barnard Gallery in Cape Town has hosted three successful exhibitions: “Just a matter of time”, “I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things”, and “Eden”. In 2015 Jaco van Schalkwyk was elected to represent South Africa at the 6th International Biennale in China. His works were a part of the South African Group exhibition “20 – Art in Time of Democracy”.
Info: http://barnardgallery.com/artists/artist-jaco-van-schalkwyk/

Made Bayak – INDONESIA
Visual artist, gitarrist, band leader – born in 1980 in Bali – he harnesses his art as a medium to call attention to the exploitation and destruction of his home island. Under the title ‘Plasticology’ he developed an innovative technique which he uses to create works of art out of plastic waste. Symbols that stand for Bali – as the tourists’ place of longing – play a central role: he shapes characters from mythology such as Barong and Rangda, Legong etc. out of the residues of those who seek paradise and yet also destroy it. Made Bayak works are an appeal to recognize our collective responsibility toward nature. Bayak’s art has been exhibited in many cities in Indonesia and abroad and serve artists of all branches as a source of inspiration.
Infos: https://madebayak.wordpress.com/tag/plasticology/

Michael Augustin – GERMANY
Author, radio broadcaster and translater. His literary interest centers on the ‘small form’ and his pointed black humor unmistakably builds on the British and Irish literary tradition. Augustin’s dramolettes, bagatelles, poems and prose poems are collected in numerous books and have been translated into many languages. His writings show him to be a conscious and witty observer of current affairs who effectively responds with literary means to the problem areas of a world turned upside down. Born at the Baltic Sea, ocean topics remain especially close to his heart. Michael Augustin is an internationally esteemed networker and reads at festivals around the globe. He was a participant of the renown ‘International Writing Program’ at the University of Iowa and a guest professor at Dickinson College (USA). Augustin is a member of the Irish PEN. In his literary programs for Radio Bremen he broadcasts the voices of world literature in their original language. For many years he has been co-director of the poetry festival in Bremen ‘Poetry on the Road’.
Infos: http://www.poetry-on-the-road.com/?lang=en

Samar Gantang – INDONESIA
Is descended from a Balinese aristocratic court, which signifies in this culture: theatre, art, literature and music became part of his life in the cradle. His estate in Tabanan is not only an inspiring gathering place for artists of every ilk, but also a social space at which the community debates societal questions. Samar Gantang gave the Balinese variant of Hinduism a poetic voice. His modre-poetry inter alia laments the catastrophic effects of Bali’s tourism boom, the destruction of social ties and traditions, environmental damages and inequality also play a central role. In his spiritual cosmos gods and demons battle against each other – greed and dedication, good and evil, love and hate appear as competing forces that polyphonically challenge each other and must be brought to heel. In 2017 Samar Gantang was appointed to be a spiritual figurehead in Bali. His performances have captivated audiences on numerous international stages and are regularly broadcasted on television.

Sawung Jabo – INDONESIA
Traditional Indonesian music and rock: the performances of his band ‘Sirkus Barok’ – founded in 1976 – represent poetry and passionate dedication. The same applies to his cooperations with artists in Australia. In Sydney he was cofounder and member of the Indonesian-Turkish fusion band ‘GengGong’. Jabo has released 20 albums and ranks among the most renown musicians of Indonesia. His protest songs against the Suharto regime became famous: His debut album ‘Bongkar’ – released together with fellow musician Iwan Fals – sold 500 000 copies, his concerts were visited by millions. Essential to Jabo’s artistic development was also his theatre experience. He was a permanent ensemble member in the poet Rendra’s famous ‘Bengkel Theatre’ and acted in several movies – inter alia “The Year of Living Dangerously” and in “Lucky Miles”.

Sujata Bhatt – GERMANY / INDIA
Was born in India and raised in Poona and the United States. She is known throughout the world as a poet and translator. Her life between India, the United States and Germany, the search for identity and home consistently appear in her work, such as in her poem “Search for my tongue” that UNESCO published in February 2004 for the International Mother Language Day. Her writings were published in the major anthologies of anglophone literature and were translated into more than 20 languages. In England and the Commonwealth they are featured in the official school curriculum. Sujata Bhatt also works abroad: she taught as a Lansdowne Visiting Writer at the University of Victoria in British Columbia/Canada and as a Visiting Fellow at the Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Infos: https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/sujata-bhatt

Tania Haberland – MAURITIUS
Poet and singer, artist and teacher. From a Mauritian-German family, she was born in South Africa and lived in the United States, England, Germany, Italy and Saudi Arabia. For her first book Hyphen, she received the Ingrid Jonker Prize. For Tania Haberland art, literature, education and therapy should work in interplay and weave into the social space. Her art represents multidisciplinary interaction between writing, music and movement. Currently Tania Haberland is working on a project based in Mauritius, Milan and Cape Town that aims to link artistic creation with a ‘Technology of Tenderness’. The heart of her work revolves around gender issues, sexuality, freedom and the destruction of the unity between humans and nature. She views the ocean as a muse that stimulates our senses and that as a constitutive element of our globe offers the insight that humans are only a small part of a greater entity.
Infos: http://taniahaberland.com/

Helga Trüpel – BELGIUM / GERMANY
Helga Trüpel is a German politician. She was senator for culture and integration of foreigners in the Hanseatic City of Bremen from 1991 to 1995. She has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004 and is part of the Green/EFA parliamentary group as its cultural-political speaker.
Infos: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/28240/HELGA_TRUPEL_home.html

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