States of the Arts


Left, Right, Up, Down

by Yunizar

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Dominating the canvas, a pair of dark ovals rest against each other. Within them are hundreds of white scribbles, ranging from birds, fish, and butterflies to less easily classifiable and more fantastical creatures. Similar scrawls lie beyond the borders of the boulder-like shapes, outlined in black. Two humans stand out from all else, their skin a bright yellow, separated by the ovals’ meeting point. The man flaunts his muscular stature; the nude woman reclines. They may be far from lifelike, but in their poses and radiant glow they appear to represent, respectively, masculine and feminine ideals. All the while, though, the company that they keep reminds us that beings come in all kinds of forms.

Words by John Wadsworth

The Raid: Redemption

directed by Gareth Huw Evans
Feature film

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An elite police squad descends on a Jakartan apartment block, sweeping each floor in hope of reaching the fifteenth. A crime lord awaits their arrival, observing the fallout via stacks of CCTV monitors. The mission starts promisingly, but the luck will not continue; with nine floors still to go, a young civilian raises the alarm. A further ninety minutes of carefully choreographed action ensues, stylishly showcasing pencak silat, the Indonesian martial art. One scene sees a single officer take on a group of machete-wielding thugs; another features a group fight in a narcotics lab. As the hands of the characters are stained blood-red, the viewer’s knuckles turn white.

Words by John Wadsworth

Letter from Oslo

by Toeti Heraty

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The ageing narrator of Toeti Heraty’s poem receives an invitation, seemingly from a sibling or close friend, to the wedding of the sender’s daughter. Unable to attend, they respond with a letter that offers earnest congratulations, reminiscences, and apologies for their absence. Yet the memories of the bride as a young girl, ‘healthy, chubby and naughty’, mutate into feelings of bereavement. After the narrator’s own daughter was married, ‘the house felt too large’. Dinner was set at her plate for a whole year, though she lived and ate elsewhere. Her vacated bedroom was avoided. The correspondence is penned from Norway, on the edge of winter, the continental divide making the events unfolding in Indonesia seem even more distant.

Words by John Wadsworth


by Harry Roesli

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Padded hammers softly strike the strings of a piano. They spark a gentle melody, which plays out daintily at the keyboard’s highest reaches. The tune wanders downwards, over the busy arpeggios of an acoustic guitar, a descending bass line, and lightly rattling percussion. Two voices enter this calm arena, singing in sweet-sounding harmony. Their long phrases meander, unfolding slowly and travelling far. The fizz of a snare drum ushers in a more energetic atmosphere, perhaps mimicking the buzz of a mosquito. Yet the vocalists refuse to be shaken by this disruption, and soon return to their earlier, easier demeanour.

Words by Hugh Maloney

More to discover

Left, Right, Up, Down: View more artworks by Yunizar on the Ben Brown Fine Arts website. Surabhi Khanna has written about the artist for New Statesman.

The Raid: Redemption: Watch the trailer here. Damon Wise has interviewed Gareth Huw Evans, the film’s director, for The Guardian.

Letter from Oslo: Read the poem here.

Malaria: Listen to the song here.

Question of the day

Which Indonesian artworks would you recommend, and why?
Let us know on FacebookPatreon, or Twitter.

‘Tonggeret’, a song by Idjah Hadidjah. I love her voice, the slippery rhythms and the off-mic atmosphere. It’s Jaipongan, which is a blend of ‘traditional’ and ‘pop’, if that kind of information is important to the reader. (→)

– Sandro Perri, musician, producer, and member of Off World (via The Brief →)

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