TEDxUbud: looking forward to 2016 and back at 2014
Being over a year away, details surrounding TEDxUbud 2016 schedule are still under-wraps, but if last year is anything to go by, the 28th of May 2016 is set to be one awe-inspiring day.
Voted as one of the top 14 TEDx setups among the 10,000 global events yearly, the showcase is a meeting of gorgeous food, spectacular coffee and incredible minds.
The 2014 event was filled with wonderful speakers who each hold certain influence over our island experience, whether they be testing our tastebuds or pushing politicians to perform.
Here’s looking forward to 2016’s event, which we are sure will surpass expectations yet again. For now, here is a retrospective look at some of our favourite moments for last years event:
The welcome greeting on arrival was a little too good. Hosted at the beautifully decorated Fivelements, the friendly and helpful staff practically held each arrival’s hand to guide them around the buffet of sights, sounds and smells on offer. From the artisan displays to the ice-cream, nibbles and coffee that were endlessly flowing, the overall feeling was far more grand than one might expect.
The staff were comprised entirely of volunteers. Although they would often seem like they were just keeping their head above the water – shown by the flashes of panic at a slight microphone malfunction or a misplaced name tag – the reality is that the show was incredibly smooth thanks to their unfaltering attention to detail and high expectations. The whole event ran like a well-oiled machine; practiced and perfected over 9 months of preparation, with 36,786 hours of volunteer sweat and blood poured into it.
The atmosphere in the crowd was electric throughout the day. Not only had effort been put in to involve the audience and make them interact with each other, there was also a great deal of willingness to immerse. Many were in attendance because they were passionate about one or two of the subjects that were being discussed, and often liked to make themselves heard in their ovation.
The raw food spread that kept our bellies as full as our bladders was so good that it almost converted even the most sceptical of the raw food revolution. Almost. It could have done with some steak or bacon, but you know…
The stage was set and the eager audience were herded in, pepped up on free coffee and giddy with anticipation. Handshakes were had, name badges were noted and the individuals that had made their way to TEDxUbud began to move as one to form the collective whole that would help to make the day the success that it was. Audience participation was key, and this ethos would eventually build a grand camaraderie that would peak at a musical crescendo.
Audience participation was key, and this ethos would eventually build a grand camaraderie that would peak at a musical crescendo.
The show opened with a meditative silence that settled the coffee fuelled buzz that filled the room. A Jauk Topeng Manis dancer took centre stage and performed a small blessing ritual, his ‘ohms’ catching on in pockets of the room and echoing back to him in harmonious response. A traditional Balinese dance followed, reminding us all that despite the overwhelming TEDness of the day, this was an event that was very much about Indonesia and designed around those invested physically, emotionally, financially and intrinsically in the country.
The talented compére Ernest Prakasa brought the funnies for the day and, after a few giggles amongst the gaggle, introduced our first speaker:
The first of the billed speakers took to the stage to an audience of hushed anticipation. While she would not be creating the stir her rabble rousing sister would bookend the day with, Annabel Gallop opened with a gentle but fascinating talk about the work she has been doing as lead curator of Malay manuscripts for the British Library. The sisters’ speeches couldn’t have been further from each other if one of them actually took place in Ubud (our compére was keen to point out that the X in TEDx must have meant ‘near’, as our glamorous venue was in fact around half an hour from Ubud by car).
Annabel’s discussion centred mainly around the wealth of knowledge that until very recently has remained bafflingly untapped: 18th Century Malay manuscripts, beautifully scribed and intricately adorned, that detail significant historical insight. The manuscripts can be found in their entirety, digitised, freely available and accompanied by Annabel’s blog on the British Library website.
Japanese Jazz Saxaphonist Chika Asamoto didn’t need any words to present her message to the TEDxUbud audience. She, along with her I-make-this-look-way-too-easy accompanying guitarist, strummed and hummed their way through ten minutes of spine-tingling smooth sounds. The intricate and delicate jazz washed over the audience in smooth waves and the powerful reverb that hummed through ribcages only intensified the pleasure of each ebb.
Does corruption begin in political offices or down at ground level, in small villages and family homes?
Elizabeth Pisani has a lot to say and she speaks with fantastic urgency and passion. An 18 minute time limit for most speakers isn’t too daunting. 18 minutes is plenty of time to get a point across and keep your audience fully engaged. Most finish with time to spare. Elizabeth Pisani utilised those 18 minutes to inspirational perfection. Not only did the audience leave with a great deal to chew over about where to draw the line regarding corruption, but she offered a pretty comprehensive historical timeline of Indonesia for anyone unaware of the context.
Delightfully droll at times, Elizabeth Pisani still maintains an authoritative, uncompromising stance that in no way leaves the audience doubting that she means every word and that her years of research were worth every second.
Mischievous and wickedly droll, Will Goldfarb presents himself as a cynical stand-up to all outward appearances, though the reality is far from it. In detailing the timeline of his life from terrible, Ferarri totalling teen car valet, through aimlessness, homelessness, failed artistic flourishes and business endeavours, highs and lows in critical reception and even coping with cancer, Goldfarb weaves a character that is deliciously self-deprecating and ultimately uplifting in his current triumph. Goldfarb would have you believe that he bumbled around blindly until the accolades he has received for his culinary masterpieces just fell into his lap, though in reality he has travelled quite a bumpy road to reach the happiness he seems to radiate when he finally begins talking desserts.
There is enough passion brimming in Goldfarb’s creations and in his dedication to source the finest of local ingredients that the cheesy, unnecessary dessert names are only slightly off-putting. Most still want to taste “loneliness” despite having no desire to associate food with melancholy.
Elora was one of the pleasant surprises of TEDxUbud. Many expected a discussion mainly focusing on her work in the development of Ubud’s Green School, but she utilised her 18 minutes to not only show the audience the fantastic architectural work she and her company have been doing, but also to educate on the historical, economical and environmental significance of bamboo as a building material.
Elora’s work is always respectful of nature, usually progressive and innovative and sometimes spellbinding. In the finale of her speech Elora presents aerial photographs of some of her companies builds, such as the Green School and her opus, to gasps of quiet awe. These buildings manage to do the one thing that seems to elude almost every other developer on the Island of the Gods: they recycle its beauty instead of stealing from it.
To play us out before lunch, Emoni Bali bounced onto the stage and brought with them enough energy to keep the crowd buzzing until the inevitable river of caffeine. These are a group of young guys, playful in both personality and performance, who obviously love what they are doing. The band claim a mix of influences across a range of genres but they treated us with a few floating, pondering pop melodies that wouldn’t feel out of place in the surrounding rice paddies on a sunny day. The audience were in their hands and they ensured we all left uplifted and smiling.
Remember the musical crescendo that stood as a metaphor for the entire day? Well, watch this video.
Attendees returned from their all raw vegan lunch, and by this point in the day both bellies and brains were beginning to fill to the brim. Duncan added an air of joviality that came perfectly timed to bring the audience back to earth.
Interaction was key in a demonstration that would have the entire audience working together in harmony, as a collective musical movement to create Beethoven’s 9th on bamboo canes within just 15 minutes. Scepticism weaved its way through the audience when Duncan proposed that we would in fact be able to achieve such a feat, but the sceptics were soon hushed by the sounds of a very sketchy, but very lovely amateur rendition of the classic.
I had lucked out somewhat, as my chosen seat only had 4 notes to play throughout the entire piece, and just a couple of seats down a few flummoxed faces were sweating out their 50 note score. I could sit back and watch the wonderful moments of realisation as the crowd came around to the pace and rhythm and each cell merged to gradually create a wonderful whole.
Sayan was another wonderful surprise on the bill. A discussion of the problems faced by Bali in regards to water shortage, delivered by the general manager of Bali’s largest water park, seemed at first a little contradictory.
Sayan was quick to point out that Waterbom is incredibly efficient, utilising a system that mimics a humans flow of blood, and in fact wastes less water than a medium sized hotel or a golf course on an average day.
What we were presented with was a wonderful journey through Bali’s historical reliance on water and how the island works collectively as one gigantic water cycling entity.
Ainun is not a huge presence on the stage. His public speaking is not terribly emotive or peppered with flavour and flair. He is quite straight talking and matter-of-fact, yet he received the only standing ovation of the day. This can be attributed to his recent voluntary mission to collate, and make freely available to the Indonesian public, an alternative and independent count of constituency votes regarding the most recent presidential election.
His efforts to implement an accurate and fair system with zero funding, more efficiently than the governing body itself, saw Ainun and his secret army of cyber volunteers recognised and awarded for their incredible amateur work.
As mentioned in our introduction to TEDxUbud, Cindy’s career has seen her develop several very successful businesses and be awarded Advertising Woman of the Year.
Cindy took ownership of the stage the moment she stepped up. Her experiential narrative about how pornography has taken over our society and resulted in porn ‘memes’ that sneak into the bedroom, led the audience, giggling curiously and a little nervously, down the very path of misdirection that she intended.
Indonesia is notoriously conservative when it comes to the discussion of sex. Despite having a rich history of sexual celebration, Indonesia has such a mashup of influences that there is trepidation and confusion at all stages of sex and sexuality. While you can find endless shops selling phallic bottle openers and candlesticks, pornography is illegal.
Baring too much flesh is frowned upon and technically illegal in the country (falling under the category of pornography), yet in the not-too-distant history of the Bali, almost every woman would have been topless while at work or at home, and quite often in the more rural areas the elderly Balinese women still are. The result of these contradictions is an unhealthy approach to sex and sexuality in a country that, before the ban on pornography, developed one of the highest levels of traffic toward MakeLoveNotPorn.
Cindy’s mission statement is to open a healthy discussion that narrows the separation between real world sex and online pornography. MakeLoveNotPorn is not designed to create an alternative, amateur pornography, the movement encourages users to keep it real, in the interest of changing the face of modern pornography for the better. Cindy discusses some of the funny scenarios that everyone experiences in sex, but that no-one ever talks about before ending her talk with a rallying cry: “Social disruption, talk about sex; business disruption, innovate around it; and cultural disruption, […] make Indonesian love, not porn.”
The talk is well worth a watch for an upbeat, light-hearted approach to a genuinely groundbreaking movement. This is something that needs to be discussed, particularly in Indonesia.
To play us out, Rizal Abdulhadi offered a showcase of his effortless talent. He brings with him ‘Rasendriya’, his unique home-made instrument that combines guitar, didgeridoo and percussion in one baffling, Wonka-esque invention. The result is a sound unlike any other I have heard from a single singer and instrumentalist. Despite the heat and the breathless difficulty of the didgeridoo, Rizal’s performance only intensifies throughout, and his aggressive shred toward the finale left the audience gasping for breath alongside him.
TEDxUbud 2014 was a huge success and as usual, the organisers plan on stepping it up again in 2016. Keep an eye out for tickets which will go on sale at the beginning of March 2016 as they are sure to sell out.