Raja Kirik is the Indonesian duo of Yennu Ariendra and J. Mo'ong Santoso Pribadi, two radical artists who draw on Java's rich cultural traditions and its history of struggle against colonial oppression to create music that surprises, challenges and educates in equal measure.
Now, the group shares their new release: The Phantasmagoria of Jahtilan. It is based on the Jathilan, a folk trance dance popular in Java as a way to regain strength in times of adversity. The current form of Jathilan developed after the Java War (fought between Javanese rebels and the colonial Dutch empire from 1825 to 1830) as a folk practice to grapple with the devastation it caused.
In Jathilan, stick horses made of bamboo are used as a form of appreciation as well as an expression of support for the horsemen who fought bravely against the Dutch colonial forces. Despite the defeat of the rebels, Jathilan always depicts the local rebel cavalry as victors against demons, monsters and colonizers. This heroic performance therefore has multiple purposes: to entertain, to encourage, to heal, and to unite people against oppression.
The performance of The Phantasmagoria of Jahtilan is created by Raja Kirik in collaboration with Silir Pujiwati, an acclaimed sindhèn - a female solo singer - versed in the Javanese tradition; and performer, director, choreographer and mime artist Ari Dwiyanto, who focuses on exploring the history of his own body in its social and political contexts.
The Phantasmagoria of Jahtilan inhabits a wide emotional breadth, cycling from disappointment to anger to loneliness. The European live premiere of the project takes place during the opening night of Le Guess Who? 2023, as part of the COSMOS program.