is a writer-performer, artist, and social strategist who studies transformative change. Currently focussed on inclusive arts advocacy and research for Asia, Okka was born in Indonesia, where she was employed in aid work with the UN and journalism with the BBC. She has a masters degree from ITP (the Interactive Telecommunications Program) at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where she was a Tisch Departmental Fellow, and a BA in Sociology/Anthropology with high honors from Middlebury College. In 2011, she was the first Indonesian to be Writer-in-Residence at Vermont Studio Center, which pretty much changed her life. Okka loves to explore storytelling, social innovations, liminality, sustainability, and children's imaginations. She is inspired by engaged communities, humor, and cultural "contradictions". She is currently based in Jakarta.
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I research how to make arts inclusive of people with disabilities--both as artists and appreciators of the arts--a stronger, more beautiful, thriving and living thing in Asia, especially through grassroots movements and technologies. As the cool kids say, "nothing about us without us."
I write and dance my voice around mics and dream up projects in various media.
I am really in love with the world, sans naiveté, and find it very important to remember to laugh at myself. Goofiness is precious, etc. Et al. Inter alia.
People are lovely little strangelings. Always happy to make contact with more:
kbarokka [at] gmail [dot] com
- A lot of fun performances, media, activism and news in the past few months! Website being revamped right now (new one launching April 2013), so stay tuned--when it does, updates will be there. I'm more up-to-date on Twitter and FB, and very excited about the coming year...
- Some weirdos say "kampungan" as an insult--"kampung" meaning "village". SuperHAPPY to be kampungan! Off to Jatiwangi Art Factory's Village Video Festival, an international video art residency festival, to teach "Frames Per Poem: Poetry, Performance and Video": http://jatiwangiartfactory.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/village-video-festival-2012/
- Holla! TheState's VOL III: The Social Olfactory launched DEC 12, at Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012!
Including my piece "Can the Subaltern Smell?" On transnational olfactory stereotypes in Indonesia, India, South Africa, and the USA. Available here: http://www.thestate.ae/shop/.
- THU DEC 13, 7-9PM Jakarta time! At @atamerica, the US Embassy Cultural Center...
HEAR ARTISTS, HEAR ABILITY: Pentas Berbeda Bahagia
A poetry evening from the disability community, proud to host and produce!
FB event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/100678703435642/
Livestreamed at http://atamerica.or.id/.
From professional poets to kids with the most spunk ever--all abilities, all in!
Great article in the Jakarta Globe, DEC 9: Hearing the Voices of Jakarta's Talented Disability Community
- DEC 4 Performed at Eames Gallery, Gandaria City--introducing Jakarta to Culev Larsze, sabertooth-tiger-riding heroine! Happy to be a part of Eames Demetrios' Stories from Kcymaerxthaere. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=689152550645&set=a.542477897825.2059030.4401140&type=1
- NOV 29 Proud to be on the only dedicated human rights radio show in Australia, on 3RRRFM, Oz's most well-known community radio station! Thanks for the interview and performance opp, Right Now Inc.
"...as an extra special treat, Evelyn Tadros interviews Okka, an Indonesian poet, performer and inclusive arts advocate about her poetry and the importance of artists who have a disability to be afforded equal opportunities in the arts industry. And for the cherry on top, Okka performs one of her poems for us."
Podcast at the link: http://rightnow.org.au/podcasts/live-at-loop-the-thursday-podcast/
- NOV 26-27 Part of the SERONOK crew went off to the In-Between Arts Festival in Penang, Malaysia! Storytelling and poetry, mmmmm. Performed at the festival launch, in markets, at a fountain, and at the Big Fish storytelling event, run by Elaine Foster. My story involved pee, the Plaza Hotel, and the hijab--lurved telling it.
- NOV 24 - premiered two collaborative shows in two cities for two festivals, on the same day! How? Details at the link for SERONOK at Urbanscapes in Kuala Lumpur, and SENSE/ABILITY for CultureHubNYC's Media[Circus]! https://www.facebook.com/kbarokka/posts/305845992857356
SERONOK is a multinational poetry-art-technology blast, where gender, culture, language and identity get loud. Watch Malaysian, Indonesian, and English do battle and tackle what it means to be where you’re from, in the body you’re in, with the hearts you have. Featuring: Khairani Barokka (Spoken Word), Abby Latif (Spoken Word), Elaine Foster (Spoken Word), Illya Sumanto (Poet), Fairuz Sulaiman (Visual/Multimedia), Ardi Kuhn (Sound Designer) and Cory Rogers (Percussionist).
SENSE/ABILITY: An international collaboration and telematic performance between Kuala Lumpur and NYC. SENSE/ABILITY is a cross-cultural poetic spin on sense and emotion, dis/ability, understanding and lack thereof, perception and conceptions of pain, joy, love and life.
Never Too Many Mics!
From Oct 29 to Nov 28, in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang for Accessible Arts' arts and disability conference + research, spoken word gigs and festivals. In Oz, I'll be beaming up pics and vids for the Australian Embassy in Indonesia's Facebook page, and a few times a week you'll see me RTed on their Twitter @dubesaustralia (my own is @mailbykite). Thank you to the Australian Embassy for allowing me to spread the word, and deepest thanks to the University of Indonesia Disability Studies Center for their kind transportation grant!
Performing in Melbourne Nov 15 as part of Slamalamadingdong!
On the Australian Embassy in Indonesia FB: "Introducing Okka, an Indonesian arts researcher, writer and performer who is visiting Australia this month to attend a conference on arts and disability, 'Arts Activated'. Besides presenting her research, Okka is also performing with other spoken word artists." https://www.facebook.com/kbarokka/posts/405821362820236
Was on two segments of Radio Australia on Friday, Nov 9! Interview with performance on the Indonesian service, and as a guest on "Asian Snapshot" on the English service. Featured on Radio Australia - Indonesia FB, with podcast of Indonesian interview--at link! "When you hear 'artist with disability', what goes through your mind? Pity? On the contrary, according to artist Khairani Barokka, or Okka, people with disabilities can provide lots of unique perspectives..." https://www.facebook.com/kbarokka/posts/390496591030898
Performed in Canberra Nov 6, thanks to Australian Poetry and School of Music Poets ANU--"Meet the Neighbours!". Australian Poetry info here. Was also in the RiotACT, and Canberra CityNews--article is "Okka brings poetry to Oz". Did a radio interview/performance for 91.1FM's Indonesian service, will air in two weeks!
Performed in Sydney Nov 2, as one of the featured poets in DROP at Village Bizarre. Griffin Theatre, The Rocks, 13 Cambridge St. Didn't expect us to be sharing poetry to Village Bizarre VIP Launch attendees, one-on-one, as "Poets at Play"--sweetness. Loved meeting the NSW fam! https://www.facebook.com/events/407444352661297/
- Deeply excited to present at international conference on arts and disability, "Desire and Destination", held by Accessible Arts in Sydney. My research is "Flightpath to Inclusion", on making inclusive arts a reality for Asia.
- Full paragraph of what I submitted to the Jakarta Globe's column on advice to yourself at 16, published October 29. Really enjoyed this exercise--so much has changed in the last 11 years!
- It's out! I cowrote a novel, "Last Night on Earth", with 21 other writers from around the world, emerging and established. Editors Ryan Bradford and Justin Hudnall of So Say We All Press launched it on Oct 20 in San Diego, CA. Event page here; was there in spirit!
- Humbly taught the likes of Debra Yatim, Faiza Mardzoeki and Olin Monteiro at Coffee War on Friday, Oct 19, at a poetry gathering organized by OTB Reading Club & Women Writers Club. Wonderful to hold a mini-workshop on performance--19 performers took to the mic including myself, with lots of fun and laughs. https://www.facebook.com/events/378433392236746/
- Poetry writing and performance workshop this week at Mentari International School in Jakarta (Oct 16). Superhero poems, anyone? Only a few came in there liking poetry--seems like a lot found out they were poets!
- Slated (and very excited) to teach literary performance at Makassar International Writers Festival 2013. Something to look forward to, for sure.
- Had the treat of performing at the Oct 9 book launch of Lily Yulianti Farid's short story collection, "Ayahmu Bulan, Engkau Matahari" ["Your Father's the Moon, You Are the Sun"], in the company of legendary Indonesian poet Sapardi Djoko Damono, Khrisna Pabichara, and Fadly of the band Padi. Congrats, Mbak Ly!
- Ooh-ee! Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in Bali, from Oct 3-7, was truly amazing. Befriended fellow writers from around the world and Indonesia, soaking in their talent. Proud to be one of four finalists--the only woman, and the only Indonesian--at the International Poetry Slam, and was honored to receive a 9.8 from Lemn Sissay as one of the judges! Taught enthusiastic and talented writers in both of my workshops, and learned a lot from them as well. Beautiful week.
- Thank you, postal service! Just received the October edition of Candy Magazine, the biggest teen magazine in the Philippines. Proud to be interviewed for a feature, giving straight talk to teens about finding your voice and owning your passions. Go Girls!
- Not on the program, as it's private for Jakarta International School this time, but teaching a second workshop at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival! Excited to share it more widely... Get ready, kids.
Stick Your Tongue Out! Poetry Performance and Public Interventions
Here's a poetry workshop that'll keep you on your toes--scribbling, speaking out loud and going out into the world with your art. You'll write your own stanzas and perform them for each other to make the words jump to life. And make no mistake: you're also required to devise schemes for guerrilla public interventions, to share your poetry with the world--through tactical "poetry-bombing" with audiovisuals, live performance, and anything else you can think of. A workshop blog will chronicle how you bring your imagination from Ubud to the world.
- Was glad to perform at Universitas Indonesia's Petang Puisi V, held by its Teater Sastra, with an amazing roster of Indonesian artists--from veteran poets and musicians to college kids with great talent--on September 27. "Mengungkap kita dengan kata" at Aula Terapung Perpus UI--had a wonderful time!
- Had a lovely interview (including a performance of one of my poems, "Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee") with 101.3FM in Queensland, Australia--was aired Sunday, September 16, 2012 in the Nyaring show, 6-9AM AEST. Talked Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, inclusive arts and the role of technology, spoken word, street art, etc.
- Quoted in the Science section of national newspaper Kompas: "Art Therapies: A Mental Health Solution", September 4, 2012, including a mention of the ISAD talk. There needs to be a more holistic view of mental and physical health care as vital to all of us, and of disability as no barrier to art and joy.
- The third installment by Nadya Wang in Art Radar on Indonesian Street Art Database--"Debating Street Art: ISAD Forums in Indonesia" speaks more about our discussion on street art, arts therapies, and disabilities in greater detail, as well as other great ISAD forums.
- SO excited to be teaching "The Art of Public Speaking On A Million Volts of Magic", as well as competing in the International Poetry Slam, at Ubud Writers & Readers Festival! Totally gonna stalk Jeffrey Eugenides, Helen Oyeyemi, Colson Whitehead, Nick Cave... One of the biggest lit festivals in the world, right here in Indonesia--3-7 October 2012 in Ubud, Bali. Come on over!
- My July 22 talk, on street art, arts therapies and disabilities, mentioned by Andi RHARHARHA of Indonesian Street Art Database in his interview with Art Radar, August 22. Nice to see our "family picture" from the event with Hana Madness!
- My essay in TheState's Vol II is in stores and online soon! See http://www.thestate.ae/shop/ for where to purchase it in New York, Paris, Dubai, Madrid, Chicago, Lisbon (and PDF is on sale online). "Khairani Barokka—Indonesia’s Double Mountain. Twin peaks, a sun, and a winding road, and what they reveal about Indonesian arts education" http://www.thestate.ae/vol-ii-speculative-geographies/. On rethinking how creative work is positioned in development discourse.
- Speaking at Indonesian Street Art Database with Hana Madness--Discussion on Disability, Art Therapies, and the Street Art Connection. My talk is "Semua Jenis Hati, Semua Jenis Tubuh: Mengeksplorasi Terapi Seni dan Disabilitas dalam Street Art" ["All Kinds of Hearts, All Kinds of Bodies: Exploring Arts Therapies and Disabilities in Street Art"]. Hana's is "Schizophrenia Speaks in All My Work". Thank you, ISAD! Was covered in national newspaper Kompas, pg. 13, 23/7/12. Pics and details on ISAD's site.
- HANDS UP, CLAWS OUT: A Poetry Reading with Sally Wen Mao and Khairani Barokka // Reading Room Jkt // Jl. Kemang Timur No. 57 // 19:30 WED July 18
- Profiled in the Jakarta Globe! "Every Child is Born an Artist, the Problem is to Remain One"
- The Whiteboard Journal interview!
- Producing, hosting, performing in and promoting the project of my dreams, featuring superstars Beau Sia, Mayda del Valle and Gill Sotu, has thankfully paid off enormously, with minds changed on what some thought they hated: poetic flow and verse. Yessss. Thanks to everyone involved in "So They Say You Hate Poetry! Art Out Loud by Poet-Performers"! Great article in the Jakarta Globe, with a profile and preview in Whiteboard Journal and another preview in the Globe. Video here. Photos here. Featured in the Arts section of the English edition of TEMPO, Indonesia's biggest newsmagazine.
- One of 22 writers from around the world with a piece included in "Last Night On Earth", an upcoming book and radio play.
- Independent researching the sweet spot at the nexus of arts education, inclusive education, arts therapies and technology.
- Nursing "Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee" (collection of out-loud poems).
- Enjoying kicking ass, taking names, and eating big, following extended adventures in bedbound illness.