From 24–28 October, 2018, more than 150 writers, artists, thinkers and performers from across the world will converge for the 15th Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, to share stories and ideas under the banner of this year’s theme, ‘Jagadhita’.
Like many of the Festival’s previous years, the theme is drawn from a Balinese Hindu philosophy. ‘Jagadhita’ is the individual pursuit of universal harmony and prosperity as one of life’s primary goals, interpreted in English as ‘The World We Create’.
The Festival’s five-day program will explore countless ways to create a world that we want to live in; how we strive as individuals and as communities to manifest positive change; and how to nurture this goal through respect and action that sustains compassion for each other and ourselves.
“Last year’s theme, ‘Sangkan Paraning Dumadi’, or ‘Origins’, was an important reminder of our shared humanity,” explained Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe. “At a time when disparities rather than shared values are shaping political decision-making, we’ll ask what harmony and prosperity looks like in 2018, and consider the tensions that have emerged between personal and collective fortunes in contemporary life.
“In our 15th year, we’ll be celebrating the writers, artists, thinkers and activists from across Indonesia and the region who have made a powerful contribution to our harmony and prosperity,” continued DeNeefe. “Through the Balinese Hindu philosophy of Jagadhita, we’ll explore the world they create.”
Along with the launch of the theme, the Festival also launched the UWRF18 artwork by Balinese artist, Budi Agung Kuswara, known in the art community as Kabul. The artwork, titled Anonymous Ancestors, is Kabul’s attempt to take a moment in time and interpret it for the modern day.
“When I saw faces in a photo from Bali in the 1930s, I wondered who the faces belonged to,” Kabul explained. “Anonymous Ancestors is a form of appreciation for the faces, the ancestors of modern Balinese society and the forbearers of the tourism industry, which is now part of the economy as well as spiritual life.” KaBull further explained that his artwork interprets Jagadhita and prosperity which is not just “the accumulation of numbers,” but as a “flow of knowledge from generation to generation, like water, which can be consumed by anyone.”
In bringing together 160+ speakers from 30 countries in 2017, the UWRF has well and truly evolved into a global hub of ideas, experiences and empowerment for both individuals and its diverse community of attendees. Through its strong focus on the Indonesian literary and artistic landscape, UWRF continues to be the most prominent platform for showcasing the nation’s emerging and established writers and artists.
“In Bali, the pursuit of collective harmony and prosperity can be seen almost everywhere,” concluded DeNeefe. “At a time when the rapidity and severity of global events can make us feel fractured and dissonant, this year’s Festival compels us to pause and reflect on how we can strive for harmony and prosperity in the world we create.”