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Nova Ruth Setyaningtyas is not just a musician, but also a sailor. Along with her partner, Grey Filastine, who is also a colleague, the Malangnese raises a sail while setting a big dream: to voice her concerns about the climate crisis and social-cultural issues through cross-border art performances.

The two of them sail on an old East German ship called Arka Kinari. This ship sails across the sea, without combusting any fuel. The deck is also transformed into a stage –occasionally into a cafe– to interact with visitors. The goal, according to Nova, is to imagine a post-carbon life that is more earth-friendly.

Since 2019, the Arka Kinari has taken Nova and Filastine along with the crew from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Indonesia. The ship has taken its time to stop in various countries such as Portugal, Morocco, the Canary Islands, Trinidad, Mexico, and Hawaii.

During the voyage, Nova also experienced a ship rocking on the open sea for months due to being rejected by various countries due to pandemic restrictions. Not to mention other things, such as engine damage, which also forced them to act as ‘the true sailors’.

“We have not met our ultimate dream, which is balancing ourselves as sailors and artists. These days, we are just more serious about being sailors. Hahaha..” Nova said to Koalisi Seni, October 13, 2022.

They finally managed to dock in Indonesia in 2020 with the mission of sailing the old spice sea-road of the archipelago such as Sorong, Banda, Selayar, Makassar, and Benoa in Bali. The voyage continued to the Java coast until it ended in late July.

During the day at each of their stops, the Arka Kinari became a floating cultural platform. The space is where events such as workshops, discussions, and small community music concerts took place.

At night, the Arka Kinari’s deck became a music stage with audio-visual presentations – adapted from the concept of shadow puppetry performances. The music performed by Filastine and Nova is a mixture of traditional Javanese melodies and contemporary electronic music.

The melody becomes a reflection of the two of them after experiencing the impact of climate change, combined with dystopian predictions from Java and Spain. All of this creates frustration and anger in Nova towards civilization. However, according to her, there’s still hope for humans to change this situation for a better future. One of the ways is through art.

“I am angry with the condition, frustrated, sad, but also not giving up, consistent and aspire to continue being creative,” Nova said.

Nova is not only immersed in the ship and her musical activities. As a member of the Koalisi Seni, she also walks the talk in advocating for art policies, such as the protest of the Music Law Draft. She also attended the Indonesian Music Conference, and events related to the United Nations climate conference (COP).

During the rainy season, the Arka Kinari takes rest. Meanwhile, Nova and Filastine are currently focused on preparing for their performance in Cardiff, UK. This time, they will collaborate with the UK-based artist organisation 4Pi, specialising in 360º documentary video.

They will continue the journey in early 2023 with the same mission: to warn about the climate crisis and invite the world’s citizens to look back at the sea which has long been neglected.

Moyang Kasih Dewimerdeka

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