Tasa Nugraza Barley, The Jakarta Globe, 8 July 2011

The opening night of “The Diary of the Secret Places” also served as a launch party for Cobra magazine. (Photo courtesy of Indra Ameng & Anggun Priambodo)
The opening night of “The Diary of the Secret Places” also served as a launch party for Cobra magazine

Jakarta’s indie art, music and media scenes may be filled with boundless creativity and enormous talent, but they are also relatively small worlds, with a lot of people crossing over between the different spheres. Nowhere was that more evident than at an event last week at the Linggar Seni art gallery in Kemang, South Jakarta, which featured both the launching of a new multimedia music magazine, Cobra, and the opening of an exhibition of photos and artwork by two of the driving forces behind Jakarta’s indie music scene. 

The exhibition, titled “The Diary of the Secret Places,” features the works of Indra Ameng and Keke Tumbuan, who together go by the moniker The Secret Agents.

Indra is best known for being the manager of indie band White Shoes and the Couples Company, which has received international acclaim, including being named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “Top 25 Bands on Myspace” in 2007. Keke, on the other hand, is best known as the owner of Jaya Pub, the oldest pub in the capital. Along with Indra, she has been conducting a popular monthly indie music event since 2008, called “Superbad.”

While the duo has done great work to elevate the indie music scene, the “Secret Places” exhibition, which is being hosted at Linggar Seni until July 16, is a chance for them to show off their other creative talents. It features photos taken during the duo’s trips to places like San Fransisco, New York and Morocco, as well as spots around Indonesia.

Filled with unusual angles and unique objects, the duo’s collection of untitled, postcard-sized photos might be too quirky for some. But Mia Maria, the gallery’s owner, said “their photos are wonderful.”

Another unique aspect of the exhibition was that guests were encouraged to add to the works by writing captions for them on sticky notes.

One of their photos shows an old orange couch in a dimmed room with two folded blankets and a cloth laid on top. Below the photo was a note that read, “Oh, I feel so ugly.” In another photo, the two captured a torn reclining seat, abandoned in front of a house. A sticky note comments on the photo, “I’m waiting for a nice new house to take me in.”

The exhibition also displays the old posters that were used by Indra and Keke to promote “Superbad” events.

Besides Indra and Keke’s artworks, visitors at the opening night event also got to be the first to check out Cobra, a bimonthly magazine that is the brainchild of Anggun Priambodo and Bin Harlan. The magazine’s first edition features articles about Indra and Keke, among others.

Anggun, a 33-year-old filmmaker, said he and Bin picked the name Cobra simply because it was unique and “easy to remember.” The magazine features lifestyle articles geared toward young people in Jakarta with an interest in art, design, movies and, of course, music.

Anggun said he decided to launch the magazine because he was bored with reading the same kind of reviews in other publications.

“It’s as if they all have a template that they use to talk about every artist, even though one artist might be much better than the others,” he complained.

“In Cobra, we probably write about similar things, but we come at them from a different angle,” he said, adding the magazine’s stories would be more personal and in-depth.

But unique writing is hardly the only thing that will make Cobra stand out from the plethora of local lifestyle and music rags. Instead of a conventional magazine format, the booklet-size Cobra comes in a special CD package, with the Cobra magazine presented in the CD’s liner notes. The CD itself contains songs from one of the bands featured in the magazine. The first edition of Cobra featured tracks from indie rock band Teenage Death Star. Each issue costs Rp 35,000 ($4).

With it’s tagline, “Majalah yang Berpoison” (“A Poisonous Magazine”), people might think that Cobra is not a serious project. But Anggun was quick to state his passion for the project.

“We are very serious about this magazine,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure that it was a profitable venture.

Some 1,000 copies of Cobra’s first edition were produced, and can be found in several locations throughout the capital, such as Aksara bookstore, and Salihara and Ruang Rupa artistic communities. Anggun said the magazine could also be found in several other cities in Indonesia.

With its laid-back writing style and musical accompaniment, Anggun said he hoped Cobra could reach a lot of new readers, especially those aged 15 to 30.

“More than anything, we want to make a magazine that is really worth reading.”

‘The Diary of the Secret Places’
Until July 16
Linggar Seni
Jalan Kemang Timur No. 36
South Jakarta
Tel. 021 7179 0008

Cobra Magazine
Majalah Cobra