Nur Hilal Kücükekmekci


Halo semuanya! Namaku Hilal. Which can be easily translated into “Hi guys! My name is Hilal”. I am from Germany, but if you look back at my roots, then I am ethnic Turkish. Well, whatever you can call “ethnic” Turkish, as my parents are both from Turkey, but one of my grand-grand- (I don’t know if I have to add another grand) father was from Georgia. And I am sure, that there are some more hidden facts about my origin, but let’s keep it simple: I am a Turkish girl from Germany. I usually just refer to myself as an “earthling”, as I don’t really like the concept of nations – but this is kind of confusing to some, as people love to lable things. So, here I am now in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

But let’s come to the reasons, why I have ended up in Indonesia.

I’ve started studying Area Studies Asia/Africa at Humboldt University in Berlin in 2012. Some people don’t really know, what to think about this field of studies, as they are usually interested in how to find a stable job or how to earn some good amount of money. Studying my kind of field obviously won’t make me a millionaire, that’s why I get to see a lot of questioning faces. But let me tell you one thing: These studies have really shaped my character. They also made it possible for me to study a year abroad at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta. I’ve learned to love the chaos and santai (relaxed) way of life, so that I left a piece of my heart in here. After my studies, I have decided to come back. That is, where I am now. I have contacted Jogja Interkultur and asked for possibilites to become an intern and they opened some doors for me. So I got the chance to be a volunteer at the Biennale Jogja XIV Equator #4 – to learn something new as well as to build up new friendships and connections.

There are still much more new experiences and adventures waiting for me, thus I can’t wait to take you on my journey to Indonesia. I will write as raw as I am – sometimes I may end up being poetic or dramatic, some other times I will keep it as simple as possible. However, I want to take you on a ride through arts, culture and culinary highlights! So, ayo! Let me show you Indonesia through my very own eyes...

You can also find me on Youtube as well as on Instagram: hilalalaylomm.

stAGE OF HOPElessness

I was part of the age of hope. More like: stAGE OF HOPElessness. This years title of the Biennale Jogja XIV Equator #4. Am I an artist? No. Well, we can discuss about the definition of an artist, but no,  I am not an artist. At least, I wasn’t one at this Biennale. I was rather the International Media Coordinator. I have started as an intern and in the end I got my own responsibility: the international press. Which was like breaking into a new ground.



I have learned how to approach the international press, asking for media partnerships, prepared my very first press release, sending a looooooooooot of emails with information about deadlines, special dates ,the media shouldn’t miss and much more. I also helped with translating some documents or short information booklets into English, as well as some little translations for the official homepage. And believe me, I am not fluently speaking the specialized artsy Indonesian language, so I had to use the dictionary very often.

I was awaiting my very first guest from the international press on the day of the opening, on 2nd November, 2017. She was a lovley journalist from Hong Kong, who made it easy for me to forget, how nervous I actually was. After doing a trip around the main exhibition building, interviewing artists, the director and the curator, she left and my work was done. The media was invited to visit the exhibition earlier than the normal folks, which gave me the chance to fully enjoy the opening show later. (Side note: I had more international journalists coming, but not at the opening day, since the Jakarta Biennale and the fancy new MACAN museum in Jakarta had their openings at the same date, too.)


After the Biennale was officially opened around 4pm, the crowds started filling the exhibition halls. Especially young people, who were inspecting the artworks with interested glances. Trying to understand the arts in their own unique way, as the curator decided to not give much information about the works themselves – to leave the freedom of interpretation to the observer. Only title, name of the artist, and a really short information about media and material were provided.

While some guests enjoyed the artworks, others joined the music performance which had started in the evening with musicians such as Jason Ranti, Jono Terbakar and  Tetangga Pak Gesang, all having their own way of performance. I was one of the crowd. As my work has been done for that day, I casually sat next to my new friend Nova, who is responsible for the Biennale’s Social Media, among the other guests. Listening and enjoying the performances. Walking around. Sitting again. Eating sometimes. Sometimes just snacking. As well as entering a few times the exhibition hall once more to observe the art installations within the crowd. When the exhibition closed at 10 pm, the music performance came to an end and we were all invited to join the after party. Not me, as I was super-exhausted and all my body craved was sleep.

I am happy that I got the opportunity to be part of one of the coolest events in Jogja. Whenever I mention, that I was an intern for the Biennale, people got really excited. And I can totally understand their excitement! I got the chance of connecting with different people from different backgrounds and insight of Yogyakarta's art spaces and culture. Getting a view into how much work such an event actually includes, how the procedures are even though I had my own responsibilities, as well as gaining new experiences especially in public relations. With the help of my co-workers, I learned how to approach the press, how to phrase an interesting e-mail, communicating with partners, journalists and more. Said so, I feel like I have leveled up and can’t wait for my next adventure shaping as well as teaching me new skills.

Three of my favorite Artworks

In an earlier post I have mentioned, that I was an intern for the Biennale Jogja XIV Equator #4. Today I want o share some of my favorite artworks – three, to be more precise. Enjoy!


CAESURA – by Cinanti Astria Johansyah

The first time, I have entered the room I felt goosebumps. Imagine entering a dark room, just one person is allowed, in the middle is a chair. The light is pointing at a chair, nothing else. I don’t know why, but it gave me chills. The silence enforced this feeling even more. I have to add, that I’ve been a lot of times into this room, obviously, it was less silent when it was more crowded, but I got the chance to enjoy it in silence before it got crowdy.

In the beginning, I did not know, that I had to sit down. I know, naive to think the chair itself was the art. So I observed the darkness, the chair, the silence, and the little bit of light. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed it really much. It was like taking a step out of everything noisy and finding a way to myself.



Kamu Pecundang Kalau Tidak Bisa Tidur (You are a loser if you can’t sleep) by Mulyana Mogus

I just loved the playfulness of this artwork. It is all kept in pink – which made me first think that the artwork belongs to a woman, but later I found out that it was a male artist’s installation. It was an art installation, in which the observer could also take action. If you wear pink you were allowed to ride the fun pink-ish ‘train’ which brings you from one end of the exhibition hall to another. Accompanied by an Indonesian song you could take your own journey towards hope - I found the song sounding funny and it went well with the concept. I regret that I forgot to ask about the title!


A music installation by INDIEGUERILLAS X WVLV

This installation is a collaboration by Ari, better known as WVLV, who’s interest focuses in electronic music, and the artist group Indieguerillas. They composed a playful interacting art installation in which the observer could take control. A round table has some holes in which you could place sticks. With every stick a new sound is playing along with the beat of the music. Sounds such as gamelan, street sounds or even animals and insects can be heard, if paid attention. Three of the walls were changing colors and motives, which made the electronic sound installation more playful. It also made a lot of guests – including me – happy, as we tried taking some awesome pictures or videos on these walls. Given the fact that it is mainly a sound installation, this artwork was quite different than the others. With every visit I ended up in this playful room of happiness.

Another time, I was told to sit down on the chair. So I did. And then! The light from the chair went off, another light turned on. A light pointing at a painting. Now imagine sitting at a dark chair and looking at a lightened painting. You need time to observe it, as it contains a lot of figures. At first you see the same character all over the painting – but if you pay attention, you’ll see animals included into the art. So, then it was me sitting at the chair in silence, observing the artwork and searching for the animals. One by one. I found them. Later I’ve found out that the artist offers the observer a moment of pause from everything. Because, when do we really do that? We all need a break sometimes. I loved this very much. I guess, it is indeed one of my favorites.