POST D: ‘The World Won’t Listen’ – Karina Smole

‘dunia tak akan mendengar’ Video Installation by Phil Collins.

The cultural flourishing of Indonesia and its growing connectivity to the world, after years of turmoil and oppression under the Suharto dictatorship, is evident in the work of English artist Phil Collins’ video installation ‘The World Won’t Listen’. The three-part video installation, showcases fans of the English indie rock band ‘The Smiths’ in Indonesia singing karaoke to the tracks of the album ‘The World Won’t Listen’. It is an exploration of the concept of fandom and the global outreach of pop culture, where the sentiments of ‘The Smiths’ find a voice in Indonesian youth culture – very distant from its origins in 1980s England. (E-flux 2007)

The expansion of alternative culture in Indonesia surged through the demise of the new order regime, where culture was controlled by formal institutions (Kunci Cultural Studies Centre 2009) and was extremely formal and rigid. Along with the rising contemporary art scene,(delete extra space) the onset of globalisation and greater expression of the people allowed for obscure bands like ‘The Smiths’ to find their place in Indonesian culture. E-Flux gallery describes the cities of Jakarta and Bandung as ‘hotbeds of the flowering rock scene’, where the project was filmed. (E-flux 2007) The music scene is highly diverse – with everything from psychadelic rock, grunge and Beatles inspired bands, all however uniquely Indonesian alongside foreign pop references. Essentially the sentiments of bands like the Smiths, pain, confusion, self-analysis are universal and in this sense find parallels in the experiences of youth in Indonesia. There is a level of fascination within the Indonesian music scene with pop culture of the western world, which Collins taps into within ‘The World Won’t Listen’.  (E-flux 2007)  The idea of ‘alternative culture’, of dissatisfaction with the norm, and the desire for individual expression is alive and present in Indonesia and respresentated by the fandom of Indonesians for bands like ‘The Smiths’.

Interestingly, is Collins’ use of beautiful backgrounds in the karaoke sequences, with places that contrast the Indonesian fans. For example, the use of the Arizona Desert behind the subjects. This successfully reinforces the idea that Indonesia is accessing and interpreting the greater world of pop culture, where physical place no long provides boundary to the desire for self-expression. It is a significant sign of a new age in Indonesian culture, where it can borrow and find resonance with the outside world, mixing to form its own unique identity. (NY Times 2013) The rock music of Indonesia today is this combination of old and new, and both Indonesian culture and western pop references, speaking to an audience that is no longer solely bound by traditional culture but has access to a highly spirited alternative culture. (NY Times 2013


Still from the youtube video:

‘The World Won’t Listen’ By Artist Phil Collins



E-flux 2007, The World Won’t Listen, New York, viewed 20 April 2015, <;

Henrik Nillson 2009, The Smiths Karaoke, video recording, YouTube, viewed 20 April 2015, <;

Kunci Cultural Studies Centre 2009,  Alternative Space as a New Cultural Movement Landscape of Creativity, Indonesia, viewed April 20 2015 <;

NY Times 2013, In Indonesia, A New Freedom to Explore, New York, viewed 20 April 2015 <;

Karina Smole

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