Kartika Jahja is a vocalist and songwriter with the group Tika & The Dissidents. Some of the albums they have released to date are Frozen Love Songs (2005),
Defrosted Love Songs (2006), Headless Songstress (2009) and MERAH (2016). The band is known to fuse different genres from punk, to trip hop, to jazz into their own signature sound. Combined with Kartika’s defiant lyrics touching on issues from gender justice, sexuality, labour movement, to media literacy, Tika & The Dissidents have earned acclaim from music fans as well as the media, with Rolling Stone Indonesia naming Kartika in their list of “30 Women Who Rock” and the album MERAH as one of “20 Best Albums of 2016”, TEMPO Magazine dubbing them as their “Music Figure of The Year (2009)”, and NET TV nominating the band as “Best group or duo” in “Indonesia’s Choice Awards, 2017”.
Kartika is also an actress, writer, and visual artist. She performed in a theatre production titled Subversif (Subversive) in 2015, and played leading roles in films such as Kado Hari Jadi (The Anniversary Gift) and At The Very Bottom of Everything, both of which are celebrated in several international film festivals. Kartika also had a weekly column titled Street Smarts in Indonesia’s prominent newspaper The Jakarta Post.
As an activist, she focuses on the issue of gender justice since 2012, using music and arts as a platform for campaign and public education. In 2015, she founded The Bersama Project, a foundation aimed to promote gender equality through creative intervention. By collaborating with artists of various backgrounds - music, film, photography, fine arts, to pop culture entertainment - The Bersama Project aims to influence Indonesia’s influencers in educating the public on gender issues. Because of her relentless works in music, arts, and activism, in 2016 TEMPO magazine dubbed her as “Indonesia’s Breakthrough Woman” (Perempuan Penembus Batas). Kartika also made the list of “BBC 100 Women 2016”, an annual list of 100 most inspirational and influential women from around the world.
She currently runs RUANG SELATAN, an eatery and curated community space in South Jakarta created to provide inclusive space for creative expressions, intersectional dialogs, as well as self and community empowerment with environmental sustainability values. RUANG SELATAN is born as a response to the rise of conservatism in Indonesia, which leaves very little room for minority groups - racial, religious, as well as sexual minorities - to have safe and supportive spaces.