Journal Province: West Java Regency/City: Cirebon Subdistrict: Lemahwungkuk

Fishermen from Bedulan

Written by Mahardika Yudha

Skin smells fishy, burnt and moldy. Sharp eye with a thirst looked at to the women across at the pier. They could not stand their mouth to tease them in between long smoke blowed of kretek (clove) cigarettes. About ten crewmembers down one by one from the boat dock just landed after six months at sea. Stepped with certainty, without doubt because swayed memories of the wild waves. Sharks, stingrays, and tuna that stored below deck on boats were waiting to be weighed in the presence of  Kejawanan middlemen Place Fish Auction, Cirebon.

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Out to sea, the fishermen of the Bedulan village were celebrating with a toast of red wine and beer with fellow fishermen and porters. Sharing stories about their experiences across the sea, and sometimes actualized themself with the hottest news in the port. One fisherman was puzzled, why his cell phone can only send pictures with MMS service, but can not send MP3 songs to his friends. The friend suggested to use bluetooth. But the first fisherman did not understand what it is bluetooth and does not know whether that feature is available on his mobile. That  moment becomes sacred celebration that feels the same with ‘Nadran’, one tradition of the north coast of Java’s coastal communities to provide offerings a buffalo head to the sea that has given blessings for their lives.

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This group is one of fishermen community in Cirebon, and most of them came from Bedulan village.  People from Bedulan known as a bad tempered, cranky and introvert ones. Cirebon community considers the area as crime-prone areas (black zone), although Bedulan people themself refused to be called so. They have very distinctive physique of the hard coastal communities character, also they did not want themself referred to as the Sundanese, or Javanese, as the two cultures that intersect in this border city between West Java and Central Java.  They are more proud if referred to as ‘People of Cirebon’. Not afraid to deal with middlemen who control the port which legalized by the government since 1976, though the fishermen knew that eventually the fish they catched would only be processed into salted fish by ladies who waited on fish salting company.

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This article is part of a collection of akumassa texts that was ever exhibited in the form of text-image by Forum Lenteng on Images Festival 2011. The reports about akumassa at Images Festival can be seen in David Darmadi’s articles, “Kabar dari Toronto: Pembukaan Pameran akumassa” and Kabar dari Toronto: Malam Penganugerahan Images Festival“. The photos contained in this article comes from the archives of Akumassa Video, titled “Teman Nelayan

About the author


Mahardika Yudha

Born in 23 January 1981 in Jakarta. He once studied at Institut Ilmu Sosial dan Ilmu Politik (IISIP) Jakarta in 2001 (not finished). He is a member of Forum Lenteng who is in charge of Research and Development Division. He is also a curator working internationally.

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