This article is part of the Eleven Stories from the Southeast written by Muhammad Sibawaihi, Otty Widasari and Manshur Zikri, published by Forum Lenteng in 2016. We re-upload it on the AKUMASSA website in the framework of the “Darivisual”.The journey to the Tebango Bolot Village was not easy, because of several reasonable reasons: it was uphill, far, in some parts was slick and mossy, exhausting. Those were all impressions the artists in AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project got, the artists who came from various cities. In Tebango Bolot, there were Buddhist natives of Lombok Island. Bolot meant ‘upper’. The Buddhist community was divided into two residential locations, Tebango Bolot Village which was located at the top of the hill, and Tebango Bawah Village which was located at the foothills, close to other people’s residential area in Pemenang.
Due to the remote location and poor infrastructure, the life of people of Tebango Bolot Village was much more modest than other Pemenang’s people. Syarif Ravsanzani aka The Broy, a street artist, who was also active in making comics, created a mural project with the elementary school children there. The selection of location for The Broy in doing this project could be based on the decision of idea distribution of graffiti art in Pemenang. This activity was considered very exciting for the elementary school age children in Tebango Bolot. They were very happy to be given the opportunity to color the outline images that were created by The Broy on the wall of their village’s water tank. The adults were also delighted to see their village more cheerful with these new colors.
The Broy drew a woman who was doing a movement of Sireh Dance, a ritual dance ritual to welcome the harvest of rice, the wedding ceremony or a North Lombok’s Buddhist big celebration. The dancing woman in The Broy’s picture smiled sweetly while closing her eyes enjoying her dance moves. Do not imagine this picture as a sacred and quiet portrayal. The Broy could not remove his humorous character. All this time, The Broy’s comic style had been very strongly characterized the artist’s urban character and the graffiti art itself. In Pemenang, when he met specific traditional art in Lombok Utara, those two different backgrounds collaborated well instead.
In an edition of a comic strip he made in AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project, The Broy made a journal of his residency experience for one and a half months in Pemenang with his unique style again. His Surabaya then and Jakarta-based now backgrounds produced the wealth of narrative, especially in the form of attractive text. The humor that was always inviting in his every comic generally did not identify specifically his origin. All this time, he had mixed the crisp style of the accent of Suroboyoan language with typical urban style of the “city boy” in Indonesia generally in a flexible style. And this kind of work could have its location anywhere. The Broy always responded to his closest environment. And his media awareness was also quite adequate. For another example, he, who was an active user of social media, always published his work not only for the purpose of publication, but also for the medium awareness closely related to the phenomenon of social media development today.
The story about how Bangsal had used to be a playground for all people of Pemenang always became a topic of discussion that The Broy heard during his time in Pemenang. The loss of various activities of the coastal community because of tourism development which controlled aspects of people’s life was enough to make him empathetic. So, many pages of comic strip that were very productively created by The Broy during his residency were compiled. People were happy to get photocopied pages of comic that described their childhood experiences. Children who rarely experienced a variety of playing activities anymore on the north coast also enjoyed the comic treat which told about activities of previous generation such as meta keke (searching for seashells), boteq-boteqan game (monkey game), berugaq tradition (gazebo for gathering), aeq wat of Bangsal (Bangsal healing water), and many other local wisdom traditions. When the sheets of paper of the comic strip that had been copied were distributed for free everywhere, without exception the children, teenagers, even adults fought to have them.
How was it possible that such a small thing could be unnoticed by the stakeholders, that the people needed a simple touch in their lives, instead of big things shouted by officials only during the campaign of local election? A woman who sulked because she did not get a piece of The Broy’s comic strip could be aligned with their need to watch episodes of cruel soap opera on television, couldn’t it? Women were stigmatized as unintelligent just because they became audiences of a cheap show. In fact, what happened was that they just did not have alternative entertainment in their daily lives. Initiating an initiative was a thing that should be done by one resident to the other residents. That was the most important thing.
In the middle of the process towards Bangsal Menggawe Folk Festival, some members of Pasirputih Community dispersed and went to some photocopy booths to copy The Broy’s comic strip which was his work in AKUMASSA Chronicle. They were stunned when they met a group of children, who were also dispersed in some photocopy booths just like them, armed with small change and some pages of The Broy’s comic strip. These children were doing the same thing, copying that comic to be re-distributed to more friends. It turned out that this distribution rolled very organically. This initiative did not require a complicated way. Pasirputih Community got a new experience. Their complaints all this time were that local tradition and children’s play they had experienced in their childhood had been lost in time. And thinking about how to bring them back could indeed be done in a way as easy as a comic method that involved many people, without denying the development of time and technology. The relay baton that had been held for a long time could be handed off to the next holder without having to be restrained by any constraint.