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”.Bujangan Pemenang (Pemenang’s bachelor)? What did they look like? They had a typical face of a southeast land, a face that lived under the sun and was exposed to the coastal wind all season. They were at the crossroads of sacred recitation of dhikr which remembering the name of the Almighty God, and the reggae music which adored the tropical paradise with white sand, waves and coconut trees. It was common for Bujangan Pemenang to greet the tourists in foreign languages and to entertain them. They knew that the future was open widely in the field of tourism. They were able to be travel agent workers, inn and cottage employees, tour guides, even hotel managers, if they had enough education. If not, becoming the speedboat businessmen was also promising. In a smaller scale, becoming tourism brokers or selling souvenirs was also good. The transaction value could last long anyway.
People from the previous generation complained all the time about the impact of all of it. The morality standard increasingly shifted, drugs became a problem, and Pemenang was not like it had used to be. Land of a thousand mosques was certainly not the same anymore when it was added with a thousand cottages of which most owners were foreign citizens. The law of land ownership could be manipulated in such a way. One thing for sure was the damage to the natural environment caused by the land exploitation was unavoidable. Fishermen were unable to catch the fish because the sea was plotted privately.
There was not much that could be done. There was no reason to refuse local cash income which was really supported by tourism business. People just went along with the flow of life which was governed by the existing system, then became the audiences of the tourism which took its stage in three gili. They had been loyal audiences for many years.
Pemenang was just a transit city for those who came from the airport towards the three gili. Bangsal was an important port for that. People of Pemenang contributed to the tourism business by becoming the service providers in order for it to run smoothly.
Rizky Aditya Nugroho, a street artist who branded himself as Bujangan Urban (Urban Bachelor) had his own way to do the research before undergoing the process in the AKUMASSA Chronicle Art Project. He joined almost all activities of other artists, strolling around Pemenang. He observed and made his own notes of all discussion development between Jabo and Zakaria, Ismal and all religious leaders in Pemenang, and Sulung and Komunitas Kearifan Lokal Tebango (Local Wisdom Community of Tebango). He also took part in climbing the hill and in helping The Broy painted the school walls in Tebango Bolot Village.
That was indeed Bujangan Urban’s style in knowing a location. Then, after that, he would spread colorful sunflowers on the walls throughout the city. He created the graffiti which contained texts with his typical letter character and of course his iconic colorful sunflowers.
There was Dodi, a high school teenager who loved graffiti art. In Pemenang where the activities of teenager like his were less dynamic, Dodi and his friends who were members of Bomb of North (BON) felt lonely. Maybe in the more urban Mataram City where the urbanity atmosphere was felt, Dodi could find a tandem or an opponent who could mutually build a dialogue about urban art.
After all, Pemenang was a small town on the coast. Besides having to deal with teachers in school because he often painted the school walls, Dodi was often chased by a shop owner whose wall was painted by him. And then the shop owner asked for money to Dodi’s father as a compensation for his painted wall. Luckily, Dodi’s father felt that he should not limit his son’s creativity and casually paid the compensation.
The problems faced by Dodi and BON were actually normal in the street art world. Besides, in big cities they even had to constantly deal with the law enforcement. They covered other artists’ works with theirs and vice versa, and even their works were covered by Satpol PP’s (Civil Service Police Unit) paint and vice versa. Graffiti was an art that was born from urban society development. They voiced the criticism about negotiation of public space between the state regulation and the public itself. So the message which was generally delivered was a public message in visual form. Then, was this scene needed by a city as small as Pemenang?
After participating in exploring various general elements of people of Pemenang, Bujangan Urban then started to explore other elements of the people, which were the hangout places of young people of Pemenang, the places where freedom issues were scattered, about misbehavior, drugs and youthful passion. Hadi, a Pasirputih Community member who knew well almost all hangout places in Pemenang took him around. Bujangan Urban found real passions of Pemenang hidden from brightness of the sun in the southeast. They stayed in the darkness of nights. And Bujangan Urban was sure that the passions of the youth actually went hand in hand with all aspirations of residents of Pemenang.
Bujangan Urban began to spread hundreds of his colorful sunflowers on the walls of Pemenang. Hadi was the one who negotiated with the owners so that the walls were allowed to be painted. Bujangan Urban voiced everyone’s desire that mempolong merenten was still a burning spirit, that the people were not just passive audience but the ones who had identity. Then Bujangan Urban went into a classroom in a kindergarten and took a text from one of the walls, enlarged it in an extraordinarily large scale: I come to play while learning, when I go home I become a smart kid.
Without any doubt, in the next days the people gave permission for their walls to be painted. The cottages owners asked for their walls to be decorated with his sunflowers. Also in the next days they all eventually waved, calling Bujangan Urban and BON members to color the entire Pemenang. Since he needed help, Bujangan Urban then called his street artist fellows from Mataram to enliven this graffiti party which collaborated with the residents. Sulung still cleaned the walls in the market. The Broy, who was diligently beautifying advertisements of prepaid cellular card provider with addition of accents here and there about local stories, was asked by other people who also wanted the advertisements on their houses walls to be beautified. Until finally, the description of price amount, the amount of quota, the ability of network coverage, and the service provider’s logo itself were invisible: they slowly disappeared and were replaced with only people’s stories of Pemenang and Bangsal.
People stopped their motorbikes, and then took selfies in front of sunflowers. The blond tourists stopped their steps to the three gili for a moment to photograph another exotic object in the tropical paradise full of stories about fishermen who caught a big fish and other depictions of a happy coastal community. Some tour guides guided their guests to take selfies in front of the works of these friends, in front of messages of Bangsal united. Then once again, was this scene needed by a city as small as Pemenang? Of course it was.
The spirit of people of Pemenang (which in Indonesian language means “the winner”) was burning. They were happy to prepare themselves a party together: Bangsal Menggawe Folk Festival. Therefore, everyone poured their support for it, confirming their identity as a resident who won (menang).