Joko kaliPeople in rural areas in Indonesia have a higher level of social interaction compared to their urban counterparts. People from all walks of life help each other, facing and solving problems together—the real manifestation of the spirit of gotong royong, which means: working together, helping each other. The residents of riverside areas, or strenkali (communities stretching 15-20 km along the river) in Surabaya are fully aware of this. As illegal residents, they are continuously facing threats of eviction from the riverside areas. They founded Paguyuban Warga Strenkali Surabaya (Surabaya Riverside Residents Association) to facilitate their political struggle and negotiations. Always working as one entity, they protect the environment around the river, and organize programs to empower the locals. Contrary to the common perception of ‘riverside people’, the association is proof that they can manage themselves independently.
They have organized themselves bottom up, connect to other cities, regions and nations with similar communities, as well as to wider Asian and global organizations such as ACCA (Asian Coalition for Community Action) and the United Nations, to make their case visible beyond local borders.
‘Jogo kali’ refers to the words used by the Strenkali people to indicate that taking care of the river is fundamental.
Joko kaliFor many years, the city has turned its back to the river, but the Strenkali people have been fighting for their rights to be citizens, to live where they live, to better their living circumstances, and to make living alongside the river sustainable. One of the strategies is to 'turn' their houses, to face the river. The simple gesture of turning towards the river means to see it, not ‘to turn the blind eye’, and seeing is the start of recognizing that all it takes is to care.
Bik Van der Pol worked with the Strenkali residents to dig up information in relation to their condition, aspirations and challenges. Together, the Strenkali community and Bik Van der Pol have made two copies of their existing banner that depicts the chronology of their fight to take care of the river and its communities, adding the sentence ‘ideas you believe are absurd, ultimately lead to success’ in Javanese. The largest banner (15 x 2 meters, exactly the width of 3 renovated and 'turned' houses) stays in Strenkali, while the other (8 x 2 meters) is exhibited in the Jakarta Biennale, accompanied by 4 video works on monitors, mapping out the human interactions behind social tensions which often escape public narratives and observations.
With Dapu Bramantio, David Muhammad Arif, Dwiki Nugroho Mukti, Gatot Komeng Sunaryo, Gatot Subroto, Haryono Karno, Kharisma Adi, Nurmahadi, Pace Turoso, Ronald Galang Giyanto, Suvi Wahyudianto, Tedy Fathurrohman, Warsito.