Bik Van der Pol
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Jogo kali
People 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.

Jogo kali indicates that taking care of the river is fundamental. The residents of the Strenkali, the riverside 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 have formed Paguyuban Warga Strenkali Surabaya, the Surabaya Riverside Residents Association, to facilitate their political struggle. 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 organize themselves bottom up, liaising with other cities, regions, and nations with similar communities and with 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.
For years, the city has turned its back to the river, but
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Jogo kali
the Strenkali have been fighting for their rights to be citizens, to live where they live, to improve their living circumstances, and make living alongside the river sustainable. One of the strategies is to 'turn' their houses towards the river. The simple gesture implies to see the river, not ‘to turn the blind eye’, and seeing is the beginning of recognising that all that is needed is care.

On the invitation of the Jakarta Biennale Bik Van der Pol worked with the Strenkali residents to render their situation, aspirations, and challenges more visible. Together, they made two copies of their existing banner depicting the chronology of their struggle to care for the river and its communities, adding the phrase 'ideas you believe are absurd eventually 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, a platform the Strenkali community wanted, to bring their struggles to a world stage to show that human interactions behind social tensions 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, and Warsito.
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