Jatiwangi Cup

JATIWANGI CUP

Jatiwangi Cup, Series of activities (billboard announcement series, trophy-making, live competition with prize pool collected from registrants), Installation (5 photographs on light boxes, trophy, calendar and participant’s t-shirt), 2015.

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Kejadian Seni - foto oleh Pandu Rahadian

*Note from Grace Samboh about Jatiwangi Cup

Art Events, Events of Art: Body-building competitions between Factories

Last Tuesday (11/08), under the rays of the Jatiwangi sun that knows no breeze, 400 people from at least 22 roof-tile factories (called ‘jebor’) gathered at Jebor Super Fajar. Almost all of them were clapping, cheering and chuckling, although they were on edge. They were local factory owners and workers who had sent one or two of their workers to join the competition for the JATIWANGI CUP, a body-building competition between factories.

In front of the kiln that is used daily to fire 11,000 tiles, there was a small stage and a simple loud speaker. Usually, this area carries the scent of wood smoke and clay that is, or has just been, firing. This time, the scent of baby oil prevails. To show off their best side, the beautiful curves and muscles of these factory workers are no less well-oiled than those of professional body-builders.

Behind the judge’s table are seated Brigadier Police Chief Irawati Fitria; Cahya Rini from the Unit Head; the Argapura Police Sector Provost; Anang Sumarna  from the National Sports Committee; Loranita Theo Soemantri from Jatiwangi Art Factory (JaF); Arif Ruhyat from the Mutiara Jebor and; Revi Dian from the Regency Health Office. Majalengka. These five jurors were invited by the director of the Jatiwangi Roof-Tile Museum Ila Syukrillah Syarief to make their judgements based on their individual fields. Syarief said,”This is a gathering of factory people, not a real body-building contest. The Roof-Tile Museum is holding events that raise our appreciation of the choice to work in a roof-tile factory, of tiles, of the reality that we have had this tradition of making tiles for over a hundred years…”

The main event of the Body-building competition between Jebor launched the JATIWANGI CUP as the perpetual trophy. This is the aspiration and promise of the Roof-Tile Museum, to preserve the dynamics of the lifestyle around roof-tiles. Since the tax-free agreements between ASEAN member nations in 2007, multi-national garment factories have begun to appear in Jatiwangi. The tile factories have lost their appeal to workers.

The young are no longer interested in working in tile factories. Those who are able to send their children off for more training, and then they become office workers in other towns. The elderly are beginning to sell off their land. Unfortunately, the wealth of the multi-national factories in the area does not extend to providing proper protection for their workers. Jakarta’s caretaker Basuki Thahaja Purnama even threatened unruly companies: “…if you can’t afford to pay workers then move to Majalengka,” (Kompas, 05/01)

“We should be proud that Jatiwangi roof-tiles have sheltered most Indonesians!” Where else did tiles come from back then if not from Jatiwangi?” said JaF founder Arief Yudi Rahman before the competition began followed by the enthusiastic applause of the audience. “Garment factories can set up anywhere. We aren’t and we won’t become Cikarang. In any case, Jatiwangi has a long tradition of roof-tile factories, which are where other places come to learn. Roof-tiles are our identity! Our thanks to the factory owners and workers, because you are what makes Jatiwangi unique.”

Where is the art in all of this? Will it only become art when it’s a photograph printed on aluminium or a neon box, and is displayed with dramatic lighting? Or when it is turned into a video of a crowd of people clapping their hands, activated by a sensor when people approach an installation that mimics the stage in front of the kiln? Art needn’t be limited to these kinds of artistic experiences. Beauty can precede truth, according to Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). There needn’t be any manoeuvring to achieve this.

“When it’s oiled, the body glows, the curves and muscles become clear and you immediately want to show off your own body,“ said Adi Suandi, a contestant from Dua Saudara Jebor, backstage. Something that comes out of daily work turns into a source of pride, to be displayed and shared with others. Even without rehearsals, the stage was lively. The audience – family and colleagues of the contestants – were pleased to see their relatives and colleagues appear, full of confidence and pride. Thunderous applause followed the final pose in which contestants held a tile aloft.

The beauty of everyday life is not a new discourse in contemporary art. Neither is beauty based on truth. “This traditional Jatiwangi sport is featured during celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of Indonesia’s independence” said the newsreader for Metro TV (13/08). Is it true to say that roof-tile factory body-building is a traditional sport? Or was that a show of support for the Roof-tile Museum’s effort to create this truth? The answer is not really important. In reality, the first to suggest a body-building competition was Julian Abraham, when he ran into Mang Juned at the intersection of the former Jatiwangi Sugar Factory, now Jatiwangi Square. A former tile factory worker, Mang Juned now operates a trishaw, and complained that, “such-and-such factory won’t let me register. Even if I only got third place to, I’d get it (the job) bro…”

The beauty of everyday life is not a new discourse in contemporary art. Neither is beauty based on truth. “This traditional Jatiwangi sport is featured during celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of Indonesia’s independence” said the newsreader for Metro TV (13/08). Is it true to say that roof-tile factory body-building is a traditional sport? Or was that a show of support for the Roof-tile Museum’s effort to create this truth? The answer is not really important. In reality, the first to suggest a body-building competition was Julian Abraham, when he ran into Mang Juned at the intersection of the former Jatiwangi Sugar Factory, now Jatiwangi Square. A former tile factory worker, Mang Juned now operates a trishaw, and complained that, “such-and-such factory won’t let me register. Even if I only got third place to, I’d get it (the job) bro…”

The inter-factory body-building competition was set. It took place with all the usual highs and lows. Will the JATIWANGI CUP really be a perpetual trophy? I’m sure it will.

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Grace Samboh, is a fine art curator who was engaged in the Year of Earth 2015 at the Jatiwangi Art Factory (Majalengka, West Java).

Photographic information: The 12 finalist for the body-building competition between roof-tile factories, competing for a perpetual trophy, the JATIWANGI CUP with officials from the Majalengka Regency Government, West Java (photo by Pandu Rahadian).