Gejayan Calling announces 85 critical works as winners of 'Gagged Mural Contest'

CNN Indonesia – September 15, 2021
Officials painting over mural under Kewek Bridge in Yogyakarta – August 22, 2021 (Star Jogja)

Jakarta – The winners of the Gagged Mural Contest, which was organised by the Gejayan Calling (Gejayan Memanggil) movement, have been announced with as many as 85 out of hundreds of works and murals selected as champions.

Gejayan Calling public relations officer Mimin Muralis (not his real name) said that there were dozens of winners divided among 14 different categories.

The categories covered the most beckoning, most determined, most ordinary, most mysterious, most theatrical, most critical, most strategic, most colourful, most annoying, most night-owl, most hits, most obstinate and most favorites.

"The most favourite [was selected] after we had a jury discussion [and decided] that it was an account in Karawang. They had a big impact to the point that the municipal government held a mural contest [day], they were invited for negotiations, our friends rejected this, and only a few muralists took part in celebrating the city organised day", said Muralis at a café in the Gondokusuman area of Yogyakarta city on Wednesday September 15.

Several odd categories such as the most nigh-owl were chosen from the best works done when people were fast asleep. The most determined was for works were done in public spaces where they would be prone to arrest by the authorities.

"There were works which perhaps in artistic terms were ordinary, but they had the courage to do them in places like that. Then there was one who took to the streets every night. We didn't call on them to do this, we didn't incite them to do it. But it was done on their own volition", he continued.

The most critical works were included in the most critical (nyentil) category. Most hits were those taken up by the media and used in headlines. Meanwhile the most annoying were works which made the authorities itch to remove them.

Among the participants, said Muralis, were those who were approached by the authorities or at least were included on wanted persons lists. One of these was Bamsuck who spray painted a mural under the Kleringan Kewek Bridge in Danurejan, Yogyakarta, in August.

"Bamsuck was the most hunted [by the authorities], because they continued to resist (with murals) and were a vandal also. So we included them (as a winner) in the category of the most obstinate", said Muralis.

All of the winning works from the Gagged Mural Contest were announced via the Gejayan Calling Instagram account @gejayanmemanggil today to coincide with International Democracy Day which is commemorated each year on September 15.

The works were gathered from various parts of the country including Yogyakarta (Central Java), Jakarta, Bogor and Tangerang (West Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Denpasar (Bali), Banjarmasin (South Kalimantan) several cities in Papua and many others.

All of the winners are eligible to receive merchandise in the form of a shoulder bag from Gejayan Calling which includes a variety of donated items from agricultural products, food aid, shopping vouchers and fashion items donated from those who sympathised with the satirical contest.

The selection committee will symbolically install a certificate of honour at two locations, namely the wall under the Kewek Bridge and the Tukangan traffic intersection in Yogyakarta city.

The certificate of honor, said Muralis, represents a symbol of appreciation of walls as an artistic medium and at the same time a witness to the journey of those shouting their aspirations at the government. Also, as a form of resistance against the authorities who are becoming increasingly repressive, including against critical graffiti on walls.

"We selected these two locations because many murals have been painted there, removed, repainted, removed again, and this has become something which is sacred. And we know the certificates of honor will be secured by the authorities because they are annoying and are the enemy. When they are removed, it will signify the essence of the certificate, the retreat of our democracy", he explained.

Although the contest was officially closed at the end of August, Gejayan Calling will continue to support new murals with similar themes in the future. Muralis is of the view that rebelling against injustice is a natural characteristic of the individual.

Muralis feels that it is normal for street art to continually mushroom at a time when many inequalities still exist, transparency is still restricted to formalities and smacks of underhand tactics, while public participation in administering the country is intentionally minimised as much as possible.

An anti-critical attitude and the petty tactics of muzzling the right to expressing an opinion will only sow the seeds of revolution.

"This contest opened us to seeing what is actually happening, what the problems actually are, what the roots actually are. We see today that the political oligarchy, the cooperatives oligarchy, the economic oligarchy, the military oligarchy, all kinds of moral decadency, is regressing democracy itself", he said. (kum/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "85 Karya Bernada Kritik Menangkan Lomba Mural Dibungkam".]