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Punkasila

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Formed by Melbourne-based artist Danius Kesminas in 2006, PUNKASILA is a fluid and collaborative project which includes graduates and current students from the Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) in Yogyakarta. PUNKASILA play custom-made, hand-crafted mahogany guitars simulating hybrid M-16s/AK-47s and wear camouflage-patterned hand-painted batik, tailored as military fatigues. PUNKASILA’s debut album, “Acronym Wars” was released in Indonesia in 2006. PUNKASILA give voice to the cacophony of acronyms representing the disparate political, military, religious, cultural and bureaucratic organisations that constitute the Indonesian body politic. Since Soekarno’s reign, acronyms have represented a real site of ideological struggle. Between 1950 and 1965 this phenomenon was defined as the period of “Acronym Wars”.

PUNKASILA have set these acronyms to a frenetic, progressive-punk-rock idiom. Each song repetitively iterates a specific acronym, invoking its popular inversion using plesetan – a peculiar Indonesian word play or subversive double-speak. The name, PUNKASILA, which literally means “punk principles”, derives from Pancasila, the five ideological tenets devised by Soekarno as propaganda to create a unitary basis of Indonesian nationhood. Although PUNKASILA’s repertoire and appearance as a cultural outlaw militia suggests provocative intent the project is more a celebration of new-dawn, post-reformasi openness than critique, ambiguously straddling the fault between taboo, parody and humour. By demonstration, on the basis of the song list the CD was prohibited to replicate in Indonesia and the band have been previously censured at gigs.

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