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.
PUNKASILA have performed throughout Java and their numerous fans are from a wide-ranging demographic that includes the Sultan of Yogyakarta, Hamengkubuwono X, who has purchased a copy of Acronym Wars (which is possibly on high rotation in the princesses quarters).
PUNKASILA’s abbreviated Repertoire (with accompanying plesetan inversion):
TNI: Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Military), Tikyan Ning Idab-Idabi (Poor but Adorable)
PNU: Partai Nahdlatul Ummat (Islamic Community Awakening Party), Partai Nunut Udud (Party for Taking Cigarettes from your Friends)
TURBA: a conflation of Turun ke Bawah and Turuk Babi (Down to Earth, Pig’s Vagina). Turun ke Bawah was a leftist ideology of the 1950’s and 60’s for the political and cultural mobilisation of the populous. It was later used by the Soeharto regime to spread New Order ideology to the villages.
KOPASSSUS: Komando Pasukan Khusus (Special Force Command), Komando Pasukan Suka Susu (Milk Lovers’ Force Command/Tit Lovers’ Force Command)
PKI: Partai Komunis Indonesia (Indonesian Communist Party), Penggemar Komik Indonesia (Indonesian Comic Fans), Penggemar Kaos Indonesia (Indonesian T-Shirt Fans), Partai Kaos Indonesia (Chaos Party of Indonesia), Penjahat Kelamin Indonesia (Indonesian Sex Offender)
RPKAD: Resimen Para Komando Angkatan Darat (Army Para-Commando Regiment Command), Rampung Kenthu Anake Duwekmu (We have Sex but the Child will be Yours)