Angki Purbandono, Fighting Negative Stigma as an Ex-Inmates Through the Art of Scanography (PART 2)

Karya scanography seniman Angki Purbandono berjudul Snake

Sumber: Dokumentasi Angki Purbandono

Upon receiving a positive response from the prison official, Angki proposed for his work equipment be brought into the correctional institution. After going through some assessment, the officials finally allowed Angki's equipment to be brought in and placed in an empty room next to Yoga's office. This is so that he can continue to be monitored by officers. Even though he was still under surveillance, Angki was happy because he was allowed to bring the equipment to work. Besides, this is also a form of Yoga`s trust in him.

 

"So, I got a room for about 1.5 X 3 meters long. Then there are desks, computers, and scanners. Then because Mr. Yoga likes photography, he left his camera in my studio. So for the rest of my sentence, I am excited to be able to work because I can have my own studio,” he said.

It was in the studio that Angki invited prison officials and other inmates to work with him. They were looking for new ways to vent their personal stories, experiences, sadness, and complaints to be processed into works filled with nuances of happiness and beauty.

 

Angki used objects that are closely related to the lives of inmates, such as sunflower seeds, ping pong balls, fried catfish bones, shredded plastic shampoo, coffee packaging, medicine packaging, and others. For example, sunflower seeds are known as “Kuaci”, which is the cheapest snack in prison. Besides, kuaci is often used as a snack for fellow inmates when visiting each other's cells.

 

"So, for example, if we visit A's room like that, they give us that kuaci as a welcome snack. So it's a portrait symbol representing inmates in prison. The image of kuaci is various. When scanned, it seems to have its impression nothing is the same. So it's a kind of portrait," he said.

Karya scanography seniman Angki Purbandono berjudul

When You're In the Frame

Sumber: Dokumentasi Angki Purbandono

According to Angki, inviting fellow inmates at that time was easy. Because they want to fill their spare time and have high enthusiasm for studying art. Angki teaches contemporary art to his friends orally based on his experiences. However, there are also friends of inmates who think these art activities are boring.

 

"It is because some of them already know about art theory, and what becomes a challenge is how I meet friends who are not artists yet they`re interested in becoming artists, ha-ha-ha, because of my stories. For me, if they just want to make art is enough, and it doesn't have to be a source of income," said Angki.

 

When he breathes the freedom air once being released from the correctional institution, Angki invited his colleagues to develop Prison Art Programs (PAPs). PAPs is an art program that using prison memories as a basic idea to be developed in various art concepts and techniques.  

 

The program consists of three main programs developed in correctional institutions, namely the art movement utilizing the interior and exterior in correctional institutions; processing inmates’ works into products with a commercial value; and inviting practitioners to share knowledge with the inmates. Outside prisons, the main program of PAPs is to hold periodic exhibitions.

 

"Hence, prison art is a new genre, and it can change. We bring prison memories that were initially depressive, dark into something impressive, personal, and beautiful. So it's a kind of therapy for people who have prison memories. So it's not just for inmates but also for our parents, our friends, prison officers, whoever it is, we can turn their memories into art," he said.

The story behind the prison has received more attention from the people of Indonesia and abroad. The public not only enjoyed the beauty of the artworks through this program but also knew what prison life was like. The public can also use personal memories of the prisoners or former prisoners for life lessons.

 

“I also just realized that after I got out of prison there was a significant effect (from the development of the prison art programs) for them. So we started to think again about prison memories can be used as a form of psychological therapy through art. Not to reduce the burden, but instead will always be a recurring memory and become a lesson or reflection for us and everyone. So, prison art programs can become a unique therapy through contemporary art, whether it's a fine art, performance art, literature, and others," said Angki.

Karya scanography seniman Angki Purbandono berjudul Sleepwalk

Sumber: Dokumentasi Angki Purbandono

"And indeed, most of the prison artworks come from the manifestation of pressure, anxiety, or even excess happiness feeling. So the artwork can maintain our memory, keep the old energy absorbed into something new and colorful. This prison art that I am developing tries to show a more positive spirit,” Angki continued.

 

During this pandemic, the development of prison art programs continued by following health protocols. Such as fulfilling invitations to online art exhibitions. Not only that, Angki and his colleagues created a book donation program for Indonesian prisons by inviting people through social media to donate books. This campaign is to increase the quality of libraries in Indonesian prisons.

 

"So our current program is also more to the social media campaign, such as inviting people to donate books to prison. So people don`t have physically present, but they can send books to us. And then we sort them again, we pack books properly, and we send them to prisons, which need a library collection update. We do not prohibit people from donating books on a particular topic or genre, but we are sorting again because we know that not all books can go to prison," said Angki.

 

The art of prison also become a way for Angki to fight the negative stigma as a former inmate. When he was imprisoned for marijuana use, Angki did not accept it. He acknowledged that marijuana was illegal based on the law. However, at that time, Angki felt that he did not harm others when using marijuana.

Karya scanography seniman Angki Purbandono berjudul

Handy

Sumber: Dokumentasi Angki Purbandono

"I also want to have achievements, even though I imprisoned. I asked myself, what was my fault? Until I have to be imprisoned. What does that mean? Even though I did accept it because there was a law that forbids marijuana use. Then the stigma that I received was ambiguous to me, and it was unreasonable. For me, that kind of stigma has no humanity value, so in the end, these scanography works became my personal story," said Angki.

 

According to Angki, handling drug users should prioritize a rehabilitation approach rather than imprisonment because correctional institutions are facing an overcapacity problem. And mostly because dominated by drug users.

 

"I agree with Mr. Yasonna (Minister of Law and Human Rights) that emphasized his concern that not all drug users should be in prison. I agree with that because, with rehabilitation, they can get knowledge or insight about what they have used, what effect it has, etcetera," said Angki.

 

Angki said, in the rehabilitation program, art also can become a tool to encourage drug users to put aside their addiction to drugs slowly.

 

"I agree that rehabilitation is the right solution and imprisonment is not the solution. So in my opinion the overcapacity in Indonesian prisons can be handled properly,” he said.

 

From his experience in a correctional institution, he hopes that PAPs can become a part of the new genre of the art, both in Indonesia and globally.

 

Angki hopes that the public can use a more humanistic approach in addressing the existence of inmates. In that sense, the public can see what they aspire to after leaving a correctional institution instead of seeing their dark past.

 

"It's not easy once they leave the prison because they are trap in a negative stigma. The people who are the closest part of them should listen to what they want to do and help them together," said Angki.

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