By Eliza Nugan, Natasha Kadir & Yali Qi
The project in Kampung Kali Code presented a number of challenges that we had to solve as a creative collective. We learnt about our strengths and weaknesses during our process to creating an anti-smoking installation, ‘Pocong Rokok’.
We worked through a number of ideas starting with a shoe decorating workshop and moving to a documentation exercise that outlined the different campaign projects in the village. Eventually, we settled on the idea of an anti-smoking sculpture that would allow up to communicate the messages of the campaign despite the clear language barrier.
After sketching a number of concepts, we settled on the Pocong as it linked directly to Indonesian culture and also looks similar to a cigarette in silhouette. This allowed us to design our own character for the ‘show your true colours’ campaign. We had many meetings with Yosef and Ancha during our design process and along the way while constructing to consolidate our ideas into one complete sculptor that was both our vision and the vision of Vital Strategies, the NGO we paired with for this project.
The Pocong is an Indonesian ghost story that is linked to Muslim burial rituals. In the Muslim faith, the body of a deceased person is wrapped in cloth, tied above the head, below the feet and at various other places around the body. The corpse is then placed in the group with a coffin after the appropriate funeral services have taken place. According to Rahmi, “the people who are being haunted, are the ones responsible for the burial… [the Pocong] disturbs and haunts the people to let them know they forgot to untie the knots” (Rhami, 2017) after fourty days. If the ties are not untied at this time, the soul cannot be released from the body and will stay on Earth to haunt those that forgot about it.
During initial stages, we decided to use recycled and sustainable materials to build the Pocong so as not to contribute to alternative environmental and health problems. We bought old cardboard boxes and newspapers to create the internal structure and paper mached it to define the silhouette.
It was hard to find entirely sustainable products as we used spray paint and glue in the process as well which can have a potentially hardful effect due to factory pollution. The string we purchased was bouncy to add to the theatrics of the installation but we decided this could be used in alternative ways around the village should the Pocong be taken down.
We wrapped and painted the body, hung the installation and decided last minute to add a sign made from recycled wood that we found in the village to write ‘Merokok Membunuhmu’, ‘smoking kills’.
The greatest part of the project was how involved we became with the community. A lot of the children helped us with different stages of paper mache, painting and hanging allowing us to feel more connected to the village and hopefully allowing our project to have more of an impact on their view of smoking. The Pocong was instantly recognizable in the Kampung – many of the inhabitants laughed and talked with us during the process.
We worked quickly and concisely during the project, discussing and planning in-depth at the beginning so there was little confusion later. We also had many progress talks amongst ourselves and with the NGO leaders in order to continue working efficiently as we moved through the construction.
The Pocong turned out to be very popular with the locals and tourists alike with many people taking photos and jumping around the village as the Pocong does.
Everett, 2011, Mass Burial of Bosniaks Bosnian Muslims April 16 1993, Fine Art America, viewed 9 February 2017, <http://fineartamerica.com/featured/mass-burial-of-bosniaks-bosnian-muslim-everett.html>.
Rhami, 2017, Asal Usul Pocong Menurut Adat Indoesia dan Islam, Indonesia, Viewed 6 February 2017, <www.aktual.id/asal-usul-pocong>.