Although tobacco is depicted to be a social activity in Indonesia, where it is overly associated with positive stereotypes of enhancing masculinity by exercising, indirectly forcing reflection of social and political status. Yet few individuals have recontextualised smoking, integrating tobacco into their lifestyles with completely different reasons and directions compared to the general public of Indonesia. El Kamprettoz, is a tattoo artist located in the centre of Yogyakarta City, who utilises smoking as a method to support creativity and influence artistic vision, stating that his creativity thrives and peaks when relaxing with a cigarette.
El Kamprettoz has been doing tattoo for more than twenty years in Indonesia, he uses tattoo to be a platform of this artistic works. Yet being in a mainly conservative Muslim country, where individuals who have tattoos are usually associated with criminal activity and stereotypically of having a mutinous nature, has made strictures for Kamprettoz to freely express his works. Only decades ago Indonesia was exposed to the extrajudicial killings called Petrus Killings during 1983-1985, where Suharto, the second president of Indonesia, unannounced, exercised undercover snipers for alleged criminals to be publicly executed. This terrorized the general public, creating a paranoia of discrimination to those who appeared in a nonconformist fashion. The public was encouraged to report men with tattoos to the police. This enforced the stigma, eradicating most tattoo business, or forcing them into underground markets, where tobacco and drugs became a popular source of payment for artworks. Creating a tattoo culture around these devices creates a liability issue for the tattoo artist who reject such drugs, portrayed to be more tamed and less passionate.
Smoking becomes this meditative practice, especially for artists, smoking, psychologically allows a space and time to separate yourself from the hectic nature of life. Kamprettoz, believes smoking is more a statement of the mind. Although, nicotine helps with concentration and relaxation, he states that it is mostly the belief of such effects, which assists him and his daily life. This is understanding of tobacco was once mutual, during the 15th century, Nicotiana acquired a reputation of being a ‘holy herb’ and ‘God’s remedy’, having a therapeutic medicinal benefit to most bodily ailments such as catarrh, cold, fevers and digestive issues. More recently in 1991, those associated with nicotine lacked the most relationship with neuropsychiatric diseases.
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