Otty Widasari on photography project by Auviar Rizky Wicaksanti
Each location must have had its own story. The uniqueness, interestingness, or it could be oddities. If we referred to the ‘location’ concept of Jakarta, the story will be so many. Then, if we restricted the scope to Kampong Paseban at Senen District, Central Jakarta, for example, is still just too much story. So, let us point to a corner in Paseban, called Pondok Kaleng. We could find the story about the women who makes the joy of in their dailu life as a form of catharsis of a full-of pressure life, in addition to other stories. The unemployed husband, being a mistress, being neglected, the economic pressure, whipping cancer, and so forth.
Rizky Auviar Wicaksanti chose Pondok Kaleng as the scope of her work in the visual research project in order akumassa As Hoc for Jakarta Biennale 2013. Her close-friendship to Mama Kobra, a formidable woman with a cloroed background, brought her to the lives of women in Pondok Kaleng.
About The Location
Pondok Kaleng (tin house) is an area in Kampong Paseban, which was once filled with the sounds of tins in each of the house. Residents who were mostly tin craftsmen commonly made motorcycle license plate, stove frame, cakes pan, or even just repaired a household appliances. Demographically, the majority of the populations were originally from Citeureup, West Java.
They worked as tin craftsmen in their homelands, and then moved to the city aiming to improve prosperity. Jakarta was considered as a business center that will bring good fortune for life. The business field based on aluminum or cans had once triumphed in the past time. But now the situation is no longer the same.
Mr. Ukon who was interviewed by Auviar and Zikri said that besides due to the development of industrial technologies that maximized engine power, the factor was that many of them, tin craftsmen, who did non inherit their business and craftsmanship expertise to their descendants so that only a few of the current generation who know about this craft.
About The Photography Project
At present, only a few workshops are still actively working on cans. What a more visible in everyday life in the Pondok Kaleng are the outdoors activities of women who often hang out and share a friendship there. It can be seen by naked eye, the citizen in this dense settlements were indeed often spent their time outdoors every day. It can be assumed that may be occur due to the cramped conditions of the house that inhabited by a lot of people who sometimes consisting of several families. Many small family rented a dorm room because they did not eligible to rent a house, they are merely lived a single rectangular room and do all the household activities there.
There were interesting things seen by Auviar, which she found in the lives of women in Pondok Kaleng. They had a special and intimate community. Everyone knew the story and most personal feelings belong to the other. This closeness was in the territory of the major influence through the figure of Mama Kobra. Mama Kobra was a half century old woman who had a real name Titin.
Somehow the nickname Mama Kobra attached to her. Maybe people were often mistaken to the shape of a dragon tattoo on her left shoulder that showed out of her shirt, as a cobra image. However, no matter where the name came from, this woman did have a solid and fierce figure. She could be also suspected of being a vicious and poisonous like a cobra in an effort to self-defense. Her gestures showed the attitude of the ruling and protecting her friends at the same time. In addition, she also has a wider social circle like having a soldier close friend, she had once worked as a successful team of several candidates for governor of Jakarta, and also there was a rumor that Mama Kobra had even played in drug dealing field in the past. All the women there depended on her. Since as a shoulder to put their hearts on, the person for help to ask, to babysitting their children. At Mama Kobra they also borrow capital at interest credit. The latter was certainly a source of Mama Kobra’s income for her own life. In essence, Mama Kobra provided all those women required in Pondok Kaleng to the limit and the really depend on her. It raised the impression of lack of male role in the lives of these women. The role of the absence and unemployed husband, seemed had replaced by the figure of Mama Kobra, the ‘mama’ for all.
In a dangdut music party accompanied with red wine, while dancing drunkenly, Mama Kobra shouted, “Everything is under controlled as long as there is who??” And the women who participated fun dancing in pink hut replied in unison: “MAMA KOBRAA!!”
When Auviar asked the women in Pondok Kaleng, including Mama Kobra, to take action about their daily life using their own mobile phone cameras, the results were surprising. What was captured as an important things for these women were their hang out place, their friends, a small kiosks in where they earn life, their children and grandchildren, their kitchens… none of those captured objects indicated the presence of men or their spouses. Only one husband figure appeared in one picture, and even then it inside the picture frame on the wall with other family photographs. The figure of the husband was so biased because the frame were dominated by living room with a wall full of photos of children and calendars. It only occupied a very small area of the entire surface of the frame.
If the reality obtained from the catch of the images produced by the women were being questioned, where are the men of women’s life in Pondok Kaleng? So, the question might not be answered, because in reality, the men there must have a small role, especially in the field of household economy. And photographs made by Mama Kobra were no less startling. Just like other women, she also considered their friendship very important, as well as their dwelling place, and what was in it. But more surprisingly, from photographs of Mama Kobra we could see how her power was able to get into her friends most private space. There was on photograph of a mother was bathing her son in the bathroom, there was also a picture of her friends who were joking on the mattress in the bedroom. This intimate things didn’t’ captured in other women’s photographs. One more thing that clearly visible was how Mama Kobra had been able to replaced the role of men for these women, the images produced by her camera cell phone showed how she was so concerned with the lives of her friends.
Photography project about women in Pondok Kaleng initiated by Auviar depicted another definition of the women’s role in society in Indonesia. Presumably, there was a notion of the domestic realm that no longer seen as the subordination of women because of a dense residential neighborhood just bring opportunities for those who lived next door to each other to share the experiences and stories among them in their daily lives.The loss of position and important role of men as the well-being holder became a kind of subconscious of organic emancipation form, that women also have their own way to have fun. *
This article has been published in the Art on Senen Border journal (Forum Lenteng, 2013). The journal is one of the results of collaborative work of the authors of some of the communities who were involved in the Project of Akumassa Ad Hoc initiated by the Forum Lenteng AKUMASSA Program, in order to participate in the Jakarta Biennale 2013 – SIASAT (Tactic).