Dipping in the Kool Aid

curated by Mary Lou Pavlovic

Angki Purbandono, Out of the Box, 2013
This exhibition celebrates the artistic interactions of Indonesian and Australian artists with prisoners who are incarcerated in Indonesian jails. Collectively, their interests center around the socially beneficial roles played by the prisoner as artist/artistic collaborator, and the artist as prisoner. Questioning the role of aesthetics in socially-engaged exhibitions, they ask: how might the consideration of aesthetics contribute to political readings of the works on display?

Dipping in the Kool Aid grows from an experimental laboratory run by artists working predominantly in Klung Kung Prison, Bali. Among the artists and collaborations included is Djunaidi Kenyut, who invites prisoners to make self-portraits by etching their own facial features onto postcard-size mirrors. Mary Lou Pavlovic's Preserving Life Workshop, undertaken with female prisoners, develops a large wall work featuring flowers and deceased butterflies that are donated by the local butterfly park. Imam Sucahyo creates a large multimedia drawing with his imprisoned friend upon visits to Tuban Prison East Java Prison. In an ongoing project, Elizabeth Gower invites prisoners to create fragile paper collage "Rotations." This incantation of the project includes 365 fragile paper collages made with materials sourced from discarded packaging in the prison cafe.

The exhibition also includes works by Indonesian artist Angki Purbandono, who was incarcerated for one year in Yogyakarta (2013) for smoking marijuana. Angki, refusing to accept his imprisonment, famously declared instead that he was undertaking an artist's residency, and taught a guard how to take photographs. While in prison, Angki also established the Prison Art Programs, a group of inmates and ex-inmates who exhibit art inside and outside the jail. The group has formed The Prison Art Foundation (Yayasan Seni Penjara) and artworks by the founding members are also included in the exhibition. Borrowing its title from the old American prison slang for entering uninvited into a conversation, Dipping in the Kool Aid also features studio works by internationally renowned artists Rodney Glick and Mangu Putra.

  • artists:
    Ridwan Fatkhurodin a.k.a. Kriyip*
    Rodney Glick
    Elizabeth Gower**
    Titus Garu Himawan*
    Djunaidi Kenyut**
    Renae Lawrence
    Fatoni Makturodi*
    Mary Lou Pavlovic**
    Angki Purbandono
    Mangu Putra
    Imam Sucahyo**
    Herman Yosef Dhyas Aries Utomo (a.k.a. Komeng)*
    *Prison Art Programs
    **In collaboration with incarcerated artists
Mary Lou Pavlovic is an artist who lives and works between Bali, Indonesia, and Mittagong, Australia. In 2015, she completed a PhD at Monash University, Melbourne about beauty and how it may be associated with progressive politics in visual arts today. As part of the PhD Pavolvic received an Endeavour Award research fellowship to examine how her studio work was affected by Balinese cultures, this being the reason she moved to Bali. In 2015, after visiting those incarcerated in Indonesian jails, she helped establish an art program in a jail, as prisoners stated they had little constructive activity. Pavolvic is represented by Tony Raka Art Gallery in Bali, Indonesia.

apexart’s program supporters past and present include the National Endowment for the Arts, Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the Kettering Family Foundation, the Buhl Foundation, The Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Spencer Brownstone, the Kenneth A. Cowin Foundation, Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., William Talbott Hillman Foundation/Affirmation Arts Fund, the Fifth Floor Foundation, the Consulate General of Israel in New York, The Puffin Foundation, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, public funds from Creative Engagement, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Governor and administered by LMCC, funds from NYSCA Electronic Media/Film in Partnership with Wave Farm: Media Arts Assistance Fund, with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.