Out Of In The Penal Colony – Foreword

Prashasti Wilujeng Putri

Inspired by Kafka’s work “In The Penal Colony”, Forum Lenteng tries to interpret the notion of penal colony in the context of contemporary society. For a year, we have studied and developed that idea which was finally presented on August 2017 through ARKIPEL – Documentary and Experimental Film Festival by assigning “Penal Colony” as the festival’s theme.


To continue that study and development, 69 Performance Club will frame “Penal Colony” in the form of performance art. “Penal Colony” refers to the prison system by means of exile where its impalpable control system brings compliance to the inmates through the unseen panopticon which exercises the function of surveillance.


Digital technology today, one of which is media, makes the surveillance possible when people deliberately post everything to internet. This means that people deliberately give their personal data to the big bank. This makes the users become the subjects who are being observed and supervised. Some people are aware of this condition, and some are not. Although they are aware of this, the need of existence is bigger. They need to tell what their friends say, where they are, what they are wearing, which coffee shop is trending. We don’t need to know those persons personally, we just need to open a social media and we are suddenly with them in their most private space. In this stage, they don’t know whether their personal data is used for certain surveillance, and they don’t have the power to prevent it happens. Power imposes control to society centrally through the means of sanctifying the power that makes society become asylum to a form of model which has been internalized by the values of power to generate compliance.


However, interactivity embedded in the nature of this technology also allows the control to be at stake. Creative works which are done continuously to build the culture will lead to the enhancement of people’s literacy. Through the social media, by remaining to be updated but ignoring the desired way to exist, we rebel to the supervisor of the big bank. Reflecting Kafka’s work into performance art by using technology and social media is challenging. This is how we are trying to outsmart the owner of the data. This decision is a key gesture to offer a way to react towards the current situation. The body speculates in an absurd way to activate themselves to deactivate the central power by taking the risk celebrating those power through small narrations which deconstruct the mainstream narration.


Generally, we will perform using technology, such as a webcam, a projector, a big screen, YouTube Live Streaming, and high speed internet network. We will quote one of the sentences of Franz Kafka’s “In The Penal Colony”. We will say it out loud and repeat it continuously while the webcam, which is directly connected to the YouTube Live software, is recording us. The other laptop is connected to the screen, opening 69 Performance Club YouTube channel. Because there is a 13-minute delay from the reality to the YouTube Live Streaming, our voice will be distorted and the output sound will be deafening.

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