Months of preparation has culminated into fruitful results. Having shed the burden of celebrating 10 years of Yellow Ribbon Project that was last year, my proposal was to venture into new grounds. On top of the usual “annual reports”, education through artistic directions was to be weaved into the exhibition. With the blessing from my boss, I assembled a good team of men and women: a marketer, an auditor, a journalist and an artist. We worked on 2 themes:
- The Road to Acceptance, which was the theme for the run; and
- The arabic numeral “11”, which was the number of years the project has been running.
The 2 themes intertwined throughout the design and planning process. The first theme worked on the 3 “A”s of the project: Awareness, Action and Acceptance, the last being a state hardest to achieve, because it represents a state of mind, a culture to be embraced.
The latter theme is easier, working on the 2 parallels of the numerals. They represent the 2 parallels of the work in prison to rehabilitate inmates and the society in general, and the parallels of the life of an ex-offender and the lives of the public.
The 1st and 3rd zone represents the contrast between the life in prison and society, attempting to highlight the fact that the skills learned behind the walls are never far off from the skills in demand in the society.
The viewer would be first greeted by 2 standing ‘towers’, which were the mock up of the cell and a bakery. The cell represents the spartan environment aimed to instill discipline and chance for reflection, while the bakery represents the work competencies the inmate can receive. They are bridged by the work of our psychologists, through the introduction of their scientific and evidence-based approach.
Once they enter the society, they would be assisted by the CARE Network in their road to reintegration. The display panels, describing the network of assistance developed over the years and the success stories of rehabilitation, surrounds the talent and skills of an ex-offender, represented by the inmates’ artwork.
The 2nd and 4th zone, at a more abstract level, highlights the typical reaction an ex-offender receives in the society due to social stigma, versus the ideal reactions we expect in a world which is accepting towards ex-offenders. 6 videos depicting 6 reactions contrast with each other. The zone of typical reactions aim to invoke reflections, culminating in the ultimate rhetoric: How much longer is the road to acceptance? In the Ideal State of Acceptance, the same 6 scenarios are re-enacted. Idealistic as they may be, they can be a reality if the individuals and the community comes together to work towards such a vision. An elegant touch by my 2IC elevated the order of messaging for the whole exhibition.
After viewing the efforts to reintegrate an ex-offender (through the 1st 3 zones), the viewer is posed with a decision: to proceed to view the Ideal State of Acceptance, or to exit the exhibition straight away. It was a risk, but it was one worth taking. By allowing the viewers take ownership of their decisions, at the very least, the ones who are curious to view the Ideal State of Acceptance should be the easiest to be inspired by our vision for an accepting society. The road to acceptance will be completed, when either 1 of the parallels ever tweaks so slightly in its course. The tweaking was done 11 years ago, the road remains long, but if we persist, we would get there.
Special thanks to Adventurers and fpixmedia for helping my team to realize such an abstract exhibition.
More of the photos taken of the exhibition could be found on my FB album (Link)