Pangrok Sulap consists of indigenous Dusun and Murut artists, musicians, and social activists who are dedicated to empowering rural communities through art. “Pangrok” is a colloquial way of saying punk rock and “Sulap” which means hut, a resting place usually used by farmers in Dusun.
Established in 2010 at Ranau, Sabah, Pangrok Sulap is very successful in several levels, namely their art-making process, the messages they deliver, the way they engage with the community, and how these various aspects come together. The group first came together in 2010 to conduct charity work in rural schools, orphanages, and homes for the disabled. They began woodcut printing in 2012 – making banners and posters to raise awareness about social and environmental issues in Borneo’s regional communities.
‘Jangan Beli, Bikin Sendiri’ (‘Don’t buy, do it yourself’).
SMB: Why and how did you start this group?
Rizo: Pangrok Sulap collective began when we did charity works in the interior of Ranau. We visited the village and donated used clothes and I remember we often use T-shirts that have the alphabet ‘V’ for volunteer whenever we do charity work. What a great memory. We actually started volunteering after witnessing the needs of the younger generations at that time and we took action to offer as much help as we could. As a contribution to the community, we also encouraged them to have fun by drawing stencils in the suburbs.
There is no exact number of members who are in the collective because we have volunteers who come and go based on the project on a certain period of time. The only ones that give a full commitment to the collective are about eight people.
SMB: What’s your background in art?
Rizo: Honestly, I have no background in art. My background is in civil engineering but I have high interest in the arts. I learn through experiencing trial and error. There are only two people in Pangrok Sulap collective are with Arts background.
SMB: How did you come up with woodcut printmaking? Where did you learn it from?
Rizo: We learned woodcut from the Marjinal bands and their collective from Jakarta, who visited Sabah in 2013. We took the opportunity and organised a workshop with the Marjinal. That was when we learned the woodcut method. From there, we continued our art journey of the woodcut as a medium to communicate with the local community.
SMB: How would you like your art to inspire others?
Rizo: In every work we produce, we try to incorporate awareness messages, reminders, and a share on words of encouragement. We believe that art can have a profound impact on society. It is also a relaxing, clear, and concise communication tool.
SMB: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
Rizo: “Life”. Every human being has the potential to develop and inspire other humans. I come from a remote area located in the interior of Ranau where the local community is still in need. I am thankful every day and this is why I want to help the local community. What I do is only focus on my community’s need.
SMB: What are your messages behind each art you created?
Rizo: Every piece of art we created is a medium where we would use as a tool of communication with the purpose to educate, remind, and create awareness to the community. We also hope to inspire and give strength to the community.
SMB: Favourite or most inspirational place in Sabah?
Rizo: We love the interior of Sabah. These places are our favourites because it taught us the meaning of appreciating and living life in moderation.
SMB: How did you first promote yourself?
Rizo: I was the winner for the Sabah Annual Art Selection (Karya Pilihan Tahunan Negeri Sabah) in 2014. Apart from that, I also registered the collective in several international exhibitions so that our work will be displayed out there.
SMB: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Rizo: The public acceptance of the work created by the collective together with the community as well as the opportunity to help the local community.
SMB: Name three artists you’d like to collaborate with.
Rizo: The Taring Padi Collective from Indonesia, the Orang Asal community, and the local community.
SMB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Rizo: We must try to be self-reliant in doing something without depending anyone. Do it yourself!
SMB: What is your dream project?
Rizo: I have always wanted to open an alternative art school in Sabah for the benefit of the community and all walks of life.
SMB: What’s Pangrok Sulap’s goal?
Rizo: To become a useful group of people for the community and make Sabah art proud of its originality.
SMB: What would be your message to aspiring fellow Borneo Artist/Art Community?
Rizo: Never give up. Every challenge and problem is the process that brings us to accomplish something. Always remember that what we do today is not for us, but for future generations.