Restraint (Pasung) / Without Restraint

CompanyAndrea Star Reese
PhotographerAndrea Star Reese
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

Restraint (Pasung)/ Without Restraint is a series about the consequence of the stigma surrounding mental illness in rural and urban communities in Indonesia. The shame associated with mental disorders could complicate Pasung 2014, a Government campaign to end cruelty to the mentally ill. Stigma is also defined as spots on butterflies.


Pasung means restraints or restrained. One effective restraint is stigma. In Indonesia, it is common to blame behavioral changes on spiritual weakness, or spells, or possession by spirits. For Indonesians it is much worse be diagnosed as mentally ill then to be considered affected by mystical forces. The popular solution is to avoid hospitals and seek help from shamans familiar with the age-old traditions of mysticism, or spiritual teachers who believe that only God can cure. People are shut away or restrained because pasung is what families/caregivers know to do to protect the afflicted and protect others from possible harm. It is not done to hurt. The widespread belief is that pasung will calm. Wawan has been held in a chicken coop in West Java for more then a year. He cannot stand. Wawan’s family is distressed because they do not know how to help him and he is getting worse. Emelia moved to Jakarta’s tracks from Surabaya to seek help for her depression. She does not want to go see a doctor instead attends church services, preferring prayer and spiritual counseling. The Government of Indonesia has a campaign called Pasung Free 2014 to eradicate cruelty and improve care for the mentally ill. But to effect change will require not just a willing government, but will necessitate the efforts of NGO’s, faith based leadership, and the willingness of the grassroots population to learn important truths and to change attitudes formed over centuries. Stigma is also defined as spots on butterflies.

About Photographer

Andrea Star Reese is a VISURA photojournalist/documentary photographer based in New York, Seattle, and Jakarta. Recent work includes: DISORDER (2011-2016), a five-year documentary reportage on abuse against people with psychosocial disabilities in Indonesia was first exhibited and screened at Visa Pour L’Image Perpignan, and Angkor Photo Festival in 2013. In 2016 Images from the essay were used by Human Rights Watch in the 2016 report LIVING IN HELL and as part of the Break The Chains Campaign against shackling.. Disorder was a 2014 finalist for the Manual Rivera-Ortiz Grant and included in American Photography 28: Best pictures from 2011. URBAN CAVE (2007-2014), a seven-year documentary reportage on unsheltered men and women living underground in New York City was first exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image 2010 where it was a Visa d’Or, Feature nominee. In 2015 it was published as a book titled Urban Cave by FotoEvidence. The project received the 2014 David Pike Award for Excellence in Journalism_Photography, and Best Social Documentary from The 2009 New York Photo Festival. Urban Cave was awarded 2nd place from 2014 Kontinent Awards and in 2011, a second place Fotovisura Award. Urban Cave was a finalist for both the 2013 FotoEvidence book award and 2011 POYI: World Understanding Award among other recognitions. Most recently photographs from Urban Cave were exhibited at Musee de L’Elysee, Lausanne and are part of the museum’s collection. The series was included in several exhibitions for FotoEvidence and ReGeneration 2 and exhibited at Theory of the Clouds Gallery, Kobe, Japan, and the 2013 Athens Photo Festival. Ms Reese began her career as a filmmaker in 1983 and transitioned to Photojournalism/Documentary Photography in 2007. On staff at the International Center of Photography School, and a tutor at the 2013 Angkor Photo Festival Workshop, Andrea Star Reese is a 2010 fellow in Photography from the New York Foundation for the Arts and a reGeneration2 photographer. Images from Disorder and Urban Cave have received wide International coverage in print, wire, and media publishing. Published credits include: Al Jazeera, AJ+, CNN,, Sidney Morning Herald, BBC News Alerts, The Guardian,, Huffington Post, El Dario, Goteborgs Posten, Irish Examiner, El CIUdadano, Feature Shoot, Business Insider,, Vogue.It, Kompas, Jakarta Post, Media Indonesia, Neue Zucher Zeitung, Le Monde, Liberation, New York Times Lens Blog, Alternatives Internationales, Sunday Times Magazine, Paris Match, The Fader, Le Loop, NPR, Fiasco.