Warning: Some images in this article may contain violent and disturbing material. View at your own discretion.
Ever feel like the world is bringing you down? Mimi N knows the feeling.
This Indonesian illustrator creates art that some might consider disturbing. Known as the “SUN Project“, this series of artwork utilises symbolic imagery to draw attention to social issues; whether it be the pressure parents place on their children to succeed in school, or how social media desensitises people to bullying and violence.
The project first began in mid-2017 with the concept of creating something that was “founded, modelled, and directed by a nameless agency.” The actual agency is fictional, made up entirely of Mimi N’s own original characters: Sunny, the model, Utomo, the co-founder and director, and Natalia, the co-founder and stylist. The first letters of their names make up the S.U.N. in SUN Project.
This “agency” released their first work in September 2017, a short comic compilation titled Existence (depicted below). It contained two stories; one dealt with friendship and trust issues, the other with identity crises and suicide. Upon release, the project received extremely positive responses, and from there, she decided to take the plunge and post more frequently under the SUN Project banner.
When I asked Mimi N about why she created the project in the first place, she expressed how she wanted to showcase the “devil” that exists in every human being. “Different histories shape different devils. This darkness is often made fun of by society and ends up consuming the person themselves. Ironically, society does that because they all experience the same truth, the same darkness,*” she said.
SUN Project tackles issues that hit close to home for a lot of young people these days – abandonment, social pressure, growing pains, and cyber-bullying. The last one is depicted in the header image of this article; a young child being beaten up by faceless droids controlled by human beings. While this image would have been confusing years ago, the meaning is clearer now than ever before; as the world becomes more connected, we also become disconnected emotionally.
This is something that Mimi N understands well. “There are so many things about humanity that I want to criticize, but I know, choosing the wrong words can kill you or the other person, so I just decided to share my message via my artwork and let people think for themselves,*” she said.
This is what makes the message of SUN Project so powerful. It’s entirely up to the audience to decide its meaning, and its presented on the exact same platform it criticises in the first place. When its artwork pops up on social media timelines, it’s as if it is shining a spotlight on the glaring contradictions of this online ecosystem. The irony is that a platform geared towards building connections and conversation, has instead been used to breed negativity and prejudice.
Thankfully, not all hope is lost for social media yet.
Mimi N shared that she gathers inspiration for her illustrations by joining communities and forums online that focus on mental issues, as well as talking to people online and offline. It goes to show there are communities out there who are willing to share their experiences, reach out to each other and heal. Artists like Mimi N contribute to the process by helping to raise awareness, if not change people’s behaviour.
When asked about what she hopes to achieve with this project, she says, “I want to reach as many people as I can. I really hope my art can touch people’s hearts whether they like it, hate it, feel relieved, or even disgusted.*”
Unfortunately, the funds for an independent artist is limited. Currently, Mimi N is trying to raise funds for the project on Patreon so it can grow further. “Honestly, it takes a lot of time and effort to do something like this daily, but after being funded for 5 months on Patreon, I can finally afford to put aside some time I would spend freelancing, to work on something I feel really passionate about.*”
In the near future, and with the support of more people, she hopes she can release the official backstory for SUN Project, featuring her original characters Sunny, Utomo and Natalia. She also hopes to continue the daily art postings for the project for a longer period of time.
*Parts of this excerpt may be edited for reading clarity.
You can help support the SUN project by visiting Mimi N’s Patreon, or following her on social media:
We featured Mimi N’s art on our website earlier this month – check out her other art style here!