Depok, Indonesia: The Silver People
Rifki Firmansyah is only twelve years old, but he already has to help his family to make ends meet. Since he was ten years old, he has been performing in the streets of the Indonesian city of Depok, together with other boys, as a ‘silver kid’, begging for a few rupiah and sometimes also something to eat, giving part of the money to his parents. Rifki usually paints himself with silver paint in the morning and then performs at traffic intersections as a small human robot until the afternoon. He does not attend school.
The concoctions the boys use to paint their skin ranges from kerosene to lead, and contains chemicals and metals that they wash off their faces and bodies in the evening with soap, shampoo, and coarse detergents. But the ‘silver kids’ are less afraid of having their skin destroyed than they are of the police, as they told photographer Agoes Rudianto. Rifki, too, has already been arrested for ‘disturbing public order’. Nevertheless, more and more children like Rifki can be found in the streets of Indonesian cities - especially since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Photographer: Agoes Rudianto, Indonesia, for GEOlino
Agoes Rudianto, born in 1988, graduated from Sebalas Maret University in Surakarta with a degree in Communications. He started his photography career in 2007 at a local Indonesian newspaper and also worked as a photo editor before 2013.
Since then, living in Jakarta, he has worked as a freelance photographer and has had his work published in the Spanish edition of GEO and the Indonesian edition of National Geographic, among others. In addition, Rudianto also repeatedly works for NGOs and has also photographed for UNICEF Indonesia.