A Kind of You: Disturbing Portraits of Street Performing Monkeys in Jakarta


There are only a few words that adequately describe photographer Perttu Saksa‘s series A Kind of You. Many news outlets chose “haunting” and we decided to go with “disturbing,” but we could have just as easily have characterized them as “gripping.”

Because that’s what these portraits do, they grab on to you and force you face-to-face with a kind of animal cruelty you might not otherwise have known existed.

A Kind of You is a documentary series that captures the lives of street performing monkeys in Jakarta. These monkeys are dressed in children’s clothes and dolls’ masks, trained to act human-like, and then sent out onto the streets to beg for money.

In Saksa’s words: “Modern city culture has turned the old tradition into [an] eerie and haunting act of cruel street theatre where animals become something else, never able to reach our expectations.”

Like a few others, we contacted Saksa for permission to share these photographs back in mid-October. He gave us permission, however he also asked that we hold off until after Halloween when Time Magazine will have already published its coverage of the series.

Halloween has come and gone, and this News Editor has finally found the time to share these photographs with you. So here they are — haunting, disturbing, gripping visual reminders of a cruel reality:


















If you’re upset by the conditions these photographs depict, you’re not alone. But there’s also some cause to celebrate: this kind of cruel treatment might not happen for much longer.

According to the Time article, Jakarta has made the ownership of monkeys a violation of a criminal code on animal abuse. And in mid-October, the capital’s governor announced a cash incentive for handlers to release their monkeys from captivity.

To see more of Saksa’s work, you can head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)

Image credits: Photographs by Perttu Saksa and used with permission.

  • Adrocked

    Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit, this stuff is freaky! Awesome but freaky!

  • Sterling

    Effin’ people …

  • Jaleel King

    Kinda creepy and sad. Awesome work but a part of me feels sad looking at these.

  • Adam Cross

    yeah people are disgusting. bye.

  • Samcornwell

    Oh man, what sort of person appreciates this stuff (the act, not the photography.) How does someone even make money by being this cruel?

  • kondex

    This is so sad… Human beings are so cruel…

  • Samcornwell

    On a positive note though, the photography is absolutely out of this world. World Press Award quality. Bravo to Saksa.

  • Debbie Ram

    Disturbing Images showing their poignant messages of how cruel and ill educated some people/communities are to aminals. Haunting masks making me personally think of young children being “puppeted”… which Is exactly what is actually happening to these poor animals. Beautifully portrayed. Very Sad. Well done

  • Rob Elliott


  • Sid Ceaser

    Please pardon my language, but these are abso-f*cking-lutely amazing! Haunting and creepy though. But, wow! This is some good stuff.

  • Dave Blood

    Release them from captivity?? To what? They’d never survive in the wild…and there aren’t any monkey rescue sanctuaries in Indonesia…

  • hini

    Release them from captivity? But no word about big companies killing thousands of Apes every year for expanding palm oil plantations.

  • Mon key

    Handlers are supposed to give the monkeys to the authorities in exchange of money not releasing them in the countryside.

    Animal rights groups should be happy that Jakarta’s metropolitan authorities have listened them and most of those monkeys are going to stop suffering after being killed by both owners trying to avoid being sanctioned and veterinarians that can’t shelter dozens of animals that require more care than the daily ration of rotten fruit needed to keep them alive.

  • Joe Barnas

    This is so powerful. Powerful, the photography is powerful and evokes a lot of emotions. Sadness, reflection, angst.. the lighting was done perfectly by the way. Amazing job Mr. Saksa.

  • K S B

    The new and progressive governor of Jakarta is making waves in positive changes. He is loved by the people of Jakarta because he is making them believe that it is possible to save the doomed city. Good job, Governor Jokowi! Keep up the good work.

  • xxx

    Arghh, those pictures make me sick. I think they achieved their purpose.

  • Chavo Ramon

    Bear Baiting… Bull Fighting …. Dog and Cock Fighting the list goes on…

  • Coop

    Well at first glance this was really cool but after looking it up a bit it’s pretty sad : then again I’ve traveled a bit and people treat dogs pretty badly, and where I live a dog is part of the family and often more loved than people themselves.

  • Jason Dunn

    Animal slavery sucks whether it’s this, horse-drawn carriages, or eating them. Let’s evolve, already.

  • Sad

    Petapixel shares the disturbing context for page hits and advertising revenue

  • rolla

    So, for your information, this monkey-masked act has been here for a long time. Maybe started from the end of 80s or early 90s. I’ve seen a lot of them, and some of the connection of the monkey and the owner is heart touching. They slept together on the walk path even shared their food and drink.
    Cruelty? Agree. But for me it’s more just some other way of some people and yes, some monkey living. Life is hard, so what can an unemployed uneducated-well man and a monkey do for a living in a capital city of a developing country?

  • lyone

    the chain and the mask…………..don’t we all wear them both?

  • darknessdarkness

    I have to agree.

  • steviecil235

    мʏ ʀօօмαтɛ’ѕ ɛх-աιғɛ мαĸɛѕ $74 αɴ нօυʀ օɴ тнɛ ƈօмքυтɛʀ. ѕнɛ нαѕ вɛɛɴ ʟαιɖ օғғ ғօʀ 7 мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн нɛʀ ιɴƈօмɛ աαѕ $14зз5 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ƈօмքυтɛʀ ғօʀ α ғɛա нօυʀѕ. нօք օʋɛʀ тօ тнιѕ աɛвѕιтɛ fox200&#46­com

  • Jake

    Maybe, but they also share it because it’s pertinent, educational, photography-related, and it helps open your eyes to the fact that not every photo project on earth is about sunsets and babies. Hopefully, you’ve learned something today.

  • pganja

    I guess all cultures misuse animals, does the human resemblance make this extra sad? Great photos and good project.

  • Yuli Sectio Rini

    Remember Chuky………….

  • timber68

    I don’t understand why you give this person more pubilicity while at the same time remind us how cruel and grippy his art isl. Discredit this type of art by ignoriing it. Obviously u just wanted the story. Lord only knows what sexual fantasies these monkies fulfill for him. Maybe? Not touching kids. Dress the monkeys. Quess what peeps, if you know him peronally , keep a close eye on your kid

  • Anonymous

    People are worse than a oil spill.this is very disturbing images..poor monkeys slaves to humans.tie that human up in chains and let him dance and perform for money.

  • Stan Perry

    I dont know how to feel about the situation … Your are judging the situation with out actually knowing whats going on … You know part of a full story .,.. I say the chains around the animals neck might be kinda disturbing but its no different form a dog leash in public … so you shouldnt be quick to judge but quick to want to know more … somebody might love those monkeys and thats is there living … and it might be taken away because of your gross over reaction …. I like to know what the local public feels about it … how the kids feel about it … is it a bad thing ? i like to know if they are mistreated ? or maybe the owner is just poor …

  • Dawn

    This is so artistic, I freaking love it, they can freely take off the mask, I really love this.

  • Paul

    i’m not an animal welfarist or something similar but these pictures are so sad :-o

  • Mugget

    Awesome photos!

  • Kyle Gray

    This is a photo site so I will look at them for that and they are powerful pics. So dark and full of words. Regarding the cruelty piece well it’s life. We live on a planet with other humans so there will always be a dark side to our existence. @adrocked:disqus said it best.

    Edit: I clicked the up arrow and apparently you can up vote your own posts. Just sharing my accident up vote experience. :)

  • ianmcc

    Well I know what kind of nightmares I am having tonight Its like a Terry Gilliam mash up!

  • Jake

    Tell that to the monkeys.

  • Joey Duncan

    Petapixel is first and foremost a company, a company that sets out to make money. it’s not fair to blame them for that, If they profit from bringing this to their attention they are doing more than most, more than me, and probably more than everybody on this page. Cause and profit can co-exist, it’s how MOST causes are spread. There are far worse companies that use others demise for profit. See: 3am cable channel “help the hungry” ads. There is no reason a company shouldn’t be allowed to promote an issue under their normal operating conditions. Aside from that, if you pay enough attention to how Petapixel works most if not all are not “petapixel” writing these articles, it’s the writers, they choose what they want to write, the got to the editor and are approved and proofed. Then published.

  • Wonho lee

    Part of this work makes it really disturbing, not because neither photographer nor owners of monkey are cruel to monkeys, but because the work depicts too precisely the living condition of many mordern human being. The monkeys? Who cares about them? They are just like those thin models on fashion magazines nobody cares about. Their brain is delicious if cooked proper though.