POST D: Political mark marking and cross-cultural collaboration

'Save our Earth' by Taring Padi Collective. Print can be purchased from the following website:
‘Save our Earth’ by Taring Padi Collective. Print can be purchased from the following website:

Art collective group Taring Padi, based in Yogyakarta, have been established since the late 90’s and are still a strong force in the Indonesian art and political communities.

Their work can be akin to the political cartoons we see in Sydney Papers – with extra labour of love and a lot more line work, every woodblock print they do makes a political message or outcry against the government for the people. Their work can be seen all over the streets in Indonesia, but also in well-established galleries and museums (although they don’t believe in “art for art’s sake”) and in 2011 they published a book displaying 10 years of hard work and material Seni Membongar Tirani translating to ‘Art Smashing Tyranny’.

'Vampyr II' - painting by European Edvard Munch in 1902 showing line work and emotive parallels to Taring Padi
‘Vampyr II’ – lithograph and woodcut work by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, 1902, showing line and emotive parallels to Taring Padi

Their controversial and powerful prints often include farmers and laborers or overarching government figures and the thick line work in the blocks give a dense sense of anger and emotion – similar in aesthetic to the paintings of Edvard Munch with their simplistic faces and wild line movement. The independent group from Indonesia was discussed in The Jakarta Post and parallels were drawing to the political state of East Germany which was a very intriguing comparison…

“The group instead seeks to rebuild a people’s culture, and therefore emphasizes its social commitment and the importance of siding with the people. To express its ideas, Taring Padi’s works often deal with socialist items and symbols that were forbidden for decades under authoritarian rule.”

I will never holey understand the meaning behind these posters and prints, not only due to the language barrier but also because of my placement outside of Indonesia’s political context. I will never be as angry or as upset as someone who directly suffers governmental injustice in Yogyakarta – but in the act of cross-cultural collaboration I believe the Taring Padi collective are very open with sharing their views and methods with other cultural groups, either in Yogya or internationally e.g. the Gang Festival of 2006 held in Sydney. “Acquisition of cultural knowledge takes time and energy, and there are tradeoffs to developing attributional knowledge.” (Bird, A, & Osland, 2005)

the Taring Padi printing process, 2011 -
the Taring Padi printing process, 2011 –

It’s not always just passionate protesting but the examination of old and unhealed wounds from the term of Indonesia’s second president Suharto – discussing and depicting in their prints shocking themes of mass murder and exploitation – they aren’t worried about if their art will be pretty, they are spreading awareness and making art speak for the people. Considering a lot of their material is illegal or criminal in their act of protesting I think this type of printmaking is courageous and brave, the carving of each block and the time it takes to make each poster is very intentional and saturated with meaning.


– Bird, A, & Osland, JS 2005, ‘Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration’, International Studies of Management & Organization

– Conference of Birds Gallery, (2009). Taring Padi’s Workshop at Worldwell, Protest Site. Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

–, (2011). Taring Padi Woodcut Posters | Waves of Change. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2015].

– Eliot, K. (2011). Taring Padi Artist Collective. Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

–, (n.d.). Justseeds: Other Artists: Save Our Earth. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

– Keller, A. (2012). Art for the people – Inside Indonesia. [online] Inside Indonesia. Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

–, (n.d.). Edvard Munch. Vampire II (Vampyr II) (1895-1902). [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

– Sydney Morning Herald, (2006). Cultural exchange makes a virtue of art with attitude.

– Taring Padi, (n.d.). Taring Padi. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

–, (2015). Taring Padi: Yogyakarta artists steal attention in Germany. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

POST C: Living rural and city lives – Alexander and Marta born and raised in Indonesia

Upon searching for people to interview I posted a facebook status asking if anyone had any family or friends from Indonesia. Anyone who lived or worked there, who was born there and then moved here. I thought it was going to be a desperate plea for help – alas, more than 10 people contacted me immediately with people they know, telephone numbers where given, email addresses. It became apparent to me just how connected to Indonesia we truly are.

Photo of Marta supplied by her I first interviewed a friend of a friend’s wife – Marta, who was eager to answer some questions. Born in Jakarta 44 years ago, she moved to and from Australia throughout her life for study and work, always going back to one another. I was curious to find out how she found our societies different. Living in Bogor from 1979-1993, Marta commuted to Jakarta for more than a year and then decided to move there because the commute was far too long and busy. Living in a share house in Jakarta, Marta had a cleaner that collected their rubbish bins and took them to the outdoor rubbish bins – similar to our process in Sydney for some – however she did comment on the pollution in the waterways and rivers, where people readily threw there rubbish and waste.

“Everywhere you walk on the street in Jakarta you will see people littering even when there are rubbish bins nearby.” – Marta

She also commented on her town Bogor and their lack of recycling as a difference, as there was one bin for all products. Marta worked in the city of Jakarta as a consultant in a Tax and Accounting Firm and enjoyed this job because she could apply her studies from the University of Sydney into practice. I was interested to see how this differed from her parents, who grew up in North Sumatra, living in a village and growing their own food.

Image given to me by Marta as an example of the local water source her parents used in their community.
Image given to me by Marta as an example of the local water source her parents used in their community.

There wasn’t so much of a waste problem because they lived more naturally than the urban areas of Jakarta – which are polluted with branded and packaged waste. Rural villages often have organic waste they put in a little hole and burn down – having no regular rubbish collectors. A reoccurring theme of my interview with Marta was her comments on the inequality of Indonesia, with rich and poor being the only two classes of people – there is no in-between. Growing up in Australia I can’t imagine there being no middle class, someone who can survive in some aspects of both socioeconomic groups, and this was very surprising to me.

Part map of Indonesia, Klaten - Alexander's home town pictured in the centre
Part map of Indonesia, Klaten – Alexander’s home town pictured in the centre

Contrary to the first interview I conducted with Marta, the second interview I took with Alexander, a 20 year old student and part time marketing manager. Alex grew up in Klaten – an hour away from Yogyakarta, a ‘rather small town’, where his father also grew up. He commented that growing up in Klaten has kept him grounded throughout his big moves throughout his life to bigger and more urbanised cities (moving to Singapore in 2006 and then to Sydney in 2011). “The community was 70-30 mix of Indigenous Javanese and Indonesian Chinese. I still visit home at least twice every year and development is quite stagnant” Alex also commented on the rivers being polluted with waste, which is a common habit in Indonesia. He also stated that growing up in Indonesia there was no concept of ‘environmentalism’, these issues weren’t talked about or a large concern in his community, now moving from there to Singapore, then Australia and learning more on the topic the exposure to environmental concerns has caused him to be more conscious.

Alexander as a young child in Indonesia - supplied by him and used with permission.
Alexander as a young child in Indonesia – supplied by him and used with permission.

“I grew up in very safe and simple surroundings that gives me the motivation to stay grounded no matter where I am in life.” – Alexander Enrico, 20


– Interview conducted by Keil B. with Enrico A. and *** M. (2015) Growing up in Indonesia.

–, (n.d.). Klaten Location Guide. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2015].

POST B: Does landfill make noise? – The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Tania walks through her town Cateura, Paraguay - a community built on landfill.
Tania walks through her town Cateura, Paraguay – a community built on landfill.

‘Landfill Harmonic’ – a documentary filmed in a poor slum in Paraguay called Cateura tells the story of school children playing instruments made from the garbage of their community’s landfill. The area of Cateura is essentially a waste dump that people have made a home on – and with the area so poverty stricken, over 40% of its children don’t finish schooling and are often abandoned. To keep their education and spirits up musician Favio Chávez and local garbage picker Nicolás Gómez ‘Cola’ formed a partnership, hand crafting instruments from cans, cutlery, pipes, crates and other garbage. These instruments dissuade the kids from playing in the dumps and turn their interests towards learning music.  Not only are real wooden instruments expensive, but the handmade instruments of Chávez’s actually sound better – and the children engage with them more.

“A community like Cateura, is not a place to have a violin, in fact, a violin is worth more than a house here.” – Favio Chávez

Saxaphone made from recycled pipes and bottle caps.

In light of the documentary, the Recycled Orchestra has been given funds and support from all over the world – and the exposure of Paraguay’s environmental deterioration through the film has given the community some much needed media attention. Flooding rivers in the area have been known to infiltrate the dump site and spread its toxic residues – increasing the pollution and contamination wildly. “…about a third of the nation’s forest and woodland area has been lost. The absence of trees contributes to the loss of soil through erosion. Water pollution is also a problem. Its sources include industrial pollutants and sewage… The nation’s cities produce about 0.4 million tons of solid waste per year. Some of Paraguay’s cities have no facilities for waste collection.” As stated by Encyclopedia of the Nations. With these environmental issues exacerbating due to the lack of governmental waste collection – the citizens of Cateura, Paraguay have made lives off their trash. Most people are seen chasing after trucks of trash as it spills on to the road for collection or a valuable find, while kids often play and wander amongst it – which poses a safety risk.

Violin in the making..
Violin in the making..

Through Chávez’s program of using recycled materials he has hand picked with associates, they have created a spiritual and educational use for the trash they live amongst. Now these children are so active and inspired they have begun travelling together as an orchestra. The group gives them social stability and creative goals for themselves. The orchestra is self sufficient however its media exposure has now opened up avenues for donations and volunteer workers for their community. Not only has this program taught music to underprivileged and uninspired children of South America, it has also taught them how to build and manufacture their own product/end use designs out of the very trash that surrounds them – decreasing the landfill and finding a worthwhile use for the materials. Apart from the education not only to the children but the exposure of waste issues it has given these children an aspiration to make more of themselves than they ever thought possible.

“My life would be worthless without music.” – Tania, 15 years old, Cateura Paraguay.


– Koul, P. (2013). Viewpoint: Landfill Harmonic putting tunes to waste | The Alternative. [online] The Alternative. Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

– Landfill Harmonic, (2012). Teaser of the upcoming documentary film “Landfill Harmonic”.

Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

–, (n.d.). The Landfillharmonic. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

–, (n.d.). Environment – Paraguay – problem, area, farming, policy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

– NewsOK, (2014). Paraguay’s capital issues alert over floods. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Apr. 2015].

– Orquesta Reciclados Cateura, (n.d.). Orquesta Reciclados Cateura. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

Blog Post C – Design & Culture – Indonesia

Design & Culture – Indonesia

Indonesian design focuses on traditional aspects inspired from their cultural background however, many Indonesian designers have shifted the focus onto combining both contemporary elements with traditional patterns and symbols. Indonesian designers seem to draw a lot of their inspirations from their cultural background that influence their design intention and outcome.

Indonesian design draws heavily on their cultural background, focusing on detailed designs that is visually rich and vivid. Carolyne, and Indonesian graphic designer who grew up in Papua, East Indonesia in a small town explained how “design” as an industry was not well known or really understood of. Despite that however, Carolyne have developed a sentiment and integrated the “papua pattern”, traditionally geometric and symmetrical in her design. Another aspects that is integral to Carolyne’s design inspiration is nature, specifically in “trees and flowers”.

Double Flower Angle, Carolyne Natasha 2014
Double Flower Angle, Carolyne Natasha 2014

On the other hand, Andes, designer from Indonesia came from a small village in Titang, in Klaten City, Central Java, grew up in a small village surrounded by “rice fields, rivers and mountains” which inspired him towards sustainable design. His childhood was filled with simple toys such as “toy cars with cigarettes packaging” and kuda pelepah pisang, “toy guns made with banana leaves” and watched “wayang kulit” (shadow puppet shows), influenced his design philosophies of using sustainable or reusable materials in his design.

Kurusetra: G-W, Andes Vergia 2014
Kurusetra: G-W, Andes Vergia 2014

The design scene in Indonesia is not the most prominent in the world, but is definitely growing. However, there is a large contrast in perspective of the current design industry, with Carolyne voicing that “many people in Indonesia are not aware with design” and that on occasion, clients “ paid me very low and i really disappointed.”. It’s interesting to note that “There are a lot of Indonesian designer that have a good reputation internationally for what they have done in design scene”, but not locally, despite having “as good as a graphic design studio’s work”. Both Caroylne and Andes do agree upon the fact that the Indonesian design scene is growing, especially internationally with designers such as Singgih Kartono who designed the Magno radio.

Wooden Radio by Magno
Wooden Radio by Magno

Indonesian designers’s design principal seem to infuse with their cultural believes and practices, evident in both the incorporation of the “papua pattern” and Andes’s sustainability principals. As said by Andes, “As a young people we should try to conserve our culture.. Culture is not just national treasure, culture is identity.. We never want our culture abandoned and disappear, then we just realised and regret..”

Vergia, A 2014, Kurusetra: G-W’, Behance, viewed on 29 April, 2015, <>

Natsha, C 2014, Double Flowerangle, Behance, viewed on 29 April 2015, <>

Magno Design 2014, Process, Magno Design, viewed on 29 April 2015, <;

Blog Post C – Punk Rock & Indonesia

Punk Rock & Indonesia; PUNK NOT DEAD

Indonesia, often associated as a popular holiday destination with beautiful destinations and polite citizens have a darker history behind all the partying and paradise spotlight. During the late 90s, a major event shifted the social, cultural and political tides in Indonesia with the downfall of President Suharto in 1998 (SMH 2008). After 31 years of strict, conservative but more importantly, repressive regime was finally overturn, which resulted in a switch into a democratic regime that was followed up with social progression and freedom of speech (ABC 2014).

This very well may not have happened without the loud protest of the punks in Indonesia. With one of the biggest punk rock scenes in the world, the punk movement can be perceived  as a gateway to countercultural ideas and radical political views that question traditional thinking (VICE 2014). The punks believe that they “have power and autonomy” (ABC 2014 para. 11) to challenge the “oppressive, corrupt, violent and authoritarian regime” (ABC 2014 para. 11) that is their country’s government (ABC 2014). Through music as their medium of expressing, they educate the young Indonesian youths living on the streets about freedom, independence and a community that breaks away from the Sharia, the Muslim moral code (Noisey Vice, 2014).

Karli Kk Munn 2014, A small part of the massive Indonesian punk scene
Karli Kk Munn 2014, A small part of the massive Indonesian punk scene

The punks offer much more than just ideals and radical political perspective, they also educate the youths on the street through music evident in the punk rock band Majinal whom through workshops teaches the youths also known as the “Anak Merdeka”,the free children, to sing and play the ukulele both as a way of expression and to make a living (ABC 2014).

However, the Indonesian government have a different perspective on the punk movement, evident in the highly publicised incident in December 2011, where 65 youths were detained at a punk-rock concert due to “their threat to Islamic values” (The Guardian 2011 para. 13) in Aceh.

The teens that were placed in a 10 day reeducation program had their hair shaven, were forced to dress in military clothing, pray and sing nationalist songs(VICE 2014).

Chaideer Mahyuddin 2014, unks being forced to wear military uniforms and sing nationalist songs in the military re-education camp
Chaideer Mahyuddin 2014, Punks being forced to wear military uniforms and sing nationalist songs in the military re-education camp

The local police chief Iskandar Hasan expressed that “they are not violating human rights” and was just “trying to put them back on right moral path” (The Guardian para. 13) after throwing the punks into a pool for “spiritual cleansing” (The Guardian 2011).

One of the detained youths however rebut this by claiming that “We didn’t hurt anyone. This is how we’ve chosen to express ourselves. Why are they treating us like criminals?” (The Guardian 2011 para. 11).

The punk movement challenges the repressive government beliefs and judicial system of adultery  punishable by death, gays being thrown into jail and restriction in thought outside the Sharia (Noisey Vice, 2014). With the election of President Joko Widodo, the first real democratically elected president in Indonesia, and a self proclaimed “metal-head” (ABC 2013) perhaps true democracy and freedom of speech /thought can be realised. However, until then the punks will continue their crusade to fight corruption, repression and authoritarian rule.


Associated Press in Banda Aceh 2011, ‘Indonesian punks detained and shaved by police’, The Guardian, 14 December 2011, viewed on 22 April 2015, <>

Mcdonald, H 2008, ‘No End to Ambition’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2008, viewed on 22 April 2015, <>

Melville, K 2014, ‘Indonesian punk: PUNK’S NOT DEAD!’, ABC, 30 November 2014, viewed on 22 April 2015, <>

Music World 2014, “PUNK ROCK VS SHARIA LAW”, Noisey Vice, 26 February 2014, viewed on 22 April 2015, <>


Chaideer Mahyuddin 2014, Punks being forced to wear military uniforms and sing nationalist songs in the military re-education camp, Aceh, viewed on 22 April 2015 <;

Karli Kk Munn, 2014, A small part of the massive Indonesian punk scene, Indonesia, viewed on 22 April 2015, <;