‘Preman’ is an Indonesian colloquial term for a member that is part of an organised gang or otherwise known; a gangster. Preman have long been part of urban life in Indonesia with reports finding that ‘the confluence of crime syndicates with perceived legitimate political authority has a history extending as far back as the Medang Kingdom.’ (Cribb, R. 1990) The roles of gangsters were particularly dominant during the Indonesian Revolution (1945 -49) as they adopted political roles of local authorities with the rights to carry out powerful crimes. During this same time the roles of a gangster was also idolised as a new type of crime thriller emerged – the mob films. This desirable sub-genre of film was a result of the Great Depression as it glorified the elusive underbelly of the United States during prohibition. In a society disillusioned with the American way of life the films quickly grew in global popularity, especially in Indonesia.

Civilians in firing range (Cribb, R. 1990)

Fast track twenty years to 1965; The Indonesian government is overthrown by the military and any person who is opposed to the military dictatorship can be accused of being a communist. Over one million “communists” were murdered within a year as a direct result of this inquisition with army sourcing paramilitaries and gangsters to carry out the killings.

The Act of Killing (2012) is an award winning documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer which documents these killings during this dictatorship as it follows two former Indonesian gangster and their associates as they reenact the war atrocities they committed. It is quite confronting as “they proudly tell the stories about what they did.” (Oppenheimer, J. 2013) To understand why, Oppenheimer asked the men accountable to recreate the killings in whatever way they wished. Drawing on the influence of the Mob films they grew up watching, they chose to recreate the killings to be like the Hollywood films they so greatly admired.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 10.34.00 am
Congo in his younger years as he states “I would wear jeans to kill.” (Oppenheimer, J. 2013)

Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry are the two gangsters responsible and before leading the most powerful death squad in North Sumatra they were scalpers selling tickets outside the movie theatres in Medan. As they recreate the scenes of the killings we learn how Anwar “killed people who didn’t want to die, I forced them to die.” He also shows his methods where he states “I was influenced by gangster films where they always kill with wire. It’s faster with wire because the victim can’t grab it.” It is quite confronting to be said so casually and it has you think on the impact which Hollywood and popular culture can influence.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.01.49 pm
Recreating a killing scene as gangsters torture victim (Oppenheimer, J. 2013)

Watching the film you witness the longstanding corruption which has solidified into a core principle of the country as many powerful people continuously remind the audience that the term “gangster” in their society means “free man.” Further more, a leading newspaper publisher brags about how he manufactured evidence against suspected Communists, providing long lists for the death squads. (Boone, S. 2013) This corruption has stayed in place as ever since committing their atrocities, the perpetrators and their protégés have run the country, insisting they be honoured as national heroes by a docile (and often terrified) public. (Oppenheimer, J. 2013)

This is an extremely interesting aspect of Indonesia history which I had never even known to happen. This film brought to light not only the factual history but shed light on this part of Indonesian culture. Alongside the study of the influence the Western world has on Indonesia the insight into the aspect of Premen and the corruption in the culture is ever so daunting and eye opening.


Cribb, R. 1990, The Indonesia Killings of 1965 – 66: Studies from Java and Bali, Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University.

Oppenheimer, J. 2013, The Act of Killing, Denmark, viewed 15th March, 2016 <>

Boone, S. 2013, The Act of Killing, US, viewed 17th March 2016 <>


“Indonesians refuse to give up rice for other food products, despite rice shortage.”

 (Indonesian Investments, 2015).

Indonesian cuisine is a direct reflection on the country’s diverse culture set and traditions, with no commentary on Indonesian lifestyle complete without such a reference.

Let me rephrase.

No commentary on Indonesian food and culture would be complete without mentioning rice, white rice.



Available from <;

Joviality aside, rice is one of the world’s most important staple food products,  described as one of the most economically and culturally important food crops, in conjunction with its production being regarded as the single most important economic activity on the planet (IRRI, 2007).  With more than 2.7 billion people world wide relying on rice as their major food source (IRRI, 2007), rice provides 21% of global human per capita energy, and 15% of per capita protein (IRRI, 2007).  To contextualise this consumption, Indonesia has the largest per capita in the world, with Indonesians consuming approximately 140kg of rice per person per year (Indonesia Investments, 2015).

Nasi Putih, Javanese for ‘White Rice’.

Indonesia is the world’s third largest rice producer (Indonesia Investments, 2015).  Despite this, Indonesia is still a rice importer, and simultaneously striving to solely become an export nation (Indonesian Investments, 2015).  Indonesia does not have enough rice to suffice for a multitude of accounts.  Firstly, Indonesian rice farmers are engaging with non-optimal production techniques, which when coupled against a backdrop of prolonged drought due to the El Nino weather phenomenon (Jakarta Post, 2015), leaves Indonesia struggling to reach its goals of rice ‘self-sufficiency’ (Indonesian Investments, 2015), for which Indonesia has been struggling to attain, continually falling below the mark.  In recent years, the nation has needed to import roughly 300 million tons of rice in order to safeguard their rice reserves.   Henceforth, the Indonesian government has put into place a number of measures in order to assist in reaching goals pertaining to self-sufficiency, including the introduction and stimulation of technological innovations pertinent to and in correlation with, encouraging increased agricultural production by local farmers.  The increased allocation of state funds for the development of infrastructure in the agricultural sector is another measure, as is the repair and re-storement of over three million hectares of irrigation facilities (Indonesian Investments, 2015).  An approach by measurable contrast, the government has also attempted to curb the consumption of rice by the Indonesian population, through the instigation, production and promotion of campaigns such as ‘One day without rice per week” (Indonesian Investments, 2015).

rice fields

Rice fields, Yogyakarta


With the world expected to reach a population growth exceeding 9.6 billion in 2050 (UN, 2013), the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has realised the significance of this, joining in partnership with small rice farmers to develop programs with the intention of increasing rice production (Indonesian Investments, 2015).     The International Rice Research Institute acknowledges this challenge,  cognisant of the need to increase food production to meet future food security needs.  Heightened production rates however must be sustainably accomplished, equally minimising and offsetting potential negative environmental impacts, whilst providing reasonable income to those employed in the production phase.

This is me, riding through rice fields at Festival Mata Air 2016.

There is more to rice in Indonesia however, despite the impending shortage.   Every May at the end of the rice harvest season, there is a Rice Festival which has been occurring for many years past.  Rich in colour and tradition, villages are decorated and painted, flags hung, and small straw dolls placed around the houses in commemoration and tribute to the rice goddess, Dewi Sri (Bahrayni, 2014).   Farmers offer their gratitude and praise to Dewi Sri, and as one would expect, many rice dishes are cooked.   Alluding back to the rice goddess however, Dewi Sri figurines are placed in fields to protect and promote the fertility of wet rice agriculture, illustrating the cultural importance of rice production in a culture where Gods and Goddesses are revered (Indonesian Food Culinary, 2004).

From rice shortages, to innovative production and farming techniques, festivals and rice gods, it is henceforth difficult not to appreciate the importance of this humble food staple in the Indonesian culture, and its overarching infiltration into everyday Indonesian economic, political, social and cultural life.


Bahrayni, N. 2014. Harvest Festivals from around the world. Shareable. Viewed 8th April 2016, available at:

United Nations. 2013. World Population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. United Nations. Viewed 8th April, 2016, available at:

Indonesian Food Culinary. 2004. Indonesian Rice. Indonesian Food Culinary. Viewed 8th April 2016, available at:

Indonesia Investments. 2015. Rice. Indonesia Investments. Viewed 8th April, 2016, available at:

International Rice Research Institute. 2007. Rice Production Course. International Rice Research Institute. Viewed 8th April 2016, available at:

* All images on this blog have been taken by the author, except Image One which has been referenced underneath the visual. 


(POST C) Andres Busrianto and the Geneng Street Art Project


For thousands of years art has existed in many different forms and spaces. In the last few decades’ street art has become an integral part of the art world. Often laced with a political or social message; empty walls, streets, public spaces and urban environments have become a large and powerful place for artists to leave their mark. Contemporary public art and street art (sculpture, murals, woodcuts) first started appearing across Yogyakarta during the late 1990’s at the hands of low-key of artist groups. In the early 2000’s graffiti and street art rose to prominence as lots of young creatives began to see it’s potential.

Andres Busrianto (Anagard) is an Indonesian artist who I had the pleasure of meeting on a university trip to Yogyakarta. Busrianto spent his school years drawing and painting, his passion eventually led him on to study fine arts (majoring in painting) at Institute of Art Indonesia in Yogyakarta. In recent years he has found a love for street art choosing to working with detailed stencils.

He draws a great deal of his inspiration from the notion of human existence, his family, friends and social settings. At the heart of his beliefs is egalitarianism, a political philosophy that favours equality: People should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect (Arneson 2002). This can be seen through the imagery in his pieces, which are a “weapon” for protesting against the injustices and corruption caused by the Indonesian government. He hopes that his art can encourage people to look at the world with an open mind and unite communities.

Painting under the watchful eyes of the law.

Andres has a strong relationship with Geneng, the village he currently resides in just outside Yogyakarta. A humanitarian at heart, Andres was one of the first people to volunteer to help rebuild the village after a devasting earthquake hit the region in 2006. The Geneng Street Art Project (GSAP) is the “crazy” lovechild of Busrianto and his artist group called Ruang kelas SD. The GSAP is the main annual event on the group’s calendar. The idea to fill the bare walls of Geneng with murals started in 2013 when he joined a free street art tour in Berlin and contributed to street art festivals in Lithuania and Poland. Busrianto believes that GSAP is a way that he can continue contributing to the local community by bringing tourism and providing education.

The Geneng Street Art Project logo.

The most interesting part of this project is that the murals are painted on the side of resident’s houses. He negotiates with village members remaining sensitive to culture, customs and religion. Despite doing his best to mediate with the village, Andres has had clashes with locals about what is put on the walls, having to remove what he has done or change the design slightly. Using social media and the Internet he finds and invites local and international artists to contribute to the GSAP each year.

An artist collaborating on a wall piece.
The wall owner infront of one of Andres’ mural in Geneng.

Andres says that art in a gallery is by far the best art but it is often inaccessible in a country like Indonesia. Street art is public art that everyone can connect with, often reflecting the views of the general public. There is something slightly rebellious, which allows it to transcend international cultural differences and unite people who may not have been able to express their thoughts otherwise. He is keen to show the rest of Indonesia and the world the importance of public street art. Looking to the future he wants he wants to document the evolution of the project and turn it into a beautiful coffee table book.

Reference List:

Notes from interview with Andres Busrianto

Arneson, R. 2013, Egalitarianism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, viewed 30 March 2016, < >.

*All images taken by myself or with permission from Andres’ Instagram*



In 1986, New York academic Langdon Winner quoted that, ‘what matters not is technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded’. For in understanding and conceding that technology can provoke, challenge and necessitate a better quality of life, it can also contribute to a ‘persistent and troubling presence’ (Winner, 1986). We have the capacity to explore and experiment with, the recurrent emergence of innovative technologies, extending and adjudging their success and failure in experimental and unprecedented contexts; in doing so, we can begin to ‘consciously take responsibility for the Earth’s system, acknowledging that nature is not just what created us, it is also something we create, and that we can help sustain’ (Harris, 2012).

And in 2016, we can observe conscious environmental and sustainable responsibility being integrated with fervor in a multitude of domains, equally exaggerated and subtly understated. From urban planning and city living, to the agricultural field and architectural design, there has been a shift in the way emerging technologies are interposed.

grGreenhost’s inner courtyard.

Yogyakarta’s Greenhost Boutique Hotel in Indonesia is one such example, with the hotel and architectural industries by large being significant undertakers and integrators of environmental redesigns. In an interview conducted face to face in February 2016 with hotel manager Albert Yonas Kusuma (2016, pers.comm., 26th February)  I was able to discern how the Greenhost group have designed a ‘responsible hotel that meets Greenhost’s obligation to minimise its ecological impact towards the environment’ (A.Y.Kusuma, 2016, pers.comm., 26th February). Kusuma’s expression is a purposive one, that reflects on the notion that ‘the human population can resonate and identify within themselves on how they are the major natural force shaping planetary development’ (Harris, 2012). Furthering the discussion, Kusuma (2016, pers.comm., 26th February)   elaborated on the holistic nature of the hotel. Materials are sourced second hand and up-cycled, the hotel kitchen sells surplus crops to other retailers and restaurants, details were given regarding the frugality of the hotel in reference to its energy usage, and there is the development of Greenhost’s own Social Corporate Value program, which empowers the local Yogya community through the transference of knowledge on city farming, ‘supplying them with the information they need to become more independent’ (A.Y.Kusuma, 2016, pers.comm., 26th February).

That Greenhost is focusing on the communal education of city farming and reducing food waste is important. For ‘as much as half of all food grown is lost or wasted before and after it reaches the consumer’ (Lundqvist et al, 2008), with this set to increase due to the proliferation of individuals living in high density, urban environments. Statistics forecast this to reach 70% of the world’s population by the year 2050 (United Nations, 2008), and with this rapid onset urban inhabitation comes the escalating concern for ‘avoiding food waste in all parts of the food chain…which is crucial for the food security agenda’ (Global Food Security, 2012).


hydroGreenhost’s hydroponics on its rooftop garden farm.

The increasing social awareness with which the importance of self-reliance and self- sufficiency in food production is realized, is an appreciation that Greenhost has considered in its structural, aesthetic and holistic integrity, with the most visual example being the hydroponic set-up running through the inner courtyard, for which pickings are harvested and taken straight to the restaurant. A follow up interview with Kusuma led to additional information being shed on Greenhost’s architect and designer, Paulus Mintarga, who interestingly is also a co-owner of the hotel. Mintarga’s body of work is increasingly peppered with sustainable projects, however he is quoted as saying that he ‘does not want to by trapped by the concept of eco-sustainability’ (Galatio, 2014), elaborating that he perceives Indonesians to now hold ‘a forced awareness’ (Galatio, 2014) on the subject. In summation however, Mintarga’s integration of environmental technologies such as the hydroponic scheme and turning it into a core part of the hotel’s framework, is a clear example of the changing composition of global food distribution (and further the changing realm of architecture), whereby it becomes increasingly localised and a reflection of small social movements that align themselves with the justification and rationale that ‘humanity and the environment can learn to live in harmony’ (Harris, 2012).

Thus we come full circle, returning to Winner’s (1986) quote that ‘what matters not is technology itself, but the social or economic system in which it is embedded’.


ghView from the top. Looking down from the rooftop garden.


Galatio, M. 2014. Holistic Design with Paulus Mintargus. Whiteboard Journal. Viewed 08/04/2016, available at:

Global Food Security. 2012, The smart way to reduce food waste, United Kingdom, viewed 25th October 2015 <>

 Harris, S. 2012, Pushing the Boundaries: The Earth System in the Anthropocene, The Schumacher Institute for Sustainable Systems, Bristol, United Kingdom

 Ihde, Don 1993, ‘Technology,’ Philosophy of Technology: An introduction, New York: Paragon House, pp.47-64

Lundqvist Fraiture  C.Molden  D, 2008, Saving water: from field to fork—curbing losses and wastage in the food chain, SIWI Policy Brief, Stockholm, Sweden

United Nations2008,World Urbanization ProspectsThe 2007 Revision Population Database, viewed 25/08/2015, available at :<>

Winner, L. 1986, “Do Artifacts have Politics?” in The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, pp. 19-39.

* All photographs used in this blog post are the author’s own.

Post B: Post Consumer waste amongst the Fashion Industry

Undeniably I fit the typical consumer profile of the Fashion Industry, as I far too frequently indulge my passion. As clothes and fashion are something that I am passionate about, I decided to research the impacts of my consumerism in an effort to reduce my ecological footprint. Whilst I was convinced that I was being environmentally conscious by donating my clothes to charity and shopping at Op shops by buying pre-loved goods, through further research I discovered these choices are not of themselves enough to avert or even minimise environmental repercussions. It is an amalgamation of initiatives that need to be implemented consciously by corporations and individuals involved the fashion industry. Ironically, owing to the insatiable demand for fashion buying second hand clothes these days may become obsolete, due to falling prices of new clothing making new clothes almost as cheap (Claudio, 2007). This would ensure that we fall into the trap of keeping clothes in our wardrobe, suspecting we will have no reward and that ultimately leads to landfill.

Although I was generally aware of the detriment to the environment of landfill, it shocked me to find out that Nylon and Polyester were not biodegradable ( The production of polyester has doubled within the last fifteen years but it is the production of these fabrics, which is most alarming. (Claudio, 2007). They are not only energy intensive but are comprised largely of crude oils, which in turn release harmful emissions such as volatile organic compounds and hydrogen chloride all harmful to health. (Claudio, 2007). Whilst landfill may be an important issue when it comes to dumping clothes, the issue of water sustainability arises during production. And then there is cotton- popular in the fashion industry due to its flexibility. Cotton is one of the most water dependent crops in the world. In addition cotton crops in the US, are responsible for a quarter of all pesticides used. The USDA states that the USA is one of the biggest exporters of cotton worldwide. (Claudio, 2007). So the environmental fallout occurs at each stage of production. Production of cotton is dominant  (due to US subsidies) and the prices are low in comparison. Accordingly cotton is exported to nations like China with low labour costs. The economic impact of low prices is what forces the fashion industry to globalise without much thought and allows the proliferation of cheap clothing in consumers’ wardrobes eventually ending up as landfill. 

In our era, the younger demographic is more conscious of the waste produced in the fashion industry and is creating a goal towards a more sustainable future (Bosica, 2014). The shocking statistics are that in the US in 2012, 14 million tons of textile waste was generated with only 16 percent being recycled. (Bosica, 2014).

H&M is a global fashion label with over 3,500 stores in 55 countries (H&M, Sustainability report, 2014). Whilst it is a consumer funded initiative H&M aims to cover sustainability not only in recycling clothing, but promoting fair wages and a holistic approach to the production of clothing. “Our vision is that all our operations are run in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.” (Helmerson, H&M). As the initiative is mainly produced within the company H&M aims to partner with stakeholders, suppliers and NGOS. Within the company they have 170 colleagues working purely on sustainability for the company. Their holistic approach is a seven-step program, which includes a change the mindset and encourage fashion conscious consumers, to be “climate smart” and to ensure working conditions for those on the production side are fair. 

Currently the most important H&M initiative is “Closing the Loop”. This encourages H&M shoppers to recycle their clothing. Through their advertisements and in-store recycling program collecting garments their collection has risen dramatically from 2013, to 2014. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.11.32 pm.png

(H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, 2014)Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.32.30 pm.png

(H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report, 2014)

Advertising is a key approach in achieving these figures. A year ago H&M launched an educational cartoon style video outlining their plan (see below). It embraces diversity and recycling.

(H&M Closing the Loop, 2014)

(H&M Closing the Loop, 2015)

The most recent video above features diversity through gender and multicultural models in order to represent fashion and overturn stereotypes. The premise of the video is that “there are no rules in fashion” as it narrates to the viewer examples of fashion sins. The powerful ending in the advertisement declares that the only rule in fashion is to recycle. These methods of advertisement are fashionable and engaging, targeted at H&M’s diverse audience around the world. This initiative both challenges existing fashion clichés and introduces a new recycling concept to their target market. Such initiatives can only ensure that the recycling ethos becomes embedded in consumer consciousness and ultimately reduces the environmental footprint of the clothing industry and its by products.


Green Choices2016, [Homepage of Green Choices], [Online]. 
Available: [2016, March 28].

H&M Conscious Actions Sustainability Report 2014       2014, , H&M.

Garmet Collecting [Homepage of H&M], [Online]. 
Available: [2015, 28 March].

H&M on Closing the Loop [Homepage of H&M], [Online]. 
Available: [2016, 28 March].

Bosica, T. 2014, "Human Ecology", vol. Spring 2014, pp. 10.

Claudio, L. 2007, "Waste Couture - Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry", Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 115, no. 9.

Packham, A. 2015, 15th of September-last update, H&M's Latest Fashion Campaign 'Close The Loop' Features A Brilliantly Diverse Array Of Models 
[Homepage of The Huffington Post], [Online]. 
Available: [2016, 28 March].

Sowray, B. 2015, , H&M launches 'Close the Loop', a collection made using your recycled clothes. 
Available: [2016, 28 March].