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].

POST A: Preservation in Java, dubbing in Jakarta – the value of understanding unalike framework

The importance of context can be viewed by a push and pull system between the new and the old. New and different experiences changing the shape of paradigms facilitate valuable deviations of everyday life – while the old framework keeps the momentum and stability going which maintains the foundation of the narrative to begin with. Designing can be a very isolated or applied action depending on your intentions, when designing for a particular context one’s intentions are far more direct and targeted to that particular framework’s wants and needs. Understanding the very fabric you are designing for is fundamental to the significance of said designs – an example of which is found when examining the response to the declining forests and landscapes in Indonesia.

Geological sketch of the Citatah Crater - Dr. Budi Brahmantyo
Geological sketch of the Citatah Crater – Dr. Budi Brahmantyo

Dr. Budi Brahmantyo, geologist and artist calls attention to the significance of preservation in Java with his hand drawn geological sketches. Belonging to a small production space in Indonesia, Brahmantyo harnesses the current environmental context of West Java with the traditional practice of hand rendering geological landscapes. With the art of preservation becoming wildly concerning to the Javanese, Budi Brahmantyo’s artworks and teachings have reared the concept of ‘Geotourism’. Budi and his colleges at the University have designed ‘Geotreks’ for students, journalists and other patrons to visit places of geological issues, and they are encouraged to capture the phenomenon through drawing. With this – artist and doctor Brahmantyo has reacted to the pressing environmental concern within Indonesian context and designed not only visually beautiful artworks but raised awareness landslides, volcanic eruptions, foresting, mining and many more.

GeoTrek Indonesia - Tour Snapshot from
GeoTrek Indonesia – Tour Snapshot from

“Geotourism is a way to convey geological issues to general public. It is actually intended to make people aware of environmental conditions in Bandung. People need to know and care about the problems that are arising and will arise” In this sense this individual has emerged from his context and facilitated the narrative in a valuable way through his designs – supplying something of designerly substance to framework that was demanding it.

Agora in Mall Taman Anggrek, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Agora in Mall Taman Anggrek, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Context is the way in which we are born and raised, it affects every decision we make and informs why we care about certain issues, whether environmental, social, economical, spiritual or political. AbdouMaliq discusses the value in introducing new ideas to contextual framework “bringing differences into some kind of relationship produces unforeseen capacities and experiences that are valuable-valuable because they extend what we think is possible.” While those who have been surrounded by the mountainous landscapes of West Java find its deterioration a pressing issue – the paradigm of Jakarta and its citizens is unalike and calls for a different design consideration. Immersed in its absolutely saturated ‘cityness’ – Jakarta faces problems with movement and consumption, and this is portrayed in their ‘cut and paste’ like artworks and clothing. The citizens of Central Java, being bombarded by consumerist culture and dense populations struggle to find economic autonomy and identity – as a result have taken to grasping at western logo’s and fusing them with other logos or motifs. This form of design can seem like a blind capitalist collage but with understanding of Jakarta’s youth – trying to navigate city life and globalisation – it is an attempt at entrepreneurship and urban politics.

Print design from Unkle347, commenting on consumerism
Print design from Unkle347, commenting on consumerism

Jakarta is a jungle of urban politics where the poor are picked at by local officials and must band together in Kampungs for social stability. Designer Dendy Darman discusses fashion label Unkl347 and image theft for means of creation. “What matters is whether a designer is ‘conscious’ of what they are doing. Consciousness, Dendy claims, is what separates the pirates – the low-level capitalists popping up in city streets and dimly-lit warehouses throughout the archipelago – from the cut ’n’ pasters like him.”

In this sense, as individuals navigate different communities and circumstances – the very things they try to comprehend and hold value to are fundamental to designing for context. Designing for different contexts means examining the unique concerns and details of a circumstance and producing something that resonates with these values. If you contrast these values often this can be a significant comment as well – but ignoring the details of a context often results in a redundant design that doesn’t permeate any viable need to anyone.

Bernadette Keil


– Bdg, J. (2011). Geotrek Indonesia ~ Kawah Cibuni (2/2). [image] Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2015].

– Hawe Setiawan, H. (2013). Preserving landscapes – Inside Indonesia. [online] Inside Indonesia. Available at: [Accessed 26 Apr. 2015].

– Luvaas, B. (2008). Global fashion, remixed – Inside Indonesia. [online] Inside Indonesia. Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2015].

– Simone, A. (2010). City life from Jakarta to Dakar. New York: Routledge.

– Theunis, R. (2012). Agora in Mall Taman Anggrek, Jakarta, Indonesia. [image] Available at: [Accessed 27 Apr. 2015].

-Unkl347, (2011). [image] Available at: – [Accessed 27 Apr. 2015].