PROJECT – Kompos Kit

Alessio Colli, Meredith Besseling, Nathanael Ivan, Sarah Fleetwood, Brinda Ambaram, Ellie Locke


The area of focus for our project has been tackling organic waste in the household using composting and a variety of other permaculture techniques. Our research topic was largely inspired by an interview with Aji, Jess’s brother-in-law who is an agricultural researcher and has implemented his own composting system and vegetable garden in his local restaurant. On further investigation, we found startling statistics. In 2008, garbage relating to organic matter (food scraps, vegetables, leaves etc) was estimated to make up a massive 58% of Indonesian waste generation (Anjani, 2011, p23). In 2011, household waste reached 16.7 million ton/year – over twice the proportion of any other sector (Anjani, 2011, p27). Our aim is to reduce the output of organic waste from rural communities into landfill, whilst simultaneously introducing more sustainable gardening and, on a larger scale, farming in central java.

Indonesia’s traditional farming methods were forgotten after the ‘Green Revolution’ was implemented in 1970 as a response to the global food shortage. This program was funded by the Suharto government and focused on the use of irrigation, high-yielding varieties, multiple monocultures of the rice crop and a drastic increase in the use of chemical fertilisers. Despite increasing short-term crop yields, the capitalising nature of the Green Revolution has had detrimental consequences on Indonesian farmers, agricultural practices, soil fertility and finances (Subejo, 2009). Likewise, the narrow-minded goal to improve quantities with a focus on fertilizers and infrastructure has made Indonesians oblivious to the impact of consumption’s other hand – waste.A3 COLOUR_BARREL FRUIT MARKET

A combination of traditional farming techniques with modern permaculture know-how such as the use of polycultures, companion planting and crop rotation would create an environmentally and economically sustainable future for Indonesian farmers and consumers. Organic farming would minimize disease outbreak, increase soil nutrition, and hence boost production (Edwards, 2010). Composting is an easy method of organic farming that could overshadow the convenience of waste-burning. Our Kompos Kit includes an upcycled 44 gallon drum, spray can for compost moistening, water bottles and balloons for soil aeration testing, marigold seeds for companion planting and a pair of gardening gloves. Each family receives one kit, including a double-sided pamphlet of comprehensive graphic illustrations.


Over a period of sixteen weeks volunteers engage with village communities to implement localised composting systems that yield rich fertilisers and make use of household and garden waste. The fertilisers are then used in conjunction with permaculutural practices to enhance the viability of crops and domestic gardens. At the end of the process, progress is evaluated and improvements are made to ensure a more efficient cycle.

16 Week schedule_UPDATED VECTORS_V1

Kampung members are more likely to adopt this new composting system if they are involved in personalisation and socialisation through communal activities such as painting the compost bin. In time, the benefits of this waste-minimising system will be proven as their dependent expense on chemical fertilisers diminishes and their soil and crops begin to prosper. Likewise an increase in biodiversity in the surrounding ecosystems will, over time, positively affect the health of the community in general.

Our Kompos Kit is designed as a start-up model for rural families. With practice and understanding of the composting system, farmers can develop the composting bin into larger-scale compost stacks. A similar project in Sukunan sold its compost to neighbouring villages, with demand quickly exceeding the supply (Jellinek, 2004, para 6). Another possible future for farming is to sell the crops at a higher pricepoint into the niche Organic market like the APPOLI organic rice initiative (VECO, 2013).



Anjani, A. 2011, Household Waste Management in Indonesia, Master Thesis, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan

Edwards, N. 2010, ‘In search of Sustainable Farming’, Inside Indonesia, accessed 10th July 2015


Jellinek, L. 2004, ‘Recycling in Sukunan’, Inside Indonesia, Java, accessed 10th July 2015


Subejo, T. 2009, ‘Forty years after the ‘Green Revolution’’, Jakarta Post, news, accessed 10th July 2015


VECO, 2013, ‘First Export of APPOLI Organic Rice’, News, accessed 10th July 2015


POST A – Postmodernism in New York, Britain and Indonesia

Let us romp through the desolation of modern architecture, like some martian tourist on an earthbound excursion…bemused by the sad but instructive mistakes of a former architectural civilization

– Charles Jencks (2002, p9)

The era of Postmodernism is described as the “unstable mix of the theatrical and theoretical…the colourful to the ruinous, the ludicrous to the luxurious” (V&A, 2011, para 1). It arose in the 1970s where the introspection and scientific reasoning of Modernism could not longer explain such a multi-facetted world. Design was transformed from a disciplined, linear process to a spontaneous bricolage with multiple, subjective meanings.

New York in the 1970s was buzzing with people from all over the world with all sorts of backgrounds including Latinos, Jews, African Americans, Russians, Dominicans and Italians. There was also a huge gap in socio-economic statuses, where the homeless squatted on the doorsteps of billionaires. This had a prodigious impact on the great artists and designers of the era. Jean-Claude Goude’s “Maternity Dress” was the outfit Grace Jones wore to her own baby shower in 1977 at a 4am gay club in New York. Borrowing elements of cubism, Russian Constructivism (Milliard, 2011, para 5) and even Orientalism with a hot pink fan, the outfit is not particularly emotive or typically fashionable but coalesces its own, unique meaning. The outfit and the context of its use represent the ‘Big Apple’ in the 1970s – diverse, multifarious and unattached.

Grace Jones's 1977 'Maternity Dress' (Milliard, 2011)
Grace Jones’s 1977 ‘Maternity Dress’ (Milliard, 2011)
Sex Pistols singer wearing the
Sex Pistols singer wearing the “I HATE Pink Floyd” T-shirt (Sex Pistols Experience, 2012)

Likewise in 1970s Britain, the punk movement was taking hold. British punk movement rejected authority and emphasized autonomy, liberating individuals to design their own personal identity. “The do-it-yourself impulse by ordinary fans provided a range of styles … Chains, dog collars, and plastic bin liners (trash bags) were transformed from utility objects to style statements” (Muggleton & Brill, 2011, para 13). A prime example was when Sex Pistols front man John Lydon donned a ripped, safety-pinned jacket, with his Pink Floyd T-shirt personalised with “I HATE” in 1976. Unlike New York, the power was given to the individual audience member rather than the elite designer and had a strong anti-establishment sentiment, coining the term ‘antifashion’. This was a direct contextual rebellion against the conservative English government and implicit power of the monarchy.

Indonesian design label Unkl347 amalgamates well known logos (Luvaas, 2008)
Indonesian design label Unkl347 amalgamates well known logos (Luvaas, 2008)

Subcultural movements reoccur in surprising contexts for a variety of reason. Indonesian youth culture is quite unique, as its relationship with the West is partially limited. However there is a huge ideological division between the progressive younger generation and the conservative older generation. Indonesia’s punk movement is led by passionate youths who also rebel against political hegemony. They collaborate with communities, farmers, workers collectives and activist campaigns to “create real and meaningful change. However big or small.” (Melville, 2014, para 23). Independent fashion label Unkl347 pays homage to British punk in its graphic designs that amalgamate and edit well-known logos, including the Nike tick and the Xerox logo. “DIY practices of punk-rock… surfaced in Indonesia in the 1990s through mail-order catalogues and imported magazines and has been growing since” (Luvaas, 2008, para 12). Like the ‘Maternity Dress’ and the ‘I HATE Pink Floyd’ T-shirt, Unkl347 bring various elements together to form a post-modern pastiche. The Indonesian context is unique, in that it “can account for a contingent, fractured, intermittent, yet powerfully influential relationship between globalization and subjectivities” (Boellstorff, 2003, para 3).

Post-modern design manifests in many different ways that involve all sorts of people, evidentially in New York, Britain and Indonesia. “Postmodernism, even if it had originally been a story that was invented by white men like Charles Jencks, rapidly became something that everybody could participate in” (Milliard, 2011, para 5).


Boellstorff, T. 2003, ‘Dubbing culture: Indonesian gay and lesbi subjectivities and ethnography in an already globalized world’, American Ethnologist, vol. 30, no. 2, pp. 225-42.

Brill, D. and Muggleton, D. 2011, ‘Subcultural Dress’, Part 9: Peoples and Dress, Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, vol. 8

Jencks, C. 2002, The New Paradigm in Architecture: The Language of Post-modernism, Yale University Press, Yale

Luvaas, B. 2008, ‘Global fashion, remixed’, Inside Indonesia, viewed 29 April 2015 <;

Melville, K. 2014, ‘Indonesian Punk: Punk’s not dead!’, radio transcript, viewed 29 April 2015, <;

Milliard, C. 2011, ‘PoMos in Paradise: 6 Views of Postmodernism From the V&A’s New Show’, Artinfo UK, viewed 29 April 2015, <;

Victoria and Albert Museam, 2011, ‘Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990’, exhibition introduction, viewed 29 April 2015 <>

Image 2: Sex Pistols Experience, 2012, ‘Old News’, viewed 29 April 2015, <;

POST C – Cross-cultural experiences of politics and religion

Maddy Wilcox-Kerr is a 21-year old UNSW student who is currently studying in Yogyakarta. She is halfway through a six-month exchange program and feels somewhat settled into the Indonesian lifestyle. As someone with the same age, cultural background and social demographic, she is the perfect subject to interview as her observations are contextually applicable.11152676_579572738852554_969386313303435239_n

Religion and politics had a conflicting relationship in 20th century Indonesia. Following the ban of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1996, Indonesians avoided any leftist persuasion and were therefore united by the moral groundings of Islam. Javanese “abangan”, a looser, syncretic branch gradually merged with the orthodox “santri” Islam (Hasan, 2014). Today, Indonesians have adopted a unique and practical rendition of this ancient religion. Maddy points out that “women will wear jilbab’s and cover there shoulders, but are happy to breastfeed in public “.

Over the past fifty years, younger Indonesians have become less politically grounded, perhaps because there is no experiential fear of genocide. As Maddy says, “I hang around students a lot and politics is rarely talked about. I have noticed that the younger students are more liberal and don’t believe in the death penalty etc. However if you talk to someone of the older generation he or she treat his or her president like a god and assume that any decision he makes is correct”.

Corruption seems to be systemic in recent Indonesian governments. Transparency International (2015) places Indonesia 107th worst out of 177 countries for institutional corruption. Kurniawan (2012) describes communist parties as “stationary bandits” and governments moving towards democracy as “roving bandits”, whose corruption is intensified by its limited timeframe.11034227_10153148019207629_7743584389382622920_n

The past few governments – particularly the previous one led by Yudhoyono – have hardly aligned with the democratic goals of the current Reformasi era (Kurniawan, 2012). The Indonesian Constitution states that it protects religious freedom (article 29 [2]), however instead of helping Ahmadis and Shiite refugees, “Yudhoyono’s religious affairs minister asked them to convert to Sunni Islam” (Rafsadi, 2014, para 10). Maddy’s experience confers “there is a political pressure to identify as a certain religion because a citizen has to have it written on their ID cards even if they aren’t practicing. This is because the government is yet to accept atheism”.

Recently, political parties seem confused as to whether they identify as Muslim leaders promoting faith or secular parties protecting religious minorities. The 2008 Pornography Act sought to dissuade public displays of affection and Islamic principles such as sex before marriage (Pausacker, 2008). But such an extreme and ambiguously worded law is hard to implement. As Maddy observes, “to be honest I haven’t even noticed the implementation of this law… I know that it is common for young people to have sex before marriage and even though people dress conservative and put up a super innocent front a lot of the youth do quite ‘naughty’ things”.

Maddy’s observations have informed the notion that Indonesia is ideologically conflicted in regards to religion and politics. In the younger generation, there is a shift towards indifference; “most of the young people I hang out with don’t care what the Quran tells them to do”. This is only reflective as the next stage in Indonesia’s historically volatile religious and political current.



Hasan, P.A.R, 2014, ‘Why Islam matters in Indonesian politics’, The Conversation, Paramida, viewed 27 April 2015, <;

International Transparency, 2015, ‘Corruption by country/territory’, viewed 27 April 2015, <;

Kurniawan, B. 2012, ‘Democracy and corruption in Indonesia’, The Jakarta Post, Bandar Lampung, viewed 27 April 2015, <;

Pausacker, H. 2008, ‘Hot Debates’, Inside Indonesia, viewed 20 April 2015 <;

Rafsadi, I. 2014, ‘Is a new law enough to protect religious minorities in Indonesia?’, The Conversation, Paramadina, viewed 26 April 2015 <;

All images courtesy of Maddy Wilcox-Kerr

POST B – Redressing Textile Waste

Textile waste is piling up (Takturi, 2015)
Textile waste is piling up (Takruri, 2015)

Each day, truckloads of textiles and clothing are dumped onto our mountainous landfills. Despite most textile materials being fully recyclable, the crux of the problem is the sheer amount of cheap clothing being produced. Our exponential propagation of Veblen’s (1912) “Conspicuous Consumption” has meant that Western consumers buy 60% more clothing today than ten years ago (Dean, 2014, 9:12). Furthermore, in the US over the past eleven years there has been a 1% decrease in overall landfill levels, yet the amount of textile waste has raised by 38% (Dean, 2014, 10:05). By 2019 there is projected to be 35.4 billion pounds of annual textile waste (Takruri, 2015). Why are we throwing out our clothes?

Nowadays clothes are very cheap. A low price point generally equates to bad quality, prompting an absurd logic in modern consumers that ‘since this garment was cheap, I can throw it away after a few wears.’ We need to inform the average consumer about their wasteful and heedless choices.

'The 3% Mountain' depicts just 3% of the amount of Hong Kong's daily textile waste (Redress, 2011)
‘The 3% Mountain’ depicts just 3% of the amount of Hong Kong’s daily textile waste (Redress, 2011)

Redress is a Hong Kong-based organization that creatively raises awareness of textile wastage. They have an interdisciplinary approach and are funded by sponsors such as Miele and Elle Magazine (Redress, 2015). In 2011 they created a six-meter high art installation of second hand clothing. This mountain represented just 3% of the amount of clothing dumped in Hong Kong’s landfills each day (Redress, 2011). Hong Kong’s iconic Star Ferry was chosen to house the exhibition, metaphorically representing the transport, fuel and volatility associated with clothing wastage. This example of artistic design aimed to confront audience members with the unseen consequences of their everyday choices – that $4 top that you wore twice before tossing is now aimlessly sitting in a “mountain” of rubbish. Was it worth the $4?

Christina Dean
Christina Dean rummaging through piles of perfectly wearable second-hand garments (Dean, 2011)

Christina Dean, founder of Redress, uses social media as a platform to spread social awareness of clothing waste. In her ‘365-day Challenge’ she sourced dumped, discarded or donated clothing and wore a different outfit each day for one year. She conjured this idea after witnessing one of Korea’s massive, hellish landfills. “I stood perched high on top of a man-made mountain of trash… I watched a queue of rubbish trucks locked in rush-hour-like traffic for their chance to dump into the tipping zone” (Dean, 2013, para 3).

Dean posted daily photos on Instagram, Twitter and other popular websites. Within a few months, the story became a worldwide media craze with publishers such as The Guardian, Daily Mail and Yahoo hopping on board. She proved that online campaigns are also designed mechanisms to insight a shift in consumer consciousness.

Post-consumer textile waste is a major environmental disaster. The modern consumer’s obsession with the cheap and the new is the root of the problem. Redress affectively use visual representations and captivating social media campaigns to connect individuals with the consequence of their waste, and hence to lessen waste at a pre-consumption level. This is a compelling strategy that “reunites Earthlings with the Earth” (Latour, 2013, p2).

Another Redress social awareness campaign (Redress, 2014)


Dean, C. 2013, ‘A wardrobe from waste: tackling throw-away fashion’, viewed 15 March, 2015, <>

Dean, C. 2014, You are what you wear: Christina Dean at TED x HKBU, video recording, Youtube, viewed 20 March 2014, <>

Latour, B. 2013, ‘Telling friends from foes at the time of the anthropocene,’ Lecture prepared for the EHESS-Centre Koyré- Sciences Po symposium “Thinking the Anthropocene” Paris, 14th-15th, November 2013

Redress, 2011, ‘The 3% Mountain’, Hong Kong, viewed 23 April 2015 <>

Redress, 2014, ‘The Get Redressed challenge’, Youtube video, viewed 24 April 2015, <;

Redress, 2015, ‘Partners’, Hong Kong, viewed 23 April 2015 <>

Takruri, D. 2015, ‘Why H&M costs more than you think’, AJ+, Youtube video, viewed 19 April 2015 <;

Veblen, T. 1912, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Macmillan Company, New York

POST D – Indonesian Politics, Pornography and the Sex Mountain

Indonesia is a melting pot of political and religious values; its democratic government is corrupt and its people have amalgamated a bricolage branch of Islam. In terms of sex and pornography, there is an ironic contradiction between the Islamic-influenced law and how Indonesians behave.

Mardiyah prays for wealth and luck at Sex Mountain
Mardiyah prays for wealth and luck at Sex Mountain (Abboud, 2009)

Gunung Kemukus, or “Sex Mountain” is a holy site where pilgrims travel to have adulterous sex. It is a “very Javanese blend of religious ideals, with Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist influences” (Abboud, 2014, 3:01). Apparently wealth and luck is granted to those who travel to the mountain to sleep with strangers every thirty-five days, repeated seven times. Professor Keontjoro Soeparno remarks “it’s a strange thing. It’s a paradox. There’s a mosque built with people having sex all around it. They pray and say ‘amen’. Their prayers are Islamic. It’s hypocritical” (in Abboud, 2014, 7:21). For years, the Indonesian government turned a blind eye as they supposedly made a huge profit off prostitution on the mountain. But merely two weeks after an SBS documentary was published online, the Central Java Governor suddenly cracked down on the unlawful practices, as he stated “the outside world knows about this. Isn’t it a shame?” (Rohmah, 2014, para 6).

pausacker1_berita-kepada-kawan (1)
Protests again the anti-pornography law (Pausacker, 2008)

In recent years, the Indonesian government has enforced various measures to ban sex out of marriage. This may be due to an increase in HIV, which was initially contracted through drug use but is now mostly spread through sexual intercourse (Vaswami, 2009), but it is more likely to be from the growing Islamic presence. In 2008, the Indonesian government introduced a highly controversial Pornography Law. The law bans “displaying sensual parts”, “erotic dancing” and “pornographic actions” (Pausacker, 2008). These ambiguous terms are not defined in the act, and invite members of the public to help enforce the rules, giving legal license to Islamic vigilantes (Thompson, 2008, para 8). The punishments are harsh, for example “people kissing on the lips in public can receive prison sentences of one to five years” (Pausacker, 2008, para 3).

Wulan Mei Lina's controversial photography is not what you'd expect from Indonesia
Wulan Mei Lina’s controversial photography is not what you’d expect from Indonesia (Tienen, 2010)

The harsh laws have a prodigious impact on artists and cultural producers. Erotica photographer Wulan Mei Lina has stopped publicising her works, which are mostly nude portraits of bondage, S&M and female orgies. “The radical Muslims are controlling Indonesia. My government has a new law now–you cannot express yourself anymore” (Tienen, 2010, para 29). Indonesian Playboy editor Erwin Arnada was arrested for publishing indecent content just months after the magazine was founded. The magazine contained no nudity and was a lot tamer than competing Western magazines. There were substantial leftist revolts against the arrest, but also a massive complementary force of fundamentalists who stoned the windows of Playboy offices (BBC, 2006). These two parties illustrate the dichotomy in the current zeitgeist in Indonesia.

Pornography and unlawful sex are unavoidable consequences of an Indonesian society trapped between a fundamentalist Islamic code and the unrelenting influence of Western media. George Steiner (1998, p39) believes that sex is a necessary form of social interaction; “Intercourse and discourse, copula and copulation, are subclasses of the dominant fact of communication”.


Abboud, P. 2014, Sex Mountain, television report, SBS One, viewed 19 April 2015 <;

BBC News, 2006, ‘Indonesian Playboy editor on trial’, viewed 21 April 2015 <;

Pausacker, H. 2008, ‘Hot Debates’, Inside Indonesia, viewed 20 April 2015 <;

Rohmah, A. 2014, ‘Central Java Governor bans ancient sex ritual on Mt. Kemukus’, The Jakarta Post, Semerang, viewed 19 April 2015 <;

Steiner, G. 1998, After Babel: aspects of language and translation, third edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Thompson, G. 2008, ‘Indonesia passes tough new anti-porn laws’, ABC news, viewed 20 April 2015 <;

Tienen, J.V. 2010, Erotic Photography in Indonesia, Vice, viewed 20 April 2015 <;

Vaswani, K. 2009, ‘Indonesia HIV-aids ‘spreading through sex’, BBC news, Jakarta, viewed 21 April 2015 <;