Clear Collective- Ali, Kwan, Josie and Robert


Throughout our time in Central Java, we have been exposed to various environmental challenges of the area. These problems we understand are layered and complex involving governments, industries, over consumption and over population, as well as vastly different types of community systems and environmental challenges specific to the area (Djadjadilaga, Sigit & Tejalaksana, 2008). After interviewing various activists and organisations as well as experiencing design initiatives in Salatiga and Yogyakarta, we have decided to address the lack of clarity and understanding of the types and causes of waste in Jakarta’s rivers. Where is our river waste coming from and where is it going? Our process developed as an investigation of waste disposal systems in Jakarta, our hope was to map the pollution of one river of Jakarta.

Through the process of mapping pollution of the Ciliwung river from upstream to downstream, we have understood and identified the problem to be multifaceted, and clouded by layers of lack of consistency in governmental programs, a large difference in community systems, and socio economic status along different areas of the river. This coupled with industry and agricultural pollution our solution for the future is to connect those that do not experience the pollution on a daily basis to the reality of Jakarta’s river and the reality of our joint responsibility (Hansen, 2010)

Our design initiative seeks to take the issue of Jakarta’s river into the future through connecting Jakarta’s community in a joint conversation about water pollution, ultimately raising awareness throughout society. Throughout our research, interviews and observations we have identified a problem with connecting certain communities of Jakarta to the reality of water pollution and waste who do not experience waste as poignantly and obviously as others like the river bank residents. Whilst we have been lucky enough to experience collectives and designers such as Sapu, XSproject, Ruangrupa and sustainable homestays such as bamboo bottle in Yogyakarta, not everyone is engaging in the discussion. Retno of XSProject identified the different attitudes of people in Jakarta, “it is much easier to educate poorer communities about waste management as they understand first hand what is happening” whilst other areas of Jakarta are able to turn a blind eye and hope the river will wash the waste away. Movements such as these “use art to encourage social and environmental change” (Crosby, 2007). The artistic project Clear Collective aims to correct this unequal level of engagement, awareness and responsibility of waste issues in Jakarta by creating an artistic platform for further conversation in differing areas and communities that do not experience river waste first hand and on a daily basis.

Clear Collective is a group of activists and artists focusing on transparent pop up art installations and structures in the hope to bring clarity and common understanding of waste issues in Jakarta. Our latest project is a visualization of our investigation or mapping of the waste of Ciliwung River. We have here a visualization of the waste patterns specifically to the Ciliwung River. The project seeks to encourage an open conversation about waste responsibility and accountability for all areas and communities of Jakarta, demonstrating that waste is a common responsibility. The pop up installation creates an artistic representation of the travelling waste, as the water falls through levels and it represents the water becoming increasingly polluted as the flow of the river moves from upstream to downstream. This is the opposite of a filtering system, the water is polluted from the top and continues as it flows down showing the gradual pollution of the Ciliwung River as the clean water moves through the waste ending downstream toxic and unusable.

Construction of Clear Collectives latest transparent structure
Construction of Clear Collectives latest transparent structure

The discussion and issue of waste management needs to be made accessible and digestible to the middle and upper class youth, a demographic that does not live with the extensive polluted rivers as their backyards. Through creating this artistic platform Clean Collective hopes to connect communities of Jakarta to participate in an interaction conversation to raise awareness about water pollution in Indonesia.

1.Djadjadilaga, M. Sigit, H. & Tejalaksana, A. 2008, From Data to Policy, Ciliwung River water quality management, viewed 9 July, <>

2. Hansen, A. 2010 ‘Our beloved rivers of waste’, contributer, Jakarta Post, Jakarta, Feb 2010, viewed 10 July <>

3. Crosby, A. 2007 ‘Festival Mata Air’ in Inside Indonesia, Oct-Dec 2007, viewed 10 July <>


Recently I spoke to Laurie Wallis a geography student at University of Sydney who has been living in Depok for the last six months studying and collaborating with Indonesian students. Through chatting to Wallis about his experiences I hoped to gain some insight into how the student community and youth culture engages with sustainability issues in villages and cities. In Wallis’ opinion, there seems to be a large diversity in the suburbs of Jakarta’s urban sprawl, “Youth culture in Jakarta is also a bit of a thing of its own. Whilst some suburbs like the one I am in are quite conservative (in much of Jakarta the sale of alcohol is prohibited), in other suburbs there are bars, restaurants and live music venues that aspire towards western hipsterdom”. Whilst there is a diversity of religion and conservatism in the cities, the villages Wallis has experienced have been much more agriculturally focused, once outside metropolitan areas.

“Cultural and social norms will change quite a lot between different areas as Indonesia has a regional autonomous government system. This means many of the important societal government decisions (like education and health projects) are the responsibility of individual regional governments rather than the central national government. Each region/village also has a particular set of cultural norms and traditions that are inherited from family and residents in an area (think like shamanism or a set of ceremonies and superstitions which constitute the unique spiritualism of particular places). This is called an “adat”, all over Indonesia there are different adats based on traditional spiritualism and superstition.”- Wallis

Image 1: Local Waste Bank
Image 1: Local Waste Bank

Chatting to Wallis about his experiences of conservatism, youth culture and village/urban living got me thinking about how the diverse cultures and communities within Indonesia can engage with waste management strategies given the different social, economic and political situations of the individual micro communities of Indonesia. Waste management is a complex and long running issue in Indonesia, different communities engage with waste management in relation to their social, economic and political climate. Projects and companies “are gaining in expertise and cultural sensitivity, some initiatives founder as people fail to fully consider cultures impact” (Bird & Osland, 2006), diverse cultures and societies will engage with waste management strategies in differing ways specific to their own context.

Much of the city youth culture engages with sustainability issues through art and design activist practices, remixing global movements surrounding environmentalism, “conceptualizing activist practice as a process of remix acknowledges the agency of local subjects in relation to globally circulating identity discourses” (Crosby, 2014). The conservative outskirts of urban areas as well as village communities have a different set of beliefs guiding their engagement with sustainable practices. Perhaps youth of village areas are more likely to be lead toward sustainability by traditional agricultural farming practices, family and spiritualism rather than how city youth culture engages with a more global design activist movement. The Waste Bank initiative works just like a regular bank where you can open an account and make non-organic waste deposits, which are then weighed and given a monetary value, this is then saved into your account for you to withdraw later. The villages outside Jakarta engage with this initiative on a socio-economic level, rather than as an ‘environmental activist’, contributing to sustainability more through traditional agricultural practices. Practically “garbage equals money…each household manages to save about 50,000 rupiah (about $5) a month” (Salim, 2013). Through the waste bank these savings can be practically put to use by helping pay for household and education needs. Indonesia has differing social and cultural contexts meaning that how people engage with waste management and sustainable practices vary between urban and village spaces.

1. Salim, R., 2013, Waste Not, Want Not : “Waste Banks” in Indonesia, The World Bank:IBRD-IDA, East Asia and Pacific, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

2. Bird A. & Osland, J 2005, Making Sense of Intercultural Collaboration, International Studies of Management & Organization, Vol. 35 Issue 4, p115-132. 18p, viewed 29 April 2015, <>

3. Crosby, A. 2013 ‘Reexamining Environmentalism in Blora, Central Java’ in International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 16, Issue 3, pp 257-269, Sage Pub. viewed 19th April <;

4. Image 1: The World Bank, Waste Not, Want Not: ‘Waste Banks’ in Indonesia, viewed on 29th April <;


Unkl347 as a design label operates in a transitional space whereby it can be read both as the product of a globalised and deglobalised design space. This in itself may seem like a paradox, however the label is multidimensional in how it operates, what it communicates and what it reveals about the specific local context of Bandung and how the design community functions as both local and global. The collaborative project Rhyzom notes, “globalisation has demonstrated its critical effects and localism is becoming a key term in how we envision the future…’deglobalisation’ translates into a localised consumption and production of use” (Rhyzom Project, 2011). As an Indonesian fashion label, the designs reflect Indonesia’s complex social political context, and the tensions of the country existing both locally and globally.

347 has become an influential fashion label through ‘Designer Vandalism’ or the “appropriation of immediately recognisable commercial iconography…specialising in the art of fashion remix” (Luvaas, 2010). Parts of the design community have accused 247 of copying other brands, being ‘malas (lazy)’ or ‘pembajak (pirates)’. However Dendy, the cofounder of the label claims that “this is not pembajakan”. The act of using highly evocative symbols of globalisation comments on Indonesida’s history of black market entrepreneurs employing a “counterfeit path out of poverty” (Luvaas, 2010). It also conjures images of the tourist districts of Kuta, Bali, Yogyakarta and Java, which are full of imitation goods, “whole neighbourhoods in Jakarta specialize in fake Louis Vuitton handbags” (Luvaas, 2010).

Image 1: Louis Vuitton imitation markets in Jakarta
Image 1: Louis Vuitton imitation markets in Jakarta

The designs reference a highly globalised community, wherein capitalist consumerist culture creates an environment where everything is accessible and there is a cross over of mass cultural production and information. Through taking these global capital symbols the label sees itself as “part of a movement of creative youth working to construct an alternate form of capitalism” (Luvvas, 2008). This cut ‘n’ paste culture of creating new compositions out of materials someone else has constructed can be attributed to the DIY culture of punk rock. Whilst the technique is an example of design and symbols of design culture being claimed as a democratic and publicly owned practice that can be participated in and contributed by all (a concept resonating with a globalised world), it can also be seen as something global being taken by local designers and turned into something embedded with local context, culture and meaning. This relocalises a global design symbol, infusing it with new meanings specific to local communities and cultures. The designs reflect not only a DIY youth culture in Indonesia but also the internet being made readily available in Indonesia in the mid 90s. Aspiring young designers could simply google image search, click and drag and image and reproduce designs cheaply in local made clothing production houses or even print freehand with a silkscreen.

Image 3: exhibition space, 347
Image 3: exhibition space, 347
Image 2: examples of 347 designs, cut 'n' paste culture
Image 2: examples of 347 designs, cut ‘n’ paste culture

The process of 347 is rooted in social, economic and cultural realities of Indonesia and comments on local and global design, “indie designers remix global culture for a local audience…they use the international fashion industry as a resource for self-creation” (Luvvas, 2008). Cultures are developed within local contexts and are “intrinsically related to political, economic, social and material aspects and to specific temporalities, spatialities, individual and collective histories and experiences” (Rhyzom Project, 2011).

1. Rhyzom Project, 2011 ‘Introduction’ in Translocalact: Cultural Practices within and across, Rhyzom Project, viewed 29th April <;

2. Luvvas, B, 2010 ‘Designer Vandalism: Indonesian Indie Fashion and the Cultural Practice of Cut ‘n’ Paste’ in Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 26, Issue 1, pp. 1-16,; viewed 27th April

3. Luvaas, B. ‘Global Fashion, Remixed’ in Inside Indonesia, Apr-Jun 2008,; viewed 29th April

4. Image 1: Jakarta street markets <; viewed 30th April

5. Image 2: Inside Indonesia <; viewed 28th April

6. Image 3: Inside Indonesia <; viewed 28th April


“Human beings have always had a propensity toward destruction. The more we made, the more we destroyed. In making our world within the world we failed to understand what of the former was being destroyed. Once we reached sufficient numbers and gained sufficient technological muscle, destruction became devastation- which we render in both horrific material and aestheticized forms. This situation may now be called structural unsustainability.” – Fry, 2011 

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POST D- May riots 98 told through Chinese Whispers

Throughout my research I came across an installation-based performance artwork called Chinese Whispers by Rani Pramesti. Similarly to other current contemporary Indonesian artists, the work confronts aspects of Indonesian history that deals with migration, discrimination and racially fuelled violence. The artwork investigates a part of Indonesian history by giving voice to Chinese-Indonesian women and investigating ethnolocality within Jakarta and surrounding cities. These stories are interconnected with the notion of spatial scales relating to the development and definition of ones identity. “Ethnolocality…a term I coin to name a spatial scale where ‘ethnicity’ and ‘locality’ presume each other to the extent that they are, in essence, a single concept.” (Boellstorff, 2015). This concept of ethnolocality is provoking when set alongside Chinese Whispers, as the artist states upon reflection of her experience of the May 1998 riots, “that was the first time when I realised for the first time in my life, that in the eyes of many, I was not Indonesian, but rather, Chinese” (Pramesti, 2014). The Chinese-Indonesian population according to the 2010 census accounts for 1.2% of the population of Indonesia, researchers say this number is potentially much higher as many Indonesians are reluctant to admit they are of Chinese decent as they fear discrimination, only in 2000 was a law revoked that forbade Chinese cultural performances and the use of Chinese names. Pramesti investigates how discrimination and fear can caused a confusion of identity.

Rani Pramesti within her installation space 'Chinese Whispers' 2014
Image 1: Rani Pramesti within her installation space ‘Chinese Whispers’ 2014

The installation is based around moving through a maze in pairs wearing headphones that play interviews with Chinese-Indonesian women.  The whispered interviews demonstrates the hushed fear of the Chinese-Indonesian women to speak and understand the May Riots, the installation attempting to open up conversations about race, identity and violence in Indonesia. The installation is also multi-layered as it is held in Melbourne, not only confronting the multi-dimensional identities of the women as Chinese and Indonesian, but also as migrants of Australia. Parallels can be drawn with the ethos and work of Ruangrupa, a group of artists in Jakarta whose main priority is to identify the “lack of space in Indonesia for artists who want to collaborate with the public, unmediated by the political parties or art dealers” (Crosby, 2008). Indonesia presents an interesting backdrop to artistic exploration of particular voices and stories as its past and present is infused with layers of political, social, economic and racial complications, disallowing for a particular voice or story to be heard or even developed over a corrupt government and the layers of cultural and social identities interfused within each other. This highlights the importance of an open and democratic art scene in Indonesia, “art has social and cultural functions whose ‘products’ are truth, reality, and ‘the making of our own history” (Crosby, 2008). Indonesia’s art community attempts to piece together a multitude of histories and realities, connecting with the varied and multifaceted history of Indonesia in an attempt to understand the past and where the country is headed in the future.

Youtube video, an account of the May 1998 riots, contextualising the chaos and confusion of the event in history.

  1. Boellstorf, T. 2006 ‘Ethnolocality’ in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 3:1, 24-48, DOI:
  2. Pramesti, R. 2014 ‘Chinese Whispers: the art of reflection’ in Inside Indonesia, Oct-Dec, viewed April 27
  3. Crosby, A. 2008 ‘Ruangrupa: Mapping a collective biography’ Gang re:public : Indonesia-Australia creatice adventures, Gang Inc., Newtown, NSW, pp. 129-134
  4. Image 1: <; viewed 27th April
  5. YouTube Clip: <; viewed 1st May