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

Post D: Dangdut

There are many interesting cultures in Indonesia but one particularly captures my attention, the Dangdut, due to the impact they have and their evolvement over the years. Dangdut is one of the most popular Indonesian music genres and is originally linked to Malay and Indian music in the 1970s before evolving slowly to become “ethnic” and “regional” (Weintraub 2013). The evolvement is due to circumstances such politics, better Internet accessibility, censorship issue etc (Weintraub 2013). Dangdut was often associated with the under-class. However in recent years, TV programmes such as ‘Dangdut Mania’ has attempted to make Dangdut more popular and increase their commercial appeal to the middle and upper class by integrating Dangdut visuals and music into their households (Weintraub 2010). Dangdut is now an important marker that helps in shaping and reflecting the “cultural and aesthetic standards based on social class” (Weintraub 2010).

A young Rhoma Irama changed the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s
A young Rhoma Irama changes the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s

Due to the surfacing of the national music industry, a lot of traditional religious music is being fused with well-liked music genre and Dangdut is one of them. In 1970s, Dangdut musicians’ integrated western instruments such as electric guitar with traditional instruments such as the gendang, to convey lslamic message to their audience. One of the pioneer musicians is Rhoma Irama, “The King of Dangdut”. He is one of the reasons why Dangdut evolved so quickly – thru integrating “everyday life, love, social criticism against class inequality and Islamic message” (Weintraub 2006) into his music. Some of his songs such as “Haram” (Forbidden) and “Judi” (Gambling) carry a strong Islamic message whereby he acts as a missionary to promote Islamic values to people through the use of Dangdut music.

With the influx of western cultures and pop music in recent years, Dangdut has also evolved to become more pop-like in order to appeal to a mass audience. With pop artistes such as Nicky Minaj promoting sex appeal, Dandut has also taken a similar approach in order to appeal to a younger audience. Such directions contrast drastically with the traditional Islamic values, and have angered many Dandut music lovers and Islam believers alike. (Vaswani, 2012) Despite this, the sexy, modern Dangdut is here to stay, as there are more lovers than haters of this derivation of Dangdut.

-Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Vaswani K 2012, Raunchy Dangdut Music Stirs Debate in Indonesia, viewed 24 April 2015<;
  2. Weintraub A 2006, ‘Dangdut Soul: Who are the People in Indonesian Popular Music?’, Asian Journal of Communication, Vol 16, No 4, pp 411-431
  3. Weintraub A 2013, The Sound and Spectacle of Dangdut Koplo: Genre and Counter-Genre in East Java, Indonesia, Asian Music, Vol 44, No 2, pp 160-194
  4. Weintraub A 2010, Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia’s most Popular Music, Oxford University Press, USA
  5. LipstikTV 2013, Rhoma Irama Haram, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  6. Berita Kalimantan n.d, Musik Rhoma Irama, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  7. GP Records 2014, Julia Perez- Merana, viewed 28 APril 2015<;

POST D: Social Media’s Integration in Indonesian Culture and It’s Intersection With Islamic Ideals

In Indonesia, globalisation and socio-economic growth are facilitating a phenomenal liberalisation of views and exchanges, specifically in relation to technology and social media. Indonesia is one of the highest users of Twitter and Facebook, but what is it about Indonesian culture that makes social media so appealing? And how do these desires intersect with conservative Islamic ideals in a country that’s populace is 88.1% Muslim (Rodgers, 2011)?

In some areas, Western influence in Indonesia is noted as catalysing a regression in progressive Islam, (Harworth, 2012), however it is also propounded that “The effects of socio-economic change, modernisation and globalisation have resulted in more freedom and autonomy for Indonesian youth, and many are becoming increasingly liberal in their attitudes, ideas and behaviours…” (Harding 2008). Although the greater Muslim population in Indonesia is moderate, there still remains conflict between clerics and (predominantly) urban Indonesian’s surrounding the use of technology in alignment with Islamic beliefs, specifically in relation to photography and self-expression.

The notion of pride is generally opposed in Islam (Hay, 2015) as it is believed it is intrinsic to other negative states of being like arrogance, superiority and conceit. There is great debate among Islamic clerics and the Muslim community around whether photography, specifically selfies, are haram (forbidden). In January of this year, an Indonesian author and Islamic cleric, Felix Siauw, ironically used twitter as a medium to post a 17-point manifesto condemning selfies, calling them a sin, specifically for women. In a translation by Coconuts Jakarta, Siauw is quoted as saying “[Five.] If we take a selfie and we feel cooler and better than others—we’ve fallen into the worst sin of all, ARROGANCE.” (Hay 2015) which demonstrates the imbalance between certain interpretations of Islam and the reality of an increasingly globalised community. This twitter tirade was not well received by the urban, tech-centric, Indonesia population and quickly prompted the hashtag #selfie4siauw, causing a massive spate of spite-induced selfies, much to Siauw’s assumed distaste.

But what is it about Indonesian culture that facilitates such an overwhelming response to technology and social media? As a means of greater understanding the social climate the led to this embrace of technology, I referred to a BBC Impact news story from as early as 2011, investigating Indonesia’s growing interest in mobile technologies and social media as a means of communication and connection. Magareta Astaman, a prolific Indonesian blogger and author, believes Indonesia’s culture of connectedness, community and the desire to have a shared experience is what makes social media so appealing (Husain, 2011). During this time period Indonesia was producing 15% of the worlds tweets, with Facebook users jumping from 1 million to 40 million in just 2 years (Husain, 2011). This was a time when social media and technology were in not way as prolific and engrained as they are today. And with Indonesia’s smart phone use steadily increasing (Mahamel, 2014), Indonesian culture is set to be increasingly inextricable from social media and technology use.




1 – Rodgers, S. 2011, ‘Muslim Population by Country: How Big Will Each Population Be By 2030?’, The Guardian, January 29, viewed 25 April 2015, < >


2 – Haworth, A. 2012, ‘The day I saw 287 girl suffering genital mutilation”, The Guardian, November 18, viewed April 23 2015, <;


3 – Harding, C. 2008, ‘The Influence of the ‘Decadent West’: Discourses of the Mass Media on Youth Sexuality in Indonesia, Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, vol. 18, viewed April 25 2015, <>


5 – Hay, M. 2015, ‘An Indonesian Cleric Cause a Massive Spike in Selfies after Declaring Selfies a Sin’, Vice, January 28, viewed 25 April,


6 – Kuruvilla, C. 2015, ‘Indonesian Cleric Calls Selfies a Sin. Muslin youth Respond With More Selfies’, Huffington Post, January 28, viewed April 25 2015, <>


7 – Husain, M. 2011, Indonesia’s Social Media Movement, video recording, YouTube, viewed April 22, <>


8 – Mahamel, A. 2014, ‘Indonesia’s Smart Phone Use Surges But Still Lags’, Voice of America, June 16, viewed 25 April, <>

9 – Nha_anolL, 2015, ‘ ‘ Twitter Post, February 8, viewed 25 April, <;

Post C: Waste Deep

Political and economic interactions have become a cross-cultural norm, in a growingly interconnected and interdependent world, opening the floodgates to exploitation and corruption. As consumers we play a critical role in this process as we purchase products that contribute to this devastating reality. The true effects of economic globalisation and exploitation protrude beneath the exterior and have destructive and dehumanising effects. Anna Sutanto, an Indonesian waste manager, reflects on how the ‘bank sampah’ (waste bank) initiatives in Indonesia, have been “technically successfully”, yet a “challenge in finding a market for compost production and products made of waste.” The waste bank works in a way that it separates waste into two fields, organic and inorganic. Organic waste gets turned into compost and inorganic waste is separated to a  further three categories, plastic, metal and glass which are weighed and given a monetary value, based on rates set by waste collectors (Salim, 2013). In Gunung Samarinda a waste bank collects over 2-3 tons of non-organic solid waste each month, with  each household managing to save about 50,000 rupiah a month (Salim, 2013). “Whilst successful, this does little to encourage behaviour change amongst consumers,” reflects Sutanto, creating a cyclical effect of globalised consumption and waste.

Waste sorting system at the waste bank
Waste sorting system at the waste bank

Traditionally Indonesian culture was focused on a  localised production and hence sustainable philosophy, now the “import culture and products are overwhelming to the waste issue that Indonesia faces” (2015, pers. comm., A. Sutanto). Waste management is not only a personal but collective responsibility, an issue facing countries worldwide as global consumer consumption behaviours increase. Cultural behaviour towards waste and its management has been inundated since the increase of globalisation. Within these cross cultural relationships, in relation to waste disposal and management, sources of conflict are often difficult to identify due to unconscious attitudes, beliefs and norms (Bird 2005). Conflict arises in the struggle between corporate and consumer, urban and regional, and government and people. Identifying the need for initiatives to combat these events is the responsibility of not only a select few but  collective identity of a global society.

‘Waste Deep’ is a short documentary produced by Australian company Sustainable Table, an innovative not-for-profit organisation that empowers people to use their shopping dollar to vote for a food system that is fair, humane, healthy and good for the environment (SustainTable 2014). Waste Deep explores the effects of plastic packaging from food consumption, proposing methods of reduction and alternative consumption habits to educate consumers. It is the entire culture surrounding waste management and consumption extending beyond a localised context, to a globalised and detrimental effect, that filters down to countries such as Indonesia as they adopt a more westernised diet (Permani, 2006) and struggle to cope with the issue of waste as a result at hand.

<p><a href=”″>WASTE DEEP</a> from <a href=””>SustainTable</a&gt; on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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

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

SustainTable, 2014, Waste Deep, documentary, vimeo, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

Permani, R., 2006, Rethinking Indonesia’s beef self-sufficiency agenda, Inside Indonesia, Indonesia, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

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

SustainTable, 2014, Waste Deep, documentary, vimeo, viewed 30 April 2015, < >

Post C: Kimberly Angela Antonio | Inequality

Kimberly Angela Antonio, an aspiring interior designer, currently studying in University of Technology, Sydney. Born and raised in Jakarta, Kimberly has recently moved to Sydney in 2013, this give her a good grasp of the culture in both Indonesia and Australia. She has also interned for Willis Kusuma Architects as an interior designer last year.

Don: Hi Kimberly, What have you been up to lately?

Kimberly: I just came back from Jakarta not long ago, I interned with Willis Kusuma for a couple of months.

Don: Great! Can you tell me more about the working culture back in Indonesia?

Kimberly: There is a very top-down hierarchical management system whereby the management level makes most decisions without consulting the workers.

Don: Can you elaborate more on the differences between Australia and Indonesia?

Kimberly: In terms of working culture, Australians are more receptive to different ideas, they tend to discuss in groups and make a decision cohesively. Everyone can contribute ideas without feeling pressurize.

Don: So what is the driving factor to the differences?

Kimberly: Indonesian tends to misuse their power when they have it; they tend to make decision for their own benefits. Not all Indonesian are like that, this is just based on my working relationship with them. Another point to take note is there is a huge social gap in Indonesia such as financial and educational differences.

Social Gap is a major problem for Indonesia
Social Gap is a major problem for Indonesia

Through this interview, I understand that social differences play a big part in every culture. In my opinion, the bigger the social gap is, the harder it is for the country to progress. There are a number of challenges that causes inequality in Indonesia; although statistics shows that the poverty rates were greatly reduced, Wilson (2011) observed that the statistics do not seem to reflect the real life situation that is happening when he was in Jakarta. He reasoned that this is due to concealment of inequality problems by the government since the Suharto era and many elites benefit greatly from it by taking up a huge chunk of the national income in order for them to maintain their lavish lifestyle (Wilson 2011). Another problem for the government is to create “sustainable job opportunities for low income family” (Wilson 2011). The difference between escalating growth of capital-intensive sectors and minimal growth of labour-intensive sector will cause the inequality to widen due to an imbalanced growth pattern.

President Joko Widodo promises hope and changes for Indonesia
President Joko Widodo promises hope and changes for Indonesia

With all these problems, there is some catching up to do. However, the future seems brighter after President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is elected, he recently proposed to amend the state budget such as increasing tax revenue and increased the budget for upgrading of infrastructure (Misbakhun 2015). All these important changes show Jokowi’s commitment to close the gap between low-income people and in my opinion; Indonesia is heading the right direction under the leadership of Jokowi. As Misbakhun (2015) said “His great vision and humbleness is surely not artificial but should be reflected upon his leadership”. There is certainly hope and expectation for the people of Indonesia.

– Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Misbakhun 2015, Jokowi’s first budget: Between optimism and new, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  2.  Luebke v C 2011, Inequality, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  3. Wikipedia 2005, Jakarta Slumlife, viewed 25 April 2015<;
  4. Global Indonesia Voice 2014, Jokowi Officially Indonesia’s Next President, viewed 25 April 2015<;

Post B: Mushroom Packaging

Plastic is a material that is harmful to both our body and the environment. They are made of crude oil, which causes it to be non-renewable thus making it a major problem to our environment due to the fact that we are so dependent on it. The scary thing about plastic is its inability to degrade, as they will turn into a form of ‘dust’, a very small particle of plastic that is often found in our environment, forest, lakes, rivers and oceans. (The Flaming Vegan 2012) These create a ‘plastic soup’ area in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of America.

Other than China, Indonesia is the next biggest contributor to plastic ocean waste (Lee 2015). Being one of the most populous countries in the world, they generated 3.22 million tons of plastic waste in 2010, about 10% of the world total (Lee 2015). Ade Palguna Ruteka, head of the environment ministry’s Bureau of Planning and International Cooperation says that more people are aware of the excess waste and Indonesia are unsettled by this revelation (Lee 2015)

This brings me to my main topic: what can we do to help countries like Indonesia and China. I chanced about a TED talk by Eben Bayer who is a founder of Ecovative Design. (TED n.d) He and his team created a new form of packaging made by none other than mushroom, which is an interesting and a lot more environmental friendly alternative to harmful material, like plastic and polystyrenes. This mushroom packaging uses mushroom fiber and agriculture waste (cotton seed, wood fiber and buckwheat hulls) that allows them to use 98 percent less energy than Styrofoam.

Mushroom Packaging should be the future

Ecovative’s mushroom packaging has already been used in big companies such as Steelcase (Fortune 500). They received fundings of $180,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and gain great supports from government agencies such as USDA Agricultural Research Service and New York State Energy Research. (Greenbiz 2010) This allows them to keep growing, from being a university project into having 60 workers in their company (Nearing 2012). The good news is there are strong demands from companies in Asia who wants to ship Mushroom packaging into Asia and I believe they will be the next generation of packaging that will curb all environmental challenges which will helps countries like Indonesia to greatly reduce their ocean waste (Ecovative 2015).

-Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Nearing 2012, Ecovative Keep Growing, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  2.  GreenBiz 2010, Mushroom Based Packaging Uses 98% Less Energy than Styrofoam, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  3.  Ecovative 2015, Mushroom Packaging, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  4.  Flaming Vegan 2012, Why is Plastic So Harmful to the Environment, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  5.  Bayer, E n.d, Sustainability by Design, TED, viewed 23 April 2015<;
  6.  Lee R 2015, Which Countries Create the Most Ocean Thrash, viewed 23 April 2015<;


“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 

Continue reading

Post A: Singapore and Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth largest country and the largest archipelago in the world. It is on the crossroad between the Pacific and Indian oceans, which allows them to be a bridge between Australia and Asia. (SAS n.d) With such geographical advantage, it gives Indonesia an influx of foreign influence that greatly impact and benefits the creative industry.

Throughout the years, foreign influences streaming into Indonesia consistently, for many various reasons such as trade and tourism. In the past, the active trade markets of goods such as ceramic and silk from China and India has resulted in the fusion between foreign art and culture with traditional Javanese arts. (SAS n.d) The Javanese art that we see today is a result of the cultural fusion, and these influences continue till today.

Dutch entrepreneurs settled in Indonesia, wearing batik clothes.
Dutch entrepreneurs settled in Indonesia, wearing batik clothes.

In 2013, Indonesia “signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to boost cooperation to promote creative industries” (Jeon 2013). This relationship between the two countries can help boost the industry through the “exchanges of information, more joint-training sessions and more educational, research and development projects” (Jeon, 2013). This can help create more jobs in the future as the market grows and help boost the economy. (Yulisman, 2014) In 2014, Indonesia went on to collaborate with the United States to further develop the Indonesian creative industry through the help of several American companies. (Antara News, 2014)

From the past till today, Indonesia has consistently, both passively (tourism and trade) and actively (collaborations with foreign countries) introduced foreign influence on their domestic art and creative industry. This will allow them to further improve on their ever-growing local art scenes as well as being able to need the needs and demands of the international markets.

I believe that the location and size of Indonesia is advantageous to the nation, particularly by embracing the demands of their domestic market and also welcoming foreign collaborations and investors. Mari Elka Pangestu of the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry said “The domestic market will be the main driver in consumption of this industry” and the creative industry makes up at least 17 percent of the domestic consumption. (Yulisman, 2014) This further illustrates that the locals embrace their local creative talents and thus allowing the sector of the country to blossom.

Indonesia is the bridge between Australia and Asia.

As a Singaporean and a South-East Asian, I find it appropriate to compare the design scene in Singapore and Indonesia. Despite the differences between Singapore as a developed country and Indonesia as a developing country, I can boldly say that the local art scenes between these two countries are very contrasting. Indonesia is way ahead of Singapore in terms of domestic consumption of art. In my opinion, this is due to the education systems in both countries; Singapore’s education system is too rigid and is focused on research and development. There is a lot of social pressure to keep up the fast-paced lifestyle, which creates an environment that discourages creativity (Institute of Policy Studies 2008). Singaporean parents do no consider arts education “practical” choice. However in Indonesia, one of the standard competencies for elementary school graduates is “use information of their environment logically, critically and creatively” as well as to “demonstrate the ability to think creatively and innovatively” for junior high school graduates (UNESCO 2011). Such standards encourage creativity in Indonesians since young and create an art-embracing environment for children to grow up in.

Dehong Tay- 11620717

  1. Han J, Sojung Y 2013, Korea, Indonesia to Cooperate in Creative Industries, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  2. Antara News 2014, Indonesia, US to collaborate to develop creative industry, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  3. Yulisman L 2014, Creative Industry to grow 6 percent, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  4. ASA n.d, Foreign Influences, viewed 21 April 2015<;
  5. Institute of Policy Studies 2008, Cultivating a Singapore Creative Class, NUS, Singapore
  6. United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization 2011, ‘World Data on Education: Indonesia’ 7th Edition, Viewed 21 April 2015 <;
  7. Ingarcade n.d, Indonesia Map Simple, viewed 21 April 2015<;

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

Post D: Was it really Acting in ‘The Act of Killing’?

The “documentary”, The Act of Killing, addresses the genocide of Communist Party members in Indonesia between 1965-1966, directed by Joshua Oppenheimer. It documents the Indonesian death squads that carried out mass murders of alleged communists for the government. What creates this documentary to stand out from the others, is how Oppenheimer chronicles these killings. There was an inherent madness in his approach. He tracked down the men who actually committed the murders, to reenact these moments and participate in the film. As quoted by executive producer Werner Herzog, “they happily agreed to do so, with the emphasis on happily”. The killers re-enacted their crimes through juxtaposing the torturous cruelty with otherworldly antics, dancing and vivid colours. Unlike other documentary films, Oppenheimer blurs the line between a good and evil narrative, where the borderline between documentary and fiction is blurred. The amount of stylization and surrealism leaves the audience in a land between fantasy and reality. The audience is furthermore shown the killers everyday activities, allowing them to question and seek their own answers. In an interview on vice, Oppenheimer states that, “most movies try to kill thinking. They take thought and try to stick it in its back. This is a movie that encourages people to think”

Re-creating the brutal killing scenes within the film
Re-creating the brutal killing scenes within the film

Due to the actors re-enacting scenes that they inherently performed during the genocide, it makes you question whether the performance is real or not. Its ambiguity makes the film so powerful and unique. The documentary is trying to communicate something about the real world, through entering and exploring the idea of something other than a journalistic point of view.

Actors reenacting a scene in film, 'The Act of Killing'
Actors reenacting a scene in film, ‘The Act of Killing’

The film was screen as a university in Yogyakarta, to a mixed group of students, teachers and friends of the university. The film resulted in a vast range of opinions on the subject matter. Although many questioned the film and the message it is portraying, the students, parents and teachers at the university had a universal acknowledgement that films central message is impossible to ignore and would be “ground-breaking in helping Indonesia break its silence about its history.”


  1. Bjerregaard, M. 2014, ‘What Indonesians really think about the Act of Killing’ The Guardian, News and Media Limited, viewed 25th April, 2015 <>
  2. Rohter, L, 2013, ‘A Movie’s Killers Are All Too Real: The Act of Killing and Indonesian Death Squads’, New York Times, viewed 25th April 2015 <>
  3. Salam, R, 2014, The VICE Podcast – Joshua Oppenheimer on ‘The Act of Killing’ VICE, Media LLC, viewed 25th April, 2015  <>
  4. The Act Of Killing, 2012, DVD, Joshua Oppenheimer
  5. Photo 1 Reference: viewed 26th April, 2015
  6. Photo 2 Reference: viewed 26th April, 2015
  7. Photo 3 Reference: viewed 26th April, 2015