Post A: SYTC Yogyakarta

Upon visiting Yogyakarta – Indonesia’s “cradle of Javanese culture” (Dahles, H. & Prabawa, T.S. 2013, p.245), it’s clear to see the city’s pride through the design that’s found in every aspect of the environment. From the colourfully painted pedicabs to the bold walls coated with murals by the youth, it’s evident that “design plays a role in forming and communicating national identity in Indonesia” (Crosby, A. 2019, p. 53). However, within this rich city lies a poison rotting away at the heart of the culture. With its bright colours and encouraging messages you wouldn’t think harm of it, but let’s take a look at these examples.

Show Your Colours by Phillip Morris (Vital Strategies, 2017)

With its striking reds, blues, yellows and whites under the slogan “Show Your Colours”, these houses along Kali Code River in Yogyakarta “didn’t just catch the attention of local people – the stunt gained national and international notoriety” (Vital Strategies, 2017). Unknown to the residents, the village had in fact been transformed with the brand colours of Phillip Morris International (Indonesia’s largest tobacco company) to essentially be one giant advertisement (Emont, 2016) at an estimated exposure worth at US$220,000 a month (Vital Strategies, 2017). In response, the campaigns “Show Your True Colours” and #SuaraTanpaRokok (or “Voices Without Cigarettes”) was released in collaboration with Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre and several organisations and activists in Yogyakarta “as a symbol of resistance towards the exploitation of the community by the tobacco industry” (Vital Strategies, 2017). Led by renowned local graffiti artist Koma, giant anti-tobacco murals painted onto these houses were unveiled on World Cancer Day. Although the tobacco industry has a tough grip on the community as the Indonesian government relies on the industry for “around 10% of state tax revenue” (Emont, 2016), the examples of activists working with the community shows that change can be made through the people.

Show Your True Colours (Vital Strategies, 2017)
Java Rockin’ Land Poster 2011 (Cranberries World, 2011)

Another example is the poster for Java Rockin’ Land 2011 posted around Indonesia, it boasts a line-up of bands like Thirty Seconds to Mars and Neon Trees. However, another name displayed alongside these artists is Indonesia’s second largest tobacco company, Gudang Garam (Hefler, M., Chapman, B. & Chapman, S. 2013). It’s not unusual for the tobacco industry to sponsor arts and cultural events such as these, but this sponsorship received a backlash due to the band’s high level of teen appeal and activity in philanthropic efforts in UNICEF and cancer charities. In response, a campaign by Tobacco Control was held through Facebook, tobacco control organisations, and Twitter to target the band’s management and press agents. In response to fan’s petitions, Neon Trees (a band with a history of antitobacco advocacy) announced that at the end of their set they would donate their earnings to an Indonesian cancer charity (Hefler, M., Chapman, B. & Chapman, S. 2013), and posters for Rockin’ Land post 2011 no longer feature sponsors by tobacco companies.

The examples of these two campaigns show the complex relationship between designers, culture-makers, artists, customers, and the tobacco industry. Each group is the source for cause and effect in the preservation of Yogyakarta’s culture.


Cranberries World, 2011, Java Rockin’ Land,, viewed 20 December 2019 <>.

Crosby, A. 2019, ‘Design activism in an Indonesian village’, MIT Press Journals, vol. 35, no.3

Hefler, M., Chapman, B. & Chapman, S. 2013, ‘Tobacco control advocacy in the age of social media: using Facebook, Twitter and Change’, Tobacco Control, vol.22, no.3.

Dahles, H. & Prabawa, T.S. 2013, ‘The case of the pedicab drivers of Yogyakarta, Indonesia’, Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, vol. 26, no.3, p.245.

Vital Strategies, 2016, Anti-tobacco advocates in Indonesia show their true colors, viewed 20 December 2019, <>.

Vital Strategies, 2017, Tunjukkan Warna Aslimu – Kali Code (1 menit), video, YouTube, viewed 20 December 2019, <>.

Post C: Interview about Tobacco Usage in Yogyakarta and Indonesian Culture with Adibah

Adibah works as a student tutor at the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta (UMY) for the Igov team. UMY is a smoke free campus that has a zero tobacco tolerance for staff and students. I began the interview by asking Adibah: “Do you smoke tobacco/cigarettes with your friends and if you do, why do you smoke?”


“I don’t smoke, but my father and my brother does. So I am indirectly influenced by the smoke at home. Everyday I breathe in their smoke. 

I felt as though Adibah was concerned by her second hand consumption of smoke in the home since she knows about the negative long term effects of tobacco usage. 


“My brother only started smoking last year”


“Oh, why?”


“In Indonesia we have service, like community service, helping with the campus. He was sent to a rural area in Brebes. Brebes is one of the regions in Central Java, 8 hours away from here. The society in Central Java loves smoking so he needed to be used to smoke when they have the general meeting in the village. When he came back home he started to smoke, but not in the house only on campus probably, so my mum won’t know that he smokes. He is not educated about the harms of smoking.” 


“So why don’t you smoke?”


“In Indonesian habit, the woman sees smoking as not normal for herself. Whenever I am wearing my hijab (and I am seen smoking) it will seem like I am a bad person and non law abiding.” 

I smiled at this, thinking to myself that Adibah is such a sweet person the connotation of her being bad if she smoked was amusing to me. I explained: “I am smiling because it’s funny to me that culture makes people believe certain things, you know what I mean?”

Adibah giggled,

“In Indonesia there are a lot of myths that are believed by Indonesians that are wrong but people still believe it. Like for a child, it says that if children are not back home by 5pm they will be taken by the ghost to another world. Lots of children still believe this myth.”

The cultural stigmas around tobacco consumption in Indonesia has allowed for Adibah to have a healthier lifestyle in comparison to the males around her. Attending UMY has also let her work and study in a place that is smoke free, which protects her from second hand consumption in the workplace however not at home around the smoke of her brother and father. 

Photo of Adibah taken outside of Move On café in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Post D: Do not let your children play in the “Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland”.

Indonesia is facing very serious tobacco problem. With a population of 260 million, Indonesia has become the biggest economy in South-East Asia. However, more than 225700 people were killed by tobacco-caused disease every year. And more than 469000 children (10-14 years old) and 64027000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day. (Indonesia – Tobacco Atlas, 2019) What is most striking is the growing prevalence of smoking among children. By age 10, 20% had tried smoking, and by age 13, the figure was closer to 90%. (Tjandra, 2018)

Indonesia or is the only country in Asia that has not signed and ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC). Indonesia is the World’s second largest Tobacco market, tobacco industry has annual sales of more than $21 billion, accounted for 10% of all taxes, It also provides jobs for 2.5 million workers in agriculture and manufacturing. (Tjandra, 2018) There is no doubt that tobacco is a very important industry that supporting Indonesia’s finances, so tobacco companies have significant political and economic influence in Indonesia. This became an important reason for its failure to join FCTC.

And it brings a very serious problem for Indonesia — children smoking. FCTC convention includes: broad ban on tobacco advertising, higher prices and taxes, the printing of health warning labels on tobacco products, and measures to prevent people from accepting passive tobacco in addition to other tobacco control strategies. (World Health Organization, 2019) However, Indonesia is not bound by these provisions. It means in Indonesia, people can see tobacco advertisements everywhere and teenagers can smoke without restraint. This has given Indonesia the ironic nickname——”Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland”. Indonesia is the only country in south-east Asia that allows tobacco advertising. These tobacco companies say they are not targeting for young people who are under the age of 18, and limit their ads to between 9.30pm and 5am to avoid contact with children. (Indonesia Details | Tobacco Control Laws, 2019)

However, teenagers can still easily see those advertisements through many channels, such as roadside shops and restaurants, concerts, sports events and the Internet. Cigarette companies sponsor almost all the country’s concerts and sports events. (Dhumieres, 2019) Those tobacco advertisements deliver very misleading content — smoking means success, charming, courage and popularity. These contents have great appeal to children and teenagers.

Dihan, 6, has cut down to just four cigarettes a day from his usual two packs a day. And his parents are proud. (Clea Broadhurst)

Other reasons for childhood smoking are the prevalence of adult smoking and poor government regulation. Adult attraction has a serious effect on their children. In Indonesian families, parents do not avoid their children when they are smoking, and sometimes they even use cigarettes as a reward. Because cigarettes are very cheap in Indonesia. A pack of 20 Marlboros costs $1.55. In Australia, a pack of regular cigarettes costs about $20. (Tjandra, 2018) The cheap cigarettes became a source of comfort for many families. On the other hand, the government has little control over children’s smoking. Although the government banned the sale of cigarettes to minors, the law was never enforced. Teenagers can easily buy cigarettes and cigarettes from supermarkets. Some cigarette companies even distribute free cigarettes to children and teenagers at sponsored events. Prabandari and Dewi made a survey in some high schools in Yogyakarta. According to their study (2016) found that ‘cigarette advertising and incense messages indeed are targeted at char and their Perception was strongly associated with smoking status. Regulations to ban TAPS in order to prevent sanctions from smoking should be applied rapidly in Indonesia. ‘

As Jakarta Reuters said (2019), Indonesia will raise the minimum price of cigarettes by more than a third from January next year, a finance ministry spokesman said on Friday, As part of the government’s efforts to reduce smoking rates. Indonesia still has the lowest cigarette tax in the world. Rising the prices could lead consumers to switch to cheaper cigarette brands, where illegal cigarettes are still easily got in Indonesia. The government must strike a balance between cigarette companies and ordinary people, including promoting health, generating income, employment and supporting local small and medium-sized industries. (Negara, 2019) In this way, the government will not be controlled by cigarette companies and compensate ordinary workers who lose their jobs.

The proliferation of cigarettes is a very terrible phenomenon. Cigarettes are rotting away in Indonesia, so protecting the next generation is the most important problem we need to face. We must avoid our children from the ‘good’ world of cigarettes shows, avoid them from physical and mental destruction which cigarettes caused. We should let our kids have fun at the real Disneyland, not die in the ‘Tobacco Industry’s Disneyland.’

Hand-drawn Map, Bingjie


Dhumieres, M. 2019, The number of children smoking in Indonesia is getting out of control, Public Radio International. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Indonesia Details | Tobacco Control Laws 2019, viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Indonesia – Tobacco Atlas 2019, viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Jakarta Reuters 2019, Indonesia to raise cigarette prices by more than a third at start of 2020, U.S. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Negara, S. 2019, Commentary: The power of Big Tobacco and Indonesia’s massive smoking problem, CNA. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Prabandari, Y. and Dewi, A. 2016, How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students, Taylor & Francis. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Tjandra, N. 2018, ‘Disneyland for Big Tobacco’: how Indonesia’s lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked, The Conversation. viewed 24 November 2019, <>.

World Health Organization 2019, World Health Organization. viewed 27 November 2019, <>.

Post D : Young smokers in Yogyakarta

Daerah Ibukota Yogyakarta is Java island’s soul, where the Javanese language is the purest (Lonely Planet, 2019). Yogya or often written as Jogja is one of the most active cultural centers in Indonesia. Behind the beauty of its nature and the exotic culinary, Yogyakarta is a city where young active smokers are often found (Octavia, 2017). Research in 2005 suggests that the percentage of young active smokers in Indonesia is 38% among boys and 5.3% among girls (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman, 2006). Fast forward to 2013, another research done shows that the percentage of daily smokers has grown, and in Yogyakarta itself has reached 21.2% (Octavia, 2017). Based on research, smokers in Yogyakarta consist of two categories, one is the experimental smoker, and the other one is a regular smoker (Marwati, 2011).

The beauty of companionship: School children spend time in a convenience store in Pejaten, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. Some of the teens enjoy smoking while chatting.
( Burhaini Faizal)

What are the factors that may lead to a growing number of young smokers?

Indonesia itself is the top fifth tobacco consuming countries in the world (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman, 2006), and is the second-largest cigarette market in Asia (Indonesia Investments, 2016). This may happen as tobacco companies in Indonesia have a huge political and financial impact on the country, and are the government’s top five largest sources of revenue (Reynolds, 1999). The tobacco industry itself is very strong, as it employs more than 11 million workers and is the second-largest employer after the government (Nichter M, Padmawati S, Danardono M, et al, 2009). 

Another article suggests that a study revealed that youths perceived cigarette ads as encouraging them to smoke (Prabandari & Dewi 2016). Cigarette advertising can be found anywhere in Indonesia, starting from television, big billboard over the highway, magazines, and even newspapers. Besides advertisements, movies that show scenes that expose the act of smoking may be one of the encouraging factors for youngsters to smoke (Prabandari & Dewi 2016), just like how children often mimic their parents’ behavior. 

A smoking advertisement on a billboard shared by Sebastian Strangio on Twitter.

Tarwoto (2010) suggests that some factors that may lead to the habit of smoking are social status, the pressure of colleagues, the influence of parents who smoke, and the belief that smoking will not affect health. Besides all that, Indonesia has a lack of tobacco control, as it is stated that this country is behind in terms of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control signature and ratification (Ng, Weinehall & Ohman, 2006). 

Is there any effort done to tackle this problem?

Many have been done in order to reduce young smokers in Indonesia. One very good example that was done in Yogyakarta by one researcher, was launching a smoke-free home activity back in 2011 in 9 neighborhoods in Yogyakarta (Marwati, 2011). Smoke-free signs were put on every house, but this doesn’t mean that it forbids people to smoke, but rather to appeal to smokers to provide fresh air for other people (Marwati, 2011).

Map of Central Java, where Yogyakarta, the city where I did my research, is highlighted.

Reference Lists:

Faizal, E. B, 2016, Social media plays role in youth smoking, says expert, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Indonesia Investments, 2016, Tobacco & Cigarette Industry Indonesia, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Lonely Planet, 2019, Welcome to Yogyakarta, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Marwati, 2011, 16 Percent of Junior and Senior High School Students in Yogyakarta City are Smokers, viewed 22 November 2019, <>.

Nawi Ng, L. Weinehall, A. Öhman, 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking, Health Education Research, vol. 22, no. 6, pp 794–804, viewed 22 November 2019, <>.

Nichter M, Padmawati S, Danardono M, et al, 2009, ‘Reading culture from tobacco advertisements in Indonesia’, Tobacco Control, vol. 18, no. 02, pp 98-107, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Octavia, A. A, 2017, Meningkatnya Perokok Aktif Remaja di Yogyakarta (The increasing number of teenage active smokers in Yogyakarta), Kompasiana, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Prabandari, Y. S. & Dewi, A. 2016, ‘How do Indonesian youth perceive cigarette advertising? A cross-sectional study among Indonesian high school students’, Global Health Action, vol. 9, no. 01, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Reynolds, C. 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, pp 85-88. viewed 22 November 2019, <>.

Strangio, S. 2017, This cigarette advertisement in #Yogyakarta urges smokers to “never quit” #Indonesia, Twitter, viewed 22 November 2019, <>.

Tarwoto, 2010. Kesehatan Remaja : Problem dan Solusinya, Salemba Medika, Jakarta, viewed 21 November 2019, <>.

Post D: The norms and values relating to smoking in Javanese society

After China, Indonesia is the second-largest cigarette market in Asia. It is estimated that around 65 percent of Indonesian men are smokers. For Indonesian women, the figure is much lower – around 3 percent only (Indonesia Investment 2016). Most of the smokers start smoking from early age and got addicted eventually. An estimated of 58.1% of men adults aged over 15 years old were current smokers and as the age increased the prevalence of current smoking increased by almost 20% (Kristina et al. 2016). But people with higher level of education were less likely to currently smoke than a high school education people. Through a research conducted by a university student in Yogyakarta, non-smokers indicate that they have a higher quality of life compared to smokers, and in general showed a significant relationship with others (Perdana 2014).

The different percentage of men adults smokers and non-smokers over 15 years old in Yogyakarta and their reasons to smoke.

Smoking can lead to different diseases one of them is diabetes. In Yogyakarta Province, 65% of male diabetes patients smoked before being diagnosed (Padmawati et al. 2009). But despite knowing that they suffer from diabetes, 32% still smoked in the last 30 days, many diabetic patients continue to smoke despite the hazard of smoking on diabetes complications and mortality. Lack of education is one of the biggest factors of smokers in Indonesia. They think that if they don’t smoke, they are not a real man. Smoking is used as a metaphor for masculinity, potency and bravery. and by not smoking society will treat them as ‘abnormal’ (Ng, Weinehall, Öhman 2006). The norms and values relating to smoking in Javanese society has becoming the reasons for their smoking. In Java culture, cigarettes are often introduced to young boys during the traditional religious ritual of circumcision, which in this society occurs at the age of 10–12 years. 

Icha, 16, began smoking when she was 13 after a friend offered a cigarette to smoke together. Now, she smokes at least one pack of 12 cigarettes each day (CNN Health 2017).

Therefore, smoking among Java is associated with both traditional and modern culture, as well as religious practice. Smoking is deeply rooted and accepted by the society since it was introduced in Indonesia a long time ago, in the 16th century, making smokers hard to quit and even doesn’t have desire to quit. In Indonesia smoking and tobacco advertisements were signs of several positive connotations, such as ‘a steady life’, ‘pleasure’, ‘good taste’, ‘feel so rich’, ‘impressive’, ‘good appearance’ and ‘attractive’. Government need to act fast to establish a clear understanding to citizens especially young people to not think smoking as a privileged, however they should start treating it as something they shouldn’t try since young age.

Reference List:

Indonesia Investments 2016, ‘Tobacco & Cigarette Industry Indonesia’, Indonesia Investments, viewed 23 November 2019, <;.

Kristina, S. A., Endarti, D., Widayanti, A. W., Widiastuti, M. 2015, ‘Health-related Quality of Life Among Smokers in Yogyakarta‘, International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, viewed 23 November 2019, <,Vol8,Issue1,Article18.pdf&gt;.

Ng, N., Weinehall, L., Öhman, A. 2006, ‘‘If I don’t smoke, I’m not a real man’—Indonesian teenage boys’ views about smoking’, Indonesia Investments, viewed 23 November 2019, <;.

Padmawati, R. S., Ng, N., Prabandari, Y. S., Nichter, M. 2009, ‘Smoking among diabetes patients in Yogyakarta, Indonesia: cessation efforts are urgently needed’, Wiley Online Library, viewed 23 November 2019, <;.


Senthilingam, M. 2017, ‘Chain-smoking children: Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco epidemic’, CNN Health, viewed 23 November 2019, <;.

POST D: Javanese Speech Levels and it’s place in the 21st century.


Javanese Manuscript – Serat Jayalengkara Wulang (Hamenkubuwana II 1803)

Often, we assume that the specific terms used within a conversation, such as Madam or Sir are an indication of the type of relationship shared by the parties involved. However, the Javanese language has thrown a spanner in the works by using different speech levels ‘as a symbolic and social index of local organisation’ (Berman 1998, p.12). As an ethnic language predominantly spoken in Yogyakarta and Central Java, the Javanese society perceive it as an important part of their culture.

To understand its traditions and purpose, one must first break down its complexities. Javanese is comprised of three levels, Ngoko (lowest), Krama Madya (middle), and Krama Hinggil (highest). Each is adopted according to the ‘utterers, hearers, and place’ (Farahsani 2017, p.1) and follows principles of politeness. For example, a child would use Krama Hinggil to address his/her teacher or parents as a form of respect whereas two friends would speak using Ngoko. By doing so, locals believe that it is a means of philosophical entity and social control (Berman 1998, p.12).

Contrastingly, one might use specific utterances and engage in small talk to avoid offending another individual. It is perceived as the norm for a Javanese speaker to ‘fluff about’ as some might say, before reaching his/her purpose in the conversation. Essentially, this is their way of ‘thinking before you speak’ which is a stark contrast to many Western cultures that believe in direct transparency.

“How to Start a Conversation” in Javanese Language (EngliscJember 2014)

However, despite the traditional sentiments and teachings associated with the Javanese language, it is important to realise that Young Javanese are now adopting Indonesian when placed in its present-day context. Although Javanese is a compulsory subject for years 1-9, which was implemented in 1995 as a part of the new language policy, it is the social status of family and the influence of parents that ultimately determines the frequency of using Javanese. This is revealed through Kurniasih’s research on ‘Gender, Class and Language Preference: A case study in Yogyakarta’ (2015) where it became evident that the choice to use Indonesian or Javanese differed greatly between the working class and middle class in the 21st century.

Logos with Javanese Script.jpg
(Famous Logos in Javanese Script 2014)

Although Javanese has thus far presented itself as a farfetched language given its complexities, the variety of lexicons and utterance levels makes it an interesting language to discuss. When placed in its contemporary contexts, Javanese presents the opportunity to analyse the overall role of language not only as a form of spoken communication but an indication of identity and social status on a global scale.

Lab B - Map of Indonesia - Version2.png

Lab B - Map of Isle of Java.png
Mapping the Javanese language in it’s geographic context (San 2017)

Written by: Wendy San


Berman, L. A. 1998, Breaking Through the Silence: Narratives, Social Conventions, and Power in Java, Oxford University Press, New York.

EngliscJember 2014, ‘“How to Start a Conversation” in Javanese Language’, videorecording, Youtube, viewed 6 December 2017, <>

Famous Logos in Javanese Script 2014, created by Aditya Bayu Perdana, Behance, viewed 6 December 2017, <>

Farahsani, Y. 2017, ‘The Implementation of Politeness Principles By Javanese People: A Cultural Pragmatic Study’, International Journal of Novel Research in Humanity and Social Sciences, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1-5.

Hamenkubuwana II, S. 1803, Serat Jayalengkara Wulang, British Museum, viewed 6 December 2017, <>

Kurniasih, Y. 2015, ‘Gender, Class and Language Preference: A case study in Yogyakarta’, PhD thesis, Monash University.

Wibawa, S. 2005, ‘Efforts to Maintain and Develop Javanese Language Politeness’, International Seminar of Javanese Language, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta, Suriname, viewed 5 December 2017, <>

Post D: Eko Nugroho’s Indonesia

Negeri Kaya Fatwa, Nugroho 2013

One way to experience the culture of a nation is by exploring it’s contemporary art scene. Based in Yogyakarta Central Java, highly-acclaimed Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho explores  the spirit and modern history of Indonesia in his imaginative, and often dark, works.

Having experienced Indonesia’s period of Reformasi (reformation) and the country’s shift toward democracy, Nugroho belongs to a generation of artists known as ‘2000 Generation.’ Nugroho’s roots in Yogyakarta’s vibrant street art scene is evident in his ecclectic and energetic style that is peppered with socio-political commentary, pop culture, and traditional Indonesian art and craft.

Although he is not directly political, Nugroho explains, “Daily life in Indonesia is consistently coloured by the issues of poverty, social injustice, corruption, violence and religion. Actually, I do not intentionally imbue my works with socio-political messages. However; it is all but impossible to free myself completely from the events happening around me.” This almost unconscious social and political commentary is evident throughout his work and paints a fascinating and dimensional picture of contemporary Indonesia.

Global Identity #2, Nugroho 2011 

Independent curator Supriyananto who Curated Nugroho’s 2009 New York exhibition ‘Tales from Wounded Land,’ commented that Nugroho’s works “make a pointed commentary about the current state of politics and society in contemporary Indonesia, a period in which the newly democratic country is going through great transformation” (Supriyanto 2009).

Nugroho’s medium varies dramatically with each work, his chosen mediums include Print Making, Embroidery, Animation, Sculpture, Painting, Design, Graffiti, Drawing, Batik, Film/Video and Installation. This dynamic mix of traditional and contemporary mediums gives his work originality and flexibility with the soul and craftsmanship of traditional Javanese arts.

Nugroho stated that, “In Indonesia the political situation is getting better, but there’s still a lot of narrow-mindedness and social pressure, and that’s exactly what I’m critical of in my work.”(Nugroho 2015). Nugroho is just one example from a wealth of fascinating contemporary artists working in Yogyakarta, through his work we gain deep insights into the character and landscape of modern Indonesia. In her thesis on contemporary art, Feehan illuminates how, “When contemporary art establishes a meaningful relationship between the viewer and the art, the results can create an insightful awareness of societal issues.” (Feehan 2010)

Artsy, 2017. ‘Biography,’, viewed 14 February 2017 <;

Asia Society, 2016. ‘Video Spotlight: Eko Nugroho,’, viewed 14 February 2017 <;

Supriyanto, E. 2002, ‘eko nugroho + wedhar riyadi: tales from wounded-land,’, viewed 14 February 2017, <;

James, B. 2012, ‘Shadows of meaning: in the Elko Chamber,’ Artlink, Vol. 32, No. 01, Pp. 82-86

Feehan, C. 2010, ‘A study on contemporary art museums as activist agents for social change,’ ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.


Nugroho, E. 2011, Global Identity #2, Artsy, viewed 15 February 2017, <;

Nugroho, E. 2013, Negari Kaya Fatwa, Art Gallery of New South Wales, viewed 15 February 2017, <;

Post C: The Future of Smoking for Indonesian Women


 Phillip Morris Smoking Advertising aimed at Women associates Smoking with Independence and Freedom.


When visiting Indonesia there is smokers everywhere. Male smokers. In fact approximately 57.1% of Indonesian men smoke, a stark contrast to only 3.6% of Indonesian women (Tobacco Atlas 2017). This difference is commonly attributed to cultural values but data from various sources suggests this gap is rapidly narrowing  and The World Health Organisation estimates that the number of women smoking will almost triple over the next generation . In an essay on public health in Indonesia, Amanda Amos cautions that, “Women are becoming more independent and, consequently, adopting less traditional lifestyles. One symbol of their newly discovered freedom may well be cigarettes” (Amos 2000). However  when talking to local Indonesian women Annisa*, who works with Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Centre Yogyakarta, she shed light on the determination of Indonesian women to promote change and opposition to this deadly habit.

It is not just social stigma stopping Indonesian women from smoking, Annisa expressed a different view when she explained, “Women don’t really want to smoke because they will look manly and rebellious. But mostly women are more against smoking, because smoking is really disturbing first of all, and second of all, aside from the health risks, it’s still really annoying and the smell is bad.”

Studies show a clear link between tobacco marketing and risk of using tobacco products and The Tobacco Atlas warns that in order broaden their market the tobacco industry is now marketing it’s products aggressively to women and children. In a developing country like Indonesia tobacco companies market cigarettes as a ‘torch for freedom’ for women, a symbol of social desirability, emancipation, independence and success. In her journal article for ‘Addiction Robyn Richmond cautions that “Tobacco marketing has extensively targeted women, exploiting women’s struggle for equal rights by promoting themes that purport an association between smoking and social desirability, freedom, success, glamour and business appeal” (Richmond 2003).

Despite the unscrupulous marketing tactics of tobacco companies in Indonesia, Annisa offered hope when she explained “I believe that from the Indonesian women’s perspective, mostly they really want to change things and they will change them because they want to improve the quality of life for all Indonesians.”


Tobacco Atlas, 2017. ‘Indonesia,’, viewed 16 February 2017, <;

World Health Organization, 2015. ‘Tobacco Control in Indonesia,’, viewed 16 February 2017, <;

Amos A,  Haglund M. From social taboo to “torch of freedom”: the marketing of cigarettes to women, Tob Control , 2000, vol. 9 (pg. 3-8)

Ng, N; Weinehall, L; Ohman, A. 2006, ‘If I don’t smoke, i’m not a reall man – Indonesian Teenage boys’ views about smoking,’ Health Educ Res, Vol. 22, No. 6, Pp. 794-804.

Richmond R. You’ve come a long way baby: Women and the tobacco epidemic, Addiction , 2003, vol. 98 (pg. 553-7)

Annisa 2017, Interviewed by Manon Drielsma in Yogyakarta, 10 February 2017.

*(Annisa’s name has been changed for the Interview)

Discovering the Information Gap

While working on the ‘show your true colours’ anti-smoking campaign with Vital Strategies, I was instantly exposed to a clear information gap that seemed to occur in Indonesia. The government appeared to be on one side and a sector of the population was on the other side, without all the information. Looking further into this obvious miscommunication, I spoke to a local that had been living in various parts of Yogyakarta for the past two years. Benk Riyade is an artist, activist and trombone player originally from Surakarta.

Initially, I started to ask Riyade about his thoughts on smoking as he was not linked to the work we were involved in as an activist with vital strategies. Instantly he condemned smoking, expecting that was what we wanted to hear but as we got further into discussion it became clear that he did not fully understand the negative consequences of cigarettes. He “only smokes kretek (clove) cigarettes [as they’re] made in Indonesia”, clarifying that this meant they were good because “they stimulated the economy and helped out Indonesian families” not foreign companies (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). Riyade also stated that children shouldn’t smoke is because it is a financial drain on the company but “if they live in the mountains, it’s acceptable due to the colder temperatures” (Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). Whilst some of these statements is not strictly incorrect, they’re wildly misleading. This proves that while the government may not necessarily be sharing entirely incorrect facts with its population, it is certainly not enlightening them with a truthful and well-rounded understanding of the dangers of smoking.

smoking kills.jpg
Nugan, E. 2017.

During his time in Kampung Kali Kode, Riyade was working on a mural that explored the political climate of Indonesia. He was very passionate about educating the working class on their position in the country and the power they could have should they be properly represented in parliament. Riyade was very passionate about democracy and was strongly against the pseudo-democratic dictatorship that left “the average Indonesian with no rational alternative to the status quo” (Bjerregaard, M. 2014).  He said he wanted to “make the community realise that the community is the backbone of the country, especially workers”(Riyade, B. 2017, interview, 3 February). It is in this way that Riyade ironically began to share his own distaste for an uneducated information gap that seemed to be occurring between the parliamentarians and the working class in Indonesia.

Riyade, B. 2017.

It was only while talking to this Indonesian activist that I began to realise this lack of shared knowledge spread far beyond the realm of an anti-smoking campaign. There appears to be a lot of misleading information as the government takes advantage of their power and their lesser educated population.



Bjerregaard, M. 2014, ‘What Indonesians really think about The Act of Killing’, The Guardian, March 6, viewed 15 February 2017, <;.

Nugan, E. 2017, Smoking Kills, photographed by Eliza Nugan, 3 February.

Riyade, B. 2017, Interviewed by Eliza Nugan, Indonesia, 3 February.

Riyade, B. 2017, Then we hereby declare “That the suffering of the people must be stopped”, Instagram, viewed 16 February 2017, < >.

Post C: Yogyakartan Street Art


by Marcella Cheng

Our group mural project in Kali Code was the first time any of us had ever used spray paint in our art-making, and so we were relieved to have been given the assistance of a young Yogyakartan street artist by the name of Mosaif. While he seemed mostly amused at our clumsy attempts, he was always more than happy to help clean up our continuously dripping mural and to answer any questions I had.

As it turned out, Mosaif had been painting since he was young, for about ten years or so, since his high school and university days. He said that most of the street artists start out young like him, just quickly tagging walls to slowly master the spray can. It was interesting to find out this bit of information, as the attitudes towards “graffiti” in Australia tend to be extremely negative and usually illegal. While we would consider young street artists as vandals, Mosaif described the activity as a fun trend and a popular way for the youth to express themselves. This was another reason why street art was more prevalent in Yoygyakarta than Jakarta, he explained, as there was far more youth here.


Upon researching, this should hardly be surprising as the street art trend can be tracked back as early as 1998, where political graffiti first emerged mostly from student movements during the Reformasi era. In a time of great political upheaval, it is easy to understand how young people especially would have found “putting spray-can nozzle to wall” as a way to engage in political “self-expression and national identification”, a way to claim their city (Lee, 2013). Lee continues to unravel street art as a form of communication between people of all classes, where anyone could read or view the visual protests and in turn, draw their own response. These wall murals have become “an omnipresent feature of New Indonesia’s urban landscape” that Wilson describes as having a “strong social consciousness interlaced with humour… a bold aesthetic and strong commitment to craft” that could only come from the voices of Indonesian youth.

Another reason why street art is far more popular in Indonesia than Australia, for example, is the incredibly cheap prices of the materials. Even I was shocked, when Mosaif took me to the paint store, that the prices per can averaged from 13000rp to 5500rp (which is $1 – $5 AUD)! When we compared these prices to Australia’s, which averaged $10 per can, as well as the lack of walls to even paint in Sydney, it’s no wonder the art form seems to flourish in Yogya.


All photographs by me (Marcella Cheng)

Mosaif, February 2, 2017, interview

Lee, D 2013, ”Anybody Can Do It’: Aesthetic Empowerment, Urban Citizenship, and the Naturalization of Indonesian Graffiti and Street Art’, City & Society, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 304-327

Wilson, M. 2003, Sama-Sama/Together, viewed 13 February 2017,
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