Post D: Culture and Cake

I met up with my friend’s mum, Marina, to see what she could tell me about life in Indonesia and about Indonesian people. She greeted me with Indonesian layer cake and tea just to set the tone. Marina was born and raised in Jakarta and left at the age of 13 to come to Australia so that she could have a ‘western education’. She’s been going back almost every year since and said she has seen it change dramatically over the years. The most notable change she mentioned was that Jakarta seems to get busier and more chaotic every year. ‘I don’t know if it’s that I’m too old now but last time it was bustling and overwhelming’ she told me, whereas when she left if was ‘like a village in a city’. Not surprising she felt that way when the estimated growth rate of greater Jakarta is 3.6% p/a- over double the growth rate of the rest of Indonesia, and when Indonesia is the world fourth most populous nation (Firman, T. 2011)

She talked about how Indonesia was multi faceted and layered due to the many religions, languages and ethnic groups, of which there are over 719 and 360 respectively, that to try and understand it is a large feat (The Road Ahead, 2014). I found this fitting as I scoffed down my layer cake while she advised me that ‘you have to experience it to try to understand the complexities’. I asked her about the tension and animosity between the groups that often occur with the melding of cultures. She informed me that there ‘is little conflict beyween ethnic groups’ and that ‘Indonesian are very patriotic and loyal of what is now united Indonesia’. When I told her that I found this surprising due to the massacres around 1965 and their current conflict in the Papua region (More Religion, More Trouble, 2008) she stated that ‘political conflicts were more prominent than cultural ones as central government takes a lot of the resources’. Lack of a welfare system, high levels of corruption and political instability are the main challenges that Indonesians face according to Marina. ‘The possibility that tomorrow there may be a coup’ is so deeply ingrained in their psyche that many live day to day. She believes that corruption is now a big part of their culture that not only is it too hard to remove, but that its accepted that “if you don’t play the game you cant exist’.

What she loves most about Indonesian culture however, is the strong sense of community and family values. She believes that the value of maintaining harmony between the community and the low sense of individualism held by Indonesian gives them ‘warmth and no one ever feels isolated’.

References:

Firman, T. 2011, ‘Population growth Greater Jakarta and its impact’, The Jakarta Post, 26 March, viewed online 17/5/15, <http://m.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/03/26/population-growth-greater-jakarta-and-its-impact.html>

‘More religion, more trouble: Radical Muslim and Christian groups stoke the embers of Papua’s conflict’, 2008, The Economist, 17 July, viewed online 17/5/15, < http://www.economist.com/node/11751404>

The Road Ahead, 2014, The Economist, 21 June, viewed online 17/5/15, <http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21604528-decoding-nation-13466-islands-360-ethnic-groups-and-719-languages-road-ahead>

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Post C: Gotong royong could be seen as the original collaborative consumption model

An estimated 52% of Indonesia’s 175million population live in urban areas, of which an estimated 60-80% live in makeshift kampungs that provide affordable shelter in urban areas (The World Bank Group, 2015). Originally the term kampung meant village, yet with rapid urbanisation it has now come to mean a neighbourhood contained within a city (McCarthy, P. 2003). Design of kampungs are often haphazard and the lack of private space and infrastructure see things such as bathing, washing, cleaning and cooking facilities being shared by multiple families in public spaces (Rahmi, D. H. et al 2001). While stemmed from necessity and lack of alternatives it is arguably due to traditional principles held by Indonesians such as ‘gotong royong’ that these shared spaces and facilities can effectively be shared between so many people. The principle gotong royong, which is loosely translated to ‘mutual and reciprocal assistance’, is the philosophy that collective social activities and collective life are of high importance (Bowen, J. 1986) A study of the Ratmakan kampung in Yogyakarta found that flexible private and public spaces for multi-purpose uses, which were constructed using local materials and techniques and voluntarily maintained by all the residents, enabled the effective use of minimal spaces and resources in the kampung.

While the design of these spaces may work in Indonesia in the context of Kampungs, collective ideals are less evident in western societies, including Australia, where a more individualistic approach to living is the norm. There are however some that are exploring the idea of collective living. A shift in perspective and movements such as ‘collaborative living’ and ‘co-housing’ are seeing this adoption of shared resources exhibited in kampungs become increasingly popular. In Australia cohousing initiatives such as ‘Honeyeaters Community’ in Gloucester NSW, sees eight families share communal facilities such as workshops, gardens, social areas and guest housing (Co-housing Australia n.d.). While collaborative housing option are limited to rural areas of Australian, ‘Copper Lane’ in the Hackney London, claims to be the first urban co-housing scheme, where six families share resources from spaces including the laundry and workshop ,to appliances such as vacuum cleaners (Waite, R. 2014) The rise of what Rachel Botsman has termed ‘collaborative consumption’ sees a growth of sharing resources enabled through the use technology. Successful collaborative consumption organisations include Air bnb, go-get and airtasker, where accommodation, transport and skills are shared (Botsman, R. 2010)

With increasing strain on resource and lack of affordable housing options in urban areas designers may be inspired to create urban spaces, housing options and products with the gotong royong values and the ability to share in mind in the future.

References:

Botsman, R. 2010, The Case for Collaborative Consumption, video recording, TED, viewed 17/5/15,             http://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption?language=en

Bowen, J. 1986, On the Political Construction of Tradition: Gotong Royong in Indonesia , The Journal of Asian Studies, vol 45. No. 3 pages 546-561,             viewed online 17/5/15 < http://www.jstor.org/stable/2056530>

Co-Housing Australia n.d. viewed online 17/5/15          http://www.communities.org.au/projects/honeyeaters-community#

McCarthy, P. 2003, Understanding Slums: The Case of Jakarta Indonesia, viewed online 17/5/15,        http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dpuprojects/Global_Report/pdfs/Jakarta.pdf

Rahmi, D.H. Wibisono, B.H. Setiawan, B. 2001. Rukun and Gotong Royong: Managing Public Places in an Indonesian Kampung, Public Places in Asia Pacific Cities, vol. 60, pp. 119-134.

The World Bank Group 2015, Indonesia, viewed online 17/5/15,          http://data.worldbank.org/country/indonesia

Waite, R. 2014, London’s First Co-Housing Scheme Completes, viewed online      17/5/15 http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/daily-news/londons-first-co-housing-scheme-completes/8665598.article

Image 1: http://proconservation.blogspot.com.au/ viewed online 17/5/15

Post A: Design in Context

Design is a product of a designer(s) and their location, time and context. It is the context of a design that shapes its every detail. While on a recent trip to Milan and Venice Italy, we had the opportunity to visit a glass blowing factory on the Venetian island of Murano. Murano now synonymous world wide with ‘Murano glass’ is the result of hundreds of years knowledge and contextually factors shaping this world famous product.

Fig 1: Murano Glass Blowing Factory Visit
Fig 1: Murano Glass Blowing Factory Visit

The location of Venice in the Mediterranean sea has placed it in a prime position for import and export of the raw and final products to and from Europe, in addition to the sharing of knowledge between surround areas. Knowledge of glass making was a closely guarded secret, however a treaty between the head of Venice and Syria allowed knowledge and skill movement  in 1277 (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.42). Further to this, in 1204 the forth crusade into Constantinople drove most of the citys glass blower to Venice. Major consolidation of geographically varied knowledge aided the growth and fine tuning of Venetian glass production.

Not only did the location of Venice aid the movement in knowledge, it was also pivotal to the arrival and departure of raw and finish goods into the city. From Syria and Egypt, Soda ash arrive by ship (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.45) in addition to ash import from Syria. Further to this, local Silica from Lido and powdered flint rock from inland rivers beds could be easily sourced. (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p.45). The ash from Syria was quite advantageous, as it was shipped as ballast when raw cotton was also imported (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p43).

With a secure material supply, the Venetian glass industry continued to grow on the main island of Venice until several furnace eliminated entire city blocks (Rasmussen, S.C 2012. p. 44). In 1291, all glass production was moved from Venice to the Island of Murano. Murano now famous for Murano glass, was a cluster of highly skilled masters on one small island. Once established on the Island in 1376, the government passed a motion to keep all glass master on the Island (essentially prisoners on the island) but where elevated to middle class, with which came special benefits.

Murano glass has developed from a rich history of contextual circumstances, shaping and forming its contemporary identity.

Bibliography

Barovier Mentasti, R. 2003, Glass throughout time :history and technology of glassmaking from the ancient world to the present, Skira, Milan.

Rasmussen, S.C. & SpringerLink 2012, How glass changed the world, Springer, Berlin; New York.

Whitehouse, D. 2012, Glass :a short history, Smithsonian Books, Washington, DC.

Post C: Life in Jakarta

*Please note the interviewees name has been changed for their privacy.

Lisa an Australian born citizen, lived and worked in Indonesia in 1994-1995 on a “one 3 month stint, followed by 2 weeks there, 2 weeks back in Australia for about 6-8 months” (E, L. 2015), based predominantly in Jakarta on the island of Java. While in Indonesia Lisa noticed many contrasting social and cultural values to Australia,

While living in Jakarta Lisa noticed a massive class difference as luxury high rise or mansions where juxtaposed to shanty towns, see fig 1. This was no uncommon occurrence, with shanty towns, high rise and mansions scattered throughout the city. Within the home, it was common to find the middle class having ‘staff’ working for them; completing everyday activities such as cleaning and cooking. Further to the city’s class structure, superiority in the work place was heavily respected; Lisa citing an example of a talkative team that went silent when the boss was near by. Everyone knew their place, respecting their superiors, more than what you would expect in Australia. Like class, jobs in the work place fostered specific rather than multifaceted roles, increasing productivity, as bribery could be directed to the correct person. Class structure infiltrated all aspects of day to day life in Jakarta.

Fig_1_Shanty_vs_high_rise
Fig 1: Shanty town juxtaposed with high-rise in Jakarta (Katherine 2013)

Education was highly sort after, offering life opportunity. A first hand example was Lisa’s challenge to practice Bahasa Indonesian, often a new found ‘friend’ (or cling on) wanted to converse in English to build their skills. With more skills and education came superiority and class. Unlike the pursuit of education, time structure was not valued as it is in Australia. Lisa recalling ‘rubber time’, where one hour could be, was it two or even three hours? All workshops in the workplace were conducted in one room with the toilet next door, to prevent the groups evading and stretching the time to their liking.

Perhaps an influence to rubber time where the lengthy travel times in Jakarta, described as “contorted” (E, L. 2015), taking half an hour to drive somewhere that could reached by foot in 5-10 minutes. However, even with a slow travel times, walking was viewed “only for poor people” (E, L. 2015) and that a car should be taken when ever possible. To combat the heavy traffic, a 3 in 1 (3 people in 1 car) was introduced in inner city areas, however this forged the ‘Jockey’. As the name implies this person take a ride. As a passenger for hire they wait outside the inner city limit waiting to jump into your car allowing you to cross the city with no tax in return for a small payment. The Jockeys like the greater people of Indonesia have created opportunity from their dynamic setting, adopting and changing is a way of life.

Fig_2_Jakarta_Jockey
Fig 2: A typical Jakarta Jockey (Koslay, M. 2015)

Bibliography

E, L. 2015, Interview with E, L about Living in Indonesia, .

Katherine 2013, America is not a “banana republic”: A response to Salon.com, Katherine and Bruno’s Adventures, viewed May 11 2015, <http://noforeignlands.org/2013/12/12/america-is-not-a-banana-republic-a-response-to-salon-indonesia-food-security/&gt;.

Koslay, M. 2015, Jockey life in Jakarta, Australian National University, viewed May 12 2015, <http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2015/02/09/jockey-life-in-jakarta/&gt;.

Post A: The Complex Context of Batik Textiles

Cultural traditions are an important part of any local community. These traditions create a sense of belonging within this community as stories and historical meaning are often embedded in these traditions. The batik textile practice in Indonesia is strongly engrained in these local communities, dating back to the 1800’s. Each village has its own distinctive style of batik as the motifs used in the textiles have been passed down through generations, not dissimilar to methods of story telling used by the Aborigines through their dot painting or Guatemalans in their textile weaving.

To the untrained eye batik designs are just beautiful, colourful patterns on cloth but each designs carries it’s own significance and was once representative of social status. Many designs were reserved only for Yogyakarta royalty or the Kingdom family. Although today these designs are available for any tourist to purchase on the street it is important to understand the meaning these designs hold for the local community. One of these patterns is the Parang Rusak pattern meaning “Big Knife” which represents courage and was reserved only for the King. This design must be produced in very particular way, each line drawn in a single breath. Some people believe that this motif tells the story of creation, “others believe, this design was created by Sultan Agung of Mataram (1613-1645) after a meditation on the South coast of Java” (Rohima, 2012) and that it symbolises the power of the waves in the ocean.

batik
(Parang Rusak pattern Images from https://lianrohima.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/parang-rusak-one-of-batik-motifs/)

Another design that tells a beautiful story is the Sawat Pattern, which translates in Javanese to “Strike”. This motif tells the legend of the Garuda bird, a mythical creature with the body of a man and the head of and wings of an eagle who carries a Hindi God up into the heavens where the gods have the power to strike down evil. This motif demonstrates the hybrid of Hindi and Islamic Mataram religions that is present in Yogyakarta. A design such as this would have been forbidden in many of the islands of Java during the 17th century that were predominantly of Islamic faith. The ban on the depiction of humans and animals initiated a more abstract form of batik motifs, “stylised and modified ornaments as symbols, such as flowers and geometric patterns, known as ceplok. The ceplok patterns were the way in which batik makers attempted to get around the prohibition, creating simple elements which represented animals and people in a non-realistic form” (Florek, 2011).

batik_pattern_semen_romo_sawat_gurdo
(Sawat pattern Images from http://batik-pattern.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/batik-pattern-semen-romo-sawat-gurdo.html)
Batik motifs represent the beliefs of the Indonesian people, this is why the patterns vary between villages as people’s context and values shape the designs.

 References:

Briliana N. Rohima, 2012, The Forbidden Designs in Batik Yogyakarta, lianrohima, viewed 1 May 2015 <https://lianrohima.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-forbidden-designs-in-batik-yogyakarta/&gt;

Chandra Endoputro, 2007, Intangable Heritage, UNESCO, viewed 2 May 2015, <http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/?s=films_details&pg=33&id=3&gt;

Stan Florek, 2011, Batik: The Forbidden Designs of Java, Australian Museum, Australia, viewed 2 May 2015, < http://australianmuseum.net.au/batik-the-forbidden-designs-of-java>

Post C: The Globalisation of Bali

Indonesia is one of the top tourist destinations for Australia with over 900 00 Australian’s travelling there in 2013 but it wasn’t always like this. I spoke to Kaye Quiney, founder of Ozzie Mozzie Nets, a homeware and bed linen company on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, who has been visiting Indonesia since the 1970’s. She has watched the country transform over the years as Western influence has made it’s mark.

Kaye first visited Bali in 1973 when the only others making this journey were surfers embarking on the ‘hippy trail’ through South-East Asia. Kuta was nothing but a village with accommodation costing no more that $1 a day and meals costing 50 cents. The luxuries that you would now find were non-existent; you bathed from a small basin and slept under sarongs. It was a magical place to be as it was so far removed from Western Culture. Kaye visited Bali twice more in the 70’s, bringing back batik sarongs which she would use as fabric to create drawstring pants, bolsters and other small things that she would sell at Spring St Gallery in Chatswood.kaye1
(Left: Kaye featured in Vogue in 1982 with the start of the brand Right: Kaye’s Kimonos made in Bali from contemporary Batik fabrics. Images from https://www.facebook.com/mozzienets/photos_stream)

Kaye didn’t visit Bali again until the 90’s and within the space of only a decade Western Influence had started to creep into the country with familiar shops popping up and resorts being built. “I was just weeping, Bali was unrecognisable” (Quiney, 2015). The untouched paradise that she once knew was starting to transform into the tourist destination that it now is today. This act of globalisation had many effects on the local paradigm, Western influence triggered a change not only on the visual aspect of the community but on the beliefs and attitudes of the Balinese people. Resulting in many of their art forms changing and adapting to this new worldview. Batik resist dying started to break away from the traditional motifs and new patterns started to appear. “The culture that emerges reflects interaction with various interlocutors” (Hitchcock, date unknown)

Dispite Kaye’s initial dismay at the rapid rate of change and homogonisation in Indonesia she continued visiting Bali as her business grew, bringing back boxes of beautiful fabrics to be sold as sarongs and used in her own creations. In the early 2000’s she started manufacturing her own clothes in Bali. She took over vintage patterns of clothing she was selling at Paddington markets in the 70’s and had them made in contemporary batik fabrics. Some of these fabrics created by a Balinese woman who, through this act of globalisation, had become partners with a French woman. Together they create wonderful contemporary batik fabrics with a mixture of influences from around the world.

References:

Michael Hitchcock, date unknown, Bali: A Paradise Globalised, IIAS, London, viewed 7 May 2015, <http://www.iias.nl/iiasn/19/theme/6.html&gt;

Angela Saurine, Lisa Cornish, 2013, Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Australians took a record number of overseas trips in the past year, News.Com, Australia, Viewed 7 May 2015 < http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/australian-bureau-of-statistics-data-shows-australians-took-a-record-number-of-overseas-trips-in-the-past-year/story-e6frfq80-1226690392522>

Interview with Kaye Quiney, May 2015

 

Post D: Indonesian Culture- Warias

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. It is estimated that around 86% of Javanese people are Muslim. Even though Javanese culture is known for its openness, Islamic law does not approve of deviation. As a result there are only a few places to worship for Javanese Muslims who fall outside the boundaries of Islamic law (Brooks, 2012).

When a man or woman wants to learn how to pray there is a place to go, but for transvestites, practising the Islamic religion, they are simply not accepted. A Waria as they are known is an Indonesian transsexual or “Indonesia’s third sex”. The Islamic law, which is now the dominant religion in Indonesia, only acknowledges male and female, transvestites have been forbidden, making it difficult to practise their faith. They believe that even if all of Islamic state doesn’t accept them, god does. The Senin-Kamis School in Yogyakarta is an Islamic school for Javanese transvestites. The main purpose of the boarding school is to provide a place for the Warias to worship, a place to feel comfortable and to be accepted. Most Warias lead unhealthy lifestyles, especially those working as prostitutes at night. Most young transvestites start working as prostitutes because they leave their homes without any money. A lot of transvestites now are changing directions from prostitution to street singing, where the income is better and more predictable, making around Rp100000 ($10) per day.

Injecting silicon into their faces and breasts helps the girls feel more feminine. Breast implantation is an expensive procedure, which is why they usually get injections that are more affordable. Different from the transvestites that we may know or hear about, Warias accept what god has made them, and for that reason do not wish to have sex-reassignment surgeries. “We believe we are born as men and must return to God as men.”

They want to live their lives accepted by society, like any normal woman would. Even though their situation is far from perfect, there is a strong determination to better themselves. It takes courage. Their main opinion is that it is their relationship with god that matters in the end and not their relationship with people. With lipstick in their pockets, and god on their side, it seems a Waria, can have a fighting chance.

Waria -vice

waria-indonesia

References

Vice, ‘Indonesia’s Transsexual Muslims (Documentary)’, viewed 3rd May 2015,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJTzMHDaOlg

The Blog, ‘Tales of a Waria’, viewed 3rd May 2015, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-huang/tales-of-the-waria-indonesia_b_1546629.html

The Advocate, date unknown, ‘Who are the Waria’, viewed 3rd May 2015 http://www.advocate.com/print-issue/advance/2011/11/15/who-are-warias

Image1: http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1210/salon-waria/, viewed 3rd May 2015

Image2: http://www.vice.com/read/warias-come-out-and-plaaayayay-0000007-v18n10, viewed 3rd May 2015