Post C: A Student Perspective on International Collaboration

Will Kelly is a third year Interior and Spatial Design (ISD) student at UTS. He was selected as part of a small group of Architecture and ISD students to travel to Banda Aceh in Indonesia to investigate theories on Social Spaces. During their time in Banda Aceh, the majority of their work focused upon the Acehnese social dynamics, understanding Sharia Law and learning about how younger generations have positioned themselves ten years removed from the devastating 2004 Indonesian Tsunami. The aim of the studio was to realise opportunities for further creative engagement and expression of youth through speculative urban interventions, specifically addressing local coffee shops. A trip of this nature inherently provides opportunities to work with local students it also allows for comparisons between design approaches and the differences in educational approaches become far more pronounced as students work side by side.

“It was generally just interesting to see how open there minds were to design, how they thought about there ability to challenge it, re-define existing things”.

Will cited the effect of religion on daily life to be the most prominent difference between students, working in Australia he was used to a more fluid day in which activities could be undertaken more flexibly, while Indonesian students led more structured daily schedules which generally inhibited progress as work was halted for religious activities. He lamented the stop start nature of their work which theoughout his project had negative effects on both overall progress as well as group morale. The very different backgrounds of respective designers lead to an interesting ongoing dialogue and discrepancy regarding the ability to impact and re define existing practices. Will’s tone certainly suggested frustration with the way his Indonesian counterparts had their hands somewhat tied on any parts of the projects which seemed to encroach upon traditional values. Will suggested the experience gave him a fresh appreciation for the openness of Australian society and he seemed thankful for its lack of positioning as religious nation.Another major difference identified lay in the differences in style of education he and his Indonesia counterparts had undertaken so far.

“I think its hard to pin-point the exact way this trip impacted me, but as a whole these experiences, challenges and engagement with people from other cultural backgrounds can only add to all aspects of your daily life”

He understood the Indonesian style of education to focus more on the creation of large structures and schemes and on a broader approach to problems, while UTS emphasises small moments and encounters, thinking about how things are being resolved and challenging those solutions while also considering new methods and ways of separating and merging social and spatial systems. This no doubt stems from the freedom UTS gives in aggressively redefining social norms which the Indonesian students seemed to shy away from. In understanding how the experience will affect him as a designer, Will was unsure, but he was quick to acknowledge the value experiences like his trip to Banda Aceh will have on his breadth of global understanding, and will ensure his approach to problems continues to become more considered as his understanding of the wider global community grows.

Interview with Will Kelly, 20 April 2015.

Images:

Will Kelly Interior Design. Banda Aceh. Viewed 03 May 2015 <http://www.wjkelly.net/new-page/&gt;

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Post D: The Raid: A Glimpse of Jakarta’s Slum Metropolises

As a movie The Raid makes no apologies in being the most brutal action movie you or I have probably ever seen and it combines equal parts brutal fist fighting with heart stopping set pieces and flashes of Pencak Silat – the ancient Indonesian martial art. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie is the dialogue it launches regarding Indonesian culture, particularly that of organised crime in low socio-economic areas in Jakarta.

One of many action scenes in The Raid
One of many action scenes in The Raid

Welsh director Gareth Evans expertly brings together the non-stop action movie: The Raid in a no holds barred depiction of the never ending battle between Indonesian police and Jakarta crime families. Since moving to Indonesia in 2009, Evans portrays Indonesia with a poignancy which belies his brief residency. Following Rama (Iko Uwais), the newcomer to a team of special forces police officers, set to raid a high rise apartment complex filled with the grungiest of Jakarta’s organised crime outfits. As Supriyatno (2014) suggests, the setting of a crime movie and the hostile actions of the slum dwellers towards police to be indicative of current attitudes towards Indonesian politicians and bureaucrats(Parker; 2015). Everything appears to be going smoothly as lead officer Wahyu leads his men up through the compendiums until a lookout spots their team and they’re trapped on the seventh floor. As their situation deteriorates it becomes quickly apparent that Wahyu has failed to inform his superiors of their raid and the team realises they are on their own in this mission. What follows is the most visceral roller coaster of action sequences I have ever seen, as Rama fights to escape with the lives of his team. As the odds lengthen all the viewer can do is sit back and watch as Rama bludgeons his way from point A to point B in what shifts from a mission to infiltrate to a race to escape with his and his colleagues’ lives.

Traditional Pencak Silat

Far from being an culture-less action movie The Raid places an unlikely spotlight on the Indonesian martial art: Pencak Silat. Pencak Silat has, similarly to Capoiera in Brazil, evolved from a martial art into a style of dance which has developed to emphasise form over violent. Bouvier (1990) notes Pencak Silat to be a traditionally violent past time with all bouts ending in bloodshed, but in modern times exists as a milder affair which she says serves to provide unique and national character to Indonesians.
The Raid is, at its heart a superficial action movie, but if one were to investigate further they would find interesting details  about traditional Indonesian culture. Most notably is the movie’s focus on Pencak Silat, a focal point of multiple movies directed by Gareth Evans.

Bouvier, H. 1990. ‘Ojung’ and ‘Pencak Silat’: Village and National Sports in Madura. Archipel, Vol 40. Viewed 27 April 2015 <http://isplb03-aux3.semantico.net/abstracts/19921800173.html;jsessionid=1AD570553C44CABCFD79610FA12F34E4>

Parker, B. 2015. INDONESIA: Jakarta Slums Struggle with Sanitation. Irin Humanitarian News. Viewed 28 April 2015 <http://www.irinnews.org/report/88833/indonesia-jakarta-s-slums-struggle-with-sanitation>

Supriyatno, B. 2014. Role of Government in Jakarta Organise Slum Area. Scientific Research Journal (SCIRJ),Vol 2. Viewed 28 April 2015 <http://www.academia.edu/7764782/Role_of_Government_in_Jakarta_Organize_Slum_Area>

The Raid: Redemption. 2011. Motion Picture. Celluloid Dreams, Paris.

Images:

Pride Sports, 2015. Pencak Silat. Viewed 3 May 2015 <http://www.pride-sports.de/blog/pencak-silat >

IMDB, 2015. The Raid. Viewed 6 May 2015

Post B: The A-peel of Waste Management

Waste and the effective treatment of waste has been and will continue to be one of the biggest issues faced by our global society. From smallish scale recent pushes to eliminate plastic bags, shown to be successful across parts of Australia, to the quest to eliminate packaging in general waste management has been a hot topic of discussion for many years. Successful shifts in waste management must by necessity be more focused upon shifting mindsets regarding waste management rather then the physical dealings with waste.

One movement to effectively challenge current wasteful produce habits is the French supermarket chain Intermarche. At a 30% discount the supermarket is now selling misshapen fruit and vegetables which would otherwise be thrown away by the supermarket or farmer. Branded as the inglorious fruits and vegetables Intermarche has set out to prove that unsightly produce is just as edible and has should not be hidden even giving the less a’peel’ing products their own section. By celebrating the defective produce Intermarche has inspired confidence in their products and their discount only furthers their viability (Cliff: 2014). The campaign has been a roaring success, within a month it has reached over 13 million people and according to Wilson (2014) has sparked international conversation about the high levels of waste produced in supermarkets.

Intermarche’s Ugly Fruits and Vegetables

The value in Intermarche’s initiative cannot be understated, by attacking mindsets regarding food waste, they aim to create meaningful and lasting change. Already other supermarket chains Auchan and Monoprix have launched similar campaigns selling aesthetically challenged produce(Mulholland: 2014). Such an initiative requires no outside funding and actually proves profitable for both farmers and Intermarche as both parties are able to sell on produce that would otherwise be discarded for a discount. According to Duncan (2014) this scheme allows for more fruit to go to supermarkets and would help to combat the 20 – 40% of fruits and vegetables which are thrown out due to their inability to reach the high cosmetic standards of supermarkets.
While Intermarche’s campaign has been successful a long term solution to food wastage will need to be as multi faceted as the problem. According to Schwartz (2014) the most productive path to cutting food wastage will be through the encouragement of food sharing and donation. It is one thing to improve attitudes surrounding visually unappealing fruits and vegetables but finding ways to encourage people to equitably share their food poses a completely unique set of challenges altogether.

Baranowski, M. 2014. Waste Not, Want Not. BBMG. Viewed 20 April 2015 <http://bbmg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/BBMG_Trends_WasteNot.pdf>

Cliff, M. 2014. Forget the ugli fruit, meet the ugly fruit bowl! French supermarket introduces lumpy and misshapen fruit and vegetables – sold at a 30% discount – to combat food waste. The Daily Mail. Viewed 20 April 2015 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2693000/Forget-ugli-fruit-meet-ugly-fruit-bowl-French-supermarket-introduces-lumpy-misshapen-fruit-vegetables-sold-30-discount-combat-food-waste.html>

Hower, M. 2013. Kroger Converting Food Waste to Clean Energy To Power Compton Distribution Center. Sustainable Brands Viewed 27 April 2015  <http://www.sustainablebrands.com/>

Mulholland, R. 2014. ‘Ugly’ Fruit ands Vegetables Prove a Hit in France. The Telegraph Viewed 20 April 2015 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11131994/Ugly-fruit-and-vegetables-prove-a-hit-in-France.html>

Schwartz, A. 2014. What Grocery Stores can do to Eliminate the Food Waste Problem. Fast Magazine. Viewed 20 April 2015 <http://www.fastcoexist.com/3039421/what-grocery-stores-can-do-to-eliminate-the-food-waste-problem>

Images:

Intermarche 2014, Intermarche – ‘Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables’, videorecording, Vimeo,
viewed 03 May 2014, <https://vimeo.com/98441820&gt;.

Mertens, F. 2014. How to Tackle Food Waste? Sell Ugly Fruit! Expressions That Inspire. Viewed 28 April 2015 <http://expressions-that-inspire.com/how-to-tackle-food-waste-sell-ugly-fruit/&gt;

Post A: The Importance of Contextual Design: The Aceh Tsunami Museum

According to David (2014) context allows designers to predict the needs of the audience before those needs are needed. It identifies the settings and circumstances and designs arise from the need to solve a problem in these certain circumstances (Farris: 2014). These contexts vary widely from bespoke; local responses, to further reaching; global solutions. Contexts provide frameworks for designs to be viewed within, they show relevance, and direct the intentions of designs and designers. Contexts, particularly local contexts help to narrow the focus of designs, and clarify issues for designers. A design which is logical and useful in one place, could be so out of place in another that its use be completely unrecognisable.

The Aceh Tsunami museum in Banda Aceh
The Interior of The Aceh Tsunami museum in Banda Aceh

For example, The Aceh Tsunami Museum in Banda Aceh stands out as a valuable piece of design in both a global and local context. Lauded for its ambitious design and successful implementation (Williamson: 2009), the museum serves as a reminder of the devastating tsunami which hit Indonesia on Boxing Day in 2004 which claimed the lives of roughly 230 000 people, two thirds of which resided in the Aceh province (World Architecture News: 2009). In a global context such a museum is considered a great success; aesthetically, the museum holds great value but locally the museum holds far greater importance. As both a place of reflection and healing the Aceh Tsunami Museum holds one very practical use on apparent in a local context: inspired by local housing which has proven particularly resistant to flooding, the museum can also function as a emergency shelter should locals ever need to find higher ground during future natural disasters. Indonesian architect, Ridwan Kamil has framed his design not to remember the Tsunami in a wasteful manner, but as a gentle reminder of the force of natural disasters and with a sensibility and practicality to acknowledge the likelihood of another such event.

Design is and always will be inherently responsive. It responds to its surroundings, and the needs and desires of those in the areas directly around them. Designers create solutions for problems and context provides  a frameworks for them to work within. Without context designers are working in a vacuum with no problems to respond to and nothing to inspire work. As shown by the Aceh Tsunami Museum a design can show value in a global context and then a more specific value in a local context.

David, B. 2014. Context Design: How to Anticipate Users’ Needs Before They’re Needed. The Next Web. Viewed 25 April 2015 <http://thenextweb.com/dd/2014/04/28/context-design-anticipate-users-needs-theyre-needed/>

Farris, J. 2014. What is Context? New Product Development. Viewed 27 April 2015 <http://npdbook.com/stages-of-the-design-process/problem-definition/what-does-the-customer-want/what-is-context/.>

Williamson, L. 2009. Tsunami Museum Opens in Indonesia. BBC News. Viewed 26 April 2015 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7905770.stm>

World Architecture News. 2009. Reflection in the Water. Viewed 27 April 2015 <http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/project/2009/11248/urbane-indonesia/tsunami-museum-in-aceh.html>
http://thenextweb.com/dd/2014/04/28/context-design-anticipate-users-needs-theyre-needed/

Images:

 Investasi Daerah 2015. The Aceh Tsunami Museum.Viewed: 25 April 2015 <http://investasidaerah.com/en/the-aceh-tsunami-museum/&gt;

Vimeo 2014, Aceh Tsunami Museum, videorecording, Vimeo, viewed 21 April 2015.

POST D : Life of Contradictions

Photo by Diego Verges as part of his photo essays in Surabaya, Indonesia

Warias is the term given to Indonesia’s third sex, an amalgam of Indonesian words ‘wanita,’ woman, and ‘pria,’ man. Likened to cross-dressers, drag queens or transsexuals in the wider international community, specifically warias would be demarcated as transwomen, however in a more poetic self-description; ‘a waria is a man with the soul of a woman, (Tales of the Waria 2012). In a country that is known for both its anti-discriminatory culture as well as its Islamic majority, the life of a waria is one of contradictions.

Indonesia has the highest Muslim population in the world, some 88% of the 250 million residents identify as Islamic, thus accounting for 12.7% of the world’s Muslims (BBC 2015). However, cross-dressing has a respected history in Indonesia that dates back before Islam’s arrival into the country in the 13th century, now tradition of the Bugis people of South Sulawesi (IIAS 2002).

Whilst Islam dictates hetero-normativity, many warias adopt Muslim practice, however not without confrontation. Men and women are segregated within mosques, and although some warias conform to this sexual binary, many are uncomfortable doing so, despite the connotation that ‘no one is forbidden from entering a mosque.’ One waria, Mariyani, has received much local and international attention after transforming her home-based beauty salon in Yogyakarta into a sanctuary-like Islamic school for warias to study and worship (VICE 2011).

Mariyani believes that warias have the right to worship in security, her philosophy of acceptance extending even further – ‘I invite waria from any religion to worship here. If they don’t have a place, my place is open to them,’ (Jakarta Post 2011). Whilst Mariyani seeks to improve the role of religious freedom for warias, economic and social grounds often govern their lifestyle.

Mainstream media often stereotype warias as flamboyant comics, sex workers and fringe dwellers. Prejudice and discrimination often accounts for many warias falling into this typecast. Shuniyya, a waria from the Yayasan Putri Waria Indonesia dismisses these saying ‘There are waria who work as designers, psychologists and sociologists. The image that all waria are sex workers or employees of hair salons is simply a myth,’ she says. ‘In the end, only a waria knows what it means to be a waria. We have to define ourselves.’

Warias, including Mariyani, performing traditional song and dance. Photo by Oliver Purser for VICE

The life of a waria is one of extremes, from jovial beauty pageants to facing persecution from religious extremists. The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) is a conservative Islamic group who often express intolerance towards warias – in one case, violently shutting down the 2012 Miss Waria pageant resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in fundraising and organisation. Despite religious paradoxes, spokesperson warias such as Mariyani and Shuniyya maintain high spirits. Like many social minorities, warias become warriors, facing countless hardships with the hope that Indonesia’s reputation of tolerance transcends discrimination.

References //

BBC News,. ‘Indonesia Country Profile – Overview – BBC News’. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Broverman, Neal. ‘Who Are The Warias’. Advocate.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 May 2015.

Graham, Sharyn. ‘Sex, Gender, And Priests In South Sulawesi, Indonesia’. International Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter 2002: 27. Web. 3 May 2015

Hyphenmagazine.com,. ‘Q&A With ‘Tales Of The Waria’ Director Kathy Huang’. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

Inside Indonesia,. ‘Defining Waria – Inside Indonesia’. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Killyourdarlingsjournal.com,. ‘Men With The Souls Of Women: Indonesia’S Transgender Waria | Kill Your Darlings Journal’. N.p., 2015. Web.2 May 2015.

Muslimah Media Watch,. ‘Trans And Muslim: Portraying The Lives Of Warias In Indonesia’. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 May 2015

The Huffington Post,. ‘Tales Of The Waria: Inside Indonesia’s Third-Gender Community’. N.p., 2015. Web. 2 May 2015.

Thejakartapost.com,. ‘Mariyani: Religious Differences Not A Problem For ‘Waria’’. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

VICE Guide to Travel,. The Warias. 2011. Web. 1 May 2015

Wariazone.com,. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Images //

Verdes, Diego. Surabaya Photo Essay. 2011. Print.

VICE,. Warias Performing Traditional Song And Dance. Web. 2 May 2015.

Post C : Cross-cultural exchanges

In her third year at The University of Sydney, Bridget Harilaou is currently on exchange at Universitas Gadjah Mada, in Yogyakarta. Whilst studying politics and Bahasa Indonesia, Bridget hopes to pursue a future in development and contribute to the progression of education, health, women’s rights and cross-cultural exchange.

Being of half-Indonesian background, Bridget’s choice of study destination was to further her reconnection with a culture she had previously dismissed. ‘Growing up in Australia, I rejected my heritage for a long time because it made me different,’ she says. Bridget believes however that informal social acceptance in Indonesia is much more pronounced than Australia’s. ‘Living in Indonesia now, I feel like I finally know more about my culture and identity. I’m definitely more connected to the country, language and culture and it really validates my identity as an Indonesian person. I don’t feel different in Indonesia much, I feel more different in Australia.’

The hundred of ethnic groups in Indonesia

With the fourth largest population in the world, Indonesia’s 250 million people expand across over 17000 islands, with an estimate of over 300 different ethnic groups and over 700 languages spoken – statistics alone prove Indonesia’s cultural diversity is unparalleled by any other nation. From a first hand comparative view however, Bridget says ‘I still have to explain my heritage here, but it’s different to in Australia because you really do ask everyone here where they are from, because Indonesia is so diverse, so it’s not just for minorities like in Australia.’

Indonesia’s great population however poses immediate concern upon the issue of sustainability. Mass deforestation, waterway pollution and palm oil plantation affects rural environments, whilst cities try to maintain waste and sewage management. Bridget reports that ‘there is barely any education or money in sustainability. No waste management other than burning rubbish, people littering and dumping in the ricer, mining and polluting water sources and ground without thinking of implications.’ The lack of government initiatives and support results also in a lack of motivation and interest at a public level as Bridget says there is ‘not much of a focus on sustainability in my community or University.’

 

Waste dumped in ocean waters around Bali

Bridget’s interview provides a relatable recount of her circumstance as a university student who similarly expresses awareness of familiar concerns through a continuous comparison of Indonesian and Australian societies. Well-established values of tolerance and acceptance are to be envied by many other nations who strive for multiculturalism, including Australia. On the other hand, greater government support and more ‘formal’ input as Bridget puts, is needed to counter issues of sustainability, health and equality. It is therefore apparent that political influences upon social and environmental sectors result in both beneficial and detrimental consequences.

References //

Harilaou, B. (2015) Interviewed by Paula Thomson, 1 May 2015.

‘Why Indonesia’S Cultural Diversity Deserves A Compliment | Embassy Of Indonesia, Athens’. Indonesia.gr. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 May 2015.

Inside Indonesia,. ‘An Ongoing Environmental Challenge – Inside Indonesia’. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 May 2015.

Nytimes.com,. ‘Indonesia Walks A ‘Tricky’ Path Toward Growth And Sustainability – Nytimes.Com’. N.p., 2015. Web. 4 May 2015.

Images //

Kartapranata, Gunawan. Indonesia Ethnic Groups Map. 2010. Web. 3 May 2015.

R.O.L.E. Foundation,. Waste Dumped In Ocean Waters Around Bali. 2012. Web. 5 May 2015.