Culture is

connecting to your land

What does farming have in common with graphic design? Anang Saptoto, an artist, designer, and activist living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, develops collaborative artistic practices that focus on ecology and social change, using art as a tool to question and open new possibilities for the local community farms. 

07 June 2024

A story by Anang Saptoto

What does farming have in common with graphic design? Anang Saptoto, an artist, designer, and activist living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, develops collaborative artistic practices that focus on ecology and social change, using art as a tool to question and open new possibilities for the local community farms. 

Changing Yogyakarta's landscape poses challenges for farmers, as the city's government focuses on tourism which, as a result, changes the infrastructure of the city. To build the current international airport alone in Yogyakarta 5 villages have been removed. "Why do we turn to local knowledges only when we face a problem but tend to ignore it otherwise?" Anang asks.  

Why do we turn to local knowledges only when we face a problem but tend to ignore it otherwise?

The artist works specifically with farm collectives and not businesses. Some of these farmers have day jobs and work land after they come back from their offices. These community farms help to nurture and heal the land. Since winning the Award, the local government reached out to Anang to help develop programmes that would engage more local communities in farming. 

I always prioritise collaboration, exploring and finding ways to work with others. Some of the visuals I create are not about the esthetics or beauty – but they carry a unique story that has not been told yet.

From pop-up markets that bring the farm into the city to farm tours where city folks can see where their vegetables come from, he recognises the importance of connection and exchange. Through many of his artistic initiatives, Anang always approaches the impact that such practices can have to his local communities with play and humour. "I always prioritise collaboration, exploring and finding ways to work with others. Some of the visuals I create are not about the esthetics or beauty – but they carry a unique story that has not been told yet," says Anang. 

What is the impact of it? "To simply be happier," the artist smiles. 

Portrait of Anang Saptoto