December 11, 2015

New stuff, cheap stuff, mass production stuff & thrown away stuff

Trying for some days now to write a post about the sudden trend in showing colonial goods. In a row, first last years 'Asian Art and Dutch Taste' at Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, now in Rijksmuseum 'Asia>Amsterdam', at V&A 'Fabric of India', at Volkenkunde Museum an exhibition about the Peranakan culture in Indonesia and the 'Levez l'encre !' exhibition at the Museum Royal De Mariemont were they show the cargo of a sunken trading ship found in 2004 of the coast of Java (from before our colonial presence in Indonesia, but about trading routes) and the upcoming 'Catwalk' in Rijks about Dutch fashion from 1625 till 1960.
I'm exited by this trend, but I can't figure out if it is good (making more people aware of our colonial past is good, but when it is focussed on stuff..) or bad (only stuff, not the suffering). So I can't write about it yet, I do try to visit as many of the exhibitions mentioned above and I advices you to do the same. And if you did, let me know what you think (comment below please)!
Why I also can't write about it now is because of my daily worry about our planet. It feels a bit silly to make statements about our past if we should really focus on our future right now.
So before I will write about our stuff filled Colonial past, with in mind that Museums show us now that our past was filled with beautifully crafted masterpieces from abroad, but leave out the costs. Not only the costs on people, but also the cost on nature. If we don't want to talk about our crimes against humanity, can we then maybe share what we did (and are doing) to nature? How our greed changed landscapes, whole islands in order to get the spices, textiles and wooden furniture we longed for in Europe. And that this trend hasn't stopped since?

So instead of dealing with old stuff: How to deal with our stuff in the present and the nearby future? How to deal with our need for new stuff, cheap stuff, mass production stuff and thrown away stuff.
In my previous post about the Dutch Design Week I already wrote about stuff, a lot, and about the question when designers (and artists) stop doing projects based on Save-the-world-stuff and start making it a daily ritual.

In this post some nice examples of dealing with stuff in a "There is a future"- kind of way.
First: Handcrafted, traditional crafted merchandise as opposed to massmassmassproduced merchandise. Populo Batik*, a Jakarta based Batik shop, made a series of products for the Star Wars fans while mixing in traditional Indonesian cultural handicrafts. In their theme-store you can buy black & white hand-stamped (Batik Cap) patterns of Yoda, stars and 'May the force be with you' on shirts, hoodies and kimonos. On Instagram they shared also Darth Vader & Stormtrooper Javanese hand-painted wooden masks.** Brilliant!
It makes me happy to see that entrepreneurs are looking for ways to honour traditions while indulging in popular culture and try to do this in an earth-friendly way. And I'm pleasantly surprised that it is Batik they do this with!! Inspiring stuff Populo Batik! Wish I could pop in the shop!! If you are near Jakarta, make sure to check it out!

Opening of Populo Batik Star wars Store, photo from Facebook

From Instagram

Opening of Populo Batik Star wars Store, Photo from Facebook

From Instagram

Second: Educating Fashion victims about the true nature of their addiction. In the Temporary Fashion Museum you walk through a maze of nicely selected vintage, experimental garments and a killerheel selfiebooth. Fashion is the name, and it is shown in all its colours. In all its colours, you may wonder...Well yes, there is even room, a whole floor, about our wasteful lifestyle and it is so nicely brought that while admiring the colourful carpets being knitted, your conscience can nicely creep up on you. For the installation 'Fashion Machine' countless fleece sweaters were cut up and the polyethylene yarn put on spools again.*** In the video below you see a short impression of that process. But what they don't mention on the website of Het Nieuwe Instituut is the video shown next to this one. In the video you see piles and piles of clothing, our thrown away clothes, getting shipped to India were they get a similar treatment like the sweaters in the 'Fashion Machine'. The women in the video share their theories about western women based on our waste. One of my favorite ones was that water must be very expensive in Europe, because most clothing is still new and hasn't been washed once. Next to these thoughts on "western civilization" you see beautiful women dressed in sari's cutting, ripping, pilling up & stripping our clothing. After 4 or 5 steps in which in different places the clothing gets transformed into this grayish dust-like mass, they spin yarn from it. From this yarn blankets are made, the grey blankets you can buy at hardware-stores, and shipped back to where the clothing first came from, us...
This whole process is a very scary & crazy process and I'm happy that Het Nieuwe Instituut shows with the Temporary Fashion Museum not only the glitter & glamour, but the Art, the Craft and the Waste!

Threads made from sweaters, 
part of the 'Fashion Machine' at  the Temporary Fashion Museum

Knitting with the sweater-yarn, 
part of the 'Fashion Machine' at  the Temporary Fashion Museum

And the last & third: Using waste to address waste. Contemplating our future and how we could ever achieve a way of living without producing waste, trash & garbage, this temporary carpet by Leo Fitzmaurice brightened my week.**** The work from already 10 years ago address our wasteful behavior in a very nice way. Don't know if it was the plan behind this work, but it works very well.*****

'I Knew You All Along', made from leftover flyers, 
2005, by Leo Fitzmaurice

Wished I made this...few weeks back I made a 'partypack' with garlands, confetti and toothpicks with flags in honor of 25 year celebration of IDFX from their old, leftover flyers. It's on display from 17 December till 9 January at IDFX in Breda (NL). Hope I inspired you with this post to think about your stuff. Not only the stuff you own,  but also the stuff you are going to throw away, want-to-buy or get with Christmas!

'IDFX Partypack', made from leftover flyers of their events
2015, by me

* Website of Populo Batik
** Instagram page of Populo Batik
***
**** Saw it on 
***** More about Leo Fitzmaurice work on

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