September 29, 2019

Selamat Datang di Jakarta

Opening at Museum Tekstil

The day I arrived, after a 14 hour direct flight, would already include the first Hari Batik celebration I will attend this journey. Luckily my dear Batik friend Jennifer of TheAria Batik could pick me and made sure I was dressed in style that evening. She gifted me great kimono inspired dress of Batik Tulis from Lasem as an early birthday present. 
I was happy I could spend the morning and afternoon with her catching up. It was funny it felt I just saw her the day before, but it was actually 3 years ago. 
In the afternoon I checked in in my hotel and start preparing for the opening. After an hour stuck in traffic I arrived at Museum Tekstil. The facades of the buildings were illuminated and had rows of chairs waiting for the guests. More people were stuck in travel. Since I arrived there is a protest going on in city...   

Fashionshow at Museum Tekstil
Batik Twinning at Museum Tekstil, my dress is by TheAria Batik, both Batik Lasem

First person I spot was Pak William Kwan. I thought I wouldn’t see him in Jakarta, but we met already on my first day! He introduced me to everyone of museum. I been in contact with most of them these passed months, but hadn’t met in person. 
The opening was a true celebration with music, dance, speeches and a surprisingly modern Batik fashionshow. The speech by Moe Chiba of Unesco about how we have to preserve Batik as a heritage, by supporting the people who make it so you maintain the knowlegde & skills, really resonated with me. She was the honoured guest since we are celebrating Batik is now 10 years an Unesco Intangible Heritage. 
The exhibition made for this event is really beautiful and my film is included! I didn’t know, so you can imagine me going through the rooms and spotting Dwi on a screen. I still have look at the Batiks in more detail, so I will share more if I have done that. They were so fine and divers pieces.
It is so exciting to be able to see all of this and be part of this celebration.
I felt so welcomed on my first day by my Batik-family! Thanks Jennifer and Pak William.

Botanical Garden
Old Dutch and British graves in Botanical Garden

Pak William made my second day in Jakarta truly magical. We went to Kebun Raya Bogor, the Botanical Garden in Bogor. It was perfect place to walk and talk. We have so much to share and honestly will need a month or more to be up to date, but happy with the time we have. The botanical garden is pretty impressive. The trees reach to the skies and the flowers bloom with such bright colours. After a while we felt that we walked enough so headed towards the restaurant, which turned out to be still far and we did a detour by accident. After lunch the waiter told us the Rafflesia Patma was in bloom. So we had to see of course. After some more detours we found it. The Rafflesia Patma is a huge flower, but actually one of the smaller ones of the 15 kinds of ‘corps flowers’. It only blooms twice a year & very short, so it was absolute luck we were there. Our luck got even bigger since we got to meet professor Sofi Mursidawati. She is specialized in these flowers & Orchids and was sitting near her research-subject. She was happy to answer our questions and I was glad I actually knew a little about Orchids, since I went with another specialist looking for mirrored orchids in the Netherlands.
She explained the Rafflesia is a parasite and has a specific tree as a host. It chooses carefully when to bloom, so it doesn’t kill its host. 
Although I talk about walking a lot, I was so relieved I got to spot this flower without tracking through a jungle for days.

Rafflesia Patma at Botanical Garden

The second part of my second day, Pak William introduced me to his friend fashiondesigner Denny Khosuma and his amazing home. What Pak William described as humble home, was for me like what dreams are build of. A self-build bamboo construction, open and with different levels going down toward the riverbed. Every level was for something else; tailoring, showroom, kitchen and last space with a big table looking out over the dry riverbed. 

Fig Tree Bag made by re-using leftover & misprinted fabrics 
Photo by Pak William

Denny has his own brand ‘Fig Tree’ in which he makes clothing & bags of re-used, natural dyes fabrics or combination of the two. He works with textile artists all over Indonesia, experimenting with alternative material & exploring sustainable solutions. 
He showed great works by Miss Siti from Batang. I met her and her family in 2016, her little sister Nurul is in my film and will see them again next week. Denny gave fashion workshops in the region and Siti has been his student ever since. He asked her to make Batik on different material to explore what can be used. Apparently a very big jeans factory in near their batikworkshop, so one idea is to cut-offs/leftover fabrics for Batik. She also made batik on top of a stripped woven sarong and on ‘Batik Print’. This ‘Protest Batik’ was my favorite by far ~ lets cover all prints with actual tulis! The effect was great, looking forward to seeing future experiments by Miss Siti. 

  Natural dye tests
Protest Batik, Batik Tulis on ‘Batik Print’. Concept by Denny, made by Siti

In the last space of the house, the table was filled with test of natural dyes. He uses material from his garden & home, testing out different binders & fixations to see what colours come out. He shared he wants to make a book & wants to make it freely available!
When my jetlag kick-in, I suggested we go get some food. Instead Denny created an amazing dish, a Green Nasi, with a kind of flower & leaves from his own garden. His food was as colourful as his textile experiments and I felt so greatful I can meet such inspiring people.

Sharing thoughts with Pak William

It is interesting and in a way confronting how much more information ~ so in the form of batiks and written sources ~ are available for me in Europe, yet here the people who can read the batiks, understand the culture { not from an outsiders point of view, but because they live it } hardly see them, don’t have access to this data {not just because it is stored in archives, but downloading high resolution imagine can already be tricky here}. So I am making notes of what I can look for; Batiks with clear location reference, dates and so forth, so I can provide this knowledge in the near future to researchers in the field, and also to batikmakers. I think knowing where a motif or specific colour-use comes from can be inspiring and might give batikmakers useful information about things that got lost. I am happy to hear my doubts and questions are often the same here. So much to continue on already when I return home and this is only day 3 in Jakarta.

Cathedral Jakarta
Maria in Sarong Kebaya
 1930’s Maria statue in Museum
With traditional hairbun under headscarf 

Do have a more relax day, I only visited one thing today. John Ang posted it before on Facebook and I had to see it myself, the ‘Maria Batik’, the new Maria statue at the Cathedral dressed in Sarong Kebaya in which different textiles from Indonesia are combined. The statue symbolizes unity. I don’t know if is precisely appropriate or exactly right that the Batik in her long kebaya is of printed textile...Such a pity, or better missed opportunity. Someone should make her a kecil Batik Tulis kebaya! Or more then one. This lady might like to change during year for special occasions.  

Till the next update on my blog, in between posts please check out my Instagram 

September 2, 2019

Third journey to Batik

View from the plane from Jakarta to Yogyakarta in 2016

In a few weeks I will be heading to Java for my third journey to Batik. I am currently in the stressful yet joyful mood of trying to finished & prepare everything on time before I go. The never ending quest I end up in every time I travel. It seems no matter how long you are preparing for something, in this case ever since returned from my second journey in 2016, you still feel you aren't prepared at all. Story of my life I guess, and in a way things never go as I plan and yet always end up just going as it needed to go.
So, I am in this state of waking up every morning, trying to think of everything I need to do and might forget. What I noticed is that still many people don't even know I am going, so a post on my upcoming journey with some photos and I edited some footage of the last journey, 'Rice Reis'.

The making of Nyethe, decorating cigarettes with coffee to make Batik motifs

I also made the video 'Nyethe' public. I made it for my exhibition 'Batik is Art, Batik als kunstwerk'. I displayed cigarettes that were decorated with coffee. With a QR-code people could view the video of how Pak Saefozi creates these motifs inspired by Batik. I filmed this in 2016 at Warung Kopi Pak Ndut in Lasem, moments before I filmed the Tari Batik performance by Dwi Anggraeni {Read more in my previous blogpost 'Batik, Cethe, Tari & Kartini'}.

My second journey was 7 years after my first one. In those 7 years it felt like I was chasing a dream and thought I could better return one more time and end this whole Batik-thing.
In the three months I travelled on Java in 2016 it became clear to me that Batik and the people I met through that journey, had the be part of my future. The second journey is one of the most amazing times I had and the most terrible.
With two deaths, one happing while I was still on Java and one being announced with a long sickbed while I was there, this journey was such a duality. I was finally living my dream and at the same time I was away from home feeling so sad and heartbroken. I think this makes this next journey a bit scary, yet I know that it will be allright.

Harvest of rice in Watesalit, Batang in 2016

Since Batik became UNESO Intangible heritage of Indonesia in 2009, my arrival in 2009 was only a few days after, I knew I wanted to be there for its 10 year anniversary. This year is not only the 10 year celebration of that, but also of my own journey to Batik. I could not have imagined that Batik would become my full-time occupation and I am happy I can return to Java 10 years after it all started!
My next journey will be about re-visiting the places where I filmed the Batikmakers last time and to launch the current research-project 'Re-telling the history of the (Indo-)European influence on Batik'.
I will be launching my project during the Hari Batik celebrations with a talk at Museum Tekstil in Jakarta on 28 September and Museum Batik in Pekalongan on Friday 4 October. I hope to show my short film 'Tari Batik' also there, in Batang and Lasem. Next to that, I will filming at some historical locations in the region of Semarang.
My journey will also include a little de-tour before I go home, I will be going to Bangkok in Thailand. There is an exhibition at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles of the amazing Batik collection of King Rama V.

So, exciting stuff and a pretty busy program. Of course I will try to updated my blog regularly during my journey. For more please follow me on Instagram and check out my website for dates on talks & screenings. 

Sampai jumpa di perjalanan ke Batik!