November 2, 2022

Batikful week in Jakarta

Photo from Museum Batik's instagram

Me and Mbak Liesna posing at Galeri Batik
at Museum Tekstil in Jakarta

Sitting in a Roti’O were the one employee tries between every customer to make swirls of cinnamon on bread buns. Waiting for my time to board. Left so early, was so worried, so end up with a lot of extra time.

My week in Jakarta, although extended because of the visa process, was a useful & Batikful week. 
Arriving in the middle of the night on Monday, the next day headed first to Erasmushuis to report on my progress. Lucky director Yolande had time to meet me and was so great to tell in short about the first, very good, responses of the pembatiks & organisations I hope to work with. Also could share my worries, because it is not going well with Batik. But even more reason to make this exhibition next year!
In the afternoon I went to Bu Jennifer to pick up my suitcase & restock of Batiks. It was good to report here too of my travels and to think together on what could help who. 

'Tiga Negeri' inspired coffee and tea set by Wastraloka
at INACRAFT in Jakarta

On Wednesday after a morning starting up the visa process and being stuck in malls, got a WA from Bu Jennifer INACRAFT started. I was around the corner, so spend the afternoon there. 
Inacraft is the “Biggest and Most Complete exhibition of gifts and Housewares” with this year theme ‘From Smart Village to Global Market’. Sooo a lot of Batik, other textiles and crafts filled the huge venue. Happy to see so many stalls selling Batik after seeing the empty venue in Pekalongan and seeing so many visitors (with shopping bags) on the first day. 
Sad I was not able to go to Yogya because of the extra days in Jakarta, I was so happy finding Wastraloka had a huge stall at Inacraft. Loving all their hand-painted Batik stuff, I finally went for a small ‘Tiga Negeri’ inspired kopi set. Cannot wait to share a ‘kopi tubruk’ together with Koen when I return home.

Batiks with Buketan and Art Nouveau borders 
from Pak Hartono's collection

On Thursday I gave the talk I give in Singapore for Pak Hartono. When I told him last time about ‘Batik Belanda’ and how it is actually the name for imitation, he ask me to come and tell more. The easiest way to explain I thought was with my talk. Pak Hartono’s assistant translated were needed and we had some great in-depth discussion on it. It was received really good. And again I was asked when my book will be published. An re-occurring question, although a book on my research seems fun, and mostly a lot of work, my focus for now is on talks & articles. They give me the room to dive into smaller, micro histories, without having to explain, or know, all. 
The rest of the afternoon we spend looking at Pak Hartono’s extensive Batik collection with an, how he know nicely put it “possibly European influence”. Feeling lucky to get to see so many signed Batiks by the entrepreneurs I hope to learn about more in the near future.

An artwork with the title 'Perjalanan Batik Nusantara /The Journey of Batik Nusantara'

'From Kawung to Parang, from Phoenix to Sawunggaling' at Museum Batik

On Friday I got to go to the Batik Museum, the new one in Taman Mini. Since the surprising appearance of this museum ~ nobody, especially the other batik/textile museum knew anything about it ~ it was on my wishlist to visit. How many time I said during the Bahasa Indonesia lessons “Saya mau pergi ke Museum Batik yang baru”. 
Mas Ardi of Museum Tekstil was so kind to arrange it. It just had its soft opening, but is not officially open yet, so an unique opportunity for this batikreporter. The museum is pretty big, the exhibition makes a bend and slight tilt, maybe not the best for everyone. The collection is growing, mostly made from donations and had improved since the start in 2021. Welcomed by Mbak Arum and Mbak Aci, we got a full tour of what was on display, what they hope to add or examine further. Everyone working at the museum is new to Batik, so most info comes from what the donators tell them about the pieces. So mistakes are plenty to be found in the texts. At the display on ‘Batik Belanda’, I explained the name was actually not used for Batiks with an European influence, but for Dutch imitations. Mas Arum said: “Oh, like Vlisco”. I was like, yessss! They said they will change it, but we first will plan an online event in which I can explain more. 
The museum wants to improve quickly. There is also a big wish to collaborate more and continue field-research. It was great to see new produced batiks, examples of the process and videos made together with batikmakers like Kidang Mas. The museum want to play a role in the improvement of Batik. To get in more sustainable and keep it for future generations, as an active craft! Outside the planted natural dye plants and they have a machine to filter the water after dyeing. Their hope is to do all workshops with natural dye. The temporary exhibition, which will be the first exhibition when opened fully, was on Warna Alami, natural dye, but most batiks shown were actually synthetic dyed. Addressing one, a pretend ‘Cinderella’ batik, it was received with shock. I showed the actual old one and it was directly clear this was a newer, synthetic version. 
It was great to have a preview of the museum, very happy to connect and hope we can work together in the near future.

Pretend 'Cinderella' (?) from the Museum Batik collection

Batik with 'Cinderella' motif from the Wereldmuseum collection
currently on display in Rotterdam (NL)

With Mbak Arum and Mbak Aci at Museum Batik
Photo from Museum Batik's instagram

Batik Nitik exhibition at Museum Tekstil

Saturday I spend the day with my batiksister Liesna Subianto and her husband. I dressed for the occasion in the kebaya and belt she gifted me from Galeri Liesna and paired it with the Utama pants by Baju by Oniatta. When I come to Mbak Liesna’s house she changed to match more with my outfit.
We went to two exhibitions, first Batik Nitik at Museum Tekstil. We started in Galeri Batik, always nice to see the more recently made batiks on loan from Yayasan Batik Indonesia. Many from 2000’s, must have been a good batik year. 
We took a break in the garden. The buildings of Museum Tekstil are so interesting and huge. The gallery looks like a smaller European house from beginning of the 20th century. The main exhibition space is a huge building with a roof that mimics the Javanese traditional house while the white pillared entrance seems to be neoclassical inspired. According to the information plaque in front it was orginally build as the home of a frenchman, but nobody seems to know who this was…After our break we visited the main exhibition on ‘Batik Nitik’. Although I love me some Nitik, it gets a bit boring when it fills the space like this…

'Among the Birches’ by Aleksandra Herisz
at Museum National in Jakarta

Detail in ‘Collapse‘ by Iwona Bolinska-Walendzik
at Museum National in Jakarta

North-coast batiks from Museum National collection

North-coast batiks from Museum National collection

North-coast batiks from Museum National collection

Our second stop was at Museum Nasional for ‘Pola, The Exibition of Polish Contemporary Textile Art and Batik’. Another tip I got, and it was such a lovely, nicely set-up, a bit dark exhibition with great works by Polish artist of which many used Batik. It was the last weekend, so unfortunatly you cannot see it anymore, but share some highlights here. There were a couple of old batiks from the collection on display. Which is great, since you hardly get to see any from their, allegedly, rich batik collection. One of the modern works reminded me of stained glass titled ‘Collapse‘ by Iwona Bolinska-Walendzik. My favorite was titled ‘Among the Birches’ by Aleksandra Herisz. Beautifully installed and just so stunning. The whole exhibition gave me good inspiration on how to showcase the batiks at Erasmushuis next year!
Of course we had to see the textiles in the main exhibition of the Museum Nasional. I finally got to see the batik that is thought to be made by Raden Adjeng Kartini herself. I tried to see it before, but it was in storage before. I know it well from images from books and online searches, still it was surprising. It is indeed very European, with cornflowers and butterflies yet in traditional sogan colours…The batik doesn’t seem to give any hints on the maker, was it Kartini or maybe there is more to the story to uncover.

Detail of the batik at Museum National said to be made by Raden Adjeng Kartini

The legend of Nyi Roro Kidul
at Museum Bahari

On Sunday I was invited by Miss Ari to visit her Museum Bahari. In 2019 Miss Ari was the director of Museum Tekstil, although her love for textile is still as big, she enjoys the challenge this museum brings her.
In the morning the documentary ‘Repdeman’ was screened. The museum has a temporary exhibitions on disaster and this documentary on the tsunami of 2010 fits sadly very well. 
After the screening both the filmmaker & producer shared on the process, 4 months filming on the islands and 1,5 year to edit, and answered questions.

Got a tour through the museum which is located in a historical building which was a long time ago a VOC storage for spices. The museum shares this history, but also Maritime history of Indonesia with boats from different cultures. It has upstairs a display with creepy dolls dressed aa historical figures who were important for Indonesia. A display that is planned to be updated soon from what I heard. 
The Museum Bahari was world news, or big news in the Netherlands, when a large part was destroyed in a fire. The part is rebuild, keeping with the old structure and shows a small display on the fire in which 40% of their, partly on loan, collection was burned too.
 Outside Miss Ari opened a small spice garden. At Museum Tekstil she made a natural dye garden. I joked her next position should bring her to the botanical garden!
It was nice to catch up with Miss Ari and will great to see how the very Maritime history of textiles can be shared in the museum in the near future.

Shops in Pasar Baru

First catalog book of Museum Tekstil

My last day in Jakarta I spend researching. First I headed to Pasar Baru, the street where back in the day sellers sold ‘Batik Blanda’, imitations from Europe. Nowadays still many shops sell textiles and many sell fake printed ones with a Batik motif. The street had some remaining old Chinese shops and roofs, mostly covered up, but exciting to see these hints of history creeping through.
After my walk around, I headed to Museum Tekstil. If I want to make an exhibition there, I need to know what their collection actually is. A recent donation will make their collection a lot bigger, so I went through a pile of catalog books for a first impression. Next step will be finding out what other interesting batiks are kept since it is partly documented in an Excel with hardly any info and partly in handwritten notebooks with much more information. But great to spend the afternoon seeing the paperwork and getting ideas, many ideas!

After going through the new collection books

Almost ready to board. Will go to Bali, a short break to spend with my dear friend Barbara, which will certainly include textile adventures, but first a must needed holiday!

**Posting this while in Bali

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