December 17, 2023

Last acara* in Jakarta

Last program* in Jakarta

Ibu Ramini dyeing a Batik during the Batikworkshop 
on 25 November at Erasmus Huis

Singhasari statues at the National Gallery in Jakarta

Batik research workshop at Museum Batik

On the way home after what I could only call the perfect journey to Batik. It was so wonderful to have next the exhibition, which is in sorts an overview of the passed 14 years, a journey to all (most all) the places I have been in those 14 years together with Koen. The places where my journey begin, all the people, my batik family who I got to work with, learn from, help me so much and now got to spend time with together with Koen finally!

In the Botanic garden in Bogor

Our first full day on Java together, Friday 24 November, after Koen arrived and he saw ‘Masa depan Batik’ at Erasmus Huis, we spend in the Botanical garden in Bogor. Although it was very hot, and still is, you can walk there in the shade of the very old trees. It was funny to hear Koen reaction to the bees here, that are the size of perhaps a hummingbird. I remember reacting like that, only to find out that these flying giants never bother you.
In the evening Ibu Ramini and Tasya arrived from Lasem. The next day, on Saturday 25 November, Ibu Ramini would lead the Batikworkshop. It is so great I got to organise this. A real Batikworkshop given by a real batikmaker, and not anybody, Ibu Ramini of KUB Srikandi. The place that made me fall in love with Batik forever.
I asked Koen to join me at the end of my program, so he could join this workshop. It was so nice to have this extra time to hang out together. Ibu Ramini considered the workweekend as a real holiday, she said she loved how she has to do nothing, no household shores. And she is totally right, it is very luxueus to work in this way, at home I know all too well the struggle of trying to keep the house tidy while juggling multiple projects. But the big difference, me and Koen do it together, while for most women on Java they have to do everything alone. In Ibu Ramini case running a business while also running the household. 

Guidance by Ibu Ramini on how to use the canting

Tasya, Koen and Ibu Ramini

Lorod by Mas Edy

Ibu Ramini shared her knowledge on Batik with us on 25 November. The participants worked with the cantings she brought ~ from Pekalongan ~ while Museum Tekstil proved cantings from Solo. Also we worked with synthetic dyes. A react dye that first appears orange and turns green in the second bath, or first looks just wet and turns grayish blue. When mixing the two a very nice dark blueish green was made. Very different process from the natural Indigo we learned from Elisa of Jikaloka on 4 November
It was exciting in the morning because Ibu Ramini was not yet sure what colours it would give, but they turned out so beautiful. 
The workshop was again given in collaboration with Museum Tekstil with the amazing guidance of Ibu Yeni and Mas Edy. A wonderful collab! I am so happy we got to organise this at Erasmus Huis. 
Special thank you to Miss Tasya for joining Ibu Ramini on her journey to Jakarta & helping so much with the workshop. 
Koen made a great Batik. Ibu Ramini approved of his blocking skills! 
His Batik is a tribute to me: Batik ~ Baik ~ Bolk. How sweet is that!

Batik ~ Baik ~ Bolk by Koen de Wit

The Batikworkshop marked the official last scheduled program, but I had two more workshops to go on Monday.
On Sunday we had a relax morning, having breakfast the four of us, before Ibu Ramini and Tasya pulang {returned home}. Luckily this goodbye was not so heavy, since the sampai jumpa {see you later} was in two weeks.
In the afternoon me & Koen visited Museum Macan. Heard many positive things about this museum and seeing instastories on their recent exhibition ‘Voice Against Reason’ I had to see it.
The museum is located in what looks like a small mall or office building. A few escalators up, you arrive in a typical modern art museum space with a nice view on the city. I think depending on whats on show, makes the visit worthwhile. Good that this exhibition is amazing! It is still on show till 14-4-2024!
The exhibition had a diversity in mediums; sculpture, paintings, tapestries, video work and even a modern wayang of which we got to see the last live performance! The artworks were by new and older modern artists. 

‘Sirkus di Tanah Pengasingan: Oyong-oyong Ayang-ayang’ 
by Jumaadi and the Shadow Factory, 
using papercut & overhead projectors at Museum Macan

Video installation 'Perpetuity' (2023) by Nadiah Bamadhaj 
at Museum Macan

It still amazes me how being an artist here, and being in an Art collective, is so different from the Netherlands. Real collectives are rare, while in Indonesia it seems odd to work alone. Although I feel removed from the art-world in the Netherlands, on Java I feel my work fits really well within the art-world. How I work, together preferable, has always been a given. Here I am never asked What I make specifically as an artist, what I make is not being divided into certain fields. It is just what I make. 
It was therefore especially great to get the freedom to make ‘Masa depan Batik’ as I wanted, including the program, in Jakarta. 

Analog photo by Oxalis of Erasmus Huis of me with my Batik selfportrait

On Monday morning 27 November I got to give my Batik research workshop at Museum Batik. This brand new batik museum was officially opened last Hari Batik, 2 October, and I got to visit it last year already
Some of the people of museum joined my workshop at Erasmus Huis, and it was so great to get asked to give it at the museum. Not just for the Batik Museum, but other museums at Taman Mini Indonesia as well. It was also great that I got to take Koen to this museum. 
The workshop was really great again to do. The participants, especially the new generation, had smart questions, going beyond what I put on paper. So that made me very happy as you can imagine. 
In the previous posts ‘Pasar Batik & Batik Research Workshop at Erasmus Huis’  & ‘For the love of Batik’ I wrote more about this workshop and the reason behind it.
The museum is closed on Mondays but we & the participants got a tour from Mas Swa, the curator of the museum. Going first through the oldest history, the making of batik, we quickly reached the point where the influence in Batik is described. Mas Swa laughed nervously when reaching the display on European influence.
“I feel this is a test” he said before starting the explanation. The text sign still says ‘Batik Belanda’, but he nicely said, “we call this batik with an European influence”, and I asked “And no longer Batik Belanda?” And he said: “yes!”
Yeahh!! I explained shortly to the group why this name ‘Batik Belanda is wrong to use and that it is actual the name for imitation batik from Europe. 
I just want to say thank you again to Museum Batik! I hope we can keep on working & sharing together in the (near) future!

Batik research workshop at Museum Batik

Guided tour though Museum Batik by Mas Swa

The Green Batik Workshop at Erasmus Huis

Right after the workshop at the museum, we had to get in a Grab {taxi} to Erasmus Huis where the next workshop was about to start. 
The Green Batik Workshop: From Tradition To Innovation together with the Water Agency. 
A month before I met Carrina & Octi of The Water Agency together with Ivo of the Dutch embassy. Because of my exhibition, they wanted to see if we could do an event to share the project ‘Pekalongan Green Batik’ and also see if its event can maybe creates a continuation of the project.
The idea quickly arise to do a workshop, or idea sharing session, with people from the field. Not just to water management/improvement field, or the people from Pekalongan they met earlier with, but a wider group that can share about sustainability. Got to invite people from my own network I thought would love to dive in this topic and would be wonderful to have in a room together, not just any room, the library next to my exhibition. 
I was very honoured by who took the efford to join, some all the way from Yogya & Bandung, even Singapore.  Read more here Green batik workshop, a start for change
As for the future of Batik in Pekalongan when it comes to their problems with water, many ideas come on the table, but if the batik bosses in Pekalongan will do anything with it, remains the question. Also batik is not really the industry we should focus on when we talk about the water issues in this city. Read more in this post ‘How a red flood in Pekalongan reveals many issues, but blames Batik‘.
That being said, we do want, no we need to create safe workingspaces for pembatiks. If the water use is the batikworkshops could improve, or other parts could become more sustainable. For example the idea was shared to replacing wood burning for ‘lorod’ {boiling out the wax} with solar heating, a pretty simple solution which would work with that much sun. Yet investment is the main problem, where to get the budget for it if you are in reality just surviving day by day in this craft. 
I am sure there are many more ideas, and solutions out there. We just need people who want, can & will pionier in this field. Who is going to create the first sustainable batik village on Java? 

The Green Batik Workshop at Erasmus Huis

On 28 November both Nidi & Tony were at Erasmus Huis to update “our lab”. Me and Nidi worked on finding the ingredients, first in the text and later in the world. Tony translated the Javanese text in the booklet. We couldn’t find all ingredients for red yet and the brown turned out to be three different recipes, low ~ middle ~ and high Sogan. So we focussed on the brown for now, which Van Musschenbroek confusingly calls “red dyeing with Soga”. 
So in the Natural Dye Lab you will find the first translations, first test with Indigo and now also the ingredients for Soga. 

Tony, Nidi and I updating the Natural Dye Lab at Erasmus Huis

Natural Dye Recipe Project is a collaboration of Indonesian artist Nidi Kusmaya, curator Tony Sugiarta and Dutch artist and researcher Sabine Bolk that started during the pandemic in 2021. At Erasmus Huis we share the project for the first time in the Natural Dye Lab in the exhibition ‘Masa depan Batik.
Through this research-based textile project, Bolk, Kusmaya and Sugiarta aim to trace historical narratives and the connections through material exploration used in batik natural dyes. There is a knowledge gap in the technical execution and historical account of how natural dyes were used in batik in the past versus how they are used today. Due to limited records since the oral history has been lost, we depend on old writings often in Dutch. 
The starting point for this researchproject is therefor one of the oldest published dye recipe books in Dutch, ‘Iets over de inlandsche wijze van katoen-verven op Midden-Java’ (Something on the local way of Cotton dyeing on Central Java) by the Dutch Samuel Corneille Jean Wilhelm van Musschenbroek (1827 - 1883). The booklet was published in 1877 and was translated by Van Musschenbroek from a Javanese text which he doesn’t specify. He was based on Java as a civil servant and had an interest in local traditions. He also commissioned batik motifs drawn in wax on cardboard, so at least he was aware of the technique.
The text by Van Musschenbroek is translated by us to re-create the old recipes and find workable formulas. For Erasmus Huis we focus on three natural colours, namely blue, brown and red.
Before the exhibition opened, we prepared everything for Indigo. Nidi had a very busy program with two other exhibitions, but still created an amazing display with dye samples, materials & measuring tools.
We are planning to continue our project, in collaboration with pembatiks & textile dyers, hopefully next year!

Natural Dye Lab at Erasmus Huis

The last Jakarta activity before we continued our journey to Pekalongan, was a visit to the exhibition ‘Repatriasi: Kembalinya Saksi Bisu Peradaban Nusantara’. The exhibition is in honour of the returned objects from the Netherlands. The entrance was for the Singhasari statues that have been in Netherlands for 204 years. I saw them regularly in Leiden, where they marked the entrance of the Indonesia collection. The statues were mostly ignored, but when the news came they were finally going to go home, many people went to the museum to see them. I also said goodbye, or actually wished them ‘Selamat pulang’ a day or so before they would be packed and send on their journey. 
Seeing them so soon again was wonderful, but I am also sad they are still not really home. Now on display at the National Gallery, later perhaps on display at Museum Nasional, but when will they be on the ground they were actually taken from?
Only of the statues at the entrance you could take photos, or videos. Behind them were projections as if they were opening up a portal to another, previous world.
Inside were the pieces attributed to Diponegoro  and part of the “Lombok treasure” {Are we still calling it that?!? I read it in several articles and yes it was called that for the longest time in the Netherlands, but can we just say “Objects stolen from Lombok” or “Lombok loot? }. 
I might have seen most of these objects before, but here I really saw their beauty, their importance and above all the cruelty of stealing these objects. 
The exhibition was small, didn’t have much info, but it was great nevertheless to get to visit it!

Singhasari statues at the National Gallery in Jakarta

Finished & posted this blog back in the Netherlands. We returned home after a long trip from Lasem to Jakarta, from Jakarta to Amsterdam, to our final destination Utrecht. It is nice traveling back and seeing the places we have been, saying goodbye again. 

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