Friday, September 28, 2012

Waiting for Lasma

It is a beautiful day in Yogyakarta. I am staying in the home of Mas Ipong for one day to work on our exhibition about Jasper and Pirngadie. Mas Ipong (Pang Warman) is the designer of the exhibition and the catalogue. Spread out in front of me there is a scene that looks like a Mas Pirngadie painting. The sun is setting and the sky is blue and pink. Two stalwart figures are walking  through the rice field carrying hefty loads of hay on their heads. With the sun gone, it has become cool enough for such arduous labour.  The air is teeming with sounds: the mesjids are calling to prayer and the frogs and crickets are vying with them for attention.

I sit on the front step of the house with my camera beside me. I am hoping to capture the moment of Lasma Sitanggang's arrival. As soon as she arrives, our trip will begin in earnest. Yes, it is finally happening; she is truly on her way, and I am so excited. I am sitting on pins and needles.

I wrote about Lasma in a blog last year. She was the bright, young Simalungun girl who wanted to perpetuate the knowledge of her ancestors. But she is pretty much alone in her struggle. Other people of her age are intent on getting another kind of education. I feel an urgent need to help her. The future of the Simalungun weaving arts depends on people like her. But how to assist?

The answer came as I was preparing for the current journey to Indonesia. I always feel so privileged to be able visit interesting people in Indonesia. I learn so much and feel enriched. But it is wasted unless I do something with it. I decided that it would be a good plan to share this current journey with Lasma.  She would have the opportunity to broaden her understanding of her own culture, her position in the world and the options available to her. She would meet interesting people who could help her develop her vision, people on whom she might be able to rely in the future. Nashir stood firmly by me in this decision and even took it upon himself to handle all of the logistics so that Lasma would be able to get from Sumatra to Java. And now it is finally happening. They just called me from the airport and I await their arrival.

Hopefully it will not be too long before I add a photograph of her to this blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Schedule October 2012

There are always things that appear on the horizon. As we move towards them, some disappear while others take on more definite form. During the course of the past few months, I have kept tabs on a very dynamic horizon. Yesterday I finally booked my ticket to Indonesia in the expectation that some things will come to pass. Now I feel confident enough to share some things with the world. This is part of my schedule for the next month:

 27 September: Arrival in Jakarta
  •    I hope to meet with the designer of my little book about 'Rangsa ni Tonun', the film that I made with MJA Nashir about Batak weaving techniques. The film will be shown in the Tribal Art Fair in Amsterdam on 27 October, and hopefully we will get the book done on time to send some printed copies to Amsterdam to accompany the film.
  •   I also plan to go to Jakarta's Textile Museum to initiate the first stage of setting up our exhibition about J.E. Jasper and Mas Pirngadie. Jasper was a colonial civil servant and Pirngadie was a Javanese artist. In 1912, they published a book together entited De Weefkunst (The Weaving Arts), the first detailed survey of weaving in the Indonesian archipelago. It is 100 years later, and I am gratified that the Textile Museum agreed to allow me (together with MJA Nashir and Pang warman) to celebrate this anniversary of the appearance of the book. We have been working hard on this project for many months.
1 October: Pulang kampung in Pekalongan
  •    Participate in a 'Pulang Kampung' event in Museum Batik in Pekalongan. My dear friend, Arif Dirhamzah of the Pekalongan Heritage Society, has organized this around a gift, as exciting as it is unexpected, from Stephanie Belfrage in Australia. Inspired by our Pulang Kampung expedition, she wishes to give her beautiful textile collection back to Indonesia (see my blog of  February 25, 2012). There are four batik textiles in that collection that I am giving to the Heritage Society, which, in turn, will give them to the Museum. This is a very special new form of Pulang Kampung and I look forward to the event tremendously.
2 October: National Batik Day in Indonesia
  •    We will celebrate the day with a discussion at the University of Pekalongan coordinated by Pak Zahir who is highly knowledgeable about local batik traditions.

3 October: Opening of the annual Nusantara Batik Market (Pekan Batik Nusantara)
  •    We will participate in this market and then head back to Jakarta by train.

9-11 October: Bandar Lampung

  •     I look forward to participating in a conference on Indonesian textiles together with the staff of the Textile Museum in Jakarta and sharing information about our exhibition in Jakarta.
  •   I hope that Lasma Sitanggang will be able to join us to take in the workshop on the care of textiles. (see my blog of 31 October last year)

12 - 15 October: Jakarta

  •    Set up the exhibition on Jasper and Pirngadie's De Weefkunst in the Textile Museum

 16 October: Exhibition, Textile Museum

  •   Opening of 100 years De Weefkunst in Jakarta's Textile Museum
  •   The opening will be followed by a discussion about the exhibition

 27 October: Tribal Art Fair, Amsterdam

  • MJA Nashir and I are proud and privileged that our film, Rangsa ni Tonun will be shown.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The end of the European Tour

Today I will be going to Cologne to take down the last exhibition of the European tour of Batak textiles. The tour took us from Berlin to Cologne, to Prague, to Paris and then Delft. (See all about it on MJA Nashir's Facebook page. He is more faithful at documenting our footsteps than I.)

Gallery Smend kept our exhibition from June until September, for which we are very grateful.

Rudolf Smend send me this glowing review of our exhibition that appeared on his birthday! A nice way to close the tour. Just click on the image to make it readable.

And while I am at it, a nice article also appeared in Indonesian in Kompas.