Its 3 more days to our Rumahku presentation in Jakarta with the Indonesian Heritage Society and we are getting the work all set for the show. Kabul has been working for almost 24 hours for the past few days, sensitizing the batik with cyanotype chemicals in the evening and waking up in the middle of the night to print. The results, I must say, are gorgeous!
We headed back to the village this morning with all the prints ready for the final touches of boiling to remove the paraffin wax. It was lovely to have Jimmy Ong (Singaporean artist based in the States) and Feriel (performance artist from bandung) to come visiting with us. Jimmy is here in Yogyakarta to do research for his new project discussing with local women their perspectives on Sita’s plight in the Ramayana. For those who are clueless as to what this Hindhu epic is about, Jimmy had shared with me a wonderful animation called “Sita Sings the Blues”. Its available on Youtube and it has a website. In the context of Southeast Asia, the Ramayana is a key narratives for a lot of traditional expressions. The wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre) is one of them. Often, people will remember clearly the conflicts surrounding Rama (afterall the epic is named after him) but how frequently to people empathize with Sita?
In the car on the way to the village, we had really interesting discussions on the role of women, particular to our cultures (Mintio coming from Singapore, Kabul from Bali, Feriel from Bandung and Jimmy with a American perspective). There is still much to be discussed pertaining to women’s issues here and working on this project with batik-making having such gendered roles (the women would be working with the canting whilst the men will work with the stamping tools and dying equipment). Yet, we feel we have barely even covered the tip of the iceberg. We are really glad that this project might be a start, not to change anything but at least for us to be more aware.