ACE HOUSE COLLECTIVE, FERVENT BASE, 2017

WORK
Sculpture installation.

MATERIALS
chocolate fountain machine, batik wax, paraffin, iron, single channel video installation.

This work examines the batik manufacturing process at the present time as batik is generally known for its motifs and characteristics, and no longer for the traditional production method”.

On October 2, 2009, UNESCO declared batik as a world cultural heritage. Upon consultation with a number of batik experts, UNESCO also provided the definition of “batik” as: (1) the use of hot wax-resistant dyeing technique in the application of color to produce specific motifs and (2) motifs that refer to specific meanings. These two qualifications are crucial, particulary in light of the spread of batik industries that mass-produce batik products.

In the industries where batik is mass-produced, the cloth is not processed in the traditional manner wih natural dyes and materials. Stamped batik and cloth printed with batik patterns are very commonly used and even dominate the market. To produce imitation batik, for exemple, manually created designs and motifs are photographed, then a digital image is processed and used as a model that can be mass-produced. A batik motif design can even be processed digitally without any manual work involved at all.

Of course, this has enormous implications. First, at the present time, batik is generally know for its motifs and characteristics, and no longer for the traditional production method, techniques and materials used. Second, because machines are used in the modern production, the processes inherent in the traditional production method that usually requires a number of people for drawing the designs on the cloth, applying the wax by hand, removing the wax, etc. is lost.

This work examines these issues by approaching batik terminology. Hot or liquid wax is the most essential element in this work and represents the process of making batik. The production process is extremely complex, and is characterized by the distinctive smells that the traditional home industry produces. The social-economic models involved in these processes are also examined.

However, there is not intention in this work to be cynical towards the batik products that are mass-produced, such as stamped or imitation batik (printing). These two kinds of batik can be seen as “promotional media” for hand-drawn batik (batik tulis). Assimilation with popular culture has given birth to a variety of fresh new creations that are consumed by the general populance. Indirectly, stamped and imitation batik have affirmed their roles in socializing batik so that batik has become a part of the cultural identity of the community of users in Indonesia.

 

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