Editorial: Pembaharu

7 September 2020

The concept for this issue came out of a discussion with the textile designer, Frans Panjaitan, who is the Indonesian voice on our editorial board. Pembaharu, or “innovation”, reflects the work of a younger generation who are keen to apply their knowledge of technology to the cause of supporting their precious culture.

Here is Frans’ explanation of this term:

People who are part of Indonesian traditional craft community, might one day have stumbled upon the fact that Indonesian craft is an active entity, which actively responds and influences the society where it grows. It is a society which, like others, is destined to be in constant change, and so its crafts evolve as well. There is an active effort to preserve Indonesian traditional craft, but in respects of zeitgeist, there should be a room where innovation should be respected as well.

A room for us, pembaharu. We who are willing to push these fascinating traditions forward, to be relevant with our time. We who are always questioning. We who want to collaborate. We who are not afraid of technology, because we see it as a tool to enrich the crafts itself instead of destroying it. Pembaharu, who are eager to apprehend these immense crafts traditions and have the courage to push it forward. We realize that we are lucky to be fostered in this amazing and loving tradition. But like children who had been lovingly taught how to speak by their mothers, we too now would like to tell our own stories.

I am very grateful to all the writers and artists who shared their stories. This is our second Indonesia issue. The first focused on Bali and the enjoyment of working together as Rame Rame. This enthusiasm continues into this issue, which focuses particularly on the role of technology in supporting traditional crafts.

The greater Garland narrative of the “lost garden” reflects on the sense of loss we have across the Indo-Pacific about the splendid world of the past, which contained not only works of incredible skill, but also a closer connection to nature. Part of our journey is to recover this “garden”, not in the shelves of museum collections, but in the new forms that have become part of our life, such as Instagram. The digital technologies referenced in this issue offer a portal back to the wonder of crafts such as batik and ulos weaving. And innovations in chemistry help introduce natural life forms into the designs.

Terima kasih, thank you to this new Indonesian generation for keeping this treasured garden alive for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.

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