Mancapat: Heritage batik from today’s soil


22 December 2021

Tuban scenery; photo: Pinto NH

A Singapore exhibition features the heritage textile Batik Tenun Gedog that has been produced according to circular principles using homegrown cotton.

Mancapat is a presentation of the Javanese cosmological worldview of life as a series of continuous loops. It serves as a guide throughout their lives and it is reflected in their textiles, architecture and how communities are organised. In modern times, “circularity” and “closing the loop” are often associated with sustainability, an idea that questions human’s material consumption that impacts natural biodiversity and cultural heritage.

“Tuban is a unique place that offers farm to wardrobe products with a rich culture and biodiversity. It is the only place in Indonesia where farmer women still only weave and make batik from home grown cotton. We want to celebrate this abundance and local wisdom in the hope to create greater awareness of this area,” says Chandra Prijosusilo, Founder of Sekar Kawung Foundation, who is the key collaborator for this exhibition.

Exhibits will be arranged following the natural progression of life – birth, coming of age, maturity, death and rebirth – symbolised by a series of textile-making tools, photographs, traditional woven textiles and four new contemporary art installations by artists Agatha Lee “Agy” (Singapore), Marina Gosali (Indonesia) and Noor Iskandar (Singapore). Other than responding to the theme, the artists incorporate materials from Kerek village.

“The ethnographic display and photographs reflect the current situation of cultural art workers in the changing industrialised landscape. In contrast, the contemporary art installations are inspired by artisans before them and are seeds to inspire the birth of new creations so as to bring a new school of thought and conversation,” says Tony Sugiarta, Managing Director at aNERDgallery, who is also the lead curator for this exhibition.

Mancapat: An Expression of Life Through the Art of Batik Tenun Gedog, Stamford Arts Centre, 4 – 12 Dec 2021. Visit and follow @anerdgallery.

This project is co-organised by aNERDgallery and Sekar Kawung Foundation and is supported by National Arts Council Singapore, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore and Bank Indonesia.

About the organisers

aNERDgallery is a Singapore-based art platform that specialises in presenting new narratives and contemporary artworks that utilises the concept, technique or medium of Indonesian batik or tenun woven cloths. The mission is to connect artists and enthusiasts to interact and to learn about the rich textile heritage through engaging activities, including exhibitions and workshops. Since the opening 2017, with the leadership of Tony Sugiarta, aNERDgallery has curated multiple exhibitions including inVISIBLE: Exploring and Redefining Femininity through Batik (2018), BUMI (2019), Across the Universe (2019), 1+1 = Infinity: A Collaborative Digital Batik Art (2020), Reading Textiles, Weaving New Narratives (2021).

Sekar Kawung Foundation is a social enterprise that works closely with indigenous communities in Indonesia and collaborates with them to continue protecting the biodiversity in their land, while nurturing their cultures to thrive, through creative social-economic development programs. Founded and led by Chandra Kirana, Sekar Kawung Foundation, in 2017, curated an exhibition for Textile Artisan Collective Paluanda Lama Hamu from East Sumba entitled “Karya Adiluhung Pendorong Ekonomi Lestari: Menguak Spiritualitas dan Simbolisme di Balik Seni Tenun Ikat Pewarna Alam Sumba Timur.” They are currently working with Tuban weavers to regenerate the plantation of brown cotton and revitalize the use of natural dyes. Sekar Kawung also engages contemporary sustainable fashion designers such as Wahyo Abraham, Josepin Sri Ningsih, Indira Cestra Soerojo and Julie Anggraeni so that the ancient Batik Tenun Gedog heritage can thrive in the now and into the future.

About the featured artists

Agatha Lee “Agy” (b. 1973) is a Singapore-based textile artist specialising in embroidery. As an environmental advocate, Agy explores the notion of slowing down through traditional textile crafts (versus mass manufacturing), and making visible the things that are usually ‘hidden’ from the public, using textile collages and 3D textures through free-motion machine embroidery, hand stitching and marking. Agy was an invited artist for The BigDraw 2015, Playeum, Art Residency L’Observatoire 2017, and Singapore Design Week 2018. She has also exhibited at The Substation, Singapore Eco Film Festival, The Festival of Quilts (UK) and The Knitting & Stitching Show. Currently, she is a member of the Society for Embroidery Work and Fertile Art Refinery Singapore.

Marina Gosali (b. 1965) is a Yogyakarta-based self-taught stitching artist. Inspired by her grandmother’s batik and kebaya collections, Marina has an endearing love for anything handcrafted with fine skills and elegance. In 2014, Marina started Koepoekoe Studio, a handicraft studio that champions the empowerment of children with special needs. These collaborations include a showcase in Special Kids Expo, Jakarta (2019), ASEAN Women Circle (2019) and Umbrella Festival Indonesia (2021). This exhibition is Marina’s international debut in Singapore.

Noor Iskandar (b. 1989) is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and lecturer based in Singapore. His research and artistic practice are often a/r/t/ographic in nature, grounded in Image culture, (text)ile and the archives. They thread on the lines of spirituality and sentient spaces; looking at deeper nuances of being like losing, death and forgetting. In 2018 and 2020, Iskandar self-produced his poetry collections entitled For(god) and I Love Too Quietly respectively.

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