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The role of women in textile production in full display in the exhibition “Berbicara Melalui Kain”

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Jakarta, IO – The journey of Lusiana Limono, 45, a textile craftwoman from Malang, East Java, regarding the role of women, fabric production and domestic space can be seen in the exhibition “Berbicara Melalui Kain” (Talking Through Fabric) held by GoetheHaus Foyer, Jakarta, on November 11 to December 3.

The family background of the second of four siblings is deeply rooted in cloth. Her mother and aunt were seamstresses, while her father and her husband’s family were also textile traders.

“I see that at every stage of my life there is always cloth. So, the most intimate and comfortable medium for me is using cloth,” Lusi told the Independent Observer, Fri (10/11).

A total of 25 works have been created by Lusi since her postgraduate studies at the Jakarta Arts Institute from 2018-2022 and her three newest works in 2023 are entitled “Manifesto” and “Udar Pikiran”, in the form of writings and drawings using hand embroidery techniques on used bed sheets measuring 150 x 250 cm placed near the entrance, also “Karya Tumbuh” displayed on the wall of the room beside the auditorium door.

Lusiana Limono
“Manifesto” (2023) by Lusiana Limono at Goethe-Institut Indonesien, Jakarta. (IO/Aini Tartinia)

In Manifesto (2023), Lusi wrote 10 points of statements and questions related to domestic space, women, and fabric as a medium of expression. Symbolically, Lusi tells various dreams and ideas of artists before bedtime.

“Why use used bed sheets? Because I mostly reflect on the 10 points of this manifesto before going to sleep because at that time my mind likes to wander,” she said.

Lusiana Limono
“Udar Pikiran” (2023) by Lusiana Limono at Goethe-Institut Indonesien, Jakarta. (IO/Aini Tartinia)

Meanwhile, Udar Pikiran (2023) features illustrative visualization of Lusi’s manifesto as an artist in the process of creating work and its meaning. This work is an advanced version of Lusiana’s thesis framework during her postgraduate studies.

Lusiana Limono
“Karya Tumbuh” (2023) knitting houses, weaving stories. (IO/Aini Tartinia)

Then, “Karya Tumbuh” (2023), created with mixed media with various dimensions, presents several questions regarding the context of domestication of knowledge and cultural production spaces from a woman’s perspective through embroidery. This work addresses collective issues through a participatory approach.

In general, “Berbicara Melalui Kain” is divided into three parts, namely Academic Research on domestication and sustainability; Subject and Family; History, tradition and collectivity. The three sparked discussions regarding sustainability, identity and the role of tradition in a rapidly industrializing world.

Lusiana Limono
“Selimut Bintang” (2019) by Lusiana Limono at Goethe-Institut Indonesien, Jakarta. (IO/Aini Tartinia)

In the Subject and Family section, there is one of Lusi’s fabric works entitled “Selimut Bintang” (2019) in the form of a 90 x 90 cm square with a colorful pattern from a patchwork technique on printed cotton patchwork. Originally, this blanket was made by Lusi’s great-grandmother for her father, who then get passed down from generation to generation to her brother, then became a blanket for her when she was a child.

The octagonal star pattern measuring 5×5 cm is an image of the hope of a star that is almost 100 years old. Then combined with a 10×10 cm square pattern as a new frame which is sewn to imitate the existing pattern. “This blanket is a reflection of the role and subjectivity of a woman in the family,” explained Lusi.

In the Academic Research section on domestication and sustainability, visitors can see a number of works from Lusiana’s research. She uses knitting, ikat, pin loom, weaving, embroidery and hand-spun techniques. By tracing roles and values in history and tradition, Lusiana attempts to weave domestic aspects beyond the general interpretation of modern knowledge.

In this section, there are five scarves colored orange, brown and blue which are included in the “Ikat” series (2022). They are made from natural spice dyes as a mixture, such as Kesumba, Candlenut, Turmeric and Temulawak. Lusi wants to introduce spices in general to the public as natural dyes for textiles as well as kitchen spices and medicine.

“Spices are an Indonesian product which is closely related to colonialism. In fact, as women we use them as kitchen spices. This means that there is knowledge about women in the kitchen that is not revealed, right? This is what I want to highlight,” she pointed out.

Lusiana Limono
Lusiana Limono’s knitting works in “Ikat” series (2022). (IO/Aini Tartinia)

Then, in the History, Tradition and Collectivity section, one of them is the work “PPKM Darurat” (2021) which was created in collaboration with the Malang Patchwork & Quilts Community (MaPaQuilts), as a response to the Covid curb measures in Indonesia during the pandemic.

Read: Indonesia Becomes The Second Largest Exporter Of Ornamental Fishes In The World

It showcases the crafts made by 13 women who each worked on blocks of boxes according to their abilities and interpretation of PPKM Darurat in Malang City. The blocks are then gathered and stitched together. This work shows the impact of the pandemic from the perspectives of women.

“The pandemic has made the domestic space which is close to aspects that are felt and symbolized as women’s work space into a multi-purpose space. The house has become the center of all activities from school, work, to rest,” summarised Lusiana. (Aini Tartinia)

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