To Begin Again
“The central concern of my project is how to create a contemplative space where cultural dynamism can be felt as togetherness or belonging, without being grounded in homogeneity.”
Taking cues from Edward Said’s discussion of ‘connections between things’ and ‘contrapuntal’ relations, I seek different rhythms, contours, and experiences as coexisting, sympathetic, and reconfigured. I want to explore distinctive cultural spaces and the life of particular communities that allow for something shared, both within and beyond existing national and geographic boundaries.
‘To Begin Again’ comprises a series of handmade batik fabrics and a video recording of the Muslim call to prayer at a local beach in my hometown Aceh, Indonesia, projected onto a 2004 tsunami-soiled fabric salvaged by my late father. The fabric screen references the sunshade commonly used in Aceh, and the back-projection technique acknowledges the Indonesian Wayang, where a story is told through shadows thrown from behind the screen. The batik fabrics incorporate diverse cultural patterns I am affiliated with; they tell a story of my navigations across and between cultures. Using a Tjanting, the traditional instrument for applying hot wax, I draw patterns that never return to the same form – each repetition contains small differences and displacements. By leaving most of the wax on the fabrics, rather than boiling it all off, I am deliberately fabricating a language of non-integration, and incompleteness. This incompleteness and ambiguity in the process points to a temporality of the ‘in-between’. This in-between condition allows 'newness to come into the world.'