Colonial Mirror

Batik Statement series ‘Colonial Mirror’
Dia-slides made by Koen de Wit
Concept and looks by Sabine Bolk
2019

I started making Batik Statement already 8 years ago. The first one I made was a Batik-fashion-tribute-to-fashion-bloggers in 2012. Being a blogger, but not at all a fashion blogger, I thought it would be fun to explore this world of pretending-to-be-fashion-while-being-at-home and create looks with Batik. I got a great response to it and kept making and sharing Batik Statements. I also got Batik Statements from others and even did four Batik Statement events. However I never really used it in an Art-type of way.

When Pieter Vastbinder asked me and Koen de Wit for his yearly Spiegelhol event at the BelcrumWatertoren during the Cultuurnacht, I had the idea of exploring the ‘colonial mirror’, or better my view in that mirror.
Looking for ways of addressing colonial history and how we reflect on this past, I got inspired by ‘Bigi Spikri‘ and the selfie-culture of Indonesia. ‘Bigi Spikri‘ is a Surinamese word which translates into ‘Big mirror’. During big festive parades dressed up people would walk the streets of Paramaribo seeing themselves reflected in the shopwindow. These shopwindows functioned as big mirrors to admire yourself in. The ‘Bigi Spikri’ parade is closely related to ‘Keti Koti’. ‘Keti Koti’ celebrated on 1 of July that marks the date when slavery was abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. The parade is a returning part of this remembrance and it is not only a way of admire beauty in diversity, but also to invite others to reflect on this past.
In the BelcrumWatertoren I created a shopwindow in which I displayed books, objects and textiles that I use to learn from and reflect on our colonial past.
Next to that I showed a slide-show of photos I made in the Netherlands and Indonesia showing how we deal with this past. During my last visit to Indonesia in October, I was much more focussed on our shared history and visited more old sites. The cellphone-culture which I already encountered from 2009, is now transformed into a full on selfie-culture. Next to being asked a lot to pose for photos, people pose everywhere. Places for me filled with heavy feelings are now popular for the youth as pretty backdrops for their Insta-shots. Old Dutch places even got fixed up, and re-used. Before these colonial memories were literally falling apart. So an interesting development which allows us to reflect better on this past even if it is through a filter with someone making a peace sign.

To bring this inspiration together and make my ‘colonial mirror’ even more visible, I made a Batik Statement series. With the great help of Koen de Wit, we made analog dia-slides on 30 December 2019. It was very cold, but with a beautiful blue sky and we found a great spot with water in the background.
I made 5 different looks using clothing and textiles from my own collection. I am especially proud of the iPhone-headpiece we created based on the ear-irons worn in Dutch Traditional wear. It was good for many laughs and the result works so well.
Also very happy with how my koto-skirt turned out using a Vlisco Java Print and a lot of pins. The Java Print has a motif of a big standing mirror. It was designed in 2016 for the Vlisco ‘Woven Wisdom’ collection. For me immediately it was linked with the reflection we should make with our past, and I sheepishly thought Vlisco refer to that with this collection…However I instantly thought of this fabric for this photoshoot and was happy it was still available.

Without going in much further detail, I just want to share the series here with you. During the Cultuurnacht it was projected in a loop. These are digital scans of the dia-slides. We had multiple of each look and I picked my favourites to share here with you, enjoy!



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