In December 2016, I travelled to Andhra Pradesh, India. I collaborated with and learned from master craftsmen Niranjan Jonnalagadda and Pitchuka Srinivas to create a new 3-dimensional work.
The work ‘We stare at the finely chiseled Latin letters, drying, on a Telugu paper’ is the result of a research project based on hand-blockprinting techniques and the mutual textile heritage between India and the Netherlands. The work focuses on the fabric trade between the two countries during the VOC period. In the Netherlands these fabrics were seen as exotic and subsequently used and reproduced in different techniques like embroidery in Dutch traditional attire. During the 17th century instructions for the production of fabrics and patterns were sent from Holland to India.
How were original patterns used, altered and recreated? What is the role of authorship within the context of cultural heritage? And how can we define autonomy in relation to craftsmanship and artistic exchange?
Travel notes and observations were the starting point for this installation. Original patterns found in the printers’ workshops were adjusted and remixed with western influences. The hand printed fabrics were then used to create parasols, a product with close ties to tourism, and oftentimes used as an outlet for commercial messages and symbols.
To this day works and products that were produced during the Dutch Golden Age, are still some of the most important tourist attractions in the Netherlands and part of the countries national identity.