The Wax On Our Fingers (Malam Di Jari Kita) is a series of works resulting from the collaborative efforts of Singapore photographer Samantha Tio (Mintio), Indonesian contemporary artist Budi Agung Kuswara (Kabul) and batik makers of the Sido Luhur group from the village of Kebon Indah in Central Java’s Bayat region. The series consists of eight artworks – four individual pieces, two diptych, a triptych and a quadtych – which combine the traditional art of batik with contemporary photography. In Bahasa Indonesia, malam translates to ‘night’ but as a play of sound in the Javanese language, it also refers to ‘wax’, a fundamental material in batik production.
Each artwork in Malam Di Jari Kita is also a batik piece, linking it to a category of cultural material with a history of association with locales and communities; mode of production; circulation and use; and encounters with modernity, transformations and changing ecologies of the market.
For its participants, Malam Di Jari Kita offered a rich artistic experience and opportunity for experimentation.
The combination of portraiture and batik patterns creates an immediate association between the sitter and her occupation, at the same time bringing attention to her skill and acknowledging the crucial role she plays in the industry.