Fashion ForWords is a bold and unique fashion and art event asserting our freedom to think, create, and dress. Working with diverse artists, models, and performers, we showcased innovative clothes that defy censorship and oppressive norms of beauty and normality.
The first Fashion ForWords was held from 27 April-18 May 2019 at Cemara 6 Gallery-Museum, Jakarta, Indonesia.
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Indonesian Muslim Looks
by As-Salam Collective
The artists offer a colorful collection of everyday Muslim clothes, designed with progressive symbols and messages, with and without hijab, to bring out the very diverse face of Islam in Indonesia.
01 Traditional Indonesian Muslim Look
02 Funky Indonesian Muslim Look
04 Queer Indonesian Muslim Look
05 Non-hijabi Indonesian Muslim Look
AS-SALAM COLLECTIVE consists of three artists-activists who are relearning Islam from a humanitarian, egalitarian, and feminist perspectives, and making art to disseminate what they’ve learned. They are FS Putri Cantika (actor and craftsperson), Yuri Nasution (activist), and Eliza Vitri Handayani (novelist and artist).
by Wangsit Firmantika
The artist reconstructs men’s clothes found in various shops and combines them with other elements, such as frills and dolls, to overhaul our assumptions about men and masculinity.
WANGSIT FIRMANTIKA is an artist dan creative director at Zilingo, a fashion retail label in Indonesia. He has exhibited his works in, among others, JKT 32 by Ruang Rupa at the National Gallery of Indonesia, The Food Files (Exist 4) at Dia.Lo.Gue Art Space, The Field Trip Project Departure at Edwin’s Gallery, and Jakarta Fashion Week 2017.
by A. Andamari
The artist responds to the constant surveillance and judgment on women's bodies and clothes, which makes women feel unsafe, unable to move freely, and unable to express themselves fully. The costumes and clothes she has created for Fashion ForWords talk back against all the harassment and abuse that women experience daily. They also let the public experience what it feels like to be monitored and bullied because of their bodies and clothes.
A. ANDAMARI is an architect and co-founder of MOINDEMAAR, a fashion accessory laboratory focusing on headpieces. Moindemaar has participated several times in Jakarta Fashion Week, Esmod Fashion Week, and Indonesia Fashion Week.
by Ayudilamar X FBLP
Ayudilamar collaborated with the Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation (FBLP) and made clothes for 7 workers’ representatives. She held a short design workshop with the workers and they talked about who they are, what their dreams, anxieties and strengths are, what they want to convey with the clothes. She also created outer vests, without sleeves, which represent the restrictions and entrapping conditions the workers are subjected to at the factories. The FBLP respresentatives also appeared as models-performers in the fashion show at Fashion ForWords’ grand opening. After they took off the vests, the audience saw the unique clothes, designed based on the individual worker’s desires. This is to affirm that, beneath their role as factory worker, they are people with unique personality and identity—this is an invitation to the public to get to know them as individuals and equals, valuable human beings.
AYUDILAMAR is an artist, lecturer, and designer with the labels UGLY and Vermaak. FBLP (Inter-Factory Workers’ Federation) organizes workers from various factories and dwellings located around KBN Cakung. FBLP holds discussions on remuneration, work hours, contracts, and reproductive rights of women workers, among others. They also organize strikes when needed, and they hold development, leadership, financial assistance, and community programs for its members.
Eliza Vitri Handayani
The idea for Fashion ForWords came to the artist after the launch of her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival was canceled due to police warnings, and she protested by wearing a T-shirt printed with excerpts from the novel. Then she thought, how else can clothes be used to overcome repression? The dress, which she made with the help of Ayudilamar, is printed with excerpts from challenged or banned books, which were very meaningful to her personally and to many others.
ELIZA VITRI HANDAYANI is a writer and creator of art events. Her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different came out in 2015 and got her invited to Melbourne Writers Festival, Frankfurt Book Fair, and other international and Indonesian events. At the launches in Oslo and Jakarta, Eliza wore a dress that she had designed and made herself from the novel's proofs. Eliza is also the founder and director of InterSastra, a barrier-breaking platform for literary and artistic exploration and exchange. Find links to her works at elizavitri.com, and greet her on Twitter or Instagram @elizavitri.
Grand Opening and Fashion Performance
Fashion ForWords was officially opened on Saturday, April 27, 2019 by renowned fashion designer Auguste Soesastro. We didn’t simply cut a ribbon to symbolically open the series of events, instead we freed a mannequin from his chains. The mannequin on stage wore a long skirt, a white T-shirt over a black shirt, and a fascinator, but he was chained. Mr. Soesastro then cut the chains that ensnared the mannequin and revealed the writing on his T-shirt: Fashion ForWords officially opened.
Founder and director of Fashion ForWords, Eliza Vitri Handayani, wore the Anti-Censorship dress and gave a speech: "If you support our vision of equality and humanity, I invite you to ask: what do I have, what can I do. Those who have the skills, share them with those who are still looking for forms of expression. Those who have an audience, share the stage with those who need their story to be noticed. Those who have influence, use it to open the way. Let's talk about what we can do together. So that one day free and safe space for expression is not only on stages like this, but all over the world. Thank you.”
The grand opening continued with a fashion performance directed by Heliana Sinaga. The models were not only silent beauties on the stage, they voiced their experiences related to everyday expression. We had selected the models not based on body size or shape, but based on their stories and their passion for freedom of expression. We are proud to work with garment workers, members of Indonesian Queer communities, and models and performers from diverse backgrounds.
HELIANA SINAGA has been working in the performing arts since 2005 as actress, director, production leader, show director, stage manager, and translator of German stageplays. She is involved with various communities and foundations, including the Lakon Theater, Tujuh Damar Theater, Titimangsa Foundation, Indonesian Children Choir, Gita Svara, Titian Penerus Bangsa Foundation, and Mainmonolog. She currently serves as director of Mainteater, Bandung. In directing the fashion performance at Fashion ForWords, Heliana (right) was accompanied by choreographer Caecilia Diliani, lighting coordinator Deray, MC Rastraa, and DJ Hari Wonk.
30 April - 18 Mei 2019
Cemara 6 Galeri-Museum
Jalan HOS Cokroaminoto no.9-11
Menteng, Jakarta 10350
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Crocheting Workshop with Fahrul Piliang
Saturday, 4 May 2019, 4 pm
With workshop participants, the artist discussed the evolution of dress styles and norms while reconditioning old clothes by sewing crocheted patches onto them. We also invited the participants to look into their family's photo albums to see styles of the past and how they changed over time. In the workshop we encouraged participants to explore their personal histories and their family attitudes towards clothes. Then the participants discussed the changes in dressing norms and how it impacts their personal life and community.
FAHRUL PILIANG is a craftsman who enjoys embroidery, knitting, and weaving. He also participated in House of the Unsilenced. His work with three survivors of sexual abuse, "Don't Call Me Flowers!" resulted in an award by Opini.id, making him one of the "90 Young Indonesians Ready to Shake the World".
“Reclaim the Cloth”: Live Screenprinting with Yovista Ahtajida (Agitator Studio)
Sunday, 12 May 2019 at 3 pm
The public participated by bringing pieces of Muslimwear (baju koko, gamis, hijab, peci, etc.), which then are printed with the message “Humans are created with differences so that they can get to know each other” from Quran 49:13. The work seeks to disseminate inclusive and egalitarian Islamic ideas through the medium of clothes, and to oppose stereotypes of conservative piety, which is often pushed by Islamic mass organizations in Indonesia today.
YOVISTA AHTAJIDA is an artist and creative worker from Jakarta who often responds to the issue of Islamism/Post-Islamism, in accordance with his background from the Tarbiyah environment. He is active in group and solo exhibitions including the Vortex XII Video Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016, Los Angeles Torrance Art Gallery, JAVA: Art Energy Paris, and is a finalist of the Bandung Contemporary Art Award 2017. His solo exhibition, Hijrah was held at LIR Space, Yogyakarta in 2018. In 2019, he founded Agitator Studio, a communications consultant and creative studio that focuses on collaborating with activists and creative workers on social activism and non-profit projects.
18 May 2019 at 4 pm
Visitors took a tour around the exhibition and talked with the artists themselves about their works, creative process, and anything else that came to mind.
With director Eliza Vitri Handayani, curator Ika Vantiani, and artists A. Andamari, Ayudilamar, Wangsit Firmantika, As-Salam Collective, Yovista Ahtajida (Agitator Studio), and Fahrul Piliang.
Founder and director: Eliza Vitri Handayani
Eliza Vitri Handayani is a writer and creator of art events. Her novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different came out in 2015 and got her invited to Melbourne Writers Festival, Frankfurt Book Fair, and other international and Indonesian events. She is also the founder and director of InterSastra, a barrier-breaking platform for literary and artistic exploration and exchange. In 2018 Eliza initiated and directed House of the Unsilenced, which matches artists, writers, and sexual abuse survivors to tell their stories through art. Find links to her works at elizavitri.com, and greet her on Twitter or Instagram @elizavitri.
Curator: Ika Vantiani
Ika Vantiani is a self-taught artist and curator who started working ten years ago. Ika was a curator for the WUSINWUG (What You See Is Not What You Get) fashion exhibition, part of the 2016 ICAD (Indonesia Contemporary Art & Design), as well as the IKAT / eCUT fringe event, a Goethe-Institut project to explore the past, present and future of textiles in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, also in 2016. Fashion ForWords is the third fashion exhibition that she curated, this time for InterSastra. Ika lives and works in Jakarta.
Graphic Designer: Stella Katherine
Stella Katherine is a graphic designer and curator based in Jakarta, Indonesia. She graduated from Universitas Pelita Harapan (UPH) in 2014, majoring in Visual Communication Design, and University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2018, majoring in Curating and Cultural Leadership, sponsored by the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP) Scholarship. In addition to designing for Fashion ForWords (2019) and House of the Unsilenced (2018), her portfolio of works include co-curation for Denpasar 2018; internship in The Big Anxiety Festival (2017), under the National Institute of Experimental Arts (NIEA); curation for Inhabitation of Violence (2017); and a number of commissioned writings, such as articles and press releases.
Volunteers Coordinator: WR Zahrina
Media and Social Media Coordinator: Justian
Fashion ForWords is part of the Creative Freedom Festival 2018-2019, organized by InterSastra with support from the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Indonesian Arts Coalition, and Cemara 6 Galler