Au Lorun: I am weaving

Potter, Martin, and Wijanarko, Dodid (2015) Au Lorun: I am weaving. [Creative Work]

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Abstract

This project was an experiment in inter-cultural co-creativity and an extension from the Big Stories, Small Towns project in Flores.

The director of the documentary Dodid Wijanarko was briefed on concepts of participatory media and the concept of Positive Deviance as theorised by Potter (2014). The Big Stories project has operationalized an approach inspired by the synchronous ideas of ‘negative capability’ (Unger, 1987) and ‘positive deviance’ (Zeitlin, 1991). Unlike other theories of structure and agency, positive deviance (and by inference negative capability) does not delimit individuals to either compliance or rebellion, but rather portrays them as able to participate in a variety of activities of self-empowerment. Positive deviance explores how human beings innovate and resist within confining social contexts and seeks to identify behaviours or strategies that enable people to find solutions to problems despite having no special resources or knowledge.

The intention of this documentary was to embody these concepts of participatory media and positive deviance in a process and product that reflected what Wijanarko perceived as a work that would appeal to Indonesian audiences. The linear, long format documentary format was chosen as Wijanarko observed that online engagement by Indonesians was both low and limited in terms of sites visited. A linear documentary that could be shown at film festivals and public screenings and potentially on television could engage a wider audience.

The resulting 60-minute documentary “Au Lorun (I Am Weaving)” is underpinned by a case study of the Lepo Lorun Weavers Collective, initiated in 1998 by Alfonsa Horeng in Sikka Regency on the island of Flores, Indonesia. This collective model has now been replicated in multiple towns across Flores engaging over 1200 women. The practice of Tenun Ikat – the traditional practice of weaving - is not simply a craft but an art and an archive of ritual, of stories and of traditions. Most women learn how to weave from their mothers as a main passage to womanhood. Tenun Ikat is a painstaking process that spans dyeing natural materials using handmade dyes to the creation of motifs through elaborate ties to the weaving itself. Each piece can take up to 9 months to complete. The motifs on the cloth tell stories and hold symbolic and archival significance for Flores people. Weavers hold an exalted place in Flores society as holders of traditional knowledge. And with the development of the weaver’s collective models many women are now economic providers for their families. Tenun Ikat weaving scholarship focusses on technology and motifs of the weaving (e.g. e.g. Hamilton and Barnes, 1994; Buckley, 2012) or on trade (Hamilton, 1990). However, there is little recent research on current situation of weaving and emergence of weaving collectives - a key mechanism for re-invigorating the art. Wijanarko said that he chose to focus on the women rather than, for example, the weaving motifs of the cloth because during his initial survey he was impressed by how the women held an important role in their family and traditional rituals (interview with Jakarta Post, 2015).

The film reflects the intention of the project to bring other regions into contact with Flores in an accessible format. The treatment of the film is a mix of drama, performance and documentary in keeping with Wijanarko’s approach that could appeal to Indonesian audiences. The film starts following a medical doctor assigned to Nita Village, where the Lepo Lorun Collective is based. The doctor is played by Indonesian actress, model, musician and medical doctor Mesty Ariotedjo. Like Wijanarko, the doctor is fascinated by the women and their social standing. The doctor interviews the members of Lepo Lorun (House of Weaving) community about their life struggles, hopes and dreams. Weaving cloth is not about craftsmanship but is a way to keep the old tradition alive. As Alfonsa Horeng observes, “the cloth we make is not a craft, a commodity. We are not craftspeople, we are not menial workers. We are maestros, professors. We don't weave for money; we do it because of our belief in tradition. The cloth is our heritage.” (from Au Lorun, 2015) The documentary also shows the rituals that started the weaving and the rich motifs of the cloth the women so skillfully create without following patterns. However, it is the stories of the women that are foregrounded in this work.

For the women of Sikka regency, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), the practice of Tenun Ikat – a traditional practice of weaving - is not simply a craft but an art and an archive of ritual, of stories and of traditions. Most women learn how to weave from their mothers as a main passage to womanhood. In parts of Flores the tradition of weaving at least 25 pieces of cloth as a belis (dowry) persists. The belis constitutes a contract and the husband must in tern respect, be faithful and support their partner. Tenun Ikat is a painstaking process that spans dyeing natural materials using handmade dyes to the creation of motifs through elaborate ties to the weaving itself. Each piece can take up to 9 months to complete. The motifs on the cloth tell stories and hold symbolic and archival significance for Flores people. Weavers hold an exalted place in Flores society as holders of traditional knowledge. And with the development of the weaver’s collective models many women are now economic providers for their families. This 60 minute documentary co-created by Martin Potter and Indonesian filmmaker Dodid Wijanarko is underpinned by a case study of the Lepo Lorun Weavers Collective, initiated in 1998 by Alfonsa Horeng in Sikka Regency on the island of Flores, Indonesia. This collective model has now been replicated in multiple towns across Flores engaging over 1200 women. The case study embodies the notion of operationalizing the concept of positive deviance, that underpins Potter's participatory practices, by showing a focus on regional stories of local people, caring for and creating their community.

Research Statement

Research Background This project was an experiment in inter-cultural co-creativity and an extension from the Big Stories, Small Towns project in Flores. Indonesian filmmaker Dodid Wijanarko was briefed by Martin Potter on concepts of participatory media and the concept of Positive Deviance as theorised by Potter (2014). The resulting documentary aims to embody these concepts of participatory media and positive deviance in both process and product and to create a work that would appeal to Indonesian audiences outside of Flores and to explore new models of co-creativity that could inform the field of inter-cultural communication and creativity.
Research Contribution The 60 minute documentary "Au Lorun" (I Am Weaving), co-created by Martin Potter and Indonesian filmmaker Dodid Wijanarko, explores the Lepo Lorun Weavers Collective, in Flores, Indonesia initiated in 1998 by Alfonsa Horeng. The collective model has been replicated in multiple towns across Flores engaging over 1200 women. The documentary illustrates the collective model and explore the importance of Tenun Ikat (a style of weaving) to cultural, social and economic life in Flores. By showing a focus on stories of local people, caring for and creating their community this documentary embodies the concept of positive deviance. The film offers a case study for a model of positive deviance that could be replicable in other settings (i.e. the weaver’s collective). The film also offers a re-mediation of mainstream Indonesian narratives of Flores (Smarasista, 2014 describes a tendency to homogenise Indonesian national identity from a Jakarta-centric perspective). Finally, the film represents a co-creative method through operationalising concepts of positive-deviance behind the camera, as well as in front.
Research Significance The work was supported through an Australian International Cultural Council grant of the Australian Government and Signature Documentary fund, Screen Australia. The documentary was opening film of the Plaza Indonesia Film Festival, Jakarta, has been viewed widely across Indonesia and is the subject of multiple reports and reviews including in The Jakarta Post.
Item ID: 51785
Item Type: Creative Work (Recorded/Rendered Work - Audio/visual recording - NTRO)
Media of Output: Video
Keywords: participatory media, documentary, Indonesia, Flores, weaving, Tenun Ikat, collective work
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Additional Information:

This documentary premiered at Plaza Indonesia Film Festival, Jakarta in May 2015

Funders: Australian International Cultural Council, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government (DFAT)
Projects and Grants: Australian International Cultural Council (29,000AUD)
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2018 04:52
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190204 Film and Television @ 40%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200202 Asian Cultural Studies @ 30%
20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2001 Communication and Media Studies > 200103 International and Development Communication @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 25%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 25%
89 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 8904 Media Services > 890402 Film and Video Services (excl. Animation and Computer Generated Imagery) @ 50%
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