Many people keep holding on to things with a sentimental value as they remind them of a happy (or difficult) time in their life, of a special person, or a certain event. While yearbooks, letters and photographs are among the more common things to keep as memento, curator Ika Vantiani has asked Jakartans to submit textiles and fabrics that hold special memories for them. As the first fringe event of the project IKAT/eCUT, organized by Goethe-Institut Indonesien, the exhibition "For Keepsake, Keep Me" opened last week and runs through March 26 at GoetheHaus in Menteng.

The exhibition presents 31 pieces ranging from scarves and cloths to T-shirts and dresses – as well as the often emotional stories provided by their owners. 

"Indonesians like to pass on clothes to their children or other family members out of love and respect, adding a special value to them," Ika explained. "In this exhibition, the participants have the chance to share those beautiful memories with others."

Sophia Hage's contribution to the exhibition is a cloth from Sumba which her mother gave to her when she was still a child – it is one of her most beloved belongings. 

"My mother bought this cloth in the 1980s in Lampung," Sophia recalled. "It is also a reminder that my mother, although she is not Indonesian, raised me in the context of Indonesian culture. The monetary value of this cloth is not important, but the memories and sentimental value."

Artist Natasha Abigail has submitted a lovely pillowcase that reminds her of her late grandfather.

"During his last days, he mentioned that when it was time to meet his maker, he wishes to pass away in his own bed at home, not in a hospital," the inscription reads. "This pillow and pillowcase is the last place where he rested his head and white hair, until his last breath."

Even though some of the stories behind the fabrics are rather sad, the displayed items provide comfort to their owners – and that is an encouraging thought. Then, there are some contributions that tell of hope, courage and strength, such as the bandage that belongs to Oming Putri who found out she had a tumor in her breast in 2005.

"After six hours in the operating room, I came out with a bandage on my chest. 'You are still alive, dear,' my father said the moment I was conscious. I weakly smiled. Now this bandage is already many years old. Is this what we call love?"

"For Keepsake, Keep Me" is a beautifully arranged and intimate exhibition, revealing a glimpse into the mind and soul of its participants, showing them vulnerable and strong at the same time. 

For Keepsake, Keep Me
Until March 26
Goethe-Institut Indonesien
Jl. Sam Ratulangi 9-15
Central Jakarta
Open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge is a previous editor of NOW! Jakarta. An experienced writer and avid bookworm.