A WORLD OF BLUE – DIALOGUES IN INDIGO
Arts-based research on the potentials of natural indigo dyeing
INTRA PROJECT / ANGEWANDTE PROGRAMME FOR INTER- and transdisziplinary projects in art and research
PROJECT HEAD: Mag.art. Dr. phil. karin Altmann
university of applied arts vienna / INSTitute of art sciences and art education / textiles – free, applied and experimental artistic design / vordere zollamtstrasse 7 / 1030 vienna / austria
Indigo is the only natural dye that can produce a permanent blue on textile materials. Indigo extraction and indigo vat dyeing have been used for over 6,000 years and the dyeing process has fascinated and inspired artists all over the world. However, since the synthesis of indigo by Adolf v. Baeyer and the beginning of commercial production in 1897, synthetic indigo as well as reducing agents such as sodium dithionite (also known as hydrosulfite) have increasingly met the requirements for ever faster production; without taking into account that it has proven to be catastrophic for the global production of natural indigo and poses many ecological and economic problems. In the sense of a critical questioning of current dyeing practices, we see the urgent need not only to develop an alternative production knowledge, but also new collaborative forms of production.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS / OBJECTIVES
This arts-based research project investigates how natural indigo dyeing can be carried into the future in sustainable, innovative and socially relevant ways. In light of indigo’s multiple applications and practices and a growing awareness and demand for ecological responsibility – including the need to preserve human and environmental health and ensure the traceability of production processes – the project places its research focus on exploring how knowledge, artistic skills, handicraft skills and forms of practice that have disappeared or are slowly being lost can be preserved and transformed in a way that can contribute to ensuring a solid basis for contemporary, sustainable processes of design and innovation.
APPROACH / METHODS
The project builds on intercultural collaborations and artistic dialogues to highlight the social and environmental relevance and impact of sustainable practice, to support the use of natural indigo dyes for individuals and small communities as well as demonstrate possible ways of sustainable indigo dyeing and community engaged farm-to-trade practices for the 21st century. Various platforms for transmitting knowledge, sharing experiences and strengthening networks will contribute to share the knowledge not only within the Central European indigo community, but also to incorporate and apply it in the IBIKASO indigo & farming project in Siby/Mali.
This website will document the research process, the theoretical and practical investigations taken throughout the project time (February 2021 to February 2022).
All rights reserved. Responsible for the content: Karin Altmann. Any duplication or distribution of the published material in whole or in part requires the written permission of Karin Altmann.