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Seawater Rise Threatens Batik

Batik is Indonesia’s ancient artisanal tradition for dyeing fabric. Climate change-related floods are now endangering the survival of this artisanal practice and its makers.

Batik artisans of Pekalongan, a city on Indonesia’s island of Java, are facing increasing coastal flooding. Seawater rise is disrupting their livelihoods by interfering with the fabrics’ drying process, and causing derogation in the color absorption. The floods threaten the endurance of the ancient practice, recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Indonesia is the biggest island-nation in the world, comprising about 17.000 islands. Climate change is contributing to the sinking of its capital city Jakarta, and 23 million coastal residents in Indonesia are at risk of annual sea flooding by 2050. In such a scenario, photographer Irene Barlian spent time with the batik artisans of Pekalongan, focusing on their deteriorating living conditions.

“Land of The Sea” was recently exhibited at JIPFest, Jakarta's international photography festival. To know more about the project, visit Irene Barlian’s website.

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