extraction and indigo vat dyeing, which have been used for over 6,000 years, are among the earliest cultural biotechnological
processes. Indigo is the only natural dye that can produce a permanent blue on textile materials, and the dyeing process over
time has fascinated and inspired artists all over the world. However, since the synthesis of indigo by A. Baeyer and the beginning
of commercial production in 1897, synthetic indigo as well as reducing agents such as sodium dithionite or hydrosulphite 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.
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.
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.
for transmitting knowledge, sharing experiences and strengthening networks (between project partners, dialogue partners, practitioners
and relevant communities) 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.