Jun 23 2020

Documenta 15 Unveils Theme of Collectivity

by Charmaine Kong

RUANGRUPA’s lumbung booklet for Documenta 15. Photo by Keke Tumbuan. Courtesy Documenta, Kassel.

Ruangrupa, the Indonesian group who are the artistic directors of Documenta 15, have revealed that the concept for the 2022 edition will be based around ideas of collectivity and solidarity. The group also announced that its upcoming quinquennial exhibition will be organized in collaboration with partnering institutions, or “lumbung-members,” nine of which were announced. 

The South Jakarta-based collective explains that the idea of “lumbung”—Indonesian for communal rice-barns—refers to a collaborative system of resource building that celebrates an equal sharing of assets by assembling knowledge, experiences, skills, and funds. Deemed by ruangrupa as “a summary of our methods and values thus far,” “lumbung” is seen by the collective as not just a curatorial theme for Documenta 15, but also as an economic framework allowing for a sustainable agglomeration of stories and manpower. The collective stresses that this has taken on a new urgency in light of Covid-19, calling for a reflection of the “value of solidarity” and questioning of existing models, to “examine and develop new strategies, parallel to well-tested practices.” 

As a starting point, ruangrupa is engaging with nine institutions who share values aligning with the organizational principle of “lumbung” including their commitment to local social structures. These partners will contribute to and receive resources, including money, art, and knowledge, over the next two years, as well as invite new members to join. The first batch of lumbung-members include knowledge-sharing platform Gudskul in Jakarta; non-profit community focused Jatiwangi art Factory (JaF); Fondation Festival sur le Niger in Ségou, Mali; Spain-based collaborative agency INLANDKhalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah; interdisciplinary project platform Más Arte Más Acción (MAMA) in Nuqui, Columbia; artist-run platform OFF-Biennale in Budapest; refugee community center Trampoline House in Copenhagen; and artist and research residency ZK/U, Center for Arts and Urbanistics, in Berlin. 

The nonprofit collective ruangrupa—Bahasa Indonesian for “space for art” or “a space form”—is comprised of more than ten creatives. Over its twenty year history, the group has produced an array of collaborative works spanning research projects, workshops, and book publications that touch upon central values of friendship and community. This is the first time that an artist collective, and an artistic director from the Asia region, is spearheading the international festival.

Documenta was founded in 1955 by Kassel painter and academic Arnold Bode as a contemporary art platform. The previous edition in 2017 took place in both Kassel and Athens under the baton of Polish art curator Adam Szymczyk.

The 2022 event is slated to run from June 18 through September 22, in Kassel.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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