Recently, the team of artistic directors of Documenta 15, ruangrupa introduced ‘Lumbung’ as the working title that will encapsulate the direction of artistic during 100 days of exhibition from 18 June to 15 September 2022. Photo courtesy of ruangrupa/NOW!JAKARTA

Since ruangrupa was selected as the artistic director of the sizeable art exhibition Documenta 15 in February 2019, the Jakarta-based art collective has been working to prepare the most awaited art events in the world that will take place in Kassel, Germany in 2022. Recently, the team of artistic directors introduced ‘Lumbung’ as the working title that will encapsulate the direction of artistic during 100 days of exhibition from 18 June to 15 September 2022.

Also named Documenta 15, the exhibit becomes the most awaited event that only takes place every five years since it first held in 1955. Ruangrupa has been highlighting the new, set a breakthrough to be the first collective an Asian-based art director to handle the biggest art exhibition in Germany.

At the latest appearance on virtual discussion with German cultural centre Goethe Institut Indonesian, ruangrupa revealed ‘Lumbung’ as the concept of working title of Documenta 15 which takes inspiration from Indonesian word that directly translates as ‘rice barn’, a collective pot or accumulation system, where crops produced by a community is stored as a future shared common resource.

Among 10 members of the committee of artistic directors, Ajeng Nur Aini, Ade Darmawan, Indra Ameng, and Farid Rakun shared the progress of Documenta 15 since the pandemic has also affected the process running the agenda this year that that involves international art community.

“It’s a challenging time for us because we already prepared the agenda for this year. We have to cancel our visit to meet the international community since the government ordered social restrictions. On the other hand, this current situation will make Documenta 15 becomes more relevant as we bring a theme that addresses humanity,” said one of the artistic director Ade Darmawan during virtual discussion Bincang Kamis with Goethe-Institut Indonesien.

In correlation to the current events, ruangrupa aims to achieve the vision of the Documenta to address the issue around humanity especially highlighting arts from a perspective of sustainability and the future of human civilisation. As a progressive art movement, Documenta will invite artists from different corners of the world and curates the best selection of the works that will celebrate the most novel issue surrounding the humanitarian issues.

“We bring Lumbung as working-title and an artistic guideline to run Documenta 15. We basically bring the framework or experimental model that ruangruapa has been doing to run the art organisation. As a concept, Lumbung is a tool to share resources to be used for one community within the organisation that needs it. We embrace people’s contribution and manage them to sustain the art community,” artistic director Farid Rakun said.

Learning from the accumulation of ruangrupa’s collective experiences in directly practising institutional building as an artistic form, the art collective adapts the concept on imagination,  experimentation, and execution models of koperasi (closely but not exactly translatable to cooperative), a model of economy based on democratic principles of rapat (assembly), mufakat (agreement), gotong royong (commons), hak mengadakan protes bersama (right to stage collective protest) and hak menyingkirkan diri dari kekuasaan absolut (right to abolish absolute power). Lumbung is manifested as a model of resource governance that will serve as the center point of this practice.

“Of course, Lumbung a sense of togetherness that will engage international art community. Lumbung has been influencing the way we work at ruangrupa and Gudskul. We feel like we have experience with the practice and we want to examine Lumbung to international scale exhibition,” Rakun added.

Established its first exhibit in 1955, Documenta was founded on the noble intention to heal European post-war wounds. AS the world has changed a lot, Documenta claimed to be a progressive platform that enlarges its intention to heal areas suffering from other wounds rooted in colonialism, capitalism, remoteness, and patriarchism — just to name a few.

“The current situation in the world naturally develop the relevancy of Documenta 15. The Covid-19 especially gives us an example of how humans attempt to save the civilisation. Working together, sharing a part, and building solidarity are among elements that reflect the concept od Lumbung that ill manifest in artistic perspective,” Darmawan stated. 

Rintang Azhar

Rintang Azhar

Rintang is a previous staff writer for NOW! with experience in hard news and lifestyle journalism. He specialises in art, design, culture, fashion, environmental, and urban issues.