In February 2019, documenta 15 issued a press release announcing the names of the artistic directors for the next edition of the world’s largest exhibition of art. The announcement included two historical firsts: The exhibition will not be organized by an individual as in the past, but by a collective (and, what is more, an artists’ collective), and this will be the first time since the exhibition’s founding in 1955 that it will be curated by representatives of the Asian continent.
Ade Darmawan, founding member of Indonesia’s ruangrupa collective, will comment whether and how the expectations associated with the choice of ruangrupa will be reflected in the preparations and concept of documenta 15.
During his talk, Ade Darmawan will discuss the socio-historical context behind the founding of the ruangrupa collective during Indonesia’s Reformasi period (a time of democratization and liberalization following the forced resignation of the authoritarian president Suharto).
Furthermore Darmawan will comment on ruangrupa’s curatorial approach, which is focused on communities whose primary interest is not necessarily contemporary art and on the alternative use of economic resources, ideas, know-how, and innovation. In 2018, the many years of experience gathered by ruangrupa’s members in these areas led the group to co-initiate the contemporary art collective and ecosystem GUD-SKUL, a public learning space established in order to practice an expanded understanding of collective values such as equality, sharing, solidarity, friendship, and togetherness.
Another element in the ecosystem is sustainability. We have been tinkering and heavily experimenting with the concept of the lumbung, which translates directly as “rice barn.” Lumbung is understood as a common space for storing harvest surplus in preparation for times when resources are scarce. It operates under the logic of the commons; it is an agglomeration of ideas, stories, (wo)manpower, time, and other shareable resources. Metaphorically, it is a modest living room that people can come and build from the ground up, thus owning the space themselves. It is interdisciplinary, a place where art meets activism, management, and networking, a place for gathering support, reading environments, and identifying local resources. It is a strategy “to live in and with society.” It imagines the art institution’s relationship to society: being an active constituent of it. Strategies are then developed based on proximity and common pleasure.
ruangrupa is a Jakarta-based collective established in 2000. It is a non-profit organization that strives to support the idea of art within the urban and cultural context by involving artists and other disciplines such as social sciences, politics, technology, and media in order to provide a critical observation and views on contemporary urban issues in Indonesia. ruangrupa also produce collaborative works in the form of art projects such as exhibitions, festivals, art labs, workshops, research, and the publication of books, magazines, and online journals. Ruangrupa collective has been involved in numerous exhibitions and project worldwide: Gwangju Biennale (2002 and 2018), Istanbul Biennial (2005), Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2012), Singapore Biennale (2011), São Paulo Art Biennial (2014), Aichi Triennale Nagoya (2016), and Cosmopolis at the Centre Pompidou (2017).
“Dog Questions” is a new series of lectures at AVU in Prague. Internationally renowned figures of artistic discourse engage the audience in a reflection of art and society in relation to new paradigms in the historical, natural, and social sciences. The series, which will consist of one lecture every semester, takes its name from and thus pays homage to a text by Jiří Ševčík (who for the most part wrote his texts with Jana Ševčíková).