Assembly Day I
IT IS LIKE in a twinkling of eyes, October comes. It is also within this month of the year 2020 all lumbung members observe the streams of ideas travels and are connected from one place to another. As preparation for the next Documenta 15, all were gathering for assembly in which each of lumbung members introduced themselves, shared their stories, ideas, as well as their preliminary projections for the next two years—or even more.
The session takes four days, 20, 21,22, and 27. Despite difficult time due to pandemic of Covid 19, the plan is made possible through virtual gatherings. Everybody was familiarizing to deal with the physical restriction through zoom. There was a short entertaining check-in as an icebreaker. On the screen you could see jovial faces appeared with smiles. “Welcome everyone. Could you see the slides?
On one of the squares was a couple whose hair were flying like being in the windy beach. They are Tayeba and Mahboub who cheerfully told stories about their collective called Britto Arts’ based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The collective was established in 2002 and has been working extensively across countries through workshops, residency program, community based-project, exhibition, research and archive.
They are new lumbung members and pleased to be part of documenta 15. It is about six thousand kilometers from Dhaka, Bangladesh, we virtually move to Kenya where we stories from Wajuuku, a collective of visual artists working with a community in Nairobi walk in our minds. Pictures of children playing appeared on the screen. “We make workshop and mentorship for kids, to help have better self-esteem and good at decision making”. Said Ngugi, representing the squad.
In the hand of Wajuuku art becomes a way to touch the slum community in which a learning process materializes. They screen documentary movies. Also, they spend time in beach with children which is part of learning and sharing hopes. “We also create a library, but unfortunately it is no longer there because of the issue of space.” We can share our future plan here. It is having a land outside Nairobi where we can do farming. It’s what we are planning,” said Ngugi.
Still on the same screen, from Nairobi our minds traveled to Jakarta in which we saw a man with expressive face standing inside hand-made frame looked like a large television. He’s a popular storyteller who uses daily household items to trigger imagination combined with comical and hilarious saga. He narrated a story of lumbung and rice farms by using inverted broom as metaphor for green and yellow paddy. His name is Agus PTMOH and he is going to tell stories of lumbung members and narrate the process lumbung for all of us.
It is jubilant to have more members and artists on board which means more ideas and more stories related to collaboration in the concept of lumbung would be crafted. Agus is going to have more conversations and dialog to explore more stories from each lumbung members. This introduction of members was followed by another story from Jatiwangi Art Factory, a collective based in West Java, Indonesia. They were collaboratively projecting their initial ideas for Documenta 15.
It was in another square on the screen, a group of youth sit together in the corner of the room. Some of them were musicians who kindly played music for relaxation and ice-breaking. The song was about mango seasons. It was such an charming song that each joyfully followed the rhythm with small dancing. As it was ended by a lively applause, one of them introduced Jatiwangi plans for the next two years.
“Together with lumbung we want to create together new development model for our future collaboration. We imagine of having communal land and collective factory and bulog, storage, kind of lumbung. It is kind of lumbung but more in institutional. This time we imagine it is how to distribute products.”
To reach the goal, they are making a so-called development forum in which streams of conversation among Jatiwangi, Lumbung Members, and Documenta are allowed to happen. “In this forum we are discussing about the notion of development” This forum is imagined to involve the experts, the government, and academics, thinkers, artists, and people. Mostly the meaning of development has always been related to progress, growth, and wealth. In this forum they are planning to talk about ecology, as well as ethical issues of development, for instance.
In relation to communal land, they are working with several villages in Jatiwangi. Each village has communal land and Jatiwangi itself has also bought a land for about one hectare to be used for laboratory of farms. In addition, there’s a production land “We invite lumbung members to plant something in the land so that it can also be distributed together.” Then, the result of the production is going to be stored in Bulog in Jatiwangi. “We can imagine a fair distribution that could be consumed as consumption stock for villagers and lumbung members.”
Also, they imagine of having one common factory as they are going to buy one Factory Rooftile that’s falling into bankruptcy. It is also part of their programs to create Kota Terakota, communal role model that operate collectively. “We are going to produce things we use ourselves and it is also going to be live museum. Some ways of life by Jatiwangi people to be preserved among others are sustainable that is related to farming.” It is in this traditional rooftile factory model people do not need to work full time. It is about food strength and city to be strengthened.
At the end the conversation one question for all remained, how would you imagine an ideal place to develop? It’s is not easy as it seems apparently. It remains a homework for everyone. Meanwhile the story continues. From Jatiwangi in West Java we took another virtual travel to Germany to have conversation with ZK/U, Center for Art and Urbanistic based in Berlin. Matthew told the issue of space. There are two spaces in ZK/U, one is common space and another is studio apartments. In the near future the common space would be gone as it is being renovated for other use. It means they no longer have common space for gathering.
The place has been developed for eight years and they are thinking of moving it to Documenta 15. It’s not only the place but also the ideas they have practiced in the past. They used to have residency in the common place. It is also where learning process took place through film program from various regions, community gathering. “We would like to carry this practice. … To move with making our residency in Kassel, and see how we can develop together. To transform our past, maybe broader idea than Kassel,” Mathew explained.
The presentation slide showed pictures of building parts to trigger ideas. This object is one hundred years old. “Let’s do something with this. I think it is pretty nice narrative. We are also thinking of moving this to Kassel. This is part of our buildings, to put that roof to parking house in Kassel. There’s a lot of thing we can do with this resource.” Mathew also emphasize on the issue of sustainability which could be developed more than 100 days as Documenta used to be.
ZK/U is also developing ideas on sharing network and resources beyond monetary logic as they have seven years bee keeping at ZKU which inspired them to development an alternative economic system. “We develop an ecosystem where people put in what they have. How can we differently live and work together and distribute in a way that is more beautiful, more sharing, instead of being productive all the time. We are thinking of good sleep, hanging out, combine various economic system into lumbung system.” Said Mathew.
For the next two years, ZKU is bringing up ideas on relational art, socially engaged art. In ZK/U they are used to having assembly and exchanging ideas. Developing this network of collectives is also sort of art which is reminded us of social sculpture concept. “ We would like to bring this collective to Kassel and broaden and exchange knowledge. Collective knowledge flow. We have maybe one hundred collectives in the world and exchange knowledge together.
It was a rewarding opportunity for each lumbung members to grasp ideas and stories of each other, to learn from all. Before dismissing short hanging out is made possible while knowing each other better. As the day passed, the next day is waiting.
Lumbung Assembly Day II
On the second day of the Lumbung Assembly the energy looked the same. Cheerful faces from various parts of the earth appeared on the screen. “We have a request, we have a Zoom performance,” said Yazan, representing a collective called Question on Funding from Palestine. “We are going to sing a song and you will sing after us, okay. Here we go!” Everyone got prepared and after each verses of the lyrics, all repeat the word “Yo ya .. yo ya ..” It was such a pleasant ice-breaking which all seemed to enjoy. That is a popular Palestinian song as support agencies in refugee camp. Soon afterwards, the presentation slides showed pictures of the collective activities in Ramallah.
It’s been several years ago since they started to work together and to have conversation with the issue of funding. “We met and discussed with those who are critical of international funding question”, Said Fayrouz. They send out open call for people who are concerns with the issue. There’s their first poster on the issue on the Facebook, everyone come with an awareness that Palestine is occupied and colonized. “We are organizing a system that is different from what international aid wants us to do.” They have conversations and have many voices on this issue. “International aid disempowers our struggle and many other negative influences.” Said Fayrouz, “It is not only to build a new culture, but also to revive the practices killed by NGOzation in Palestine.
In Sakakini they had meetings with art collectives to think of how to create a system of economy that is independent from donors. This groups consists of people with different grounds such as theaters, arts, and cultural actors where they have meeting twice a month to meet to think about economy and new cultural center to create. “This is an interesting project because we are transforming our institutional works into a kind of collective. We are now still in a experimental period; at the same time, we are learning from our collectives and lumbung members.” Both Yazan and Fayrouz told their stories spiritedly.
By working with other community such as Tal’at, a group of feminists in Palestine, they are creating a bigger structure through connecting and extending the topic and question on funding. As this practice is connected to lumbung concept, they have an idea of liberating money for community. “We are thinking of creating sustainable income so that the community not to be dictated by the donor. This is idea is a kind of money laundry for community, as most international aid is coming with restrictions on what to do and not to do. “We are thinking of how to recycle and reproduce money that come into cultural productions.”
In the near future Question on funding is seeking to work with bigger community of lumbung and local community to develop more ideas on this topic and use different platforms and resources. This is aimed at creating structure of community that will be able to reproduce the money and use it community.
With a short break, from Palestine all lumbung members took another virtual journey far away to Copenhagen, Denmark in which we all met and had a conversation with Trampolin House. “Hello everyone, I am speaking on behalf of Trampoline.” Said Tone Olaf Nielson, representing the collective that consist of artists, asylum seekers, and others. Olaf began story about the situation and condition of the people in detention in Denmark. “Europe is now becoming the most dangerous in terms of migration,” she explained. There are huge asylum seekers, they are refugee leaving their own countries for various reasons like war, political conflicts, and so on. They are not allowed to work, and to have educational program, only children of the asylum seekers are allowed to go to school.” Some women and children are in several accommodation center with bed and small allowance. “Every time you are rejected as asylum seekers, you are brought to detention center. There are privileges taken from you. You no longer have allowance, no trainings, you are living in a prison-like situation”
“Starting a critical art project for refugee, Trampoline House is now a self-governing house with eight staffs.” Every year it gives opportunities for people to contribute through internship. They have 100 volunteers and the house is run by public supports and donation. It’s been nearly 10 years since it’s established. Hundreds of refugees visit the house weekly. It was initiated in 2009 by socially engaged art students, and artists. “We do job training, counseling, creative workshop, art exhibition, and monthly house meeting to discuss about refugee and migrants’ condition.” Olaf also explained that Trampoline is seeking to create an alternative asylum system as its vision.
“We are going to embark together for the next two years in Documenta 15. This group include asylum seekers, artists, and others.” There several preliminary ideas that Trampoline House is thinking about. First is the idea of having a bus that help refugees transport from Trampoline House to detention centers. Also, by having a bus, it could save money and bring income to the house. There’s another idea out of this thinking. “We could take this bus to Kassel during Documenta 15 event.”
Trampoline House’s second idea is to develop and test a detention center system model. “We would create a space where you could go to school, to work, to be living next door with regular citizen and resident, and soothing aspect so that it could look like a home”. The third idea is to imagine a safer migration routes and establishing artistic resolutions agencies in war and conflict zones. It could be to jointly established conflict agencies in conflict zone in the world, and we could present this to authorities” . The last idea that conclude the presentation is to create an academy and umbrella organization for Trampoline House. “We have a big house, we could fit in more organizations where we could share and offer more activities for our users. We could share our knowledge on asylum seekers through education and professionals.”
As the process is still going on, those ideas are open to grow further, but before that, on the same day, we take another journey that brought us to different story, we move to Colombia to have a conversation with Mass Arte Mass Accion.
(sound and language issue)
Can you hear me okay? I’m going to tell about the format .. thank you for all. For me personally it is .. so today MAMA we are here … allejandro … we are going to tell about ourselves, Columbia, we have … in Spanish … hopefully trans… interpreter cannot hear well, to get close to camera. “I will turn off the camera” Can you hear me okay? .. yeah much better … okay … so the idea is to have this conversation between us and we would like to like to … it’s a technique … to post question … I was thinking of … I am going to have .. this MAMA … I think it’s important with inviduals and each individual make organization, I like how they create an organization.. about how we use human resources and how we deal with … MAMA is started 1995.. we develop our shared interest… we use entagledment … where we are now, questioning a format. Willing to take riks and go along with journey … we open to be part of this lumbung process… so it’s a bit challenge to continue to keep going … this transformation will be witnessed by the people … I think this will … to think about new idea and structure and way of working … we’ll talk about the journey in the moment. … some of our people … this … how this entagledment began, with social and dilemma and here in Colombia … we began traveling to this to chocho… it is a rain forest 1997 … to a very isolated part of Columbia .. it is like an like an island. It is an extra ordinary rainforest … in 2002 we come back. This idea in 2006 … we work on the project in .. culture project … the town about 3000 people … internal warehouse to create activity from different generations, mostly with young students … this MAMA tea … in 2008 we create … a big cultural event … through that process we were invited by prince clauss … we took … the foundation in Colombia .. we never got accepted … use .. from that foundation … they come up the name MAMA we come with public awareness about land lord in Colombia … in 2009 we came back to Choco to develop project … we develop … one a space to reflect … spend time in Choco … not doing an activity … we have exchange to build network … mostly Columbia artist … so that time we … without support … in 2011 we join … a massive .. that’s the kind of history of MAMA .. open for conversation …
Farid .. I was wondering … I was waiting for the chance you were talking when join to art collaboratory .. how you collaborate with … I was waiting for it …
It gives us
Lumbung Assembly Day III
It was started with a karaoke, “Are you guys ready?” The lyrics appeared on our screen. The music pounded delightfully in our ears, triggering all our adrenaline. All tried to keep on singing I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor with small dances. Time flew. “We can feel your energy. Thank you everyone!” All applauded soon after the music ended. That’s how the third assembly was started on October 23. Gudskul from Jakarta accepted its first turn. The background of the screen was football stadium and all Gudskul team appeared with colorful outfit like football players. They threw a ball for each other’s turn to speak.
“Gudskul studies on Contemporary Art is an ecosystem and educational platform founded by three Jakarta based collectives namely ruangrupa, serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara.” A short video played with a young female who is Gudskul Manager explaining about the history of Gudskul. Each of these three different collectives has been separately practicing collectivity since early 2000 in the realm of contemporary art. It is in 2005 they join forces to establish a common ecosystem called Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem (GSA). “Gudskul believe in sharing and working together as a tool and very vital element in developing Indonesian Contemporary Art and Culture” said MG Pringgotono, Gudskul Director. “It is committed to collectivism and to put local need as the highest consideration and contribute and hold crucial role internationally.” It is a one-year program consisting of several significant courses such as Collective Sustainability Strategy, Spatial Practices, Collective Art Laboratory, Collective Cultural Discourse, Articulation and Curation and others.
There’s also a short course, a two-month program with several focus including design, visual art, performance art, art history and so on. They also hold many different workshop and residencies, public lecture, and film screening, radio program and various knowledge activities. To establish the ecosystem, they also initiate so called lumbung, a rice-barn which refers to the concept of economy model where the surplus of resources is stored in one dot to be distributed proportionally to each collective based on each different needs. Resources from different collective are gathered in various forms including fund, program, equipment, networks, skills, time, etc. “We all gathered for distribution to each collective.” MG Pringgotono added.
Earlier concept of lumbung has essentially been practiced long before Gudang Sarinah Ecosystem. “We often borrowed space and equipment or facility from each other. In 20013, we were thinking, what if we have common busines unit without being dependent on donor?” With the renting issues, they collaborated through integrating programs, also we experimented to manage finance together openly. In other context such as human resources, for instance where have common friends, also common knowledge.” This experience became the forerunner to the birth of the school.
In welcoming Documenta 15, Gudskul as part of Lumbung International has an idea of creating a so-called Koperasi (Indonesian word for cooperation) organized by collectives or, in other word, multi-party Co-operation. Gudskul would develop Collective Knowledge Co-operation where it would see the relevance of co-operation potential in relation to creative collective practices. How it is relevant in the realm of economy, social, and culture. This Co-operation model has been practiced in Gudskul because they share common resources.
The ownership of this cooperation is by memberships. Gudskul, for instance, owned there are three collectives as members. Potential membership listed for platform in documenta 15 are citizen of Gudskul, Collective study participants/Indonesian Collectives, International Collective, participants of Gudskul’s presence in Kassel for 100 days in 2022, institutional parters (Asia Art Archive, TCAC, Staedaelshcule, etc), and general public of documenta 15. Secondly is the issue management, to run this multy-party cooperation, the strategy, the structure of the cooperation, membership, business model, and business process. The third is the creator from both local and international that would contribute to resources. There would be also supporters to run this cooperation. One significant issue is also on growing cooperative values such as responsibility, determination, and co-ownership.
In Kassel for documenta 15, Gudskul plans to present video as a medium for distribution purposes especially in terms of knowledge. Holding online session, creating virtual gallery, publishing research findings, establishing market place, modifying culinary stalls for sustainable business, and artist’s activation. “We need to discuss more on this issue to create a platform that makes sense for all of us.”
Those are plans and goals of Gudskul with an expectation that it grows bigger and share more benefit for all. As an idea, it is related to yesterday’s presentation by Question of Funding.
As it was started with karaoke, the conversation was also ended with the music that again pounded pleasingly in our ears. With a bit dance and smiles, the song became a bridge that took us to another part of the earth where we virtually met with Fernando and friends from Campo Adentro. They have been working on farm and dairies in countryside.
Seeing the Gudskul with their football styles, Fernando jokingly said, “Don’t have much expectation from our football capacity in Campo Adentro even though we are coming from Spain. We do ping pong quite a while”. All were laughing. “Well, here we are. I think it is a good opportunity to share about our progress, our direction to develop together as lumbung.” Said Fernando. “The momentum has come to share our progress, but at the same time we have pleasure of knowing each other, enjoying and spending time with others. We have to keep that balance of enjoying and making while having fun. I think that it is what one can very much learn from countryside.” Campo Adantro shared their plans through reflecting on their focuses currently. They would develop an idea inspired from Inland infrastructure.
On the screen Fernando showed us a piece of paper with stretches like a scheme. “The idea is to create a self-manage infrastructure that could sustain the life of collective projects.” They would work on peasant atheneum, a multipurpose village like a townhall, a building with different uses. Their next step was to build a place for the bees to live. Also place for healing, hosting for visitors. “We also create essentials-distillery that could connect with ZK/U in Berlin. In the city they would create shepherd infrastructure for the flock, for the animal there. In addition, Inland would also have a nomadic infrastructure than link city with countryside. It is the infrastructure we are using now to move animal to the city. They are also thinking of developing local potential like one in the forest with the ecological views. This could be related to Jatiwangi idea on the use of common land.
“Also, we would be working on the idea of participatory economy through currency and seasonal basket through which to help producers in the neighborhood.” The last one of their ideas is working on knowledge, to develop new curriculum in inland academy like shepherd school, school for young leaders for nomadic movement. Also, to think about learning tool including publishing, radio, and games. They also plan display a monumental visual works that explain story of people in neighborhood. “The last point is to think about creating parallel study group with Mass Arte Mass Accion within this Lumbung to focus more specifically on Documenta nature of the event in sociological sense with social and economic characters, to discuss about form and manifestation of aesthetic for instance from mainstream to this specific type of lumbung based on specific context, very local and long term.”
There was no karaoke, but silence with black screen for some time before suddenly a slide appeared with “OFF-Biennale Budapest” written on it. Surely, moving from Spain we knew that another story from Hungary was coming. “Hello, shall we take up the ball?” said Hajnaka from Off. “So thank you for Inland for such a great idea. I personally really appreciate.” Off-Biennale is a newly established biennale as it has succeeded two biennales in the past. By the time the third one is prepared, Covid pandemic challenges. It is then postponed till next spring. They also lost so many artists and curators that the event is going to smaller and more local which is not really a problematic but to keep the connection, the enthusiasm toward the event is an issue. As curatorial collectives, Off has been engaged with art education, rural-knowledge, and ROMAMoMA. For documenta 15 Off would offer more curatorial project. “We believe it is highly relevant locally and internationally”.
Art education is one of Off main concerns, especially its relation to the last biennale entitled Gaudiopolis 2017, The City of Joy. It is a children home founded by a Lutheran Pasteur who collected war orphan and Jewish children during World War II. They founded this children republic. This is related to Gudskul on experimental learning where in Gaudiopolis the children organized their own structure like ministry, for instance. They learn how to use different tool, make furniture, to get income, and have their own currency and passport. We plant a project on this topic. We deal with question on pedagogy. For documenta will focus on art education and the change that happens thoroughout the world and this academy. We presented students revolusion in art school. We made research how regime change art education in these countries like hungary, Romania etc. This is also relevant to the local context in Hungary with the current issue on the takeover of art school by government. Not only local, but this phenomenon is also related to global art education. “There are many schools mentioned, new voices like in Inland academy, gudskul, etc. we’ll see how to put this in curatorial frame. We would hear feedback and discuss with all of you”
The second highlight by Off is rural-knowledge, it has information and knowledge from artists working in the field. Grassroot form of education is lesser known knowledge, while they lasted for long and might be worth sharing and knowing especially in terms of working collaboratively. “It is important field of reference, also in contemporary art.” Off tried to find connection between lumbung with local concept in Hungary which is Cholaco. “It is a voluntary and collective work known more in center east European.” Nikolett Eross, one of the curating team in Off. This is form borrowed labor used to help each other especially in villages especially before world war II. It functions in the past and is still practiced in some part of Hungary or could be reactivated. This practice is also corresponded to contemporary art in its relation to collaboration which require voluntary in the lack of resources like manpower or so.
The third part the story from Off was ROMAMoMA. It is contemporary art project with the wish to establish transnational museum institute of Roma contemporary art. Roma is the largest ethnic minority in Europe yet there’s no museum representing this issue. ROMAMoMA is a collaboration in which transdisciplinary and transnational discursive art project happens.
This part was the end of the presentation followed by a short discussion. Time was running out. “Thank you everyone. It’s super interesting!” Everyone cheerfully said goodbye. As it is closed with final karaoke session, the last assembly day is waiting.