ISSUE 8 Reformatting Documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteen
Reformatting Documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteen

Since the early 1990s, various significant biennial and triennial exhibitions and other art events held regularly around the world have begun to play a pivotal role in redefining contemporary art. The Documenta, held every five years in Kassel, Germany, is one of the most research-oriented super exhibitions that explore different approaches to understanding the development of contemporary art, which are different from the art-historical focus on artists and artworks of the past. The “documenta 5” (1972), curated by Harald Szeemann, established the legitimate status of the curator as author. “Documenta 11”(2002), directed by Okwui Enwezor with its four discursive platforms, took place in different locations worldwide before its physical exhibition in Kassel and formed a decentralized “post-colonial constellation” with the network connection of the five platforms. It focuses on discussing various issues other than art and opens up a global political perspective on art exhibitions.

“documenta 15”, held last year and directed by the Indonesian group ruangrupa, proposed a curatorial concept based on the spirit of lumbung, which means granary in Indonesian. In fact, there are similar traditional buildings used to store grain and seeds and associated with the meanings of resource-sharing and crisis prevention in many cultures. ‘Extended Living Room: Space and Conversation’, a conversation between ruangrupa members Ade Darmawan and Mirwan Andan, in Cartography Issue 2 “Curators’ Living Rooms,” discussed how to employ traditional local knowledge like lumbung and collaborative practice in a “chit-chat and hanging out” (nongkrong) way, thereby art and life can rebuild their intimate relationship without reducing each other. ‘The Documents 15 and the Concept of Lumbung’ in Issue 6 “The Beginning of Curating” published diverse drawings drawn by members of rangrupa. To sum up, lumbung regards the collective as a group that lives and works together, practice as a way to do things and solve problems, and the relationship network as a circle of friends. Distributed in several main exhibition areas in Kassel, 14 lumbung members have gathered a group of friends to live and work together, creating a colorful and fragrant atmosphere for a harvest feast that stimulates all five senses. Compared with the collection of readers and exhibition catalog with a solid academic nature published by Documenta 11, lumbung‘s publications, mainly graphic books, storybooks, and magazines, are easy to understand and readable.
Lumbung, derived from Indonesia’s local experience and knowledge system, is a prologue to developing different stories of struggling for survival, fighting for life, and creating art with happiness, anger, sorrow, and joy. Artists have built various living and working spaces in Kassel, such as kitchens, bars, living rooms, dormitories, vegetable gardens, gardens, childcare centers, studios, libraries, conference areas, exhibition halls, etc., which are intended to recall the cognition of various sensory experiences in the methodologies of production of knowledge and problem-solving. With its colorful, aromatic, and tasty formula, lumbung reformats the paradigm of documenta through pluriverse cosmologies and epistemologies. It challenges the rational thinking of mainstream epistemology and the visual hegemony of mainstream art epistemology and opens up the possibility of a flourishing development of multiple and alternative epistemologies. At the same time, it re-imagines a new look for public space.
Putra Hidayatullah’s ‘Harvesting and a Single Story of lumbung’ emphasizes from a harvester’s perspective, that thinking about which voices are excluded and who is deprived of rights is the truly critical issue when documenta 15 is reduced to a single narrative of anti-Semitism. After all, interweaving a world space with ethical, political, and aesthetic significance is only possible when diverse individual stories have been told and different knowledge systems have been produced based on a variety of local experiences.

Jiradej Meemala and Pornpilai Meemalai’s ‘The politics in Ramayana / Ramakien in documenta fifteen: Decoding the power of the Thai ruling class’ interprets critically different Thai versions of Ramakien developed from the Indian epic Ramayana and decodes its hierarchical cosmology, which is used as a political tool for fabricating Thailand’s collective imagination and social consciousness by the monarch and ruling elites. In addition, it takes Baan Noorg Art and Culture Cooperative’s collaborative project “Churning Milk: the Rituals of Things” as an example of elaborating within a new context the possibility of recreating political conditions in contemporary Thai society.

Hsiang-pin Wu’s ‘Malaise of Commons: On the Quality of the Relationships in documenta 15’ introduces the collective creation mode and global network of ruangrupa since its establishment. It applies the relationship structure and internal tension formed around friendship and community to speculate on the texture of relationships and the varieties of political energy. Additionally, it responds to anti-Semitic controversy with “the boomerang effect.”

Three articles propose different narratives of documenta 15 from the perspectives of a harvester, lumbung member, and researcher. Lumbung as a project continues after the 100-day event in Kassel. This pluriverse network is still actively hyperlinking. It creates a space of the world where all kinds of cosmologies and epistemologies can speak equally, and different individuals can express themselves freely.
Sandy Hsiu-chih Lo is an independent curator whose main research areas include urban studies, philosophical construction of space, gender politics, contemporaneity of indigenous art, and situated knowledge. Her current program focuses on curating as a method of social practice, spatial practice, and critical thinking. Curating topography, a curatorial practice method that she has actively used in recent years, uses relative and relational spatial concepts to bring to light different cultural concepts such as myths, legends, history, memories, morals, ethics, desires and rights embedded in the pluralistic dialectic concept of place in order to strengthen political and ethical transformation through the contrast, confrontation, overlap, and juxtaposition in the becoming of place.
Her major curatorial projects include “Di Hwa Sewage Treatment Plant Art Installation: A New Cosmopolitan World”, ”Street Theatre” (awarded as the best curating work and outstanding project by Ministry of Culture, Taipei, 2004-2005), “Pop Pill” (“Shanghai Cool”, Taiwan Section, Doland Museum, Shanghai, 2005), “Border-crossing, A Tale of Two Cities” (Taipei, Shanghai, 2005-2006), “Exorcising Exoticism”(Taipei, 2006), “Poetic Borderline” (“Borderliner”, Taiwan Section, Festival of Contemporary Art Varna, Bulgaria, 2007). She is the co-curator of the related project of 9th Shanghai Biennale “Zhongshan Park Project”(the related project of 9th Shanghai Biennale, Taiwan, China, 2012-2013), “A Revelation from Ponso no Tao”(Orchid Island, Taiwan, 2014), “Taitung Ruin Academy”(Taitung, Taiwan, 2014), “Topography of Mirror Cities” (Taipei, Dhaka, Bangkok, Jakarta, Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur, 2015-2021), “2018 Kuandu Biennale Seven Questions for Asia” (2018-2019), “2019 Green Island Human Rights Art Festival Visiting No.15 Liumagou: Memory, Place and Narrative” and “2020 Green Island Human Rights Art Festival If on the Margin, Draw a Coordinate.”
Issue 9 Curating Against Forgetting
Editorial / Transgressing Epistemic BoundariesZian Chen
Icon and Network: Solidarity’s Mediums and a Materialist InternationalismHo Rui An
Settlers and the Unhomely: The Cinematic Visions of Infrastructure in Eastern TaiwanZian Chen and Chi-Yu Wu
Memories of Underdevelopment: Revisiting Curatorial Methods and the Asian ContextWan-Yin Chen

Issue 8 Reformatting Documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteen
Editorial / Reformatting documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteenSandy Hsiu-chih Lo
Harvesting and a Single Story of LumbungPutra Hidayatullah
The Politics in the Ramayana / Ramakien in documenta fifteen: Decoding the Power of the Thai Ruling ClassJiandyin
Malaise of Commons: on the Quality of the Relationships in documenta fifteenHsiang-Pin Wu

Issue 7 The Heterogeneous South
Editorial / The Heterogeneous SouthHongjohn Lin
The South - An art of asking and listening Manray Hsu
Uncharted Territory: The Roots of Curatorial Practices in Eastern Indonesia Ayos Purwoaji
South Fever: The South as a Method in Taiwan Contemporary CuratingPei-Yi Lu

Issue 6 The Beginning of Curating
Editorial / The Beginning of CuratingSandy Hsiu-chih Lo
Are Curators Really Needed? Bùi Kim Đĩnh
The Documents 15 and the Concept of Lumbung ruangrupa
The Three Axes of Curating: Ethics, Politics, and AestheticsSandy Hsiu-chih Lo

Issue 5 Curatorial Episteme
Editorial / Curatorial EpistemeHongjohn Lin
Epistemic EncountersHenk Slager
The Curatorial ThingHongjohn Lin
Ethics of CuratingMeng-Shi Chen

Issue 4 Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-Nationalism
Editorial / Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-NationalismManray Hsu
When Kacalisian Culture Meets the Vertical City: Contemporary Art from Greater SandimenManray Hsu
Pathways and Challenges: Art History in the Context of Global Contemporary ArtJau-Lan Guo
Curating Commemoration: Conditions of Political Choreography, a Performance Exhibition in RetrospectSophie Goltz

Issue 3 Curating Performativity
Editorial / Curating PerformativityI-wen Chang
Choreographing Exhibitions: Performative Curatorgraphy in TaiwanI-wen Chang
Living and Working Together in the Now Normal: Visual Arts and Co. at Bangkok Art and Culture CentrePawit Mahasarinand
The Curatorial as A Praxis of DisobedienceMiya Yoshida

Issue 2 Curators' Living Rooms
Editorial / Curators' Living RoomsSandy Hsiu-chih Lo
Extended Living Room: Space and Conversationruangrupa(Ade Darmawan, Mirwan Andan)
Freeing the Weights of the HabitualRaqs Media Collective
Curating TopographySandy Hsiu-chih Lo

Issue 1 Curatography
Editorial / One Step Forward, Two Steps BackwardHongjohn Lin
What is Curatography?Hongjohn Lin
Les fleurs américainesYoann Gourmel, Elodie Royer
There are No Blank SlatesEileen Legaspi Ramirez
Issue 9 Curating Against Forgetting

Issue 8 Reformatting documenta with lumbung Formula: documenta fifteen

Issue 7 The Heterogeneous South

Issue 6 The Beginning of Curating

Issue 5 Curatorial Episteme

Issue 4 Curatorial Consciousness in the Times of Post-Nationalism

Issue 3 Curating Performativity

Issue 2 Curators' Living Rooms

Issue 1 Curatography