Lumbung Forum 

A public reflection on Documenta 15 in Brussels

Ecole de Recherche Graphique (ERG)

The Indonesian collective ruangrupa were the curators of the most recent edition of Documenta. They gave a central place to collective artistic practices with special attention to participation, conversation, exchange and action, rather than internationally recognized individual artists who produce rather tradable objects. These practices, which come largely from the often underrepresented 'Global South', are characterized by a high degree of cooperation and trust - as a 'lumbung'.

Lumbung is an Indonesian concept. It refers to the surplus stock collected in a rice barn, intended for common use. ruangrupa did not use the concept as a metaphor, but tried to put lumbung into practice. In doing so, Documenta 15 questions the entire aesthetic and commercial apparatus of the Western art world, and thus the art paradigm with which 'we' in the West – often against our will – work. Our tastes and values, inherited from European modernity, are exposed to more worldly concerns in Kassel. Does that mean the end of art as we have known it? Not necessarily, but it certainly opens up opportunities for discussion and critical friction. 

This Forum is organised to help us understand and collectively reflect on the resource distribution system that ruangrupa has set up, its limitations and emancipatory features. The presence of collective art practices in the highly visible context of Documenta, in addition to questions of collaborative work and self-organization, touches the heart of the economy of the contemporary art system. The existing global system of the art world is confronted with profound questions about the institutional consensus that currently guides the modern art world.

The questions posed in Kassel are important for the entire arts landscape, and not just for the visual arts, let alone for a specific organization. Lumbung Forum is equally inspired by an interest in new ways of thinking about the arts, based on inclusive forms of ownership and a redistribution of value, that can form the fertile ground for the art landscape of tomorrow. In the current political-economic context and in the context of the new arts decree of the Flemish Community, questions about the distribution of resources and (self-)organization are only becoming more relevant for more and more artists. The actors in the Brussels art landscape are stakeholders and carriers of this conversation.

Jubilee organises this public reflection together with State of the Arts (SOTA) and Ecole de Recherche Graphique (ERG), two organisations that emanate collectivity and reflect on the place of the arts within society. Jubilee initiated Lumbung Forum from an interest that it has previously articulated through Caveat and Emptor, collective research trajectories reflecting and acting on the ecology of artistic practice.

A detailed programme follows, but expect presentations, workshops and Q&A's with Documenta participants who will be able to speak about the practice of lumbung from their own experiences.

“SOTA is an open platform to reimagine the conditions that shape the art world today. It operates through the collaborative intelligence of independent artists and artworkers, but is open to all individuals and organisations that want to co-create a more fair and diverse cultural scene in Belgium. To SOTA, actual change can only take place by including the people, concerns and viewpoints that are still too often excluded or unacknowledged by the ruling power circles in the cultural field. This is what it wants to make possible. SOTA believes that a transition of the art world can also serve as a catalyst for genuine change in society at large.”

“ERG is a place of artistic, plastic and graphic practices that enter theoretical and formal risk zones. A place and pedagogies to define and redefine collectively. It is a place where you can learn from what is not working. A place of research, therefore.”