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ruangrupa: lumbung drawing, image: Iswanto Hartono, 2020

The lumbung concept for documenta fifteen

Statement by ruangrupa from 18 June 2020

The concept

lumbung as a collectively-governed architecture for the storage of food serves a community’s long-term well-being through communal resources and mutual care, and it is organized around a set of shared values, collective rituals, and organizational principles. ruangrupa translates and continues this tradition of sharing within our own practice.

We do not consider lumbung merely as a chosen “theme” for documenta fifteen. Instead, it is deeply imbued in ruangrupa’s everyday practice and is a summary of our methods and values thus far. As a collective, we share resources, time, energy, funds, ideas, and knowledge among ourselves and others. We first developed the concept of lumbung five years ago, when we formed a collective of collectives with Serrum and Grafis Huru Hara, an initiative that through ongoing trial and error finds its latest iteration in Gudskul, our collective-run space and school in South Jakarta.


lumbung as an artistic and economic model will be practiced alongside its values of collectivity, generosity, humor, trust, independence, curiosity, endurance, regeneration, transparency, sufficiency, and connectivity between a multiplicity of locales, rendering them planetary as a result.

Through the framework of documenta fifteen, the Artistic Team approaches collectives, organizations, and institutions from around the world to gather and develop lumbung together. Each of the lumbung-members will contribute to and receive diverse resources, such as time, space, money, knowledge, care, and art. We are extremely eager to work with and learn from other concepts and models of regeneration, education, and economy—other lumbungs practiced in different parts of the world.

lumbung with regard to the current situation

Due to the critical situation that has unfolded over the last few months, we shifted the use of our collective space Gudskul into a mini factory manufacturing much-needed face masks and hazmat suits to be distributed directly to medical workers in hospitals and clinics on different islands in Indonesia. We partnered up with various local initiatives and sourced donations in the process.

Through our collective experience under COVID-19, we reflected again on the value of solidarity. We need to go even further in fostering new networking models and questioning how to make small to medium art’s initiatives models sustainable. Consequently, we need to rethink further what artistic practice and event making is, what they could and should be. If operating on a large scale means losing relevance in respect to our own practices, should we degrow? What does it mean to be locally and globally rooted today, and what potential does locality currently hold? What does materiality mean in contemporary art today for art and artists? How should we use space to redefine our relationship with the public? In considering regenerative economies, we should examine and develop new strategies, parallel to well-tested practices.

When ruangrupa initially proposed the idea of lumbung as a collectively governed pot of surplus resources, it was speculating artistically on how to build such a common structure over time. Under the current conditions, the concept of lumbung, and its values of solidarity and collectivity, has never been more vital and relevant. In moments when so many are experiencing the inequality and injustice of the current systems, lumbung can act as an effort (alongside so many others) to show that things can be done differently. We are therefore not suspending lumbung, but accelerating it.

From press information by documenta
lumbung drawing: Iswanto Hartono, 2020

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documenta fifteen

18 June - 25 September 2022
Kassel, Germany

Artistic Direction: ruangrupa

Concept: lumbung

67 Participants

32 exhibition venues

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