documenta fifteen welcomes five new lumbung members

lumbung members, 2021, Photo: ruangrupa

Within the framework of documenta fifteen, the Artistic Team has approached collectives, organizations, and institutions from around the world to gather and practice lumbung. So far, nine lumbung-members have been announced. After intensive exchange between them and the Artistic Team, as well as several conversations with the organizations concerned, five new lumbung members are proudly announced: Britto Arts Trust (Dhaka, Bangladesh), FAFSWAG (Auckland, Aotearoa), Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (INSTAR; Havana, Cuba), Project Art Works (Hastings, United Kingdom), and Wajukuu Art Project (Nairobi, Kenya).

Each of the now fourteen lumbung members will share various resources to the collective lumbung (rice barn). Together, they will develop long-term conversations, in which the sharing of time, space, money, knowledge, care, or art will increase the well-being of each of their local practices and ecosystems, and of the lumbung network—during documenta fifteen and beyond. Working with different artistic approaches, as well as learning from other models of education, ecology, or economy, and related lumbung practices in different parts of the world is considered pivotal to lumbung.

Britto Arts Trust (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Britto Arts Trust (Britto) is an artist-run nonprofit collective officially founded in 2002 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, with a global reach as part of the Triangle Network. Britto Arts Trust is based in Dhaka, but works extensively in different locations across the country. Britto attempts to understand Bangladesh’s sociopolitical upheaval by exploring missing histories, cultures, and communities and collaborating with various partners. It responds by gathering knowledge and resources, sharing the collective’s thoughts and ideas, and creating artworks in connection and collaboration with local communities.

Over the past few years, Britto has concentrated on large-scale, long-term projects focusing on sociopolitical issues and engaging communities and participants from various spheres. One example is ZERO WASTE-FoodArt, which was established during the coronavirus pandemic. Since March 2020, this initiative has worked with a number of artists and art collectives to create socially responsible projects at various locations in Bangladesh and abroad. Britto seeds and promotes multiple interdisciplinary practitioners, groups, and networks. It provides an international and local forum for the development of professional art practitioners, a place where they can meet, discuss, experiment, and upgrade their abilities on their own terms. In response to the lack of suitable educational institutions in Bangladesh, Britto functions as an alternative learning platform for many artists who have gone on to produce highly experimental work. Starting with its connection to local roots, histories, and communities, Britto then engages with international events, such as the organization of the first Bangladesh Pavilion at the 54th Biennale di Venezia in 2011.

FAFSWAG (Auckland, Aotearoa)

FAFSWAG is a Moana Oceanic arts collective committed to social change through arts and innovation, producing bespoke cultural activation that is cutting edge, culturally responsive, and socially relevant.

Operating across a multitude of interdisciplinary art forms and genres, FAFSWAG’s artists work collaboratively to activate public and digital space, speaking to their contexts as Queer Indigenous arts practitioners.

Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (Havana, Cuba)

The Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt (INSTAR) emerged as an institution for civic literacy on May 20, 2015, from a public action called by the Cuban artivist Tania Bruguera where people read and discussed Hannah Arendt’s book The Origins of Totalitarianism for one hundred hours.

Since its inception, INSTAR has been thought of as a democratic and horizontal space, where decisions are made by consensus. “We are interested in claiming social justice and rights sometimes alien to the Cuban context, such as fair wages, a working environment that is maternity friendly, supporting independent projects and artists, respect for freedom of expression, the rescue of the historical memory of art and independent civil society, and building a project with people who think differently but want to make a country for everyone,” INSTAR say about themselves and their practices. INSTAR is a safe space that protects and connects other organizations, activists, and artists—acting like a living organism that breathes, feels, reacts, and has a memory. INSTAR’s work can be organized into three stages linked to its mission, which use different artistic expressions and allow the transformation of a chaotic vision into an unexpected order, a new order, from where a new future can be articulated:

Stage I: Training workshops to strengthen the capacities of artists, intellectuals, academics, citizenship, youth, and activist groups.
Stage II: Financial support for creators, associations, and independent projects through prizes and scholarships. Visibility, while making allowances for the current coronavirus pandemic, through INSTAR’s social networks. Taking a position against decrees 349, 373, and 370, with which the Cuban State restricts freedom of expression and creative independence.
Stage III: Reconstruction of the history of creative production, art, and independent activism through rescuing files and making them available to the public, free of charge.

Project Art Works (Hastings, United Kingdom)

Project Art Works is a UK-based collective of artists and makers. They produce and disseminate art underpinned by radical approaches to neurodiversity, rights, and representation. Project Art Works’ program evolves through supported studio practice and radiates out into multiple collaborations, exhibitions, co-commissions, movies, publications, and digital outputs. Personalized and holistic studio environments are recreated wherever a project takes place. The studio is a place of level hierarchy where events and happenings unfold, revealing the lived experience and creative potential of all those involved (https://vimeo.com/161897285). Artists and makers work together in purposeful collaboration through total communication that utilizes language or gesture, sound, signing, and empathy.

The collective interrogates and promotes creative and sustainable models of artist development and care through practice-based research, productions, and partnerships. The work of neurodiverse artists is disseminated via social media, digital platforms, and cultural and care collaborations nationally and internationally. Through aspirational planning, free training, and advocacy, families and caregivers have opportunities to utilize their knowledge and skills to better navigate and harness health and social care systems and explore bespoke models of care that improve their lives.

Wajukuu Art Project (Nairobi, Kenya)

Wajukuu Art Project (Wajukuu) is a community-based organization situated in the Lunga-Lunga neighborhood of the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya. The project was established in 2004 by a group of artists with a common goal: to make Mukuru a place where children can thrive and to create employment through the production and sale of quality artworks.

Mukuru slum sits on a hillside below the factories that make up the industrial area of Nairobi. A nearby dumpsite draws youth from the slum, who are largely shut out from employment in the factories that pollute their community. Scavenging for items to sell is one of the few economic opportunities available to them. Many eventually turn to crime and selling drugs. Violence and sexual assault are all too common, jeopardizing their well-being and claiming the lives of many young victims. From this landscape, Wajukuu emerged, a testimony to the resilience and capacity of people to transmute suffering into beauty.

“Art is the backbone of Wajukuu. Art for us is not just a practice; it’s a way of life. Through art classes, Wajukuu empowers children and youth to use art to find their true selves, connect with their heritage, cope with challenges they face at home and in their community, speak out against injustices imposed on them, and envisage alternative futures. Our community library, the first in Mukuru, is a safe space for students and adults to study. We address various topics such as conflict resolution, crime prevention, culture practices, gender equality, health, teen pregnancy, and youth decision-making through documentary screenings and mural painting. By doing so, we create a platform for the community to fully participate in the issues affecting them,” Wajukuu Art Project say about their work.

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