lumbung calling — a series of conversations marking the start of documenta fifteen’s Public Program

lumbung calling drawing
Iswanto Hartono, lumbung calling, 2021

Starting on Saturday, April 3, 2021, the seven-part conversation series lumbung calling launches documenta fifteen’s Public Program, activated under the title Meydan. Each edition of the series is dedicated to one of the lumbung values: Local Anchor, Humor, Generosity, Independence, Transparency, Sufficiency, and Regeneration. The format dives deeper into the background of the artistic concept for documenta fifteen and illuminates the idea of lumbung from many different angles. Through conversations with a variety of guests, lumbung calling will explore the rich meaning of lumbung across multiple disciplines, points of view, and contexts within an artistic framing. The invited protagonists have faced major challenges and initiated true revolutions on various scales: academics, cultural activists, independent researchers, organic farmers, fishermen, and festival organizers, among others.

lumbung calling will take place on the first Saturday of every month over seven sessions, from April to October 2021. The conversation series will begin digitally through documenta fifteen’s website and its social media channels YouTube and Facebook. As soon as the restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic allow, lumbung calling will shift to a hybrid format and eventually take place as a physical event in Kassel.

lumbung as a set of values and a cosmology

With its unique shapes and styles, lumbung is an easily recognizable building in Indonesia, similar to a barn. In the official dictionary of the Indonesian language, Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia, lumbung is defined as “a container to store agricultural products, commonly rice, in the form of a house on stilts with walls of woven wood or bamboo.” This definition has implications for the way lumbung is interpreted: lumbung can be defined as a place to store harvested crops, particularly in agrarian societies. At the same time, this description confines the meaning of the word to a distinctive architecture. As a practice, however, lumbung transcends its physical appearance as a building and expands to include spaces beyond the agricultural. In Indonesia’s cultural discourse, the term lumbung is used to describe shared collective resources. Seen from this point of view, lumbung is not only a building or object but also a set of values and a cosmology that describes the living practice of a society. It is evidence of a communal life marked by the spirit of collaboration, and its characteristics can be traced back to premodern societies. Today, the accelerated development and modernization of predominantly capitalist modes of production demand a constant redefinition of values. lumbung calling asks how these values can be translated into artistic practice and open up new spaces for conversation.

First edition of lumbung calling: Local Anchor

The first lumbung calling on April 3, 2021, focuses on the value of Local Anchor. The metaphor of an anchor describes the value of soil in our globalized yet divided world: soil that enables roots to grow and connects trees located miles and miles apart. Just as trees echo each other’s signals, harvesting and cultivation methods can resonate with and be amplified by local wisdoms, bringing to life new resources, and developing diverse relationships with time. Guests Melani Budianta and Armin Salassa examine ways of challenging integrated models of political, social, and economic behavior in a discussion unfurling from the point of view of a seed to the tender voices of concerned mothers. The first edition of lumbung calling will be hosted by Jumana Emil Abboud and Mirwan Andan. The event will be held in English and translated into International Sign Language.


Melani Budianta is a professor of Literature and Cultural Studies in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Indonesia and a member of the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Society. Since the late 1980s, Budianta has undertaken research and writing focused on gender and cultural activism. Her articles have been published in academic journals, newspapers, and magazines. During the Asian financial crisis of 1997–1998, she participated in Indonesia’s women’s movement. In 2020, Melani Budianta presented her talk Lumbung Budaya Sepanjang Gang or Cultural Granaries Along the Alleys, organized by the Jakarta Art Council.

Armin Salassa is a farmer and activist in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. In 2011, Salassa—along with farmers from the village where he was born—began implementing natural farming, an organic practice that has long existed in many other areas of the archipelago. Natural farming techniques combine scientific knowledge with wisdom, stories, and practices inherited from ancestors, removing the need for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Since 1993, he has worked as a community organizer in various locations throughout Indonesia and advocated for the denied rights of Indigenous people in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Since 2007, Armin Salassa has assisted community organizations in numerous Indonesian villages, including Aceh, Sumatra, following the 2004 tsunami.


Jumana Emil Abboud’s creative interests lie in oral histories, personal and collective stories, and mythologies, particularly folk tales and their sites of being and unbeing. Abboud uses storytelling, performative elements, and workshop methodologies in her artistic practice to investigate our relationship to time and place, to the human and non-human, exploring tools of memory, attachment, and dispossession amid the challenge for continuity within political, ecological, and cultural struggles. Her work has been shown at The Jerusalem Show; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, England; Sharjah Biennale, United Arab Emirates; Istanbul Biennale, Turkey; and Venice Biennale, Italy, among many others. She has participated in art residencies including, Sakiya – Art/Science/Agriculture, Palestine; Delfina Foundation, England; Arts Initiative Tokyo, Japan; and Guestatelier Krone, Switzerland. Jumana Emil Abboud is currently pursuing a practice-led PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.

Mirwan Andan is a member of ruangrupa, Artistic Direction of documenta fifteen.


lumbung calling: Local Anchor
Saturday, April 3, 2021, 2.30 pm (CET)
With Melani Budianta and Armin Salassa, hosted by Jumana Emil Abboud and Mirwan Andan
In English with translation into International Sign Language
Livestream Facebook and YouTube

Further lumbung calling Dates

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