Art in Context #46:
ruangrupa in conversation with Magdalena Kröner
ruangrupa in conversation with Magdalena Kröner (in English)
Sunday, April 25, 2021, 12 p.m. (CEST) (via zoom)
Siasat means “the stratagem” in Indonesian—and is the term that the artist collective ruangrupa chose as the title for their interview with Magadalena Kröner. Since it was announced that they will be assuming the artistic direction of documenta fifteen the group has received a great deal of media attention. But what is actually behind the collective? What do they stand for and what is their story? Translated loosely, the Indonesian word ruangrupa means “art space” or “spatial shape”—which already hints at the collective’s approach. They organize collaborative art projects such as exhibitions, festivals, and publications as well as an online radio. As a nonprofit organization, they also promote the integration of artists and other disciplines, like the social sciences, politics, and technology. Above all, their work opens up critical reflection and perspectives on contemporary urban issues in Indonesia. At documenta fifteen their aim, as ruangrupa explained in their first statement, from February 2019, is to create a globally oriented, cooperative, and interdisciplinary art and culture platform. They wish to draw attention to current social violations that have their origin in, for instance, colonialism or capitalism and to contrast these with partnership models. In conversation with the art critic and author Magdalena Kröner, the group’s members farid rakun, Ade Darmawan, Reza Afisina, and/or Iswanto Hartono will introduce the collective along with their approach and projects.
The collective ruangrupa was founded in 2000 and is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The core of the group, consisting of ten Indonesian artists, runs among other things the art space RURU Gallery in the south of Jakarta. They have long been an established and well-known name in the Indonesian art and cultural scene; the collective has also participated in numerous collaborative projects and exhibitions internationally. These include the Gwangju Biennale (2002 and 2018), the Istanbul Biennale (2005), the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (Brisbane, 2012), the Singapore Biennale (2011), the Bienal de São Paulo (2014), the Aichi Triennale (Nagoya, 2016), and “Cosmopolis“at the Centre Pompidou (Paris, 2017). In 2016 ruangrupa curated SONSBEEK ’16: transACTION in Arnheim in the Netherlands. In 2017 the group participated in Documenta 14 with their decentralized radio project “Every Time a Ear di Soun,“ linking eight radio broadcasters worldwide. The following year they founded GUDSKUL, an educational and networking project for collective practice studies (together with two other Jakarta-based collectives; Grafis Huru Hara and Serrum). In 2022 they will take over the artistic direction of documenta fifteen. This will be a dual premiere in the history of documenta: it will be the first time that this position is assumed by a collective and the first artistic direction to come from Asia.
Magdalena Kröner works as a freelance art critic and author in Düssel dorf and the USA. A primary focus of her work is research on art scenes that develop outside of Western art metropolises, for example in China, South Africa, or Southeast Asia. Recently she has been concentrating on the development, semantics, and ethics of digital culture and technology and their social manifestations. She publishes her work in the Frankfurter Allge meine Quarterly, Monopol, and DIE ZEIT among others. For Kunstforum Internation al she was in charge of publishing three vol umes: „Digital. Virtual. Posthuman? New Bodies in Art“ (2019), „New York after 9/11. New York`s Art Scene Today“ (2007), and „The Invention of the Future. Art Scene Shanghai“ (2006).