Research and art connect for sustainability – a cooperation between the CRC 990 and the University of Göttingen with documenta fifteen

Keeping the environment unspoilt, promoting social equality and strengthening sustainability – this is what connects researchers from the University of Göttingen and their partner universities in Indonesia with artists from Indonesia and documenta fifteen .
The contemporary art exhibition documenta , which will be held this year for the fifteenth time, will take place from June 18 to September 25, 2022 in Kassel. It is curated by the Indonesian collective ruangrupa . A key component is the creation of lumbung, an international network of local and community-oriented organizations related to art and culture across the globe that will last beyond the 100 days in Kassel.
The Collaborative Research Centre EFForTS brings more than one hundred researchers from Indonesia and Göttingen together to study the changing ecological and socioeconomic functions of tropical lowland rainforests - to find out how the inhabitants of Sumatra can use their land more sustainably, promote biodiversity and, at the same time, meet the local needs (Key findings of EFForTS 2012-2019). A virtual tour of the project is online available.

The collaboration of documenta fifteen and EFForTS started in November 2021 with the panel discussion urun rembuk (YouTube playlist) – thinking and acting on sustainability, where researchers and artists came together to discuss aspects and viewpoints of sustainability.

Follow the panel discussion here:

  • urun rembuk: Arts & Science Festival as a Mediator for Sustainable Environments - English or German
  • urun rembuk: Forum Wissen. A Museum of Knowledge - English or German
  • urun rembuk: Collaborative Research Center 990 - English or German
  • Together with documenta fifteen several projects are realized:

    The Semah Bumi Festival of Science, Nature, Society and the Arts in Pematang Kabau

    Logo Semah Bumi
    Logo of the Semah Bumi Festival in Pematang Kabau
    The festival of Semah Bumi (balancing, serving, seeding) took place from March 12–13, 2022 in Pematang Kabau, a village on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia – it served as a link between art, science, nature, and society. The festival featured concerts, art exhibitions and theatre performances. Starting with the question "What do we want our village to look like in twenty years?", the participants formulated their wishes for the future and developed common goals from the perspective of sustainability in the region.
    The festival was organized jointly by the artist collective Rumah Budaya Sikukeluang from Riau and EFForTS.
    Artists' collective Rumah Budaya Sikukeluang and artists in residence in their Backyard Studio
    The village of Pematang Kabau is the perfect spot for this: years ago there were extensive tropical forests there, but today the landscape is dominated by rubber and oil palm plantations. The effects of change are therefore also the focus of the Semah Bumi festival.
    The artists/musicians Rani Jambak from Medan, Helmi Hardian and Uncle Twist (WAFT-LAB) from Surabaya, Ismet Raja Tengah Malam from Jambi and the Sikukeluang artists collective from Pekanbaru stayed in residence in Pematang Kabau a month before the start of the festival. During this time, they worked collectively to observe, recognize, and experience the local environment and its community while having access to the research of the Sustainable Village Project . The artworks they produced based on their explorations and collaborations with the local participants was presented during the festival.
    The results will be on display at an exhibition at the newly opened Forum Wissen from June 2022.
    Documentation of these works and their development can be found on the Instagram accounts of @sikukeluang and @semahbumi .

    Below are impressions from the festival and a video message from Göttingen to participants of the Semah Bumi festival.

    Video message and greetings from Göttingen to participants of the Semah Bumi festival

    An exhibition of science and art in Forum Wissen in Göttingen

    The Forum Wissen is a new interface of science, public and culture at the University of Göttingen. The core idea of Forum Wissen is to open the doors widely and enable people to understand, how scientists work and how knowledge is being created.
    Parallel to documenta fifteen , from June 18 to September 25, 2022, Forum Wissen hosts a special exhibition about EFForTS and the collaboration with documenta fifteen and Sikukeluang .
    The exhibition features results from the Semah Bumi Festival of Science, Nature, Society and the Arts which took place in Pematang Kabau from March 12 to 13, 2022. Visitors will be able to experience the social and ecological dimensions of research in Indonesia from different perspectives. Members of the artist collective Rumah Budaya Sikukeluang will be on site to show parts of the artistic process during the festival in Jambi.
    Complementing the artistic contribution, the exhibition will also give voice to the various actors - humans as well as animals and plants - and provide insights into the numerous specialized, interdisciplinary research practices used to collect and analyze data on site. The focus is on palm oil, a raw material used in numerous foods and cosmetics and an important source of income for local smallholder farmers.
    The exhibition will be curated by TheGreenEyl , a renowned Berlin exhibition agency.

    Impressions from the special exhibition Saujana membumi in the Forum Wissen:

    The Sustainable Village Project – Deasa Berkelanjutan

    Diversity in land use: betel nut palm grows here as a crop between the rubber trees in a rubber plantation in Jambi province, Indonesia, 2022 (Photo: Immanuel Manurung)
    Building on / extending the results of the festival of Semah Bumi Festival in Pematang Kabau from March 12 to 13, 2022, a long-term project will be initiated, based on local experience, to mix palm oil monocultures with native tree species. The main idea is to explore and implement transformation pathways towards more sustainable land-use and value chain management. Together with local smallholder farmers in Pematang Kabau, the Sustainable Village Project aims to identify options to enhance local biodiversity and ecosystem functions, e.g. via planting trees while at the same time creating and safeguarding economically interesting and socially acceptable livelihood options.
    Documenta fifteen is supporting this project as one of the three sustainability projects supported by the Sustainability Euro from every documenta fifteen ticket sold.