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Radically new positions

Ruangrupa, the Indonesian art collective, will transform the Documenta exhibition. The German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale will also present surprises.

Martin Orth, 09.05.2021
Ruangrupa, art collective from Indonesia
Ruangrupa, art collective from Indonesia © documenta

Ruangrupa: Documenta game changer?

“We want to create a globally oriented, cooperative and interdisciplinary art and culture platform that will continue to have an impact beyond the 100 days of Documenta 15,” explained Ruangrupa, the Indonesian art collective, after it was entrusted with the artistic direction of the Documenta in 2022. The ten-person group runs an art space (Ruangrupa) in South Jakarta, has over 20 years of experience in developing networks and represents a participatory approach. By involving artists and other disciplines, such as the social sciences, politics, technology and the media, it strengthens the artistic concept and is promoting its dissemination in exhibitions, workshops and festivals as well as periodicals, books and online magazines. The Documenta selection committee regards Ruangrupa as a game changer. It expects the art collective to provide new impetus and a paradigm change away from the passive consumption of art and towards active creativity. A first impression was made by a member of the art group at the Berlinale 2021. Mirwan Andan held in his hand a blue foam cube with a microphone inside that he threw to members of the audience who had sunk deep into their beanbags. The motto was “hanging out” with Ruangrupa. We will discover what impact this concept has on the “world exhibition of art” when it opens on 18 June 2022.  

Maria Eichhorn, concept artist from Bamberg
Maria Eichhorn, concept artist from Bamberg © Jens Ziehe

Maria Eichhorn: surprises in Venice?

“Painting bored me,” said Maria Eichhorn once in an interview about her training at Berlin University of the Arts, “I wanted another form of expression for what concerns me.” This could be experienced at Kunsthalle Bern in 2011. Instead of organising an exhibition, she used the allocated funds to carry out urgently needed repairs. Visitors were able to see an idle construction site during opening hours; renovation work was carried out when the building was closed. Then there was her exhibition “5 weeks, 25 days, 175 hours” at Chisenhale Gallery, London, in 2016. She gave the employees time off during the art show, and the doors remained shut. “There’s nothing to see, but a lot to think about,” wrote one enthusiastic British reviewer. “Maria Eichhorn is the artist I have always wanted to see in the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale,” said Yilmaz Dziewior, curator of the pavilion and Director of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, after the selection of the 59-year-old concept artist from Bamberg. We now have to expectantly wait to find out what Maria Eichhorn makes of the pavilion on 23 April 2022. After all, many artists have been able to let their imaginations run riot in the German Pavilion, which was reconstructed as a monumental building by the Nazis. The most sensational contribution so far has been made by Hans Haacke. In 1993 he had the floor panels smashed and then exhibited the rubble.


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