Community Economies at documenta fifteen
There is a strong theme of community economies running through this year’s documenta fifteen in the City of Kassel (in Germany), and this has been brought to the fore through the contribution of the Rural School of Economies, an initiative being run by Kathrin Böhm from the Community Economies Institute and Wapke Feenstra from Myvillages.
This contribution culminates on the weekend of 10 and 11 September 2022 through a series of events that include an Economic Summit, Lumbung Kios Market, Drawing Sessions and premiere of the Film “Kassel Rural Undercurrents.”
Böhm explains “The Rural School of Economics was set up in 2019 by Myvillages as a continuation of the Eco Nomadic School and it started activities in and around Kassel in mid-2021 in the lead-up to documenta fifteen."
“As part of the Lumbung focus established by rurangrupa, the Jakarta-based artists’ collective that is the Artistic Director of documenta fifteen, Myvillages suggested that attention be paid to ‘rural undercurrents’ in and around Kassel.”
“As a result, Myvillages has been working with four long-lasting organisations that are based on community economies values. These are Upländer Bauernmolkerei, a co-operative style run organic dairy; Kommune Niederkaufungen an intentional community that practises a shared pot economy; Kulturzentrum Schlachthof a cultural centre based on democratic principles and appreciation of cultural diversity; and Frauentreff Brückenhof, a women’s meeting place that supports a vast network of local women and their families through principles of care, trust and equity.”
These organisations all feature in the series of weekend events on 10 and 11 September that the Rural School of Economics is hosting.
Drawing is one of the primary practices of the School, as Böhm explains.
“We use drawing as a low-tech and mobile form to notice, note and share knowledge that is connected to the land, perception and use. With the 100 days of documenta fifteen now in full swing we are thrilled to have a permanent drawing room on the top floor of Hafenstrasse 76.”
“We’re also excited to be involved in Lumbung Kios which is a kiosk network set up as a platform for participants and local businesses to sell products. We have a series of vending machines where, for a few Euros, visitors can buy local items either from Kassel or from our wider trans-local network.”
"The Vending Machines are both for exhibiting and distributing, and what we stock can be spontaneous but is always specific to a place, for example from the Frauentreff Brückenhof womens’ meeting place we have purple crochet flowers that are part of their Violets Against Violence campaign to support female victims of violence.”
Community Economies Institute member Kate Rich is also part of the Lumbung Kios Working Group, which is using the principles associated with Rich’s long-standing Feral Trade initiative to explore new forms of global goods change alongside social connections.
This year’s documenta fifteen is characterised by Lumbung, an Indonesian word which refers to the communal rice-barn, where the surplus harvest is stored for the benefit of the community.
For rurangrupa, the Artistic Director of documenta fifteen, the focus is on Lumbung as a practice that evolves as it is dynamically enacted during the 100 days of the exhibition.
Böhm describes this dynamic as “the beginning of a new global and multi-local cultural practice.”
In its 67-year history, this is only the second time that documenta has been led by non-European curators, and the first time that a collective has had the curatorial lead.