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For its 15th edition, an Asian art collective will curate Documenta for first time ever

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Ruangrupa, 2019. Photo courtesy of Gudskul/Jin Panji

For the first time in its history, an artist collective, and curators from Asia, have been picked to direct Documenta. The 15th edition of the much-anticipated exhibition which takes place in Germany every five years will, this year, be curated by Ruangrupa, an Indonesian collective.

Ruangrupa was founded in 2000 in Jakarta and is formed of ten members focusing on contemporary urban issues. The collective’s name loosely translates as “a space for art” and was unanimously chosen over nine other candidates to direct the festival in Kassel. Alongside Philippe Pirotte, director of Frankfurt’s Städelschule, the committee who appointed Ruangrupa included Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern, Ute Meta Bauer, director of Singapore’s Centre for Contemporary Art and Charles Esche, director of the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

Pirotte stated: “We have appointed Ruangrupa because they have demonstrated the ability to appeal to various communities, including groups that go beyond pure art audiences, and to promote local commitment and participation.”

In response to the appointment, Ruangrupa’s Farid Rakun and Ade Darmawan said at a recent press conference: “We want to create a globally oriented, cooperative, interdisciplinary art and culture platform that will have an impact beyond the 100 days of Documenta 15… If Documenta was launched in 1955 to heal war wounds, why shouldn’t we focus Documenta 15 on today’s injuries, especially ones rooted in colonialism, capitalism, or patriarchal structures, and contrast them with partnership-based models that enable people to have a different view of the world.”

Documenta 15 is scheduled to take place from 18 June to 25 September 2022.