Stir World: documenta fifteen’s ‘lumbung’ artists on embodied resistance via collective action

Posted On: Sunday, May 8th, 2022 | by project88pressadmin

Multiple voices of resistance will come together for lumbung – documenta fifteen, scheduled to open in Kassel, Germany in June 2022.

by Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi

Inspired from the practice of lumbung, an Indonesian rice barn tradition, the 15th edition of documenta brings a range of conversations about the multifaceted practice of collectivism. These conversations are informed by histories of anti-racial, anti-caste, and anti-majoritarian activism from aboriginal Australia, India, Indonesia, Cuba, the African continent, and its diaspora, to mention a few. ruangrupa, the artistic directors of documenta fifteen, refer to its participants as lumbung members and lumbung artists who come together to expand definitions of collective responsibility today. While exploring the ongoing projects of Mumbai-based lumbung artist Amol K Patil, this article also reflects on histories of collective resistance by other lumbung artists participating in documenta fifteen.

For over a decade, Indian artist Amol K Patil has been working around the ideas of the collective and community, while developing a practice that encompasses a wide range of social and political issues in the Indian subcontinent. The material scope of Patil’s conceptual practice includes video installations, kinetic sculptures, and performance. In the past few years, he has been preoccupied with the sonic fields of Mumbai’s chawl architecture built by the state in the early 20th century for working-class communities.

The emphasis on community engagement is grounded in Patil’s work due to his involvement in different kinds of collectives including Shunya Collective and The Clark House Initiative (Mumbai). “I wanted to expand the conversation from the collective to the community by engaging with people from different places who are speaking about similar issues I was interested in. The format of performance and video helped me to embark on this journey,” he says.

Afterglow, 2020, Installation view, Amol K Patil | documenta fifteen| STIRworldAfterglow, 2020, installation view, Amol K Patil

Patil’s recent body of work integrates performance and community by revisiting the theatre work of his grandfather and father, who are powada (traditional Marathi ballad) performers. Patil elaborates that “the history of powada is multifaceted. In its early years, it used to play for the rajas(kings) as a form of praise, over time there were powada performers who travelled from one village to another articulating visions of social and political change. For instance, during the 1950s and 60s Ambedkar movement, mobilisation happened through powada to inspire the Dalit communities to join the path of caste annihilation.” For Patil, the uniqueness of the powada form lies in its ability to embody different purposes across locations and communities. From praising kings to the songs of resistance for lower caste communities, powada also seeped into the working-class mobilisations in the industrial city of Mumbai.

Powada, 2017, performance, Amol K Patil | documenta fifteen| STIRworldPowada, 2017, performance, Amol K Patil

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