在本次documenta 15 策展團隊的詮釋里，米倉即是有形的、儲存共同資源的隱喻空間，又是無形的、行動機制的概念集合。在米倉，不同的集體和網絡將自身在地緣實踐中得到的啟發和創作共享並儲存起來。如此一來，資源以及創作的「盈餘」就可以更平等的分享和流通，並在更大的社群網絡里持續地滾動下去。
在中國當代藝術的敘事中，在地的集體實踐從2000年後就漸漸地翻湧出來：一部分是藝術家在鄉村和城市近郊進行的團體實踐，比如渠岩的「許村計劃」到歐寧和左靖的「碧山計劃」， 靳勒的「石節子村美術館」、 焦興濤的「羊磴藝術合作社」；還有一部分是在城市中建立現場，以面對當代藝術的評價體系、每況愈下的政治氣候和新自由主義下原子化個體的掙扎，比如誕生於北京的「家作坊」，「箭廠」，上海的「定海橋互助社」，廣州的「觀察社」、「上陽台」、「夾山改梁藝術小組」之類。事實上，這些參與地緣性的知識生產或者實驗自我組織和空間政治的藝術實踐，都在企圖捕獲當代中國激烈、複雜、撕裂的現實，並在迥異的現場里打撈各自的問題意識——某種「共同」。
實際上，米倉的中對於共享的構思是由從ruangrupa 在雅加達搭建的 Gudskul 藝術生態系統出發，逐漸豐富成為一種資源分配、社會互動的模式。在米倉的傳統場景中，農夫豐收之後就會拿走自己認為需要的東西，並把剩餘儲存到米倉里。在本次D15的情境里，策展小組不僅要摸清資源，還要識別和瞭解各個團體的基本需求及上限，以辨認每個發起者/組織（有形和無形）資源的盈餘，以分享給他人。在目前中國的當代藝術現場中，有別於米倉如同「資源銀行」一樣的構思，許多面對「共同」的實踐十分強調「聯結」作為一種自發的、去中心的/警惕權力過於集中的關係性網絡。的確，不同地區的藝術集體實踐都是根據自己特有的語境、文化場景，尤其是社會經濟的資源上不同的情況來進行活動的。當根莖式的實踐埋入質地不均的土壤中，根系仍然可以如暗流一般勾連。在一次次的互通有無中，藝術實踐者的在地經驗在具身的場景里形成了許許多多的共識，並在來回之間直接地滋養本地的社群。然而這種交往可能更多的是點於點之間的相互結識，還未在更廣泛的文化層面結網，對於一個可以識別並收集盈餘，為共同利益進行集中和管理的「容器」或許只能容納進願景之中。
正如邁克爾·哈特（Michael Hardt） 和安東尼奧·奈格里（ Antonio Negri）在《集群》里說的那句話，「奪取權⼒，但換種⽅式（Take power, but differently）3」。米倉的構想中充滿了對當今藝術體制的反叛，伴隨著對既有制度的背離和利用，企圖將搭建系統和發明方法的權力分散到藝術家集體與組織之間。而理想中，藝術家的創作也不僅體現在最終的作品產出之上，而是以互相合作創造出的新的勞動形式和合作網絡作為生產。對於中國的藝術行動者而言，或許這一切設想都帶著點殘酷的樂觀主義精神（Cruel Optimism）4——剛逃出參與的噩夢，又走進合作的樂觀。但在後疫情時期的陰影中，在藝術失效的這個時代，比起代價高昂的獨自摸索，或許從「激烈的友誼」開始也不錯。
1, Miessen, Markus. The nightmare of participation (Sternberg Press, 2010).
2, Yao, Pauline J. "Towards a spatial history of contemporary art in China." Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art 5, no. 2-3 (2018): 117-129.
3, Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Assembly (Oxford University Press: 2017).
4, Berlant, Lauren. "Cruel optimism." In Cruel Optimism (Duke University Press: 2011).
作者：燕子（謝思堰）是一名藝術研究者、寫作者與實踐者。她是米倉藝術家 BOLOHO 的參展項目成員及出版米倉成員 Reading Room 的創始人之一。目前，她也是香港中文大學中國藝術史博士候選人，研究中國大陸的參與式藝術社群。自 2017 年起她活躍在香港、廣州與上海的藝術自組織現場。
On lumbung and the Chinese Context
From the interpretation of the documenta 15 curatorial team, lumbung is both a tangible, metaphorical space for storing common resources and an intangible, conceptual collection of active mechanisms. In lumbung, different collectives and networks share and preserve their inspirations and creations from their local practices. By doing this, resources and creative "surplus" can be shared and circulated more equally and continue to roll over in a broader community network.
The origin of the concept "lumbung" is mentioned several times in this booklet. It is rooted in traditional agrarian culture and multiple local ecosystems, with strong community ties and a principle of sharing. When reading the etymology, it is hard for a Chinese reader like me to avoid the strange feeling of familiarity with the term that has been washed out by practices of collective art in China - one might wish to identify with the term but cannot find any anchor point. In the contemporary art scene of China, we can find practices that emphasize collective connection and action of resistance under the name of "socially engaged art"; and we can also name several alternative spaces and platforms that are self-organized, embracing the spirit of equal collaboration and mutual help. Do we still need a "lumbung" in China? As days of the pandemic has not yet ended but has already been recognized as "post-pandemic era", can the emergence of lumbung - the mechanism for resource distribution, social interaction, and innovative concepts, help us imagine a new model of coexistence?
Salvaging the "Common"
If the lumbung can be seen as an assembly of existing public resources and agencies, the collective practice of contemporary art in mainland China from 2008 to the present seems like a pursuit of "having grains in the house, panicking no more".
In the narrative of Chinese contemporary art, local collective practices have gradually emerged since 2000: one part is artists' group practices in rural and suburban areas, such as "Xucun Project" by Qu Yan, "Bishan Project" by Ou Ning and Zuo Jing, Jin Le's "Shijiezi Village Musuem" project and "Yangdeng Art Cooperative" etc; the other part is on site in the urban area to confront the evaluation system of contemporary art, the deteriorating political climate and the struggle of atomized individuals in the shadow of neoliberalism, including the "Homeshop" and "Arrow Factory" in Beijing, the "Dinghaiqiao Mutual Aid Society" in Shanghai, the "Observation Society", the "Seong Yoeng Toi" and "Jasagala" in Guangzhou. In fact, these artistic practices that deeply involved in localized knowledge production, self-organized experiments and spatial politics, all attempt to capture the intense, complex, and lacerated reality of contemporary China. They try to salvage the problematique of their own - a certain kind of the "common" - within the very different daily scenes.
The salvaging of the "common" is undoubtedly a difficult task. Compared with the trust and sharing created by spirits of "independence" and "endurance" among organizations and collectives in lumbung mechanism, the question of how to "have grains in the house" is already a continuous torture for local practices in China. In The Nightmare of Participation, Markus Miessen mentions the trap of consensus in which he argues that the artist as a subject, is hard to participate without giving up his own identity in a given situation. From my observation, for many Chinese collective practices, a shared imagination and practices in daily life can be the artistic production itself. However, such relational communities based on spatial politics often strive to survive in the crevice between the control of official institutions, the coercion of commercial capital, and the struggle of discourse in the contemporary art scene. The alternative framework of self-organization and the search for "independence" and "endurance" must face the external reality of "system-capital". Despite being situated in a fading civil society that lacks supportive infrastructure, many "artivists" attempt to maintain the radicalness toward working in collectives. They overcome the identity politics and monolithic creative intentions by valuing daily interactions and labor, to preserve "dissensus" in a co-living community. Unfortunately, although some practitioners try to persist in spite of rising rents and increasingly oppressive censorship, many collective practices still inevitably foundered after years of struggle…What remains is perhaps only a heavy, accelerated "fierce friendship" with each other and with the community.
lumbung values have always emphasized the "principle of sharing", a certain generosity, trust and interdependence based on long periods of gathering and entanglement. It does not eye on separating the individual from the group but aims to promote integration. In the local context of China, where public action is still being driven out from the "public" to the "private", where the common cannot be considered, constructed, or expanded from a more supportive social network, and where the subjects of creative practices are still locked and collided in an internal "fierce friendship", the foundation of the "principle of sharing" is the frozen elephant in the room - it always exists in silence, but cannot go anywhere.
In fact, the idea of sharing in lumbung is inseparable from Gudskul, the art ecosystem built by ruangrupa in Jakarta. The embodied practice of art ecosystem is gradually accumulated into a model of resource distribution and social interaction. In the traditional scenario of the lumbung, the farmer takes what he needs after the harvest and stores the surplus in a lumbung. In the scenario of documenta 15, the curatorial team not only has to map out the resources, but also identifies and understand the basic needs and the upper limits of each participating artist, in order to figure out the amount of surplus of each initiator/organization's (tangible and intangible) resources to share with others.
In the current art scene of China, unlike lumbung’s concept of "resource bank", many practices of building a common emphasize the idea of "tying" (lianjie, 连结 in Chinese), as a spontaneous and decentralized relational action that is wary of the danger of over-centralization. Indeed, collective practices in different regions operate according to their own specific contexts, cultural scenarios and, above all, socio-economic resources. When rhizomatic practices are buried in unevenly textured soil, the roots can still be connected and tied as undercurrents. In the process, the local experience of art practitioners forms a consensus in the embodied scene, and directly nourishes the local communities back and forth. However, this interaction may be more of a mutual understanding from point to point and has not yet become a network at a broader cultural level. As of the idea of forming a "container" where the surplus can be identified and collected, and where common interests can be managed centrally, it may only be achieved in the future vision.
In front of the accelerating collapse of social reality, when collective creation and action are repeatedly disintegrated under the formidable external circumstance, it is already too hard to "have grains in the house" and turn it into a mutual-aid process, then how can we talk about storing and sharing of resources?
More Institutional Activism
The construction of lumbung platform repeatedly mentions a well-run network that is indispensable, since a strong locally anchored root and a sustainable network are essential to supporting any collaboration and sharing among organizations. A significant part of lumbung’s focus is on building a network of innovative art economy that encompasses fields such as experimentation, activism, spatial imagination, economy, education, and ecology. This recruitment of a broader range of organizations and groups also reflects the importance of various social resources supporting the lumbung model.
At the same time, the partners that lumbung hopes to work with are not limited to small and local collectives, but also bigger institutions around the world that are willing to rethink hierarchies, power structures, and are in a serious quest for collective wellbeing. From this perspective, lumbung can be called a production-distribution model, not only because it opens up a network of value creation and allows interconnected stakeholders to maintain these shared resources, but also because it attempts to leverage the current circulation system of art capital by turning the extractive external market into part of lumbung’s collaborative model of production based on the principle of reciprocity.
In China, whether it is institutional activism or "self-initiated institutions", these heterogeneous institutions are being regarded as meaningful sites of knowledge production. Some alternative institutional practices are like the "self-initiated institutions" advocated by lumbung in terms of the radical nature and the ability to act across institutional boundaries. Pauline Yao distinguished alternative spaces in China in three dimensions in terms of spatial characteristics: "conceptual space", "non-institutional space", and "alternative space". The definitions are variable in meaning and scope and can be interpreted in many ways. She mentioned that in these alternative institutions, there are not only alternative practices, but also alternative thoughts, including a strong preference for self-organization and an idealistic vision from grassroots organizations, or a collective managing mindset by artists.
These alternative art institutions and non-profit spaces can still exist as self-revolutionary and inclusive entities, but in front of the accelerating reality, an art ecosystem that can gather multitudes as well as a horizontal mode of knowledge production can be imagined and practiced in advance, in an experimental manner or even in a bare-bones posture.
As Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri put it in Assembly, "take power, but differently", the vision of lumbung incorporates a sense of rebellion against the present art world, accompanied by a departure from and utilization of the established system. lumbung attempts to decentralize the power, giving it to artists’ collectives and organizations to build new mechanisms and methods. Ideally, artists' creations are not only embodied in the final output of works but manifest through building new forms of labor structure and collaborative networks. For Chinese artivists, perhaps all of this is envisioned with a bit of Cruel Optimism - escaping from the nightmare of participation yet suddenly entering the optimism of collaboration. However, in the shadow of the post-pandemic period, in a time when the aura of art is fading, instead of stumbling alone, it might be better to start with a "fierce friendship".
About the Writer: Yanzi (Siyan Xie) is an art researcher, writer, and practitioner. She is a team member of lumbung artist BOLOHO’s exhibiting program and a co-founder of lumbung publisher Reading Room. Currently, she is a Ph.D candidate in Art History at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, researching socially engaged art communities in mainland China. She has been active in the art scenes of the self-organized art community in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai since 2017.