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documentamtam #5

A Seed Library for our School!

Seed harvest by Sari Dennise / Click to enlarge

After 100 days of documenta fifteen ended, the participants of AC School set ourselves the task of saving some of the learnings, memories and experiences in that context. We name them “seeds” with the understanding that they can be a fertile contribution to continue planting and cultivating the life of the network.

1. [Life happens] Outside the screens. We know that a large part of everyday life in the covid era of humanity is also experienced in front of a screen, however, from the experience in Kassel we want to preserve the value of meeting physically, looking into each other’s eyes, walking together, eating at the same table, making radio broadcasts, drawing, sowing, etc.!

2. [We practiced an] Intergenerational (Art) Network. Sima, 7 years old, has been involved with Arts Collaboratory since she was a little baby. Her first international collaboration was in an artist residency in Kyrgyzstan when she was about 1 year old. This year 2022, she participated in the performance BooOoones, being part of Crater Invertido and in collaboration with Theater 705.

3. Improvisation training

4. Experiencing rather than just talking about

5. Flexibility

6. Observation and listening for building care

7. Learn how others work

8. Art Works / Institutions, Production, Budget

9. Radical Care

10. #WeNeedAssembly

11. Distribute the learning

12. Nurturing links and provide continuity

13. Togetherness

14. Tools for navigating crisis

15. Land remains after people

16. Political Trust

17. Transition

18. Learning from the encounter

19. Embrace Untranslability

20. Lumbung Continues


Spreading seeds from the garden by Sally

Bees are able to survive and produce honey when work as a team in cooperation.

The idea to harvest the stories shared from some people who travelled to Kassel at different times seemed very attractive to us. We, as a documentamtam group had experienced harvesting the majelis during documenta.  We could have first-hand knowledge about how is the structure that ruangrupa proposed, the concept of lumbung, the governance mode, the economy, and the common pot as well as issues about collaboration, solidarity, trust, collectivity, and sustainability. documenta, the big institution of the art, the hegemonic one was being questioned and confronted in its ways of being and doing. We have been witnessing the implementation of so many of the concepts, ideas, practices, approaches,  paradigm shifts that we have been tackling for years in AC. We also learn about the attacks, the controversies for the selection of the participants, and then the accusations, and then the discriminations; discriminations that continue after the 100 days.  We have perceived it as a big drama. Tensions and attacks could be felt from the distance. However, solidarity occurs in times of crisis. When we arrived in despite realizing that the drama did exist, we learnt around the nonkrong; the social space for the pleasures of sharing time with friends, as a creative and productive practice, too. We could understand the power of being together, the meaning of commons; as practices of care, affection and wellbeing. Collective practices are those we should always translate to our spaces; organizations, and personal environments. 

For the documentamtam 5 we were thinking to build a collective memory and knowledge, and also to create some tools from the involvement in documenta, we decide to invite the participants from AC school in documenta to share their stories, their experiences, their learning. We called the invitation Saving Seeds which were two sessions of listening and dialogue. 

So our assignment was to harvest collecting the seeds. Each one worked on its own way of doing. And then another task follows: to harvest from the harvest. We re/create the stories.  It took time… it is an exercise to listen carefully again, re- reading your notes, catching the exact words, reflect on the ideas that resonate with us most, highlight them , and at the end design in a personal form . Three weeks after, the team met again, our task was almost ready… the garden was full of seeds; we would collect them and would be ready to spread as tools all over the network.  We´ve almost done!

Suddenly, we felt the wind started to whistle. A breeze whispered at the bottom of the garden. The leaves of the trees were moving subtly. And we could perceive a sound. It was a voice. Hey, hey, wait! The voice said. We moved slowly in the direction of where the voice came from. We could see it. It was seated in a reflective position and expressed its annoyance.  The voice was concerned about what we were doing. The voice expressed his annoyance …we heard it saying that the harvesting is not ready yet.  What? We all exclaimed at once.  The voice was trying to say that these crops were not ripe enough?  The voice shook his head nodding. Oh, Oh.

The questions begun to play upon the garden… Aren’t we ready to share what we have?  What did we notice about our own harvesting? What was it like to be harvester? 

One more time, I realized that you can’t be shouting victory before time. You need to avoid claiming victory too early.  

We sit in a circle and started a conversation around our role as harvesters. How can we push ourselves one step further and go beyond instead of just translate to images or text what was said by the participants? The voice was proposing us to go to another level. Let´s make an exercise of reflection and bring out these stories as a collective learning.  So we decided to give ourselves two weeks more for that new task… these two weeks more became in another one , and another… And I am here trying to tell a story of our process as harvesters…

 Mmmm, let`s see… we have in one side orality. It refers to communication. Orality is the first mode of communication of human. Everything began with the tales of our ancestors. Stories repeated to others became common knowledge. Everyone has a story to share.  Sharing stories is a way of learning from each other’s experience and perspectives. So, stories are part of our life.

On the other side is harvesting.  In AC, harvesting refers to the process to capture all events, situations, and characters of a meeting or a discussion or any narrative story. We use to harvest every Assembly, every Banga, and all of the zoom meetings.  Harvesting has no set structure or format. It may vary according to each person`s preferences.  It could be a written documentation. It could be a video. It could be an audio. Or any format you can imagine. We look like a prosperous country; tons of crops. These crops are lumbung.  We try putting altogether in a barn to be distributed as tools. It is a historical record that is accessible to everyone, whether or not they were present at the meeting.  They can be consulted and show all the processes developed in the network, in order to create a collective memory.

In this Documentamtam we have a collective harvesting. We are giving possibilities to see many different perspectives of the stories shared. We collectively try to make meaning.  We tried to speak with images. We have lots of seeds even we don’t know what will come out of them. They are small and the challenge is to discover the life hidden inside them. 

So, let’s think about these questions… 

What are the seeds we grow that become fruits to nurture the network?  Where is the learning of each one? What questions arise from the stories that we can apply to AC?  How can we translate those experiences to our practice? What do we most want to learn from the stories you see in this tam tam? What are you going to take back with you?  How can we learn from each other about their experiences in documenta? How to make learning visible? What learning’s, insights might become into action? What seeds can we save? What tools can be built from these stories and experiences?

We all are very visual people. Images always grab our attention, images are able to explain ideas concepts, and inspire. So, we perceive the world through images, and it is to them that we give greater prominence. This documetamtam is full of images. However, in concluding, I would like to add to these visual images some words, and phrases shared by all the participants in Saving Seeds at the end of the sessions. Those images keep coming back to me during the process of harvesting as learning to be shared. Perhaps encapsulates the seeds that can sprout and become tools to collectivize knowledge. 

Collective sense making through diverse voices 

The image of documenta as a big ac school 

 (artworld) iceberg and its possibility of it being shifted (visible: creativity and artworks, invisible: facing the institution, dealing with production people, administration and budgeting)

❖❖❖Cooking as a collective choreography

🗐Provocations generate conversations and reflections.

⬥⬥⬥ being together                                                    lumbung continues

Tools for navigating crisis                        The idea of a common agenda

⭳⭳⭳let’s invert the iceberg!                                                 Recognize our value

 →•Be tactical with institutions               ⭥⭥⭥learning to live better and together.                                   

                                    🖮 🖮 the radio open to the others as a political tool

❑❑❑To make networks, take care of us collectively                        

⭥⭥⭥open for uncertainty.

⭭⭭⭭artist workers as tourist workers                                            🙂 – visitor   🙁 — artist

▷▷▷Affective commons = we have each other.

●●●believe in the circle                   ⭥⭥⭥⭪⭪⭪Mutual generosity


🗏🗏🗏ac school as university 

🠶🠦🠦🡅Think together                                                   ⭥⭥⭥lumbung continues 

⌥⌥⌥ac school as the practice of new post-pandemic ac 

And the last one to taking into account:

if we can survive documenta, we can survive many things through care, affect, and self-organizing.


Harvested by Sally

Harvested by María

Harvested by Rossana

Harvested by Diego

Itacateca harvest

Harvest by / Click to enlarge

Paradigm Shift

Harvested by Sari