Gudskul: The Knowledge Garden
Late October – December 2021
GUDSKUL Art Collective and Ecosystem Studies (or Gudskul for short, pronounced “good school” in English) is a collective study and contemporary art ecosystem based in Jakarta, Indonesia. A physical space for public education and a mode of collective and collaborative work, Gudskul was formed by three artist collectives: Grafis Huru Hara, ruangrupa, and Serrum. The collectives joined together in 2015 under the banner of Gudang Sarinah Ekosistem to practice values of collective process such as equity, friendship, sharing, solidarity, and togetherness as well as to spread the energy of art-cultural work and spark initiative among the public. Gudskul’s practice has evolved to include the application of Indonesian rural traditions of collective living to contemporary art practice in part to develop a sustainable production-driven nonprofit model. They address collective needs and promote the importance of critical and experimental dialogue through sharing and experience-based learning.
Since 2018, Gudskul, a collective of collectives, has focused on working with other art collectives in studying and teaching collective and collaborative practices. Members of Gudskul have been working with AGYU since 2018, forging relationships with artists and collectives across Toronto in the development and presentation of The Knowledge Garden Festival. A printed workbook “Collective as School” was produced in 2020 to gain knowledge of distinct Toronto-based artist collectives, including the values under which they work and their economic and material circumstances. The workbook is augmented by monthly online meetings known as Majelis (an Indonesian term denoting a form of assembly), enabled by Gudskul and facilitated by the Canadian-based curatorial and artist collective Younger Than Beyonce (YTB), which provide a forum for sharing knowledge and resources in the development of the event-based exhibition The Knowledge Garden Festival, which will open in mid-October 2021.
The concept of the lumbung, which translates directly as “rice barn,” is critical to the development of The Knowledge Garden Festival as it is deployed as both a physical space and pedagogical support network to build and sustain collective art practices. Lumbung is described by Gudskul as “a collective pot or accumulation system used in rural areas of Indonesia, where crops produced by a community are stored as a future shared common resource and distributed according to jointly determined criteria.” The Knowledge Garden Festival will contain a physical-yet-metaphorical lumbung, documentation of Gudskul’s collective process, and classes and events that will enable the exchange of knowledge, resources, and artworks between Toronto artists and collectives, making visible the principles for building and sustaining collective existence.
AGYU has commissioned The Knowledge Garden Festival led by Gudskul. It is supported by YTB who as collective liaison organize and host the monthly Majelis. The art collectives and individuals collaboratively producing this event-based exhibition include Department of Public Memory, LAL and Unit 2, Pavilion, Reuben ‘Beny’ Esguerra and NTM Mobile Studio Project, and YTB; artists Golboo Amani, Barbara Balfour, Yam Lau, Lisa Myers, and Joel Ong; and various York University student groups and Organised Research Units such as the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR). Curatorial and artists collectives Teabase, Aisle 4, Gentrification Tax Action, and Sister Co-Resister participated in the workbook and preliminary meetings. Gudskul’s residency was initiated by Emelie Chhangur and is collectively curated by AGYU curatorial.