The Collective School exhibition explores artist-driven and collective models of learning. Initially developed through a collaboration between Asia Art Archive (AAA) and Gudskul, this project raises the following questions: How do artists learn from their peers in a collective? What makes collectivity necessary for survival today? How do collectives remain adaptive and relevant to their respective contexts? The exhibition began in 2020 with AAA’s invitation to Gudskul, a Jakarta-based collective that runs a grassroots school for other collectives. They in turn invited eight collectives from across Asia. First presented at AAA Hong Kong’s Library from Oct. 2022 – Feb. 2023, the Collective School exhibition traveled to the Asia Art Archive in America and is on view from September 15, 2023, to January 12, 2024.
The participating collectives’ contributions encompass a diverse range of mediums, including videos, sculptures, games, and zines. Their works were developed in dialogue with selected materials in AAA’s collection: Xiamen Dada, known for their audacious performative critiques of China’s art system in the 1980s; Black Artists of Asia, the driving force behind the enduring artist-run biennial VIVA ExCon in the Philippines during the 1990s; and Womanifesto, a feminist art collective and biennial initiative that thrived in Thailand from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s.
The collectives featured in this exhibition include:
ba-bau AIR (Hanoi, Vietnam)
ba-bau AIR is a collective of curators, producers, and artists. Their practices focus on designing safe spaces, curation & producing exhibitions, designing programs, emerging interdisciplinary collaborations & community-based work. They are running ba-bau AIR – a flexible space (artist-in-residence, kitchen, studio) in Hanoi (2019-) and Hoa Quỳnh Cinema (an intimate, impromptu screening project & production since 2021).
Bishkek School of Contemporary Art (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan)
The Bishkek School of Contemporary Art (BiSCA) is a dynamic online and offline platform that offers to accumulate and promote art practices, reflections, and experiences in their various manifestations.
Gudskul (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Gudskul is an educational knowledge-sharing platform formed in 2018 by three Jakarta-based collectives ruangrupa, Serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara. Gudskul sincerely believes in sharing and working together as two vital elements in developing Indonesian contemporary art and culture.
Load na Dito (Quezon City, Philippines)
Load Na Dito (2016) is an artistic and research initiative based in Manila, Philippines. Developed as a homemade culture, currently based in Cubao, Quezon City, it uses any possible space as a site for knowledge sharing, inquiry, and discussion. By organizing and co-organizing a wide range of programs, Load na Dito hopes to critically address the questions of participation and collaboration in relation to the practice of contemporary art.
Omnispace (Bandung, Indonesia)
Omnispace (2015) is a space, organization, and collective that embodies art and alternative activities to support the young culture scene in Bandung. Omnispace seeks to be an alternative space that is open to all creative actors and aims to discover and explore new possibilities in art and creative practices. Omnispace also collects and brings together creative actors to initiate a variety of programs/activities that benefit the public at large.
Pangrok Sulap (Sabah, Malaysia)
Pangrok Sulap is a Malaysian collective of artists, musicians, and social activists with a mission to empower rural communities and the marginalized through art. “Pangrok” is the local pronunciation of “punk rock”, and “Sulap” is a hut or a resting place usually used by farmers in Sabah, Borneo.
Salikhain Kolektib (Quezon City, Philippines)
Salikhain Kolektib (formerly Prodjx Artist Community) is an interdisciplinary collective based in the Philippines with a network in the Asia Pacific region. The collective integrates art, research, education, and community engagement and development into various collaborative artworks and initiatives. The thread that ties the collective together is their interest in participatory art and research practices, as well as the environment.
Scutoid Coop (Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Scutoid Coop is a cultural workers cooperative based in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The members include artists, designers, curators, independent researchers, cultural administrators, and installation technicians. Aiming to activate the local independent art space and alternative cultural scene, Scutoid Coop focuses on cross-culture network building and an open social platform for the local community.
Yayasan Tonjo Foundation (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)
Yayasan Tonjo Foundation (est. 2020, Yogyakarta) is an art collective formed with the idea of redistributing resources through art. They propose senang-senang, meaning “having fun together,” as a condition of artistic freedom.
This project has been developed by Susanna Chung, Özge Ersoy, and Rebecca Tso, in close collaboration with Samira Bose, Noopur Desai, Sneha Ragavan, John Tain, Chương-Đài Võ, Congyang Xie, and Anthony Yung. Graphic design: MAJO. The New York edition of the Collective School exhibition is organized by Furen Dai, Ying Chiun Lee, and Alexander Si. Photo documentation by Alexander Si.
The Collective School in New York is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, Ruth Foundation, with additional support from Eunei and Ron Lee.