Commons Museums: Ecological Archivist Thinking and Alternative Vision for the Future
My research is about alternative spaces that work to develop radical visions of community-based living strategies through radical pedagogies and ecological archivist thinking. I study various independent initiatives in Gunung Kidul (Yogyakarta), Mollo (East Nusa Tenggara), and Surabaya (East Java), all of which are situated at the intersection of archival work and alternative pedagogies. The projects narrated in this research are characterised by self-organisation and the institutionalisation of cultural production. I conceptualise these spaces as ‘commons museums’, which means they activate their spaces as public platforms that connect with local histories and learn about the social environment. Their practices revolve around areas in which reflection, imagining, and thinking about precariousness and futurity inform one’s sense of connection with the notion of sustainability. Developing alternative schools means counteracting state-built educational institutions and establishing contextual education. It also means posing direct questions about the aftertaste of Indonesia’s New Order regime, the nation’s neoliberal restructuring, and the globalisation of the agricultural sector. Art practices have emerged between the urgent need to do something about these issues and posing contemporary questions. By practising art, commons museums establish practical and embodied vessels through which to seek connections with repressed memories, as well as forgotten and indigenous knowledge. In these independent institutions, the work of the political imagination is propelled by art undertaken through archiving practices.