ruangrupa: this is our ecosystem


Come hear them speak about their ecosystem:

this is our ecosystem
Wednesday, March 27, 7 pm
Art Gallery of York University
Accolade East Building
4700 Keele Street, Toronto

ruangrupa is a contemporary art organization founded in 2000. It works to advance art ideas in the urban context through exhibitions, festivals, art laboratories, workshops, research, and publications. In 2018, together with two other Jakarta-based collectives, Grafis Huru Hara and Serrum, ruangrupa founded Gudskul, a fully functioning alternative school for the pedagogical development of collective practice and the generation of new “ecosystems” for artistic production and exchange.

ruangrupa was just announced as the curators of the next documenta (d15, Kassel, 2022).

Gudskul is AGYU’s 2019-20 artists-in-residence.

Members of ruangrupa are in Toronto from 18 March to 13 April for their first research residency with AGYU. They and other Gudskul members return late summer, 2019, late winter, 2020, and early spring, 2020. This is a project in-the-making since 2017, with this current research residency following AGYU’s residency in Jakarta last summer. The project will culminate at AGYU in fall 2020.


It is not by coincidence that we are embarking on this long-term project with ruangrupa as they too advance as an organization by transitioning to the new formation of Gudskul, a fully-functioning independent school conceived and structured with two other Jakartan collectives: Serrum and Grafis Huru Hara. Gudskul could be seen as a culmination of their more than 20-year production of and commitment to youth culture and pedagogy but it is something more than that too. It is a football team! Or, at least, the school is modelled after its players and the role they play in “the field” (the school itself is sited in a now-defunct indoor soccer venue in South Jakarta). For instance, there are the “defensive players,” who take care of the theoretical things. The “goalkeepers” look into the philosophy of collectives with curriculum centred upon collective intelligence, public relations (and event-making), the history of Indonesian collectives, and the relation between analogue and digital media. Then there are the “midfielders,” who have one foot in theory and the other in practice: these players play with courses on curatorial practice within a collective framework as well as cover the area that runs the “art lab,” offering a course called “sustainable strategy” where students learn the nitty-gritty of grant and proposal writing. The “forwards” teach the practical things through workshops, like the garden of knowledge where students learn how to extract information and knowledge from their neighbours and where one learns how to find new methodologies as a collective (what one might call “design thinking”). This is also where the “centre forward” or “false 9” player operates, kicking forth concepts of spatial practice drawn from the discipline of architecture. A kind of trickster player, the “false 9” also looks beyond architecture proper into how the rural, urban, or suburban informs collective activity as a site-specific practice. Of course, a strong player can play any position and this shows in ruangrupa’s world view: there are no star players.

The school’s aim? To develop the skills necessary to set up collectives with intention and to develop an understanding of the ways of thinking necessary for collective labour (inside and outside the art world). Naturally, Gudskul is also a collective thinking process for ruangrupa as a collective; the school model is a pedagogical tool to shape what comes next for their continuing evolution. AGYU feels at home with this processual kind of practice.

Over the course of the next two years, we will be pushing forward our project until, eventually, Gudskul X, a collective of collectives (ruangrupa, Serrum, and Grafis Huru Hara), will take over the AGYU, putting our institution into residency at home and advancing the question of AGYU’s pedagogical role within York University and Toronto at large, modelled on the Gudskul and informed by the super-collective’s in-situ research with/in Toronto.


The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto.
Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10 am – 4 pm; Wednesday, 10 am – 8 pm; Sunday, noon – 5 pm; and Saturday, closed.

AGYU promotes 2SLGBTQIAP positive spaces & experiences and is barrier free.

Everything is FREE

Directions: TTC: Ride Line 1 to York University Station: the gallery entrance faces the south exit. Driving: Enter YorkU Keele Campus via The Pond Road. Park in the Student Services garage. WheelTrans: The closest WheelTrans stop is York University Subway Station, North Exit.

The Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) is a public, university-affiliated, non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Ontario through the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and by its membership.


For more information or to request images or interviews with the artists, please contact Emelie Chhangur, Interim Director/Curator at

Image: Courtesy of the artists, 2019.