In this special exhibition, science, art and society jointly explore new pathways to sustainability. Using the example of the tropical rainforests in Indonesia, the scientists and artists involved examine the central question: How can environmental protection, economic returns and the needs of the local population be linked in a way that promotes sustainability? The scientists of the research project EFForTS are investigating this with a view to the tropical rainforests on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, which are increasingly being destroyed by oil palm plantations. The exhibition “saujana membumi – exploring sustainability” aims to inform the public about the very topical research of the EFForTs project, as well as to make the subject of sustainability more accessible by linking the scientific and artistic perspectives. Visitors will get an impression of the scientific work on site, both from a bird’s eye view thanks to impressive drone videos, and as a close up via microscopic images of plant cells. The exhibition also features interviews with local people about what they think of sustainability as well as artworks created by the Sikukeluang collective. The special exhibition will run from 18 June to 25 September 2022 in cooperation with documenta fifteen.

Background information on the Semah Bumi Festival and Forum Wissen

“What do we want our village to look like in 20 years’ time?” Based on this question, the artists of the Rumah Budaya Sikukeluang collective and the researchers of EFFoRTS in Pematang Kabau in Jambi/Indonesia have organized the “Semah Bumi” festival which means “balancing seed” in English.  It took place from 12 to 13 March 2022, the local population was invited. There were concerts, workshops and theatre performances and an intensive exchange with the villagers. Their wishes, fears and concerns were discussed. “The holistic approach of our research offers many possibilities of exploring  questions of sustainability and human-environment-relations from an artistic perspective,” says Professor Dr. Alexander Knohl, head of the research group Bioclimatology at the University of Göttingen. The aim of the festival was to create a firmer foundation for the Sustainable Village Project within the local environment.

Gruppenfoto des Künstlerkollektivs
Artists’ collective Rumah Budaya Sikukeluang and Artists in Residence in their Backyard Studio (Photo: Immanuel Manurung)

The Indonesian artists have brought the results of the workshops to Forum Wissen. From 19 June to 25 September 2022, the scientific and artistic work are on display in our special exhibition.

Foto von Plantage in Indonesien
Diversity in land use: The bethel nut palm as an intercrop in a rubber plantation in the Jambi province, Indonesia 2022 (Photo: Immanuel Manurung).

Sustainable Village Project

“How can we preserve our environment, promote social equality and live sustainably?” Over one hundred researchers from Indonesia and Göttingen are investigating the changing ecological and socio-economic functions of tropical lowland rainforests from different perspectives. Their focus is on the conversion of Sumatra’s extensive tropical forests into rubber and oil palm plantations with the multi-layered consequences this entails for humans and the environment. The effects can be seen very clearly in the community of Pematang Kabau. The EFFoRTS research project of the University of Göttingen launched the Sustainable Village Project in cooperation with the University of Jambi and documenta fifteen. Here, valuable indigenous tree species are planted in the palm oil monocultures to increase biodiversity and at the same time diversify value creation. One Euro of every documenta fifteen ticket sold goes to support three projects that promote long-term sustainability. The Sustainable Village Project is one of them.