Letzte Woche: dOCUMENTA(13)

Kassel, September 2012 – Still a few days to see dOCUMENTA(13), one of the most important art exhibits that takes place every 5 years in Kassel, Germany. Allow yourself sometime to explore multiple venues and hundreds of artworks and art projects.

Nalini Malani at the dOCUMENTA-Halle

If you have three days go to (no particular order) Fridericianum; dOCUMENTA-Halle, Ottoneum, Neue Galerie, Hauptbahnhof, Off the Main Sites and Karlsaue Park. All to be explored from A to Z. If you have less than three days then go to the Ottoneum, the Hauptbahnhof, Karlsaue Park and to the Off the Main Sites.

Yan Lei at the dOCUMENTA-Halle

The two itineraries must be approached with different attitudes. The first one embeds the I-am-going-to-do-this-no-matter-what kind of attitude. The second one is for the I-am-going-to-experience-this-and-enjoy-it kind of attitude. There is also a third option: the exhibit within the exhibit. A tour exploring past and current dOCUMENTA(s), getting to know each edition through what became a permanent presence in Kassel’s urban fabric.

Michael Portnoy at the Hauptbahnhof

The current dOCUMENTA will also help you shaping the exhibition within the exhibition tour through the many  projects that homage or reference existing artwork made in occasion of its past editions, in particular Joseph Beyus’ and Walter De Maria’s.  At the end, it all contributes to an ongoing influential pallette from which everyone get to choose their favorite color.

Karlsaue Park

No matter what DIY tour you pick, here below some details on what you will find:

If you will get to Kassel by train most likely you will end up at Kassel-Hauptbahnhof. Then, let’s start here. At the Hauptbahnhof you find Janet Cardiff, William Kentridge, Michael Portnoy, Critical Art Ensemble and Susan Philipsz among others. They all contributed to the transformation of the dismissed locations of the train station into an evocative and inspirational place, but once you are done with Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller videowalk, you will not look at the Hauptbahnhof in the same way ever again.

Critical Art Ensemble at the Hauptbanhnhof

At dOCUMENTA artists have engaged in a multitude of themes, many of them responding to Kassel’s history and memories, which it is really something you can’t ignore. Each of the projects though is different and anti-rhetorical. The result is that more tiles joined the puzzle of the painful history of WWII and its aftermath. In instance the work of Sanja Iveković which drew inspiration from two historical documents: one is a list of reasons for imprisonment found in the former monastery Breitenau near Kassel and one is a picture published in the Hessische Volkswacht in April 1933. The first document led to an installation throughout Kassel of posters reproducing the reasons of imprisonment. The installation is titled “The Disobedient (Reasons for Imprisonment)”. The second document inspired the moving piece in the Neue Galerie called “The Disobedient (The Revolutionaries)” which includes a list of individuals who have resisted and oppression in the past and current century.

Claire Pentecost at the Ottoneum

At the Ottoneum Claire Pentecost, Amar Kanwar and Mark Dion’s projects are exhibited under the overall theme of seed and the making of earth, life, food, art, stories, intra-action and worldliness. The artwork has been realized also in response to an object in the permanent collection of the Ottoneum.

Amar Kanwar at the Ottoneum

For instance, Claire Pentecost displayed her “Worm composting cabinet” side by side with Richelsdorfer Mountain Cabinet from 1783 which contains local stones showing the compressed layers of the mountain near Kassel. Creating a perfect replica of the eighteenth century piece, Pentecost realized a soil making machine. In and around the Ottoneum, Pentecost also presents “When you step inside you see that it is filled with seeds” in form of vertical beams filled with soil and designed for the intensive production of vegetable for the dense, land-poor communities. Investigating into the institutional structures that organize and control knowledge, Pentecost’s work is a good opportunity to think about money, food, environment and resources exploitation.

Claire Pentecost in the Karlsaue Park

In the same venue Mark Dion site-responsive installation is now a permanent addiction to the Ottoneum. He created a new cabinet display for the Xyloteque adding five more species of trees and revitalized an extraordinary tree encyclopedia crafted by Carl Schildbach from 1771 to 1799.

Theaster Gates at the Huguenot House

Another significant intervention which will remain permanently on view is Theaster Gates’ “12 Ballads for the Huguenot House” . The Huguenot House is a former bourgeois home and hotel now turned into a functional space to live, share, work, and enjoy and most of all, in the artist’s intention, to encourage cultural, bureaucratic and political conversations around the marginally employed and excluded artists.

Theaster Gates at the Huguenot House

Due to the dimensions of the exhibit, that unfolds throughout Kassel city center, and due to the numerous artists featured, a comprehensive post about everything would be ambitious to do, but also unnecessary.

Anna Maria Maiolino in the Karlsaue Park

dOCUMENTA(13) should be experienced as a journey, not only through contemporary art but through life. It combines all the elements of our existence as human being. If you decide to see dOCUMENTA(13) drop your must-seen-marathon attitude and enjoy what you can see. It is all worth seen and it all requires maximum attention to be understood. Every project, performance, installation or film will touch you, make you think, leave you with questions, lots of questions and no answers.

Fiona Hall in the Karlsaue Park

The city-wide exhibit offers the opportunity to bump into art almost at every corner, so why bother? Just enjoy.

Ruth Robbins and Red Vaughan Tremmel in the Karlsaue Park

p.s. After the daily program do not forget to check out the Bali Cinema for screenings.

More info on dOCUMENTA(13)


Edited by Valeria Federici


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