Documenta is one of the world’s premier art events which takes place every five years. It was originally launched in 1955 by the professor of art, Arnold Bode to draw attention to works banned by the Nazis as degenerate. The events latest guest Artistic Director Adam Szymczyk is currently holding a twofold structure for the exhibition, as reflected in the title “Learning from Athens.” The event is in two cities, Kassel and the Greek capital Athens.
The exhibition is on equal footing: Kassel has relinquished its hitherto undisputed position as the central exhibition venue in favour of another role, namely that of a guest in Athens. The different locations and divergent historical, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds of Kassel and Athens have come to bear on the actual process of creating the two parts of the exhibition while inspiring and influencing the individual works of art at the same time. A large segment is devoted to immigration and displacement. The inauguration featured the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra, an ensemble largely made up of war refugees.
“We can learn from each other…and we should do it more often in Europe…but this is only possible if we do not merely seek to confirm our stereotypes” – German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who opened the event with Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said the event aims to break down “the political and economic barriers that divide us…to make us understand the world that surrounds us.” Germans who look closer will discover that Greeks have gone through major hardship, Steinmeier said. And Greeks will find that other Europeans are not “cold and one-sided”. “We can learn from each other…and we should do it more often in Europe…but this is only possible if we do not merely seek to confirm our stereotypes,” he stated.
Documenta 14, participating artists have been invited to think and produce within the context of the emerging dynamic relationship between these two cities and to develop a work for each of the two locations. documenta 14 seeks to encompass a multitude of voices in, between, and beyond the two cities where it is situated, reaching outside the European context from the vantage point of the Mediterranean metropolis of Athens, where Africa, the Middle East, and Asia stand face to face. The physical and metaphorical distance between Kassel and Athens fundamentally alters the way visitors will experience documenta 14—bringing into play feelings of loss and longing while redefining their understanding of what such an exhibition can be. The 13th edition, in 2012, included a satellite location in Kabul, Afghanistan, and events in Alexandria, Egypt, and Banff, Canada
Curatorial team: Pierre Bal-Blanc, Marina Fokidis, Hendrik Folkerts, Natasha Ginwala, Candice Hopkins, Salvatore Lacagnina, Quinn Latimer, Andrea Linnenkohl, Hila Peleg, Paul B. Preciado, Dieter Roelstraete, Erzen Shkololli, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Elena Sorokina, Monika Szewczyk, Paolo Thorsen-Nagel, Katerina Tselou
Photos: via Twitter
Athens, Greece 8 April – 16 July 2017 – Kassel, Germany 10 June – 17 September 2017