For the first time since it launched in 1955, the prestigious art event known as Documenta has split itself in two and will travel outside of Germany. The 2017 edition, titled, “Learning from Athens”, will be held jointly in Athens from April 8 to July 16 and in Cassel, from June 10 to September 17. Documenta14 intends to question the relationship between art and society, and to also re-visit the prevailing European perspective by incorporating a “Southern” vantage point. Documenta’s patronage of Athens greatly helps to cement the city’s growing reputation as a serious contemporary art player. Anita Robert has all the answers to your questions about this must-see exhibition.
WHERE DOES DOCUMENTA COME FROM?
La Documenta was founded in 1955 in Cassel by a group of German artists on the initiative of the painter Arnold Bode (1900-1977). After the years of Nazi oppression on modern art, these artists wanted to present the art of the 20th century and reconcile the public with contemporary art. They also wanted to show that Germany had regained its freedom of artistic expression. Through the innovation of using large exhibition spaces and public places, Documenta met with great success right from the very beginning. It takes place every five years, lasts 100 days, and presents around 160 artists.
WHO WILL SEE DOCUMENTA?
Based in Cassel in central Germany, Documenta has succeeded over the years in attracting an increasing number of people. The first exhibition attracted 130,000 visitors. The latest, in 2012, 900,000.
WHAT LIES BEHIND THE DOCUMENTA PHENOMENOM?
The reason for its success? The organizers’ ability to identify the most avant-garde artists, to surprise and stay in step with the times. Because, more than an artistic encounter, the Documenta is a place of experimentation and debate on the state of our societies.
WHO’S BEHIND THIS EVENT?
La Documenta is a public interest association, managed by the City of Cassel and the State of Hesse. Artistic Directors are different every time.
WHO IS ADAM SZYMCZYK?
Adam Szymczyk, the polish art critic and curator appointed to direct the fourteenth Documenta, is no novice. Winner in 2011 of the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement, Adam Szymczyk previously headed the Kunsthalle Basel. With a reputation for being avant-garde in his contemporary art approach, Szymckyk has become a much sought-after curator in global artistic circles.
WHY THE TITLE, LEARNING FROM ATHENS?
Adam Szymczyk wished this time to engage the Documenta in a reflection on the crisis of the Western model. To this end, he has shaken up the codes, unveiled the manifestation of his traditional exhibition site in Cassel to bring artists and public to one of the emblematic places of the “crisis”, Greece.
WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM ATHENS?
Adam Szymczyk asked the artists to begin by visiting Athens and Cassel, and choose to create a work either in one or in both cities. The work of the Argentine artist Marta Minujin “The Parthenon of books” illustrates this approach. The temple on the Acropolis will be reconstructed from books that have been censored and re-edited throughout the world. It will be exhibited on the Friedrichplatz in Cassel, where 2,000 books were burnt by the Nazi regime.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
More than 130 artists will be exhibited during the 100 days of the demonstration in the museums, buildings and public spaces of Athens. Besides visiting exhibitions and installations, the public will be able to participate in projections, concerts, and thematic visits.
WHERE CAN I SEE DOCUMENTA?
From next week, Documenta 14 will become a visible, audible, and palpable presence in Athens. During its one hundred days, the spaces and places of Documenta 14 will include museums, cinemas, theaters, libraries, archives, schools, television, radio, university auditoriums, public squares, streets, clubs, shops, parks and paths, and residential buildings—in short, all that comprises the great city in its density, richness, and strange beauty.
The four major institutions of Documenta 14 in Athens are:
Athens Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon)
Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA)
EMST, National Museum Of Contemporary Art
For the full list of participating venues and spaces visit HERE:
Until 18 September 2017, Greek television ERD2 broadcasts a documentary or documentary selected by Documenta14 every Monday evening at midnight. These films can then be viewed on the Documenta website.
Ticketing: tickets can be bought online at Documenta14 HERE
Or at the entrance to each exhibition.
Opening hours: daily from 11 am to 11 pm.
Insider Weekly, April 5, 2017.