Every five years, the city of Kassel in Germany plays host to dOCUMENTA, a colossal, 100-day long exhibition of contemporary art from all over the world. Participating artists are provided at least two years to complete their work and the results are thus consistently thorough and complex. This year is dOCUMENTA’s thirteenth edition and is expected to attract more than 750,000 visitors, nearly twice that of last year’s Venice Biennale.
Yan Lei‘s “Limited Art Project”, a room of works completed daily over the past year. The room and the art hung on its walls will be sprayed over with car paint, retransforming every piece into a blank canvas. This image is featured on BBC News’ Big Picture series.
Another view of “Limited Art Project” via WSJ
Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez shows his film “Artaud’s Cave” in a faux Aztec temple constructed with the help of residents from a psychiatric center in Mexico City via WSJ
Clemens von Wedemeyer‘s video work “Muster (Rushes)” appears on three screens via WSJ
Haegue Yang‘s window shade installation “Approaching: Choreography Engineered in Never-Past Tense” via WSJ
The 150 artists featured come from 55 different countries and range from past participants like Germany’s Rosemarie Trockel to newcomers to the exhibition such as Francis Alÿs and to the late Salvador Dali. Not all contributors are generally referred to as artists; physicist Vandana Shiva and former intellectuals like Thomas Mann and Cornelius Castoriadis also joined this year’s exhibition. Known programmer David Link contributed “Machine Heart”, a reconstruction of an early computer that contained software designed to generate love letters.
“What these participants do and what they exhibit at dOCUMENTA may or not be art…The boundary between what is art and what is not has become less important,” commented Carolyn Christov-Bakargi, dOCUMENTA’s Artist Director via The Vancouver Sun.
Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger writing a Qubit via The Vancouver Sun
Zeilinger lab scientists from the University of Vienna perform quantum physics experiments for the exhibit “Quanta Now” at the Fridericianum via The Daily Beast
Ceal Floyer performing her piece “Nailbiting” via The Daily Beast
Marble copy of a river stone titled “Essere fiume 6” (“To Be A River 6”) by Giuseppe Penone via The Daily Beast
Visitor watching a video work by Mexican artist Mario Garcia Torres via The Daily Beast
“The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures” installation by the French artist Kader Attia via The Daily Beast
“Momentary Monument IV” by Italian artist Lara Favaretto via The Daily Beast
French artist Pierre Huyghe‘s statue of a female nude with a beehive atop via The Daily Beast
Albanian artist Anri Sala‘s distorted clock via The Daily Beast
There is also a visible political tone to the dOCUMENTA fair that is often deliberated. Some artists featured who are known for their political subjects are Allora and Calzadilla, Jalal Toufic, and Emily Jacir. American artist Amy Balkin, who is lobbying UNESCO, has petition requests on display, while Vietnam’s Dinh Q. Lê exhibits private drawings by Vietcong war artists. Though dOCUMENTA possesses no one bridging concept or set theme, the motto holistically proclaims “collapse and recovery”. While such a phrase is open to interpretation, Miss Christov-Bakargi also asserts that “dOCUMENTA is dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment” (DW).
Pratchaya Phinthong’s “Sleeping Sickness”, a display of two dead tsetse flies, an aesthetic means of providing social commentary on the disease via Blouin Artinfo
In his time, German pastor Korbinian Aigner was simultaneously an activist against the Nazi regime, a garden worker, and an artist who drew hundreds of the apples he cultivated himself over the span of decades. dOCUMENTA features 372 postcard-sized pictures by him and also planted a tree in his honor. Image via DW.
Nalini Malani‘s “In Search of Vanished Blood” via WSJ
dOCUMENTA (13) debuted to the press and special guests Wednesday of last week, with gallery sites like the Fridericianum, Neue Galerie, Brother’s Grimm Museum, and the Orangerie opening their doors. The public exhibition commenced this past weekend on Saturday, June 9.
Ryan Gander’s “I need some meaning I can memorise (The Invisible Pull)”, an artificially produced breeze that blows throughout an otherwise empty area on the the Fridericianum’s ground floor via DW
Anna Boghiguian at Fridericianum via Blouin Artinfo
Geoffrey Farmer’s “Leaves of Grass”, a medley of Life magazine printings and American kitsch at Neue Galerie via Spiegel
dOCUMENTA (13) transcends exhibition site standards, showing artwork everywhere from old bank vaults to once Nazi owned factories. South African artist William Kentridge‘s series of video screens titled “The Refusal of Time” is set up at a former train station. Irish Gerard Byrne shows his short films at what used to be a hotel ballroom. The remnants of a bank that was bombed during WWII hosts “Fatiques” by Tacita Dean on its basement walls, a collection of blackboard drawings creating a geological storyboard of Afghanistan’s mountains.
Kassel’s Karlsaue Park is another exhibit hotspot, where large installations and live performances alike can be spotted, such as British artist Ryan Gander’s “Escape Hatch to Culturefield” and Pedro Reyes’ performance “SANATORIUM”. Cottage-like pavilions housing work are also scattered throughout the park.
Chinese conceptualist Song Dong’s “The Doing Nothing Garden”, an artistic heap of refuse via The Daily Beast
The variety of artists and collections are said to ‘overlap’ and blur the connections the audience makes about different conceptual pieces: “Far from being exhaustive of all the positions that a subject can take, they acquire their significance in their interrelation” (dOCUMENTA online).
The diverse artwork featured is not the only international aspect to dOCUMENTA; there are also accompanying events showing roughly a fifth of the fair’s works in Afghan capital Kabul, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, and Canada’s Banff National Park. The film work “A Brief History of Collapses” juxtaposes Kassel’s Fridericianum museum and Kabul’s Dar ul-Aman Palace.
“Of what is, that it is; of what is not, that is not 1, 2012” by Goshka Macuga. The work consists of two tapestries, one pictured here and exhibited in Kassel at Fridericianum and the other in Kabul at the Queens’ Palace. Image via The Vancouver Sun.
As of today, dOCUMENTA (13) has 97 remaining days of exhibition, showing through September 16.
dOCUMENTA (13) [Main Site]
Global art extravaganza opens Saturday in Germany [The Vancouver Sun]
A Party, Every Five Years, for 750,000 Guests [The Wall Street Journal]
dOCUMENTA art fair opens in Germany [Deutsche Welle]
DW tours dOCUMENTA (13) [Deutsche Welle]
Documenta reveals its secrets [AMA]
A Preview of the 13th Documenta Art Exhibition [Spiegal]
Documenta 13: Mysteries in the mountain of mud [The Guardian]
frieze on documenta [eBook]
A Symbol Is Born [NY Times]
Documenta 13 festival of art – in pictures [The Guardian]
Protest Pervades German Art Show Where Monsters Lurk [Bloomberg]
“Is There Art Here?” Documenta 13 Takes a Turn for the Better [Artinfo]
Over 150 artists from fifty-five countries gather for dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel [Artdaily]