Performative, Spacial, Visual & Iconic

A Glimpse Inside The Exhibition Of documenta 14

Let’s focus on the 14th edition of documenta which is still on display in Kassel until September 2017.

The artwork «Ardoises magiques, Magie» by Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924 - 1976) shown at Neue Galerie

The artwork «Ardoises magiques, Magie» by Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924 – 1976) shown at Neue Galerie

This is the work «Ardoises magiques, Magie» by Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers (1924 – 1976) shown at Neue Galerie. It consists of a publication with the title «Magie» and an old fashioned magna doodle or etch-a-sketch as the title puts it already with his initials. ⠀
Sigmund Freud already described the second part in his essay about the «Wunderblock» (German for etch-a-sketch or magna doodle): With the «Wunderblock» a pen leaves traces which can be easily erased over and over by lifting the upper paper from the ground plate. Although the writings or drawings made on it are always erased on the surface trough the covering paper. Nevertheless on the main board small, almost invisible marks remain. These marks Freud was interested in when he compared this special device to a human mind which is confronted with a bunch of information which stays primarily unnoticed or unconscious, but are important for the subliminal in that what follows. ⠀
When Broodthears puts this tool next to a journal with the title «Magie» – notably in German – he may refer to this essay of Sigmund Freud, which reveals that there is not so much pure magic in our subconscious as we might think. ⠀
Or the other way round, connected to «Art et Politique» also mentioned on the journal: That magic is not only at work in art, but also in politics – even more if it is denied and presented as pure logic and a form of cybernetic systems theory. And that politics leave its marks for longer that we might think, even if it turned out wrong and got erased on the surface. •

A still of the six-channel video installation «Realism» from 2017 by Polish artist Artur Żmijewski (*1966) shown as part the 14th edition of documenta at Neue Neue Galerie (Neue Hauptpost) in Kassel

A still of the six-channel video installation «Realism» from 2017 by Polish artist Artur Żmijewski (*1966) shown as part the 14th edition of documenta at Neue Neue Galerie (Neue Hauptpost) in Kassel

Here we see a still of the six-channel video installation «Realism» from 2017 by Polish artist Artur Żmijewski (*1966) shown as part the 14th edition of documenta at Neue Neue Galerie (Neue Hauptpost) in Kassel. Each black-and-white loop is approx. 4 – 12 minutes each and without sound. ⠀
The question with which Żmijewski is dealing is about the place the art takes in our world, which are its goals and its impact on reality. He is all about confrontation and his artworks can be summed up with «social experiments» or «staged documentations». ⠀
In «Realism» men who are lower limb amputees perform their a choreography which lies somewhere between fitness exercises and minimal dance movements. It is not explained where these amputations come from, some say it might be from landmines, therefore these athletic types could be former soldiers. ⠀
In any case it is a strong statement for the will to survive and not giving up. Through its straightforwardness it captures the viewer and after the first irritating moments the poetic qualities of the artwork sets in. ⠀
It it also an example for the powerful principles of presentation and representation – or as Joseph Beuys has put it: «zeige deine Wunde» («show your wound») as one of his artworks from the 1970ies is called. Beuys, who was a jet-pilot in World War II, trusts in the act of showing not only physical wounds to heal the psychic traumata. ⠀
Showing and revealing wounds and traumata involves also the existence of the viewer who turns the subject into an object. That special process of objectification seems to be the key to freed from the weight of the past. •

The artwork «Scène à l’italienne (Proscenium) – Procedure of the New Principle of Research and Creation» of Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet from 2014 and is shown in the documenta Halle in Kassel at documenta 14

The artwork «Scène à l’italienne (Proscenium) – Procedure of the New Principle of Research and Creation» of Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet from 2014 and is shown in the documenta Halle in Kassel at documenta 14

This wooden stage and the stairs which are connected to it on one side are the artwork «Scène à l’italienne (Proscenium) – Procedure of the New Principle of Research and Creation» of Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet from 2014 and is shown in the documenta Halle in Kassel at documenta 14. ⠀
Both are choreographers and want to create a dialogue between contexts of performance, spaces, sculptures and live spectacles. ⠀
For the documenta Halle they produced a simple empty stage modelled after the one of the Opéra Garnier in Paris. It is inclined about 5% to the back end to present the actors standing in the back slightly higher and make them more visibile. Thus the prospect for the viewer is organised after the illusionistic principles of perspective. ⠀
The wood reflects the vibrations when you walk on it and without having a curtain or an auditorium it is clear that this is a stage. ⠀
A stage for each and every visitor. ⠀
A sacred place, a specific space, a platform and a podium which transformed itself through the time: In ancient Greece it was the round place in the amphitheatre; in the middle ages it turns into an hightened area on a public space and in the renaissance it turned into an inclined wooden construction which was errected in connection to a wall. This way of construction which is in use up until today devides a space into two opposing areas and is called «theatre à l’italienne» («theatre in italian style»). ⠀
Annie Vigier & Franck Apertet intend to put the exhibition as such on a stage and to create a possibility for fugitive and spontaneous occurences instead of presentations and performances. ⠀
I can confirm that it just works! •

One of the landmark artworks of the 14th edition of the documenta in Kassel: The «Parthenon of books» by Argentinian artist Marta Minujín (*1941)

One of the landmark artworks of the 14th edition of the documenta in Kassel: The «Parthenon of books» by Argentinian artist Marta Minujín (*1941)

Here we see one of the landmark artworks of the 14th edition of the documenta in Kassel: The «Parthenon of books» by Argentinian artist Marta Minujín (*1941). ⠀
The monolithic sculpture is modeled after the original Parthenon on the acropolis in Athens which was built between 447 and 438 B.C. The structure is approx. 65 meters long, 30 meters wide and 20 meters high and has therefore almost the original size of its original in Greece. ⠀
The ancient Parthenon was originally concieved as a temple for the statue of Athene and the city’s silver reserves where stored there. In the case of a Persian attack, the silver could be transformed into new coins, so that the government had fresh money to go into war. ⠀
Later on it the building was also used as a Christian church in the middle ages and after that also as a mosque. ⠀
Religion, aesthetics and politics intertwine here into a complex structure. ⠀
Marta Minujín conceived the first version of the «Parthenon of books» in 1983 in Buenos Aires, when the Argentinian military junta was collapsing. Back then she was presenting the 25.000 books which where forbidden during their domination. ⠀
For the 14th edition of documenta she made a public call that everybody could bring books which were or are still forbidden to cover the metal structure. The call is still ongoing, because the framework ist still not covered completely. That detail of incompleteness strengthens the artistic message even in that point that there will be forbidden books, opinions and messages also in the future. •

«Post No Art» from the mid-seventies by Christopher D’Arcangelo (1955 - 1979) shown at the 14th edition of documenta in the documenta hall in Kassel

«Post No Art» from the mid-seventies by Christopher D’Arcangelo (1955 – 1979) shown at the 14th edition of documenta in the documenta hall in Kassel

«Post No Art» is a work from the mid-seventies by Christopher D’Arcangelo (1955 – 1979) shown at the 14th edition of documenta in the documenta hall in Kassel. ⠀
In 1975 D’Arcangelo worked on a series of unauthorized interventions in New York’s big museums to initiate a dialogue and debate about the fastening process of the institutionalization of the art world. ⠀
On one hand D’Arcangelo himself hadn’t exhibited his works in public, but on the other hand he wasn’t also an outsider of the contemporary art world, because he was assistant of the artists Stephen Antonakos and Daniel Buren and worked for a gallery.⠀
In 1974 he had already begun with the production of a series of images where simple stencil typography is set on a monochrome background – a reference to a back then vanguard practice inspired by the linguistic turn. The stencil font has already been used by his father Allan D’Arcangelo who was an artist and printmaker, best known for his pop art paintings of highways and road signs. ⠀
In combination with the nihilist message of the pictured work of Christopher D’Arcangelo – which can almost be seen as prophetic for our times – another artwork of him seems interesting to me. It is a poster from 1974/1975 which spreads the following message: ⠀
«THE IDEA THAT TODAY THERE IS NO AESTHETIC MOVEMENT RULING THE VISUAL⠀
ARTS IS INCORRECT.⠀
CAPITALISM RULES.⠀
IS THIS NECESSARY?» ⠀
It has already proven wrong that a vanguard style, even if it wants to beat the system and to stay outside of the common commercial circles, can stay away from the cycle of appropriation, commodity fetishism and the sphere of trade. ⠀
Also the spreading of art – might it also be critical – via social networks has to face this dilemma. Should we even stand back from posting and perpetuating it? •

At documenta 14 the German artist Olaf Holzapfel (*1967) presents the work «Trassen» («Crossing») in Kassel's Karlsaue.

At documenta 14 the German artist Olaf Holzapfel (*1967) presents the work «Trassen» («Crossing») in Kassel’s Karlsaue.

At documenta 14 the German artist Olaf Holzapfel (*1967) presents among other artworks the work «Trassen» («Crossing») in Kassel’s Karlsaue. ⠀
The painted structure is made from wood and 8,50 m long, 4m wide × 5,50 m high. ⠀
This minimalistic sculpture refers to the traditional rural way of building architecture called «Fachwerk» or framework-construction. Its appearance depends directly on the size of the used trees and therefore on the space and the nature which surrounds it. Holzapfel already worked with these framework-constructions before and this series can be located between land-art, concept art and craft, but to distinct it from artisanal products he includes some «errors» into their symmetry. ⠀
Holzapfel sees this way of building as a way of creating space from mere lines and a possibility to draw into the space and to work with the tension between two dimensional images and three dimensional spaces. ⠀
These lines which are flexible and multifunctional reveal that framework-constructions are also the origin of a lot of modern ways of building, because rural methods like these are an ideal model for the transformation of material into technique in a way that you can still see how it is built. ⠀
Unfortunately nowadays only few people still have the knowledge how to build these constructions. ⠀
Holzapfel sees his frameworks as open and interactive constructions which offer an alternative to the «White Cube» of galleries and museums. «A framework can become so many different things: a house, a machine, a skeleton, or support structure…». ⠀
Indeed I was seeing children climb on them or others relaxing within them – and I guess the artist would approve. •⠀

Archavial documentary material which includes books about and by Anna “Asja” Lācis (1891 -1979) and this tissue by Berlin theatre Berliner Ensemble are shown in the Grimmwelt Museum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta.

Archavial documentary material which includes books about and by Anna “Asja” Lācis (1891 -1979) and this tissue by Berlin theatre Berliner Ensemble are shown in the Grimmwelt Museum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta.

This a piece of the archavial documentary material which includes books about and by Anna “Asja” Lācis (1891 -1979) shown in the Grimmwelt Museum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta. ⠀
Anna Lācis was born in Ķempji, Latvia in 1891. She established the Experimental Children’s Theatre workshop «Orel» and worked as actress also. ⠀
She is an important figure of the theatre scene not only because she visited Germany and met Fritz Lang, Erwin Piscator and her later husband the director Bernhard Reich, but also because of her writings and her establishment of the connection between Brecht and Walter Benjamin. ⠀
She’s the one Benjamin dedicated his book «Einbahnstrasse» to: «This street is named Asja Lācis Street, after her who as an engineer cut it through the author.» She inspired him to the «Program for a Proletarian Children’s Theater» which refers to her expirences in using the power of imagination of the childrens‘ phantasy. ⠀
In 1938 Lācis was sentenced to ten years forced labor in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, because she was falsly accused of being part of a fascist nationalist movement. But still Lācis managed to organizes inmates’ theater while imprisoned there. ⠀
Only after these ten years when returned to Latvia she got to know about the tragic death of Walter Benjamin on his escape from Nazi Germany near the border between France and Spain in 1940, because his letters to her were confiscated by the KGB. Lācis was officially rehabilitated in 1955. ⠀
She re-established her contact with Brecht and Piscator and officially joined the Communist Party in 1955. ⠀
Lācis’s work was rediscovered and her «Program» was published illegally in East Germany in 1968 where it became influental for the political theatre. ⠀
Pictured is a tissue by Berlin theatre Berliner Ensemble founded by Berthold Brecht which claims not less than «Peace for all nations.» •

Screenshot of Bill Viola's (*1951) video installation «The Raft» from the year 2004 shown at Fridericianum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta

Screenshot of Bill Viola’s (*1951) video installation «The Raft» from the year 2004 shown at Fridericianum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta

This is a screenshot of Bill Viola’s (*1951) video installation «The Raft» from the year 2004 shown at Fridericianum in Kassel as part of the 14th edition of documenta. ⠀
In the approx. 10 minutes long video, you see a group of people standing together like a tableau vivant and being blown away by a big splash of water. The whole scene is presented in slow motion. That’s it – as simple as catching. ⠀
The title of the artwork refers to the classic romantic painting «The Raft of the Medusa» by Théodore Géricault from 1818–1819 which is presented in the Louvre. ⠀
When Géricault handed the painting to the Paris salon to be exhibited, people knew immediately what should be presented despite of the classic title. To put it short it’s a story of post-colonialism and a sort of karmic revenge: A french captain of the marine wasn’t able to navigate the ship «Méduse» when heading to Senegal after England had handed over its colony to France. From the 400 passengers, some fled to boats and 147 were first rescued on a raft, of which only 15 survived through cannibalism. ⠀
So in this video we can see a different possible prequel to the painting: A group of everyday people standing together without contact to one another is just blown away by the powers of nature which is here the pressure of the water which is sqirting in.
For Bill Viola there’s obviously no need for a further story to give context or an explanating reason: Destruction and death can happen anytime – there’s no need for karma or other metaphysic things. •

The artist Lorenza Böttner (1959–1994) is presented with drawings, pastels, paintings, videos and other archival material at Neue Galerie as part of the 14th edition of documenta. ⠀

The artist Lorenza Böttner (1959–1994) is presented with drawings, pastels, paintings, videos and other archival material at Neue Galerie as part of the 14th edition of documenta. ⠀

The artist Lorenza Böttner (1959–1994) is presented with drawings, pastels, paintings, videos and other archival material at Neue Galerie as part of the 14th edition of documenta.
Lorenza’s touching biography is told by documenta as such: ⠀
«Lorenza, originally named Ernst Lorenz Böttner, was born into a family of German origin in Chile. At the age of eight, s/he received an electric shock after climbing a pylon, as a result of which both arms were amputated below the shoulder. S/he returned to Germany to have a series of plastic surgery operations and moved to Lichtenau, a city near Kassel, in 1973. ⠀
Böttner grew up being considered «disabled» and suffered interment, exclusion and rejection being considered a freak. S/he refused prosthetic arms and developed an acute interest for classical ballet, jazz, and tap dancing, and learned to paint with feet and mouth. S/he studied painting at the Kassel School of Art and questioned the category of disability. ⠀
At this point a double process of subjective and artistic self-construction began: Lorenz decided to use the name Lorenza, affirming an openly transgender feminine position. Lorenza’s dissident transgender body becomes a living political sculpture, a trans-armless sculptural manifesto. ⠀
Lorenza transformed the practice of painting into performance art, making the streets a stage for the politicization of bodily difference. Surpassing both the male narcissistic position of drip painting and the feminist tradition of public performance, Lorenza claimed the right to exist and create in a transgender armless body. Böttner travelled extensively doing hundreds of street performance paintings.» ⠀
(Sorry for just editing the catalogue’s text this time.) ⠀

With this more than powerful statement about art and an artist’s life I finish my selection from documenta 14. •

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