[-empyre-] existential moments, following Jenny

dear Jenny et al

There are many subtle, incredible individual gestures from the artists in the jumbled precincts of Documenta 12. I wonder if it's really not about "Documenta 12" as a platform at all. Rather an open work itself in the sense of Umberto Eco. A dispersion, a playground?

This singularity, (an apparently open, either totally or not-at-all curated) condition, screws around with your head=== it's so different from the missionary-esque dcoumenta 11 ( or as Enwezor, crudely put, might have been involved in bringing the 'edges' into the 'center' ) . Now here, there is no center---

Light is bad in the Aue, the place feels like a basement at Costco (a huge discount shopping warehouse). TH walls are orange or Goth in the Neue, you tromp around for hours in the rain... and yet, and yet----

The exhibition itself is kind of quietly pulsing, waiting in the shadows like a fish on the side of the stream-- that old fish, he's a wiley smart guy-- he's pulled out of the torrent and he's hanging around: you don't know if he sees you or not, or if you 'see him'.

It's like the Lacanian image of the sardine can in the water, 'looking back' at you.

I am very much looking forward to an immersive second chance at the Documenta.

An example of work I was completely blown away by: the drawings of Nasreen Mohamedi. http://www.iniva.org/archive/person/189

And the direct, apparently artiless style of the catalog entry about her work speaks to this kind of open attittude prevalent in the space of Documenta -- the works speak, perhaps even almost inaudibly, for themselves; there is no blatant 'criticality' on the part of the curators.

"The diaries of Nasreen Mohamedi, found in her apartment after her death, were not used in the conventional manner to make and keep appointments. Instead, in the space allocated for the days of the week, she produced jottings and graphic interventions that attest to the close links between her inner life and her practice as an artist over a period of almost thirty years. The diaries record her emotional instability --- 'i feel madness within me. To know that there is no help from without -- none whatsoever-- is despair (1965) and a record of how this is focused--- 'out of these concentrated frustration and despair, one arrives at something very simple.' (1967)...Then there is the breakthrough into abstraction that occurs in the early 1970s, when she began to fill page after page with graded bands of coloured lines and geometric shapes that make each spread into a perfectly formed miniature painting. It is here in these diaries that Mohamedi's intense and complex personality comes through most directly, and we experience in her own words the ideas and emotions that are elsewhere distilled
in her monochrome drawings." (quote from Grant Wilson, contributing writer, in the Documenta 12 Catalog, 2007).


On Jul 11, 2007, at 5:30 PM, Jenny Marketou wrote:

Hi Everyone,
A big thanks to Christina fro bringing up the
Documenta discussion. A big thanks to Christiane for
entering the conversation and bringing our attention
away form the obvious about the "chairs" and the
"Chinese" people. I  was in Kassel before and after
the opening of Documenta 12 and I spent several hours
going through the exhibitions. I found the  approach
of the curatorial team and their meticulous attention
to detail at times esoteric but very strong and I kind
of like it very much ! As Christiane points out it
raised effectively a lot of  questions about  the
boundaries between exhibition space and the work of
art  as well about the fluidity of boundaries in
general. Also,I liked the subtle political climate and
the lush visuality  in Neue Gallery where it
challenged our norms excpetions  of the "white cube".

I am also surprised why we are preoccupied with the
the "chairs" and the "Chinese guests" instead of
discussing  extremely effective works of art  such as
the video installation " Lovely Andrea " of Hito
Steyerl at Fridericianum where actually the audience
could sit on the "Chinese" chairs to view the video or
the stunning installation "Phantom Truck " and  "The
Radio " of Inigo Manglano-Ovalle at Documenta Halle
only a few among many other brilliant works the
majority of which have no connection with art market.

--- Christina McPhee <christina112@earthlink.net>

[this post was received in rich text format, so here
is forwarded in
plain text... -cm]

From: christiane_paul@whitney.org July 11, 2007 1:44:38 AM BDT

List: empyre@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au From: christiane_paul@whitney.org

As far as I understand, the Chinese people also were the 'couriers' who brought in the chairs from China. The confusion about permission to sit on them was created intentionally. The white lines of tape on the floor that 'fenced in' groups of chairs and some of the artworks, actually were a separate artwork that (quite effectively) raised questions about boundaries in the exhibition space. Christiane

-----Original Message----- From: empyre-bounces@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au on behalf of Brian Holmes Sent: Tue 7/10/2007 6:08 PM To: soft_skinned_space Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Documenta reviews

I saw groups of Chinese everywhere, and on my last
day, met the Chinese
interpreter with whom I had the pleasure of
conversation in the only
language we shared, German. We puzzled over why it
was such a poor

I sat in the chairs throughout the exhibition, along
with all the other
weary ones.

Christina McPhee wrote:

To be frank I didn't notice groups of Chinese
people.  I was there
the several preview days and left on the
afternoon of opening day.
I wll
be going back next week for the magazine

What was strange though were Wei Wei's
conglomerations of antique
Chinese chairs. Grouped elegantly and
anonymously in the midst of
what sort of seemed like installations of other
art. Boundaries
completely fluid, differentiation between
different 'works' seemingly
treated as unimportant.

Unfortunately throughout the Aue Pavilion and the
Neue Gallerie,
seemed to be no places to actually sit when
exhausted, to wait for
someone, etc.

THe Chinese chairs intensified an atmosphere of
uncanny oppression
-- so
few human-scaled accomodations (architecturally)
to the needs of
visitiors, so many strange gestures.

Could you sit on the chairs ? or not? no one


On Jul 10, 2007, at 9:45 AM, Patrick W. Deegan

for anyone else there witnessing D12, i would be
interested in
firsthand reactions, assessments, news, or lack
of any of these
regarding Ai Weiwei's "importation" of 1001
Chinese to Germany
for one
part of his ouevre there.
empyre forum

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