Re: [-empyre-] documenta: no identity at all!!

dear empyres!

-thanx christina for a succinct summary of the documenta-experience....

On Jul 25, 2007, at 10:35, christina mcphee wrote:
-empyre list members, your disappointment, even rage, over the lack of representation, reacts against a casual nonchalence which emanates from a curatorial/ organizational attitude, which is not directed against any one periphery, but really against all such, in the name of universality and migration of form.

How and why is the withholding of content, or dumbing down of the art experience, happening in this exhibition? It was
a very emotionally exhausting, depressing place to be. What is going on here? and why should anyone care?

I was a week before the pixel/paper events in Kassel, and just want to add a few brief personal feelings, even more than "observations" to what christina has written. I think christina is entirely right in pointing out that the issue of national representation is not the issue at all at this documenta. The point seems indeed to be "universality and migration of form" (without context). It does give you a strange feeling when walking around the exhibition after having put some effort into commenting on one (or some people even on more than one) of the supposed 'themes' of documenta - like the question "is modernity our antiquity?", when indeed in the exhibition it becomes devastatingly clear that all this has been reduced to pure formalism and decontextualised mash-up without purpose or orientation.

One might speculate on a kind of suggestion of an a-historical condition; post the the post-historical; maybe a revival of universalist valuelessness, or many other titillating ideas. But after two days of seeing room after room filled with sometimes great, sometimes boring, sometimes revolting work, it was clear that there simply is no concept at all, not even an anti-concept, just pure arbitrariness, reflecting only a complete conceptual laziness on the part of the curators.

Frans Haks, the always provocative director of the Groningen Museum in The Netherlands, used to say about his shows that he thought (fondly) of the average visitor as going through his exhibitions as they would go through the supermarket for daily grocery shopping. The work displayed should reveal itself to the casual flaneur in a moment's notice. Haks deliberately sought the boundaries of art and design, especially interior design, and introduced a.o. the Alessi design products to the Dutch haute-bourgeois consumers. In this feat he realised his highest aim, to dissolve the difference between the museum and the shopping mall (needless to say the museum shop sells a complete line of Alessi products still today...).

It seems that the casual flaneur of Haks' museum (at the time a highly productive provocation), has been transported now to the documenta, which in the process seems to have been transformed into a completely decontextualised and a-historical shopping mall of contemporary art - just that this time there is no provocation or scandal, it is simply matter-of-fact.

oh well, better luck next time...


p.s. - maybe the right question to ask is what still distincts documenta from the art fairs of Cologne and Basel, except that you can't buy the documenta works on the spot?

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