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

Dear all,

I am not going to reiterate Christina words, which reflect my experience as well. Though I want to add an observation; I felt the show was patronizing, as if the curators where thinking for me as audience, and the audience at his event being broad, it seemed lots of perceptions where supposed to be met. The choices of work and the placing and the context of the work where thus that they played on the individual perceptions in the hope that each would be satisfied. For me a too individualistic experience, this exhibition, I missed a collective, a sense of community , with this projects/works that touched on a drive for change, and hope, or a curatorial premiss that allowed this to happen. An importance that made me care and not me confirmed in my won opinions and perceptions.

My highlight of the Documenta was the waterworks spectacle at the Schloss Wilhelmhoffe, to be precise on the Hercules where Allan Sekula's photographs are. For 200 years each sunday afternoon, the water collected in a basin in the Hercules in released, and travels, through a series of barok fountains, stairs, sculptures, waterfalls, an aqueduct, ending up as a fountain in the pond bellow; a two hour journey. A group of spectators follows the water, shouting screaming and getting wet. It's to bad that the Documenta has no mention of this spectacle. The top stairs are mentioned briefly in Allan Sekula's catalogue write up, but nowhere the use of this barok spectacle. and free!

And Eric, it's interesting you mention Frans Haks, Groningen is my home town, and I was going through art school, Minerva, while the new Groningen museum (Frans Haks initiated the new building for the museum, the architecture was very controversial) was build. I recall a lot heated discussions I had a feeling people cared! For -against, the controversy of his policies and the architecture of the building which reflected his policies was hot topic.
I was there the morning before I hopped on the train for Kassel and every time ( I hadn't been in Groningen for 4 years) I see it I doubt it, but what I like, it communicates. It's situated in a historical context that negates with knowing what it negates, and not for the sake of negating. It seems that the Documenta as an exhibition lost or forgot this historical context and is designed like , yes ,a shopping mall, fullfilling our perceptions , perceptions that are mapped out by a 'market research buro'.

Chaio, Jacky Sawatzky

On 25-Jul-07, at 3:56 AM, Eric Kluitenberg wrote:

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?

empyre forum

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