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Documenta #14: a focus on militant activism

Contemporary Art | Five years after Documenta’s 13th edition Collapse and Recovery, which was directed by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev; Adam Szymczyk prolongs the former director’s vision while adding a militant orientation. Under his direction, Documenta 14 (2017) becomes a field of prospective reflections on education, our evolving society and the power of collective action.

Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Mapocho (2016), performance, Llolleo, Chili © Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña and England & Co. Gallery, London
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Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Mapocho (2016), performance, Llolleo, Chili
© Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña and England & Co. Gallery, London

Similar to the Venice Biennale’s exhibition conceived by Christine Macel Viva Arte Viva, Documenta 14 sees itself as an alternative to the global market’s influence on artistic creation. Through the works of 160 artists, distributed in 82 different locations, The South as a State of Mind draws a virtual path from south to north (Athens/Kassel) and explores the future’s fundamental issues : migration/remains (Ben RussellIbrahim MahamaGanesh Haloi…), collective experiences (Chilean Cecilia Vicuña, Nigerian Otobong Nkanga…), the redefinition of historical benchmarks (Sardinian Maria Laï, French surrealist Yves Laloy…) and geocultural peculiarities (Albanian Edi Hila, Iraqi Hiwa K, Canadian Beau Dick, Chilean Lorenza Bottner...). Documenta’s 2017 edition aims to identify the transformations, the deviations and the remnants that belong to our contemporary society. The curatorial program includes three pillars of equal importance. Firstly, its exhibitions, secondly its broadcasting with Every Time a Ear Di Soun, a radio program that shares sonic art pieces in which sounds take priority over visuals as an act of resistance (Cameroon, Greece, Colombia, Lebanon, Brazil, Indonesia, USA, Germany) ; finally, in a collaboration with greek magazine South as a State of Mind the program explores substantive matters : violence, ecology, silence/listening, displacement and possession/dispossession.
During the 163 days of Documenta 14, Adam Szymczyk documents the singularities and the dissonant or polymorphic practices that inspire new perceptions and constructions linked to globality. The edition’s configuration can be compared with Western militant movements that restore power to the individual through collective actions (such as Podemos) ; it can also be related to current collective practices produced in digital laboratories.

Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 26/09/2017
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Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Mapocho (2016), performance, Llolleo, Chili © Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña and England & Co. Gallery, London Ben Russell, Good Luck, 2017, Fridericianum, Kassel, documenta 14 © Photo: Mathias Völzke Ibrahim Mahama, Check Point Prosfygika. 1934–2034. 2016–2017, 2017, performance with charcoal sacks on Syntagma Square, Athens, documenta 14 © Photo: Mathias V­ölzke Ganesh Haloi, Untitled (2016) © Courtesy Ganesh Haloi & Akar Prakar, Kolkata Otobong Nkanga, Preliminary Recipe for a Support System (2016–17) © Courtesy de l’artiste Maria Lai, installation, EMST-National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Mathias Völzke Yves Laloy, Montez (uma), 1953, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017, photo: Mathias Völzke Edi Hila, Boulevard 1–6, 2015, Torwache, Kassel, documenta 14 © Photo: Michael Nast Hiwa K, This Lemon Tastes of Apple (2011), digital video, color, sound, 13:27 min. © Courtesy Hiwa K, KOW, Berlin and prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan/Lucca Beau Dick, Twenty-two masks from the series ”Atlakim”, 1990–2012 / installation, EMST-National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, documenta 14 © Photo: Mathias Völzke Lorenza Böttner, drawings, pastels, paintings, video, and archival materials, 1975–94, Private collection, installation, Neue Galerie, Kassel, documenta 14 © Photo: Mathias Völzke

Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu Mapocho (2016), performance, Llolleo, Chili
© Courtesy Cecilia Vicuña and England & Co. Gallery, London

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