Documenta takes place once every five years, usually in Kassel, a city in the centre of Germany that was destroyed during World War II. In 2017, on its fourteenth iteration, it’s taking place also in Athens, transplanting half of the quinquennial exhibition to the Greek capital. The larger spaces – the Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA), the Benaki Museum Pireos Street, the former Athens Conservatoire, and the EMST Contemporary Art Museum – are holding the presentation; and then, other forty-three satellite venues feature just one or two artists.
This fourteenth edition is dominated by performances, actions, and smaller interventions – rather than visual offerings – that engage the visitor with the fabric of the city. The program, under the artistic direction of Adam Szymczyk, also includes a radio station that broadcasts twenty-eight commissioned sound art pieces, art films screened on Greek television, and an educational program.
The Athens leg of documenta 14 is inspired by the socio-political themes that shape Europe today: political structures (many of which were born in Greece), libidinal economy, rethinking production, currencies, and population flows – immigration and displacement aka refugees crisis – as well as WWII and the Holocaust, historical backdrops that informed documenta’s creation in the first place.
Documenta 14 is an “apatride exhibition” — quoting the Spanish philosopher and curator, director of the Public Program, Paul B. Preciado —, by means of that the show does not have birth or death dates, or a country of origin included in the charming labels. There is also a lack of contextualizing information and wall texts; so the show will be experienced from a fresh point of view and perspective.
After this small intro, we embark upon the documenta 14’s massive tour through the main venues, some of the public spaces and some small ones we visited.