During a press conference held this week in Berlin at the Hebbel Theater / HAU 1, dOCUMENTA (13)
dOCUMENTA (13) is a series of artistic acts and gestures that are already taking place as well as an exhibition that will open on June 9, 2012, and that will run for 100 days. dOCUMENTA (13) does not follow a single, overall concept but engages in conducting, and choreographing manifold materials, methods, and knowledges.
What is dOCUMENTA (13) about?
Questions of personal and collective emancipation through art emerge in the process of making dOCUMENTA (13) by thinking through a number of composite ontologies that generate paradoxical conditions of contemporary life and artistic production. These include:
participation and withdrawal as simultaneous modes of existence today;
embodiment and disembodiment, and their mutual dependency;
rootedness and homelessness, as a dual condition of subjecthood;
proximity and distance, and their relativity;
collapse and recovery, occurring simultaneously as well as in succession;
the flood of uncontrolled information and the contemporaneous obsession with control and organization;
translation and untranslatability, and their negotiation;
inclusion and exclusion, and their connectedness;
access and inaccessibility, and their co-existence;
the obsolescence of a Eurocentric notion of art and the paradoxical emergence of practices related to that same notion in the world at large today;
human life and other forms of life facing multi-species entangled histories;
advanced science/technology and its alliance with ancient traditions;
tangible and intangible heritage and their interconnectedness with contemporary culture;
the specificity of being an artist and the non-specificity of artistic practice.
Exploring this set of composite ontologies and considerations, the exhibition will be held in various locations and places, and will include new works by more than 100 artists from around the world. In some cases, these will be presented as parts of projects with other artists, agents, or persons active in cultural fields including science and literature. Furthermore, a number of historical artworks will be exhibited in these interrelated ideas, conversations, and parallel stories. As a prelude to the exhibition, and as a part of dOCUMENTA (13), a number of public activities have already begun, such as such as a conference in Turin in September 2009; the AND AND AND projects, ongoing since June 2010; the installation of an artwork by Giuseppe Penone in June 2010 in the KarlsAue park; and the publication of an artists book by Guillermo Faivovich and Nicolás Goldberg, The Campo del Cielo Meteorites Vol. I: El Taco in September 2010.
Curatorial Team and Process
dOCUMENTA (13) is being planned by artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev with a number of agents, advisors, and artists. Throughout 2009 and 2010, Christov-Bakargiev traveled and lectured widely, building up a group of people with whom the process is shared. More than half of the participating artists have already been invited and are preparing projects for dOCUMENTA (13).
The dOCUMENTA (13) Agents contribute in various ways, and have different degrees of engagement. Some work more closely and consistently, others more loosely and occasionally, so as to create a generative process that is organic and affective, open to change. The Agents may increase during the upcoming years, and constitute an unstable curatorial entity. In small systems, states Christov-Bakargiev, an agent acts by proxy, and chooses among a number of alternatives, so that agency is delegated, thus implying an element of uncertainty through which the system works. An agent, in biology, precipitates a reaction, and in fiction, an agent suggests someone who is hidden or undercover, never fully revealing identity. Agere, in Latin, is to act. Currently, the Agents are Leeza Ahmady, Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Sunjung Kim, Koyo Kouoh, Joasia Krysa, Marta Kuzma, Raimundas Malaauskas, Chus Martínez, Lívia Páldi, Hetti Perkins, Eva Scharrer, Kitty Scott, and Andrea Viliani.
The dOCUMENTA (13) Honorary Advisory Committee brings together a number of intellectuals and practitioners from various fields, including art, anthropology, biology, quantum physics, philosophy, literature, and archeology. Their specific knowledge and points of view provide a wider context on culture in the world today and inform the processes of thinking and acting of dOCUMENTA (13), within which artistic practices and contemporary art, emerge. Currently, the Honorary Advisory Committee is made up of Mario Bellatin, Iwona Blazwick, Ali Brivanlou, Donna Haraway, Salah Hassan, Pierre Huyghe, Michael Petzet, Alexander Tarakhovsky, Michael Taussig, Jane Taylor and Anton Zeilinger.
Considerations on the background to dOCUMENTA (13)
In an art world dominated by the curatorial, says Christov-Bakargiev, to act without a pre-defined curatorial plan offers a possibility to both repeat the network of connectivity of the digital age, while also reflecting on its shortcomings and implications from a critical viewpoint. Furthermore, the history of Kassel, and the history of documenta which began in 1955, has provided an initial background for a reflection on where we were, where we are, and where we might be going. For those who are wired (or wireless, for that matter) going to an art exhibition might seem an obsolete experience of the 20th century. How can an exhibition platform in the heart of Europe, such as documenta, continue to be meaningful in a 21st century that is rewriting and redressing cultural histories from diverse and at times colliding perspectiveswhere nothing is a given, not even the definition of the field itself of contemporary art?
However, the embodied nature of any exhibition, where people gather to experience art while celebrating their physical coming together to share culture, both tangible and intangible, has become a performative ritual that resists the atomized, molecular organization of human transactions on the Internetto the degree that the exhibition as a format takes on a new life as it mutates into a situation of intense aggregation. Furthermore, the possibility of comparing different cultural trajectories in an exhibition, and the possibility of participating in the implementation of sustainable projects in places around the world, broadens this reflection while dOCUMENTA (13) re-performs itself, repositioning the imagination, intellectual adventure and agency at the heart of its activities.