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dOCUMENTA (13): An art exhibition in Kassel... and in Kabul
Bagh-e Babur, Kabul, Afghanistan. Images courtesy the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

KABUL.- documenta und Museum Fridericianum Veranstaltungs-GmbH and Goethe-Institut Afghanistan announce the opening event of the contemporary art exhibition dOCUMENTA (13) which will take place at the Queen’s Palace and Bagh-e Babur.

documenta is an art exhibition that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. It began in the mid-twentieth century after the trauma of World War II, to re-establish culture and the visual arts as a primary focus in society, and to reconnect Germany with the field of international art at that time during a process of postwar civil society building. While traditionally taking place only in Germany, this year’s edition also focuses on contemporary art and culture in Afghanistan, with works by Afghan artists exhibited in Kassel and an exhibition of both Afghan and international art held in Kabul.

Over 27 artists from thirteen countries — Afghanistan (13), Argentina (1), France (1), United Kingdom (1), Egypt (1), USA (3), Germany (3), Italy (2), Mexico (2), Belgium (1), Lebanon (1), Poland (1), South Africa (1), including a number of Afghan diaspora and counter diaspora artists – present their works which have been newly created over the course of a year during which a number of seminars and workshops were also held with Afghan art students, both in Kabul and Bamiyan.

Directed by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, this edition explores commitment and the spaces and places where collapse and recovery are articulated through intuition, research and materials. “War creates facts, but art, too, creates fact of a different order, and art has a major role to play in social processes of reconstruction through imagination. The first documenta opened in 1955 after a terrible period of dictatorship and conflict. Although different and dissimilar to what has happened in Afghanistan, experiences are shared in the moment of rethinking one’s society, at the juncture of where art is felt to be autonomous and an international common language of shared ideals and practices.” (C. Christov-Bakargiev).

dOCUMENTA (13) and the Goethe-Institut Afghanistan as co-organizer initiated a cycle of lectures and seminars in Kabul and Bamiyan, which are followed by this exhibition in Kabul which brings together the artworks of artists who have led seminars and workshops as well as works by students and young artists who attended. The seminars ranged in focus from art history and its rewriting to archival practices; from artistic research to art criticism and writing; from ceramics, painting and sculpture, to performance video and film-based art. These programs are intended to open channels of exchange and alliances, while testing the limits of isolation and encounter. An exhibition of artworks made during the seminar “seeing studies/translation as artistic practice”, organized by Natascha Sadr Haghighian and Ashkan Sepahvand (for the institute for incongruous translation), will be open to the public at the National Gallery of Kabul from June 22 to July 19, 2012.

Francis Alÿs premieres Reel-Unreel, a film and drawing installation which celebrates the lives of people in Kabul, explores children’s games in streets and counters the typical media representation of Afghanistan as a war-torn ‘state of exception’. William Kentridge presents his renowned Shadow Procession of the dispossessed in the Pavilion in the gardens. Giuseppe Penone creates a new marble sculpture to lean and support one of the trees in the garden (this new artwork was donated on the occasion of dOCUMENTA (13) to the City of Kabul and its Babur Gardens). Mariam Ghani presents a new double screen projection linking the destroyed Darul-Aman palace on the outskirts of Kabul with the historical destruction of the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel. Michael Rakowitz presents a book, carved in Europe with stone from Bamiyan, in the shape of a destroyed book found in Kassel, while also displaying the sculptures resulting from a workshop held with students in a cave in the Bamiyan valley in Spring 2012. Other exhibiting artists are: Lida Abdul, Barmak Akram, Khadim Ali, Jérôme Bel, Andrea Büttner, Tacita Dean, Lara Favaretto, Abul Qasem Foushanji, Mario Garcia Torres, Jeanno Gaussi, Zainab Haidary, Masood Kamandy, Goshka Macuga, Aman Mojadidi, Rahraw Omarzad, Walid Raad, Wael Shawky, Zolaykha Sherzad, Mohsen Taasha, Clemens von Wedemeyer, Adrián Villar Rojas, Zalmaï.

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