the process is the artwork

dOCUMENTA (13), Part II – Mission impossible

The cheapest way to travel to the “art-Mecca” of Kassel’s dOCUMENTA (13) is by regional train, but expect at least four train changes, as well as noisy, curious children desperate for attention. Express trains are quicker, and four times more expensive.

Were you expecting to rush through the whole dOCUMENTA (13) in a couple of days? Then you’re in for a mission impossible: approximately 200 artists are exhibiting all over Kassel and the crowds are denser than in Disney World War II during spring break. We spent 5 days in Kassel but did not manage to see everything. The waiting line for “the brain” of the exhibition, where one could perhaps grasp the curatorial idea of dOCUMENTA (13), was approximately 4 hours, so we skipped that part. Each step towards the goal looked strangely coordinated as if people were connected to an invisible chain, slowly pulling towards the main venues. This is in fact the closest I’ve ever been to a concentration camp, except, of course, I’m here by own choice. When you do get inside, there is actually space to see the artworks, since only a handful are accepted inside the various installations simultaneously.

Hassan Khan’s film “Blind Ambition” (2012), “takes place over the span of a day in the streets in Cairo. It attempts to “crystallize” the emotional conditions seething under the surface of collective exsistence. Altough taking place in noisy public locations, the film is silent, except for the moments when the subjects (who are in fact actors) speak. But it is not the person we see on-screen who is speaking. The voice is dubbed (…) in perfect syncronisation”. NB! Suitable for children.

Good news is, people do care for art, and it only takes a small peregrination out of Norway to clear the misunderstanding!

Installation/montage in Kassel’s Karlsaue Park by Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake with the title: MON CHERI: A Self-Portrait as a Scrapped Shed (2012).

Shinro Ohtake’s creates assemblages addressing “the intense physical and temporal processes that affect how thongs are perceived, understood, and remembered”, responding to “mass-media imagery, underground music culture, and the urban environment. His diverse activities include writing, noise music, and several architectural projects (…) recycling everyday objects like neon signs, posters, photos and images from various publications”. Occasionally you can catch your own or someone else’s reflection in the textured mess.

If you are claustrophobic, then the stroll around the Karlsaue Park is recommended. Bring comfortable shoes, water, food, map & compass, funny travel companions, reading material, preferably the Guidebook to dOCUMENTA (13) (Although the book weighs at least a kilo, do carry it with you; either to learn about the artworks while queuing so you won’t have to think for yourself, or to make an informed decision to skip certain pieces, for instance the kitschy sound installations by Cardiff & Miller, which everyone else except us seems to enjoy). And check the weather forecast, especially if you are supposed to stay in bed because of, say, pneumonia.

People closing their eyes and feeling Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s surround-sound installation in a “discreet cathedral-like clearing in a forested area of the Karlsue Park”, carving out a “unique space between high art and those mechanisms of the spectale developed by most advanced sectors of the culture industry (…) “for a thousand years” is a time based aural experience. The audience is invited to sit in the forest as a complex audio composition unfolds,” moving the audience “from one scene to another as if in a dream,” feeling “the presence of the recorded people or machines as if actually witnessing these events.” NB! None of us actually liked this piece, but that doesn’t imply that you cannot.

Which ever way you decide to go about the art pilgrimage, the keyword is TIME. Most of the art is slowly digested, some times in a good way and other times in a not so good way. An open mind is a wise starting point. Oh yes; there is probably an intelligent way to minimalise the walking distance, but that requires planning ahead.

Furthest away from everything is a sculpture park by Canadian artist Brian Jungen, exclusively for dogs and dog-owners (one of my favorite art pieces at the dOCUMENTA(13)).

The freshest artwork at dOCUMENTA (13) has got to be this one: Brian Jungen’s Dog Run (2012).

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the dOCUMENTA (13) curator, writes in her purpose statement: “dOCUMENTA (13) is dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory. (…) dOCUMENTA (13) takes a spatial or, rather, “locational” turn, highlighting the significance of a physical place, but at the same time aiming for dislocation and for the creation of different and partial perspectives—an exploration of micro-histories on varying scales that link the local history and reality of a place with the world, and the worldly.”

As we stroll down the Karlsuhe park, we semi-accidentally run into the Marcos Luyten’s Hypnotic Show. The Hypnotic Show is exactly what the title suggests: it’s a hypnotic show. Access is allowed only by prior appointment. Since two of the “patients” don’t show up for their 3 o’ clock, we sign a liability-contract, and take their place in the 299th hypnosis session out of 300. 6 curious spectators head into the cabin, built to confuse/trigger the senses in a kind of mirror-reflection-space, “to activate the subconscious”, according to Lutyens. Here, it is “not the artist’s brain that serves as the site of creativity – it’s yours.”

Backdrop for The Hypnotic Show (2012) by Marcos Luytens.

I have to wrap this up quickly now: Art and biology. Art and physics. Art an archeology. Art and politics. Art and religion. Art and design. Art and music. Art and history. Art and psychology. Art +++ seems to be the documenta (13) theme this year. So…if against all odds, you cannot find anything interesting at dOCUMENTA (13), then you cannot be interested in much anyways, in which case, stay at home and watch the wall.

Next post will be more inspired & inspiring, I promise.

To be continued.



All qutotes from: Sauerländer, Katrin (ed). dOCUMENTA (13) The Catalog 3/3. 2012. Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz. 

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