the process is the artwork

dOCUMENTA (13), Part III – Synchronicity

“What is your favourite dOCUMENTA (13) artwork?” is the number one conversation-starter these days.

Last night, for instance, I met an artist who had already decided on his favorite piece, despite spending only one day in the Kassel art jungle. I asked how it is possible to decide without having seen everything, and he replied “To see everything is not so important as getting inspired.” Ok, point taken.

So let’s just agree to disagree: we don’t necessarily share the same taste. That is good – otherwise the whole art scene might start converging in the same direction. Why do we choose one piece of art over the other anyway? Do we search for art that confirms our beliefs or art that questions them?

The installation by Bulgarian Conceptual artist  Nedko Solakov is one of those artworks that I would have hated, had I not given it enough time. There is a lot of text to read, many videos, paintings, drawings, and photographs to watch; the aesthetics don’t speak to me on an “intuitive level”. But once I gave it a chance, it came across as a breath of funny air in the midst of the political art stuff. Solakov “develops his obsession with storytelling and the mechanisms of fairytales – and the potential of his own childhood/teenage/young artist/middle-age fantasies – in the multi-story work Knights (and other dreams) (2012-12) (…) around the myth and idea of knighthood as present in the collective memory, and its possible contemporary forms, from real to fictional to fake.”

Detail from Nedko Solakov’s installation Knights (and other dreams) (2010-12)

Screenshot from one of the videos in Nedko Solakov’s installation Knights (and other dreams) (2010-12), where Solakov plays the drums dressed in knight’s armour.

Detail from the installation by Nedko Solakov. PS. Sorry about the bad documentation photo, the light has burned out the painted self-portrait of Solakov in knight’s armour. But it’s the only one I have!

Careful with the seats! Detail of Solakov’s quirky humour.

The biggest disappointment for me was the William Kentridge-piece, which I won’t describe any further. I am usually fond of his work, but this one did not persuade me. Cameras were not allowed inside, so I don’t have any documentation of it. Outside the Kentridge screening-room, one could watch the kinetic installation by Haegue Yang instead. It was perhaps not so much the blinds moving in a synchronized dance that captured me, but the industrial surroundings and formal language, aka. Ellen Ringstad-strategy. I was in fact planning to use the same materials in the same type of setting myself, without the mechanics. Bummer.

Haegue Yang’s kinetic installation at the Hauptbahnhof in Kassel.

A project I enjoyed very much was an installation by Kader Attia, who uses an “allegorical minimalism to question the post-idealistic state of mind of the globalized world. Even if executed on a large scale, his installations, made from raw or found materials, often constitute an ephemeral, un-monumental experience in which emptiness is used as both a political and a poetic referent.”

The repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures (2012) was developed from Kader Attia’s ongoing concept of “cultural re-appropriation”.

Detail from Kader Attia’s installation The Repair from Occiidental to extra-Occidental Cultures (2012).

Another detail from Kader Attia’s installation The Repair from Occiidental to extra-Occidental Cultures (2012). (And -no- it’ not a crappy HDR-photograph, it’s a matter of well-planned lighting)

There are so many artists to see. Not only in dOCUMENTA (13), but in the whole world. Many use similar stragegies. Take, for instance, the video-installation in the Hauptbahnhof by Clemens von Wedemeyer, which felt exactly like a typical Omer Fast video-installation. I am still convinced that Wedemeyer must be Fast’s alter-ego. Speaking of…I found my alter-ego at the dOCUMENTA (13) and his name is Theaster Gates. If you’re interested in more of my work, check out

From Theaster Gate’s Huguenot-house in Kassel.

From Theaster Gate’s Huguenot House in Kassel

From Theaster Gate’s Huguenot House in Kassel

From Theaster Gate’s Huguenot House in Kassel

Gates investigates “various models of communal space from cultural to gastronomical to spiritual.” He has activated the Huguenot House in Kassel, resulting in a lived-in laboratory for objetcs, performances, talks, dinners, and installations (…) The aim is to push the boundaries of labor and productions to create space for others.”

Finally, the piece that captured me the most was not even an artwork, just a practical and sensual device to tone down the sunlight, providing a short breathing opportunity from the main dOCUMENTA (13) attractions:


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

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