Two Days of documenta

Might as well go to Kassel if the documenta is on. Here’s a few of my many impressions from this year’s mega-rave of the modern arts.

So, Kassel. It’s not that bad, it reminds me of Wuppertal, but with less steep mountains and more old money. But then maybe everything appears so cleaned up because it’s a documenta year. The exhibition goes on for 100 days, we have tickets for two of them and are deliberately throwing ourselves into the fray without much preparation.

At the Fridericianum, my first intention is to get a picture of Andreas Angelidaki’s tank made from camouflage-patterned seat elements. Soon afterwards, I discover one of the works that I like the most in this house: “Shelter” by Andreas Lolis shows various wood and styrofoam parts of a makeshift sleeping place – only upon a second glance it becomes clear that everything is made from marble.

I am also amazed by the detailed shots of a huge iron table by George Hadjimichalis which resemble impressions of earth taken by satellites, the exciting installation “Precarious Archive” by Stefanos Tsivopoulos and the ten-minute film “The Raft” by Bill Viola. Another strong film installation runs in the Orangerie: “Byzantion” was made by Romuald Karmakar especially for the documenta – including rich sound from Funktion One horns.

In the Neue Galerie I of course have to pull an Ai Wei Wei – aka my middle finger – in front of the Nazi portraits of Piotr Uklanski, provoking a murmur but no resentment from the present “Bildungsbürger”. The Neue Galerie is pretty cool anyhow, a museum with lots of space, light and interesting rooms – as well as shrinking heads of NSU terrorists at Sergio Zevallos’ “A War Machine”.

On the other hand, we experience the Neue Neue Galerie – actually the former Neue Hauptpost (I know, right ?!) – as gloomy and narrow and most of the exhibited works as rather dark, even though there are pictures of the GDR photographer Ulrich Wüst, a photographer I discovered in Berlin last year. The nearby Tofufabrik with a video about a cannibal is also rather bizarre.

Other than that, we pay a visit to some more of the altogether 35 exhibition sites and look at a lot of other works of art. To really see everything, you’d have to stay longer, but we’re good for now. And there is no 3-day ticket.