Documenta14 : Small is beautiful

My last visit  in one of the small venue of Documenta14 in Kassel was a big surprise and I think one of the best. The top apartment of a building  right in the center of  Friedrichsplatz has been transformed as a venue for the single exhibition of a Greek artist Apostolos Georgiou (1952, Thessaloniki, Greece).  His artwork is very human centric and all of his paintings are untitled. He leaves the viewers to make their interpretations as it should be.IMG_8312

 

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*Apostolos Georgiou studied Architecture at Hoschshule fur Angewandte Kunst, Vienna and Art at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence.

 

 

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Documenta 14 : A glimpse of the programme and venues in Athens

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Pic : Screenshot http://www.documenta14. de/gr ,  2/04/2017

Documenta 14  in Athens is opening on the 8th April and still its PR department keeps its cards closed to its chest! In the previous week(24 March) documenta just announced the collaboration with the various institutions in Athens and gave a description of the events for each venue. I found all the information on  the website “Universes in Universe “(http://u-in-u.com/en/documenta/2017/documenta-14-athens/venues).  In an ideal world I would like to follow all the events but probably I have to follow Adam Szymczyk’s advice “the visitor needs to make a choice of what he wants to attend” and choose some of them:

  • Athens Conservatoire (Odeion Athinon):

In the documenta 14 exhibition at Odeion Athinon, the willfully mystic and modernist Greek composer Jani Christou plays a central role. Whereas his notion of the “continuum” provided an early experimental framework for working sessions between artists, curators, and the documenta 14 team, Christou’s idea that “music can be silent” and his methodology of “metapraxis” are relevant to a consideration of other composers like Pauline Oliveros, the Scratch Orchestra of Cornelius Cardew, and the new generation of artists presented at this venue.

  • Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA)—Pireos Street (“Nikos Kessanlis” Exhibition Venue)

Since the fall of 2016, Arnisa Zeqo of aneducation (the public education program of documenta 14) has led Elective Affinities, a seminar inviting students from various departments to engage with documenta 14 artists. The exhibition in the lofty galleries of the N. Kessanlis Exhibition Hall reaches beyond Athens, examining work from Ciudad Abierta, or “Open City,” founded outside Valparaiso in Chile, from Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan school in the Bengali countryside near Kolkata, and from Matanzas, the “Athens of Cuba”—to name just three key schools and sites of learning that documenta 14 examines.

  • Benaki Museum

documenta 14 enters into a dialogue with four of the museum’s branches: the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art; the Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery; the Mentis Center for the preservation of traditional textile techniques; and the Pireos Street 138 Annex, located in the once industrial Rouf area. With its inward-looking architecture and spacious inner courtyard, the 138 Pireos St. Annex offers an opportunity for investigating untold, unfinished, or otherwise overshadowed histories—and proposing novel museologies, instantiated by the newly commissioned and historical works included in this major portion of documenta 14 exhibition.

  • EMST, National Museum Of Contemporary Art

Documenta 14 asks what (kind of citizen) can this factory still produce? The figure of Diogenes—the Cynic, cosmopolitan, and self-proclaimed citizen of the world—serves as our guide, whom we encounter on the ground floor in the copper engraving of Nicholas Poussin’s painting Landscape with Diogenes. Known for his austerity, Diogenes dispenses even with his cup after observing a youth using his bare hands to drink water.

  • Greek Film Archive, “Tainiothiki”
  • Megaron, The Athens Concert Hall

The extensive music program presented by documenta 14 takes center stage at the Megaron concert hall complex. Major works such as Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) and Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated! are being performed along with pieces by singular contemporary composers such as Julius Eastman, Éliane Radigue, and Jakob Ullmann. Joaquín Orellana premieres his new work Sinfonía del Tercer Mundo (Symphony from the Third World), a culmination of years of experimentation with choirs and orchestras as well as his own invention, the “utilés sonoros” (sound utensils), which is on display at the Megaron at the time of his performance.

  • Amerikis Square, Stavropolou 15

Maria Eichhorn’s work at the site consists of converting the building into an unowned property, which is to remain unused and protected against gentrification, real-estate speculation, and acquisition for commercial purposes.

  • Ancient Agora of Athens, Odeon of Agrippa

The two artists of Prinz Gholam appropriate the ancient architecture of these sites o and write their history anew by orchestrating a movement score of correspondences between the statues and their own bodies.

  • Archaeological Museum of Piraeus

Presented at the museum is Collective Exhibition for a Single Body, a proposal formulated by documenta 14 curator Pierre Bal-Blanc in collaboration with Greek choreographer Kostas Tsioukas and dancers Myrto Kontoni and Anastasio Koukoutas. A body is dissected into distinct parts, as in an anatomical study. Each part, limb, muscle, or organ becomes the medium of an action overseen by the curator and the choreographer and created by selected artists participating in documenta 14. The proposed gestures are translated into scores and performed amidst museum visitors by three dancers in an aleatoric fashion, repeated continuously.

  • Archimedous 15

The industrial district of Moschato is characterized by workshops, tavernas, wholesale shops, and low-income housing blocks. It is also home to the Athens School of Fine Arts, Pireos Street campus. Not far from the school are two adjacent spaces sharing the same address. The first, a former print shop with high ceilings and concrete floors, houses Otobong Nkanga’s production of new soap recipes inspired by different regions of Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Europe. Next door, in a former taverna, Nikhil Chopra stages a three-day performance in which he makes a wall drawing of the open sea, before setting off for a road trip to Germany through Eastern Europe. The road trip is punctuated by performances with public drawings and collaborative events, with the cycle concluding upon his arrival in Kassel.

  • Parko Eleftherias, Athens Municipality Arts Center
    Museum of Anti-dictatorial and Democratic Resistance

For eight months, the building has been the site of the Parliament of Bodies, a space for public debate and collective performance, and it continues to have this function throughout the exhibition. In this context, we ask what does it mean to be public? Who can narrate history? Who is allowed to speak? Can the museum be used against its own colonial and patriarchal regimes of visibility? The Museum of Anti-Dictatorial and Democratic Resistance also serves as one of the sites of the exhibition by hosting a film by the Syrian collective Abounaddara.

  • Aristotle’s Lyceum

Between the Athens Conservatoire (Odeon Athinon) and the Sarogleio Building (Armed Forces Officers Club) lie the foundations of the ancient Lyceum of Aristotle, established by the philosopher in 335 BC with a focus on peripatetic learning. The ancient Greek word περιπατητικός (peripatêtikos), or “given to walking,” signals Aristotle’s key notion of learning as a movement of the body in tandem with the movement of the mind. In the installation by Postcommodity, movement takes the form of sound at the archaeological site. Transmitted through highly precise military-grade speakers, stories of forced displacement, imposed journeys, and transformation are broadcast—sometimes sung, sometimes spoken, and at times merely indicated by silence.

  • Attis

Founded in Delphi in 1985 by Theodoros Terzopoulos, the Attis Theatre is dedicated to performing works of ancient Greek tragedy. The theater collaborates with international festivals and theaters to bring attention to the tragic drama and revitalise the knowledge of its form. It was the wish of playwright Jannis Kontrafouris (1968-2007) that his Jocasta, completed shortly before the author’s death, would be directed and staged by Terzopoulos. A meditation on human suffering, the play explores the margins of speech and barest leftovers of meaning. The protagonist here is the language itself, as it carries the traces of the once glorious past into the world of contemporary atrocity.

  • Avdi Square

The former factory of the silk company, one of the oldest neoclassical buildings in the city and now the Municipal Gallery, once employed more women than men; the women were paid less than half the average male wage. In response to these and other not-so-distant histories of hard working conditions and inequality, Sanja Iveković reimagines Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Monument to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht as a public stage for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and class struggle.

  • Gennadius Library
  • Dionysiou Areopagitou

On April 9, horses and riders set out on The Athens–Kassel Ride: The Transit of Hermes, in a procession that begins at the midpoint along Dionysiou Areopagitou. The procession celebrates the horses and riders as they depart on a 1,850-mile journey on horseback to Kassel, taking place over approximately 100 days. Inspired by the Swiss-Argentine horseman Aimé Tschiffely’s trek from Buenos Aires to New York (1925–28) on two Argentine Criollo horses, The Athens-Kassel Ride is conceived by Ross Birrell and developed in collaboration with Peter van der Gugten, founder of the Annual Tschiffely Memorial Ride. The ride is being carried out by Tina Boche, Peter van der Gugten, Zsolt Szabo, and David Wewetzer in accordance with the Charter of Reken.

  • Isadora & Raymond Duncan Dance Research Center
  • National Archaeological Museum

Originally designed in 1866 to host finds from nineteenth century archeological excavations, the museum’s collections—the most extensive in Greece—date from the sixth millennium BC to late antiquity. The building’s neoclassical façade was designed by Ernst Ziller, an important architect of imperial buildings under King George I. In the 1940s, when Nazi troops invaded Athens, archaeologists in Greece (in a gesture similar to those of colleagues around the world) chose to protect ancient objects by reburying them. Daniel Knorr references this act in his (unrealized) proposal to bury the sculpture Boy with a Dog from the collection of the National Archeological Museum for the duration of the exhibition. His second proposal involves setting up a hydraulic press to print a book, in which each edition includes objects found on the streets of Athens pressed between the pages—an archeology of today, preserved for the future.

  • Polytechnion,” Athens School of Fine Arts (ASFA) and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA)—Patission Street Complex

A main work on view at the Polytechnic is a model proposed by artist Rainer Oldendorf, which is inspired by the Functional City exhibition mounted in Athens in 1933. The exhibition was the culmination of the fourth Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM 4) held on board a ship traveling from Marseilles to Athens

  • Syntagma Square

Ibrahim Mahama engages in an intervention on Syntagma Square that involves repurposed jute sacks, once used for transporting commodities, to reveal the layers of political action performed on this square over time.

*More venues and description of the events on the website of Universes in Universe.

From all the above probably I will be able to attend only a handful and again I feel that I am quite lucky!

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Documenta : a brief history

Documenta is the single most important event dedicated to the contemporary art exhibition in our recent times which takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. Documenta has a fascinated history judging by the reason that it was created in 1955 by Arnold Bode, an academic professor and painter, after a cultural urgency in the post war Germany to bring Germany back in dialogue with the rest of the world and to connect the international scene through a presentation of 20th century art.slide06

In 1955 Arnold Bode created the exhibition of contemporary art at the Museum of Fridericianum which was part of the flower show in Kassel. He carried on for some years curating the exhibition with a team of curators until 1968.

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In 1972 Documenta 5 was directed by Harald Szeeman, who introduced the theme exhibition because he wanted to put forward the perspective of time. Harald Szeeman established the concept of the single star curator.

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In 1997, Documenta 10 was led for the first time in the history by a woman, French art historian and curator, Catherine David. Her intellectual approach to the exhibition examined the political, social, economic and cultural issues of the contemporary globalized world.

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In 2012, the last Documenta 13 was curated by the second woman in Documenta’s history, Carolyn Christov Bakargiev presented two concurrent events outside the city of Kassel, Kabul and Cairo which were totally different exhibitions from that of Kassel.   This last exhibition was a blockbuster exhibition in terms of the number of visitors around 900,000 persons and an enormous amount of artwork.

This year 2017 Documenta 14 is taking place simultaneously in Athens and Kassel.

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The artistic Director of  Documenta 14 is Adam Szymczyck, Polish artistic director at Kunsthalle Basel and winner of the award for the curatorial achievement at the Menil Foundation in Houston.

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By choosing Athens as the parallel site of the exhibition Szymczyck argues that Documenta 14 has the same urgency to find out the scope which was created at first in Kassel. They want to show trust and solidarity to Greeks and create a bridge between these two countries by starting a conversation and ‘learning from Athens’, the latter is the working title of Documenta 14.

The preliminary events have already started in Athens at Parko Eleftherias and you can follow some events on line at Documenta14’s  website : http://www.documenta14.de/en/