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Date created
Sun, Jun 24, 2012
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Documenta 13, Kassel

Theaster Gates, 12 Ballads for the Huguenot House, 2012

Photo by Siebe Tettero

When Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (US, 1957) set out to curate Documenta 13 five years ago, she could not possibly have envisioned the massive cultural and economic shifts that have occurred over the last two years. It is even more impressive when you realize that if one fact characterizes our times, it is unpredictability; rapid social and economic shifts happening at multiple locations, simultaneously and at ever increasing speed. But, with a very strong sense of awareness and a selection of 200 well chosen artists, she has managed to sketch a Zeitgeist of immense accuracy and clarity.

Christov-Bakargiev has nailed the summer of 2012 right on the head, with all the weekly economic meltdowns—or at least their predictions—and the tumbling—or almost-tumbling—of old dictatorial regimes and democracies alike. Christov-Bakargiev happens to be very interested this turmoil, especially in what she calls the slippage of social structures. She is therein not so much curious for the new but is interested in this slippage itself, in what it offers artists and what artists do with the energy that becomes available when old systems break open. Additionally, het strength comes from a contemporary attitude towards life in general, fully recognizing artistic expression, sustainability and respect for all “animate and inanimate makers of the world, including humans”. This holistic approach has given Documenta 13 its artistic, creative, intelligent and human face. It is a Documenta about art and its contemporary expression and potential impact in our times.

The objection one can make, is that one cannot fail to notice the exclusion of the continent with the greatest structural slippage of today. China is, by any standard, severely underrepresented.

When at Documenta 13, go and see Tino Sehgal (GB, 1976), Wael Shawky (EG, 1971), Emily Carr (CA, 1871–1945), Goshka Macuga (PL, 1967), Ceal Floyer (PK, 1968), Francis Alÿs (BE, 1959), Walid Raad (LB, 1967), Lida Abdul (AF, 1973), Lida Abdul, Manon De Boer (NL, 1966), Rabih Mroué (ربيع مروة‎, LB, 1967).

Also, please take some time to listen to Susan Philipz (GB, 1965) at the end of the platform at he Haubtbahnhof. And then go see the roughly 180 other good artists.