Münster Reports High Visitor Rates; Documenta's Mini-Marathon; Dumas Takes Düsseldorf Prize; Roma Pavilion at Venice; World Records for Photo and Graffito


Last week, Documenta 12 announced high midpoint visitor numbers, but now it's Skulptur Projekte Münster's turn to celebrate. Halfway through the citywide exhibition, Münster has welcomed 350,000 visitors to see its thirty-four public artworks—20,000 more than Documenta 12 has attracted over the same period. As APA and DPA report, the event, which occurs every ten years, might well surpass its own record of 500,000 visitors, set during the last installment, in 1997. According to curator Brigitte Franzen, the success of this year's edition means that Skulptur Projekte 2017 is “almost sure” to take place. This year's edition ends September 30.


Last weekend in Kassel, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Rem Koolhaas held a six-hour “mini-marathon” of interviews for an afternoon at the Kulturbahnhof. A collaboration with Documenta 12 and the German architectural magazine Archplus, the event brought together a wide range of figures, including artists Sejla Kameric, Thomas Bayrle, Antje Majewski, Thomas Schütte, Harun Farocki, and Hito Steyerl.

The Frankfurter Rundschau's Arno Widmann was unimpressed with the “two uninterested talk-show hosts,” Obrist and Koolhaas, who got poor marks for lack of interaction with both the audience and the guests. “Koolhaas and Obrist read their questions from slips of paper,” writes Widmann. “And basically they did not listen when their guests spoke but instead flipped through the books written by them and noted down excitedly the next question on a slip of paper.”

Widmann offers Kameric as a case in point. Born in 1978 in Sarajevo, the artist spoke of her memories of the city's bombardment, but her story failed to garner any interest. “Her search for an identity beyond that of the reviled Bosnian girl was registered,” writes Widmann, “and then it merged into the interview marathon as a gruesome piece of reality, not to be taken seriously.”

Given such exchanges, Widmann can't figure out what drives Koolhaas and Obrist to undertake such marathons. (The installment in Kassel was the third of its kind.) “Koolhaas seems to be curious enough to meet all these people,” writes Widmann. “But when they are there, his entire ambition consists of getting through hour after hour with the help of a lot of coffee, tidbits, and mineral water. . . . It's only about sticking it out.”


Marlene Dumas has won Germany's prestigious Düsseldorf art prize, worth €55,000 ($74,875). As the APA and DPA report, the South African artist—who has lived in the Netherlands since 1976—was chosen to show in the Dutch pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1995. In addition to participating in Documenta in 1982 and in 1992, Dumas was honored with a retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2001. The Düsseldorf prize, which was awarded to Bruce Nauman last year, will be presented to Dumas in an official ceremony in the city this fall.


Citing the Hungarian newspaper Népszabadság, Eurotopics reports on an art milestone: the first Roma pavilion at the Venice Biennale. A stateless contribution aptly titled “Paradise Lost,” the pavilion shows works by Roma artists living across Europe. Népszabadság's Agnes Bihari spoke with the English artist Daniel Baker about his particular approach to identity. “I am a Roma,” Baker told the newspaper. “There's no doubt about that, but at the same time I'm an Englishman. But that's the way it is for everyone, isn't it? Our identity is composed of several elements, one of which pushes itself to the fore . . .”

Baker, who chooses to paint on mirrors instead of canvases, explains his method in relation to identity politics. “The mirrors point to an imaginary place which society has allocated to the Roma,” said the artist. “We're never seen for who we really are. We're perceived either as a social problem or as romantic, slightly mysterious figures holding violins or some other such prop.”


It's official: The Great Picture—a photograph measuring 31 feet 7 inches by 111 feet, and taken at a former Marine Corps base in California last year—has been officially recognized as the world's largest. As Der Standard and APA report, Guinness World Records certified both the photograph and the unique camera used to make the image of the El Toro base. Six photographers working for the nonprofit organization The Legacy Project effectively transformed one of the hangars at the base into a gigantic camera obscura. It took thirty-five minutes of exposure—and a 3,375-square-foot canvas substrate custom made in Germany—to create the final image. The Great Picture will be shown September 6–29, 2007, at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.


Photography is not the only art to celebrate a milestone. Der Standard reports with APA on yet another record: the world's longest graffito. Last week, in the central Serbian city Kragujevac, thirty young people—from Italy, Germany, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia—came together to create a two-thousand-foot-long graffito in a city park. The work—which took twenty-three hours and seven hundred cans of spray paint to produce—bears pleas for peace as well as antifascistic and antinationalistic slogans. The result will now be considered by Guinness World Records; currently, the record for longest graffito is held by a 1,663.4-foot-long work made last year in Turin.

Jennifer Allen