Adam Szymczyk. Photo: Nils Klinger.

Artistic Director of Documenta 14 Criticizes Handling of Exhibition’s Audit Report

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC—the professional services firm hired to complete an independent audit of Documenta 14 over its deficit of $8.3 million—the beleaguered quinquennial exhibition went over budget largely because of its additional site this year in Athens, writes Hili Perlson of Artnet. PwC reviewed the full report at a board meeting for the exhibition’s shareholders and parent company on November 15. It states that the show would have made a profit had Athens not been a part of the equation. Adam Szymczyk, the artistic director of Documenta 14, claims that PwC’s findings were not shared with him or Annette Kulenkampff, the CEO of documenta GmbH, and that he had to learn about the report through the media.

Szymczyk is upset over the way the meeting was orchestrated: “You can’t study and analyze a complex multipage document with financial details during the same meeting, you should debate it,” he wrote in an e-mail to Artnet. He also alleged that the board made up the controversy surrounding the exhibition, calling it a “controlled scandal” because Bertram Hilgen, the former mayor of Kassel (the city where the exhibition is held) and Documenta’s board chair, has been “constantly publicly attacked and defamed . . . without a clear and solid reason.”

Szymczyk also feels faulting Athens for the show’s problems is a matter of convenient scapegoating: “I think blaming ‘Athens’ for the trouble is an easy political excuse, opening the way to limiting the autonomy of any future documenta [exhibitions] through managerial ‘adjustments,’ thus undermining the fundamental premise of the project—its autonomy.”