Following the opening of the fourteenth edition of Documenta in Athens in April, the second half of the exhibition, taking place in Kassel, will kick off on Saturday, June 10. The opening coincides with the beginning of the Skulptur Projekte Münster’s fifth iteration, which will take place throughout the German town of Münster, the cultural center of Germany’s Westphalia region. Preview days for the exhibitions will begin June 7 and June 9, respectively.
Founded by Arnold Bode, Documenta has taken place every five years in Kassel since 1955. It began as an exhibition of contemporary and modern art that showcased works labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis during World War II. Dubbed a “museum of one hundred days,” Documenta attracted 130,000 visitors for its inaugural show.
This year marks the first time the exhibition is being hosted by two cities. Artistic director Adam Szymczyk told Michelle Kuo, editor in chief of Artforum, that he first proposed holding part of the exhibition in Athens in 2013, at the height of Greece’s economic crisis. He said, “one of the reasons to work in Athens in parallel to Kassel is precisely to make the exhibition in a place where you can see how problematic things are at the moment, and how much worse they may soon become—though not, naturally, to simply induce passive spectatorship.” Szymczyk added that he wanted to focus on the act of exchange between the two countries.
However, shortly after the exhibition opened in Athens on April 8, artists and activists penned a letter criticizing the exhibition, titled “Learning from Athens,” due to the organizers’ “silence” following a series of evictions of artists and raids of refugee shelters throughout the city. In May, a LGBTQI and refugee advocacy group based in Greece stole an artwork from the exhibition during an event at the Polytechnic University in Athens to protest the arts festival’s perceived exploitation of refugees.
During the exhibition’s first weekend in Kassel, visitors will be able to view performances by Georgia Sagri, Rasheed Araeen, Negros Tou Moria, Pope.L, Prinz Gholam, Yael Davids, Narimane Mari, Nikhil Chopra, and Irena Haiduk as well as projects and artworks at more than forty venues throughout the city, including the Fridericianum, Gottschalkhalle, Neue Galerie, and the Stadtmuseum.
To make viewing the works by the 160 participating artists easier, Documenta 14 partnered with Aegean Airlines to create a new direct flight between the two cities, which are more than 1,500 miles apart. Documenta’s Kassel exhibition will run through September 17.
Meanwhile in Münster, the Skulptur Projekte opens at the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur at 5 PM on Saturday and a party celebrating the event, hosted by Kulturgelände Hawerkamp, will follow. Shuttle buses will be available to transfer visitors between the two venues.
From June 10 to October 1, around thirty new artistic productions will be on display throughout the city. Admission to the exhibition, which only occurs every ten years, is free. Established in 1977, the Skulptur Projekte Münster invites artists from across the globe to explore the relationship between art, the public space, and the urban environment, and develop new, site-specific works. This year Kasper König, who has worked on every edition of the Skulptur Projekte since its founding, will serve as artistic director, in collaboration with Britta Peters and Marianne Wagner as cocurators.
While the organizers have remained tight-lipped about the projects and artworks that will be featured in the exhibition, Peters told Artnews in an interview that “the exhibition itself grows with the proposals of the artists” and does not adhere to any theme or format.
For the first time, the exhibition will extend its geographical boundary and collaborate with the neighboring city of Marl to present works. Guided tours will be available in several languages, including German, English, French, Dutch, Arabic, Dari/Farsi, Kurdish, and Russian. In addition, a magazine series titled Out will accompany the exhibition with each issue focusing on a concept fundamentally linked to the artists’ projects on view, such as body, time, and place. The series will be edited by John Beeson, Britta Peters, and Luise Pilz and will be distributed as a supplement to the magazine frieze d/e. Münster is preparing to welcome more than 600,000 visitors for the event.