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View of Documenta 14. Photo: Heinz K. S.
View of Documenta 14. Photo: Heinz K. S.

Documenta 15 Faces Possible Postponement

Organizers are grappling with the realization that the fifteenth edition of Documenta, the internationally known contemporary art show held every five years in Kassel, may have to be pushed back at least to 2023 owing to the continuing Covid-19 crisis, the event’s general director, Sabine Schorrman, told The Art Newspaper. Slated to take place June 8–September 25, 2022, and curated by Indonesian art collective ruangrupa, Documenta 15 is likely to be postponed because of organizational issues caused by travel restrictions as planning enters the phase requiring artists to be present in the city for extended periods of time to work collectively on the exhibition.

Ruangrupa’s plans for the quinquennial center on local participation; the collective aims to collaborate with the community and with technologists and economists to address issues including alternative education and a regenerative economic model. Such efforts cannot be conducted only virtually or effectively presented in a “streamlined form that would not convey the spirit,” Schormann told radio station Deutschlandfunk Kultur in an interview.

“We are watching this continually and re-evaluating constantly,” said Schormann. “If things continue like this until the end of the year, as some are speculating, with absolutely no travel—meaning for example we can’t organize things or have people working on the site,” going ahead with the show as planned “won’t be possible.”

Documenta 14, held in 2017 in Athens and Kassel and curated by Adam Szymczyk, drew nearly 900,000 visitors to the German city, but lost organizers $6.4 million and led to the departure of CEO Annette Kulenkampff, whom Schormann succeeded. The appointment of ruangrupa was hailed owing to the group’s “ability to appeal to various communities, including groups that go beyond pure art audiences, and to promote local commitment and participation,” said search committee member Philippe Pirotte, director of the Städelschule and of Frankfurt’s Portikus, at the time.