Antonio Vega Macotela’s The Mill of Blood, 2017, installed in the Orangerie for this year’s Documenta exhibition.

Documenta Loses Money, Asks Local Government for Help

Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper writes that the organization that runs the massive German quinquennial Documenta is reportedly facing a deficit of about $8.3 million. Its managers are seeking financial assistance from the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse. This year, two cities played host to Documenta: Kassel, which has been presenting the exhibition since its inception in 1955, and Athens, Greece, a new site.

A local newspaper said that Kassel and Hesse have agreed to take on loan guarantees of around $4.2 million. A spokesperson for Kassel announced that Documenta’s books would need to undergo a thorough review before any further details are made public, and that exact figures could not be revealed. Kassel’s mayor, Christian Geselle, was informed of the exhibition’s financial issues on August 28, and quickly called together a meeting with its supervisory board to discuss the problems only two days later. “Documenta is inextricably linked with Kassel. We want Documenta to continue in Kassel as a world-ranking exhibition of contemporary art,” said Geselle.

The local paper wrote that part of Documenta’s financial problems stemmed from miscalculations by the exhibition’s management team, including the high costs of transporting art between Athens and Kassel, and the amount of electricity used for air-conditioning the show in Athens, as the temperatures in the Greek capital were extremely high. But the exhibition has enough funding to keep going until it closes on Sunday, September 17. “As shareholders,” Geselle said, “the city of Kassel and the State of Hesse have agreed that the company’s liquidity must be secured beyond that.”

For more on this year’s edition of Documenta, as well as Skulptur Projekte Münster and the Venice Biennale, see the September issue of Artforum.