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PRINT September 1997

LITTLE D BIG X documenta X: THE ARTFORUM QUESTIONNAIRE

“What can be the meaning and purpose of documenta today, at the close of this century, when similar large-scale exhibitions have been called into question, and often for very good reasons?” Curator Catherine David asks this question in the short guide accompanying Documenta X, the current installment of the quintennial exhibition that opened in Kassel, Germany, on June 21. Her own answer can hardly be summed up in a couple of sentences; it must be extracted from the complex event she has staged. Radically transcending the confines of the traditional show, Documenta, ominously abbreviated as a lowercase “d” (with a orangish-red “X”) on posters all over Kassel, consists of three main parts: an art exhibition spread out in various venues; 100 days of lectures by a wide range of artists, writers, and philosophers; and finally, The Book—an 830-page Odyssey of theoretical essays, literary

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