PRINT September 2007

Tom Holert

VISITING THIS YEAR’S DOCUMENTA, three weeks after it opened, I was presented with the rather daunting challenge of trying to keep an open mind. Waves of negative opinion, sniping, and relentless gossip had all but hardwired themselves into my brain, and to set aside every enraged report and bitter lament of a colleague or friend who had already seen the show in Kassel required an enormous effort.

Under such circumstances, artistic director Roger M. Buergel’s ur-modernist wish for “the gift of an unpreconceived gaze” (as he himself put it in a 2005 essay reprinted in the first of three Documenta magazines) seems particularly hopeless. Worse, Buergel’s “gaze,” so reminiscent of Roger Fry’s “innocent eye,” promotes as its objective the retrograde notion of mystical union with the work of art wholly unconstrained by the need for any (oh, so limiting) knowledge and competence. Moreover (and this

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