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talks with curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev about Documenta 13

A selection from Documenta 13’s 100 Notes—100 Thoughts publication series (Hatje Cantz, 2011–12). Photo: Dirk Schwarz.

ELIZABETH SCHAMBELAN: As artistic director of Documenta 13 this summer, you’ve chosen not to organize the exhibition around a single theme or concept. Instead, the materials circulated so far articulate a constellation of figures, ideas, and concerns, some of which are in tension with others: for example, secrets, riddles, and paradoxes on the one hand, hard science on the other. Yet interdisciplinarity emerges as one implicit animating principle—of course, contemporary art is inherently interdisciplinary, and curatorial practice reflects that, too, but in the case of Documenta 13 this tendency is pushed toward what seems to be almost an explosion of the category of art. You don’t list “artists” on the website—you list “participants,” and artist is just one type of participant among several dozen, from activist to zoologist. The publication series 100 Notes—100

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