“How to Rectify All Mistakes at Once” Review of dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany, from June 9 to September 19, 2012.
Published in Studija 86, no. 6 (2012): 14 - 23.
How to Rectify All Mistakes at Once
This Documenta provides both idealistic and utopian as well as quite practical ideas for the transformation and improvement of the world. Participants think about and comment upon politics, science, history, ecology, and economics, about suffering and mistakes, and, inter alia, about art as well. The unifying motif is a surprising optimism and hopes for at least a theoretical opportunity to rectify all the mistakes of the past and live happily henceforth.
It has always been important for the Documenta project to maintain its legends and myths. To differ, at any cost, from the Venice Biennale and others whose actual or theoretical origins can be found in the nineteenth-century world expos and shows of the industrial achievements. In other words, to differ from the bourgeois, commercial, and colonial entertainment, in which everything is instantly transformed into a consumer commodity that serves capital. Here, at Documenta, the accepted claim is that art in a capitalist world does not, however, serve capital, and many are willingly trying to believe this. Curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev numerous times refers back to the first Documenta (1955), and in Kassel as such there is no escape from the omnipresent Documenta myth. A reminder of this is the photograph in which Christov-Bakargiev poses together with her mythical ancestors—previous artistic directors of Documenta. Such posing is one way of reminding us about the Documenta project’s messianic nature and the chosen-ness and importance of its artistic director. Among other things, the fact that there is only one other woman in this photograph, Catherine David, the curator of Documenta X (1997) may be of significance. It reminds us of the history of Documenta as a patriarchal structure, in which Christov-Bakargiev has attempted to introduce a number of radical changes.
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