if there’s nothing, suddenly something becomes everything
dOCUMENTA (13) is dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory. These are terrains where politics are inseparable from a sensual, energetic, and worldly alliance between current research in various scientific and artistic fields and other knowledges, both ancient and contemporary.
dOCUMENTA (13) is driven by a holistic and non-logocentric vision that is skeptical of the persisting belief in economic growth.
_Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director
After the unexpected disappointment on the excessive correctness of the pieces at dOCUMENTA (13), including the ones by my heroes Francis Alÿs and Roman Ondák, as well as urban Time-Bank systems from Berlin – not to talk about the over-engineered and completely out-of-place ‘sustainable-green-building-white-cubes’ spread all over Kassel and used as (mis)exhibiting pavilions, I will compile below a selection of my top immaterial moments and spatial ecstasies:
^, ^^ Airflow-velocity study for I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorise (The Invisible Pull), 2012. By Ryan Gander.
‘[…] A light breeze is blowing through the Fridericianum’s entire ground floor, whose rooms are left almost empty. […] It is not a strong wind, not immediately recognizable as artificial, but physical enough to create a moment of wonder in the viewer while standing in what is considered “the heart” of documenta. […]’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ In one of the main and larger exhibition rooms we can only find non-participant Kai Althoff’s non-piece: a letter to Artistic Director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, explaining his reasons to withdraw taking part in dOCUMENTA (13). Photo>deconcrete2012
^ Apples, 1912-1960s. By Korbinian Aigner. 372 drawings. Each ca. 10×15 cm. Photo>deconcrete2012
‘The fruit once known as KZ-3 and now renamed the Korbinian Apple was cultivated by Korbinian Aigner, the Apfelpfarrer – the “apple priest” – when he was an inmate in Dachau concentration camp. […] In this unlikeliest of places – the concentration camp – Aigner succeeded in creating new life in the form of four new strains of apples. Aigner developed a strain for every year of his internment, secretly naming the apple sorts KZ-1, KZ-2, KZ-3, and KZ-4 – “KZ” being the German abbreviation for “concentration camp”. […] Even if Aigner’s cultivation of new apple strains was a poetic act of resistance in the face of genocide, the names that he gave to them suggest that no manifestation of life could remain untouched by fascism’s abuse of enlightened thought. […]’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ Sleeping Sickness, 2012. By Pratchaya Phinthong. Fertile female and sterile consort. Each ca. 1 cm. Photo>deconcrete2012
‘[…] Africa’s epidemic disease, and how Europe and the rest of the world try to control the deadly tsetse fly in Africa. [Tsetse flies] yearly infect and kill thousands of people with sleeping sickness. Together with local people [Phintong] invests in simple, inexpensive traps with which tsetse populations can be monitored and effectively controlled – as a possible alternative to the method of sterilizing male flies by irradiation.’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ Picasso in Palestine, 2011. By Khaled Hourani. Installation view, International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP) in Ramallah.
‘[…] What would normally be a standard loan procedure between two institutions had to be rethought due to the exceptional nature of the Palestinian reality and protocols had to be adjusted and legal frameworks reset relating to insurance, transportation, and imports into the West Bank. On its journey, watched over by a delegation of museum experts from Eindhoven, the work passed Israeli military checkpoints, and during its exhibition, in a room custom-built to provide appropriate temperature and humidity levels, it was guarded by Palestinian soldiers. […]’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ Til I Get It Right, 2005. By Ceal Floyer. Audio installation. Photo>deconcrete2012
‘[…] A sound piece created from the refrain of the classic song of the same title by Tammy Wynette, also embraces notions of vulnerability and the potential of failure. Floyer digitally excised the words “falling in love” and looped the remaining “I’ll just keep on / ‘til I get it right” in eternal repetition. […]’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ Public Smog, 2004-ongoing. By Amy Balkin. Photo>deconcrete2012
‘[…] Balkin drafted a list stating all the criteria that identify the atmosphere as a unique property and therefore appropriate for consideration to be protected and preserved as a natural World Heritage Site. One of the project’s major challenges is that while the atmosphere is a borderless realm, only state parties can nominate sites within their own borders or offshore sites they claim politically or co-nominate. At the time of writing, dOCUMENTA (13) has sent support requests in six languages to 186 UNESCO countries, inviting them to act as leading state parties – individually or in a coalition committee – to facilitate an extraordinary procedure. The amount of paperwork gathered during this process reveals the gaps and obstacles of international law in the collaborative action against climate change.’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ The Worldly House, 2012. An Archive Inspired by Donna Haraway’s Writings on Multispecies Co-Evolution, Compiled and Presented by Tue Greenfort. Installation inside the former birdhouse of Kassel’s Karlsaue Park. Photo>deconcrete2012
^, ^^, ^^^ Untilled, 2012. By Pierre Huyghe. Installed at the composting area of Kassel’s Karlsaue Park. Photos>deconcrete2012
‘The place is enclosed. Elements and spaces from different times in history lie next to each other with no chronological order or sign of origin. What is present are either physical adaptations of fictional and factual documents or existing things. In the compost of the Karlsaue Park, artefacts, inanimate elements, and living organisms…plants, animals, humans, bacteria are left without culture. The set of operations that occurs between them has no script. There are antagonisms, associations, hospitality and hostility, corruption, separation and degeneration or collapse with no encounters. These are circumstances and deviations that allow the emergence of complexities. […]’ [Text> Pierre Huyghe]
This Variation, 2012. By Tino Sehgal.
Since pages 438 and 439 about this pieces are brilliantly missing from the dOCUMENTA guidebook, I will also simply recommend going, navigating, touching, breathing, smelling, seeing the space.
^, ^^ Raptor’s Rapture, 2012. By Allora & Calzadilla. Single-channel HD video projection, color, sound. Screened inside Kassel’s WWII bunker.
Flautist Bernadette Käfer, specialized in prehistoric instruments, was invited by A&C to play the oldest musical instrument ever found – a flute carved from the wing bone of a griffon vulture 35,000 years ago by Homo Sapiens – live in front of a live griffon.
^ Forest (For A Thousand Years), 2012. By Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Photo>deconcrete2012
Thirty speakers hidden in the forest move the audience.
J: You can hear the ocean today.
G: The tide must be coming in, or maybe it’s just the wind or the highway.
J: How long are we going to wait?
G: I don’t know.
J: Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a very normal woman in an apartment surrounded by many other apartments and no trees. One day she fell asleep and never woke up.
A: Maybe she slept for a thousand years and a prince came and found her and woke her up.
J: She just lay in bed. Nothing happened. She just slept and slept. That’s the end. […]’
^ 2012, By Aníbal López (A-1 53167).
‘[…] For dOCUMENTA (13), López has invited a Guatemalana sicario, a hired assassin, to come to Kassel to discuss and address the social and political circumstances in Central America and in armed conflicts everywhere. With his project, López aims to “penetrate the assassin’s mind” as a subversive strategy of “internalizing the reason and thinking behind the realities of people and ways of living. […]’ [Text> Eva Scharrer]
^ And finally, our Centre for Research Architecture roundtable discussion explored questions of political ecologies, conflict and human rights (31 July 2012). Curated and moderated by Chris Molinski within the programme of events organised by Critical Art Ensemble ‘Winning Hearts and Minds’ in their Free Speech Zone at Kassel’s Hauptbahnhof. Presentations included: Eva Dietrich, Irmelin Joelson, Steffen Krämer, Hannah Meszaros-Martin, Daniel Fernández Pascual (myself) and Corinne Quinn. On the image, my cooking performance Displaced Soils: A Geopolitical Gazpacho, introducing a series of contested places of real (e)state speculation and corruption in Spain through each ingredient of the Gazpacho, which had been carefully chosen and brought from the site; chopped in Kassel; and blended during the performance. After 20 min, the map of Spanish speculation was ready to be drunk.