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Documenta Closes After Record Run

Kassel’s five yearly international arts festival closed on Sunday as the city's most successful ever, breaking all records with more than 635,000 visitors.


International arts festival Documenta 11 closes this Sunday after 100 days

Documenta, held every five years in Kassel in the German state of Hessen, closes its 100-days-straight run on Sunday. The 11th Documenta covered virtually every artistic base --ranging from film, installation art, poetry, photography, theatre to puppetry, to name but a few.

The self-imposed brief of Documenta's Nigerian-born artistic director, Okwuni Enwezor, was to make the festival truly international. The 38-year-old writer, curator and cultural critic oversaw the creation of several separately themed arts platforms in the run up to the final festival programme in Kassel. Enwezor staged the platforms around the world, with events in Vienna, Berlin, New Dehli, Johannesburg and the Caribbean.

Documenta 11, the final platform, displayed various art forms by over 118 international artists across five city venues, which covered a whopping space of 13,000 square metres (139,990 square feet).

Highlights at the festival included Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, whose work deals with tensions on the US/Mexican border, and Belgium artist Luc Tuymans, whose work is heavily influenced by political sensitivities surrounding the colonial period in Congo. Regaining international contacts

The Documenta festival itself began in 1955, created by Kassel painter and academy professor Arnold Bode, and the inaugural show was an unexpected world success.

It was intended as a "a broad, if initial attempt, to regain international contacts across the board and thus at home re-engage in a conversation that has been interrupted for so long, as it were," Werner Haftmann, art historian and the conceptual brain behind documenta 1-3, said at the time.

Taking both a historical and reconstructive approach, 1955's Documenta 1 followed the development of the major artistic groups since the beginning of the century and pre-war modernism was deliberately displayed with all its European ramifications. Mayor proud of Kassel hospitality

Kassel’s mayor was more than pleased with this year's proceedings.

June saw the festival almost overrun by more than 42,000 visitors. "Something that Kassel has never seen before," the town’s mayor, Georg Lewandowski, declared.

And as the artists begin to pack up their tools, Kassel’s mayor thanked his townspeople for their unstinting hospiltality during the festival’s run. "We’ve come a good way towards our goal of becoming Germany’s most hospitable town", Lewandowski beamed.

Arts critics, meanwhile, were hoping simply that the festival would stimulate new impulses in the established arts scene in Germany.

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