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Adam Szymczyk, Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Documenta plans Athens art show

Interview: Maria Rigoutsou
July 22, 2015

As Greece and the EU negotiate a way out of debt crisis, Germany's largest exhibition of contemporary art is planning a show in Athens for 2017. Director Adam Szymczyk tells DW why Greece is a good choice for the event.


DW: Does the current debt crisis in Greece have an impact on Documenta?

Adam Szymczyk: I don’t know if the crisis affects Documenta directly, but it certainly creates a very strong political context for the project.

In 2013, I proposed to share Documenta 14 between Kassel and Athens. When I submitted my proposal, things in Greece had already taken their course and the developments that took place lately were not unexpected, although of course no one could predict the exact course of events. We knew that something was going to happen. And it's happening now. But, despite the chaotic and dramatic situation we are still in Athens and we intend to stay, learning from whatever comes.

What is your opinion about ties between Greece and Germany at the moment?

The relations are very tense, although in the future they might become less tense. I am not a professional politician, I am a curator and I am trying to think what we can do in the next two years.

We started today in Kassel with a performance with the Kurdish Iraqi artistHiwa K, who came to Europe via Turkey and Greece on foot in 1996, the flamenco singer Carmen Amor and myself as an alter ego of the artist.

We don’t want to illustrate the crisis. We believe that the real image of the crisis doesn’t exist and it perhaps should not be imposed. We just try to exist in this state of crisis, every single day - in Germany and in Greece.

What are your plans for Documenta?

We've established two offices, one in Kassel and one in Athens. We have a team of about 20 people, half of them working in Athens. The two teams communicate regarding the content and the basic lines of artistic research that we want to follow.

I believe that we will have a clear idea of the participating artists and other practitioners - thinkers, writers, musicians etc. - by the end of the year. This year we will proceed with the production, by commissioning new works and further developing ideas for the show in both locations, while already thinking about specific venues for the project in both cities.

We will also start publishing a magazine, which is the continuation of "South as a State of Mind," founded by Marina Fokidis, who is now a member of the Documenta team. The first issue might be out by the beginning of October and four issues are planned in total. The editorial and the curatorial team of Documenta will be in a constant dialogue, the development of ideas for the magazine and the curatorial definition of the show will mutually influence each other.

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