Learning from Athens’ is the tagline given by artistic director Adam Szymczyk to documenta 14.
One of the world’s biggest international modern art exhibitions, it is taking place for the very first time in two cities: Kassel and Athens. It’s a controversial move.
Documenta, one of the world’s biggest international modern art exhibitions, has been held in the German city of Kassel since 1955. Its launch marked the dawning of a new era for the West German city, which had suffered severe damage in the Second World War. Now, curator Adam Szymczyk is making another damaged European country one of the settings for documenta 14. Athens is currently struggling with economic problems and is also on the frontline of the refugee crisis. The event kicks off in the Greek capital on April 8 and moves on to Kassel in June. The decision to have two locations has proved controversial. While curators and artists hope it will reinvigorate the Greek capital’s art scene, the plan’s detractors complain that it smacks of cultural imperialism. One of the critics, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, called it ‘a gimmick’ to exploit the tragedy in Greece. Will the troubled city end up little more than a striking backdrop for the international art élite? What can wealthy northern Europe really learn from a city that’s struggling to stay afloat? What happens when the event is over? And what purpose does art serve in times of crisis? A look behind the scenes of documenta 14.
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