Bourgeois. Celė XVIII (Portretas). 2000, plienas, audinys,
medis, stiklas, 208 x 122 x 129,5
Iseko Kingelezo architektūrinių utopijų projektai. 1994-2001
Wall. Nematomas žmogus. 1999-2001, fotografija
"Documenta 11" ekspozicijos fragmentas
Documenta 11 - the Artistic Tower of Babel
11" exhibition held in Kassel was the focus of the worlds
attention for one hundred days. The curator of the exhibition Nigerian
artist Okwui Enwezor, based in New York, heavily related his project
The exposition was located in the Kassel downtown and on the outskirts,
in several buildings of diverse destination. It started in the wing
of the railway station building or Kulturbahnhof, with its central
location being the Fredericanum building in the Friedrich square.
A special shuttle bus was supplied to take viewers to the former Bindingbrauerei,
which was for the first time utilized for exhibition purposes. No matter
how different, the spatial quality of these buildings was applied in
a similar manner to be dominated by white cells and labyrinth architecture.
Most of them were semi-shadowed to allow video project demonstration;
others were well-lit and contained photographs, drawings, architectural
models or installations. With the installation by Hanne Darboven being
the only dominant of the exposition, most artistic exhibits were presented
in the parallel manner to remind particles of a honeycomb. While no
dominant themes or groups of exhibits were possible to identify initially,
yet a deeper glimpse offered the realization that the exhibits exemplified
and extended the four political discussion platforms heavily focused
upon through this past year in several continents: in Vienna, New Delhi,
Berlin, Santa Lucia, in the Caribbean, and in the Nigerian town Lagos.
The following themes were analyzed: 1. "Democracy as an On-going
Process"; 2. Experimenting in Truth: Development of Legal Systems.
The Search for Truth and Reconciliation Processes"; 3. "Créolité
and Creolization" 4. "Under the Siege: Four Towns of Africa -
Freetown, Johannesburg, Lagos and Kinshasa". As the curator Okwui
Enwezor noted, "the Kassel exhibition should be taken as the fifth
political platform". The five platforms make up the amalgam, which
attempts at interpretation and actualization of historic processes and
radical changes, the space and time shifts, which identifies fields
of political involvement and channels of mental processes, thus giving
an extraordinary extension to the "Documenta 11" exhibition.
Global urbanization was one of the key themes, exemplified by abundant
projects of towns and parks offering radical, utopian or realistic reforms
or just imaginary visions. Within this group, the architectural utopia
projects by Constant and Bodys Isek Kingelez were extremely captivating.
In 1956-1974, Constant developed "The New Babylon", visionary
project of urban planning. Its retrospective, including various models,
drawings, graphics, collages and pictures was presented in "Documenta
11" as an innovative specimen of this field. Alongside, photographs
were displayed on diverse urban themes.
The platform "Under the Siege: Four Towns of Africa - Freetown,
Johannesburg, Lagos, Kinshasa" attempted at analyzing the political
and economic situation of the four African cities affected by a considerable
growth of population. The artists participating in "Documenta 11"
have prevalently witnessed their interest in political, social, and
ecological aspects of the megalopolis of the Third World.
The photographs produced by the Olumuyiva Olamide Osifuye became the
most impressive chronicle documenting the pulse of chaotic growth of
the cities - conglomerates.
The exhibition also featured the works of Louise Bourgeois, the most
famous female artist in the nowadays world, the pioneer of the feministic
art. Since 1985, utilizing sculptures and diverse found objects in her
cell - type portraits, she has been enacting her subjective reminiscences.
Her drawings became the extension of her artistic vision in "Documenta
The themes of totalitarian regimes, crime, racial, national and religious
hatred and its instigation were documented by the participants of the
exhibition as their painful personal experiences.
Collective memory and collective amnesia were the themes explored by
Torturing was the leitmotif of "The Torturing of Uruguay"
(1938-84), the series of the photographic engravings by Luis Camnitzer.
"Transaction", the project by the Lithuanian artists Nomeda
and Gediminas Urbonai, got successfully integrated into the political
and social framework of the "Documenta 11" intent on analyzing
democratic processes. By making use of film archives, discussions and
interviews, the Urbonai investigated the female image in Lithuanian
movies and other artistic media, as well as the impact this image had
upon the bearing of women in society. The faces of Lithuanian female
intellectuals and their attitudes stroke an unexpected and challenging
chord in the multitude of voices of "Documenta 11". It is
also of importance that this was the first appearance of Lithuania in
such influential international exhibition and, organically integrated,
it added to its total effect. The socially committed inter-disciplinary
project by the Urbonai contrasted by its character to the subjective
commentaries of the movie by Jonas Mekas titled "While moving along
I would occasionally catch instantaneous glimpses of beauty" (2002).
Classical fragments of conceptual art were mostly chosen to visually
express the theme of time. On Kawara, a New York based artist, demonstrated
his "Project of Million Years" started in 1970, to exemplify
the importance of dates in human history.
One of the main dominants of the exhibition was the retrospective of
the German artist Hanne Darboven comprised of her spatial installation,
her books, movies, and music. Since 1960 Darboven has been consistently
pursuing her "Schreibzeit" ("The Time of Writing")
Traditional art received only limited representation in "Documenta
11" mostly dominated by artistic documentation and social projects.
Out of one hundred artists participating, only four were painters with
their themes being mostly inspired by politics or the history of culture.
Thus the exhibition "Documenta 11" puts too heavy an emphasis
on the documentary aspect. Some investigations into the global status
presented through the works exhibited require additional commentaries.
Yet other issues call for no more than TV or newspaper coverage. Yet
alongside to expanding our knowledge and arousing our curiosity, a visit
to the "Documenta 11" forum also reinforces our vigilance.
This, generally speaking, means that the intent of the exhibition curator
Okwui Enwezor has worked out successfully.