Documenta XII

Every five years, since 1947, for one hundred days, the sleepy town of Kassel is overrun with art. The documenta takes over the town, inside and out. A poppy field blooms in a city square.

Snow trees are printed on walls, and three dimensional squiggles hover.

We all look up.

Giant white leaf sculptures weave through buildings, inside and out.

Australians even get a mention.

These watercolour manuscripts were some of my favourites – faded like desert sands, peopled by animals, broken-down cars, and death in a jar.

A dress made of light bulbs.

And people, thousands of them, exploring, wondering, taking photos.

Here I am getting in the spirit of things.

And the lovie and his mother are transfigured by light.


5 thoughts on “Documenta XII

  1. I just left a huge long commet here, but it seems to have disappeared somehow…

    I am so jealous, I would love to be at Documenta, I was going top ask if you were going!
    There seeems to be a sense that beauty has returned, that a beautiful object need not detract from an idea.

    (well, perhaps not Juan Davila, who is at least consistent in his unsightly doings…was there no other australian artist shown, ah lordy, the horror!

    So many International Contemporary Art Surveys seem to be alienating.
    All the pieces seem so alluring and engaging, transmitting a sense of delight and wonder.
    I love the leaf sculpture, and the installation of little images, the “manuscripts.”

    Do have a look at the post on “The Art Life”
    june 2007,
    “Well Fancy That: Macca v Macgregor Special”

    for a really hilarious double review of the show.

    Lucky ducky, you.
    And it looks like the climate is fair, judging by the attire.
    Have fun!!!

  2. I must try again, as my last comment on this post disappeared. So wonderful to get your take on the documenta, as the world of sophisticated art fairs seems so far removed from my small painting world.
    But you have given me a tantalisingly accessible glimpse at it in your beautiful photos.
    I was going to remark on exactly what fifi has already done: return of beauty, wonder, amazing leaf sculptures seen in all their immensity around your head!
    I would love to do a similar thing with big green leaves showing all their details – venation, shapes, colour nuances, transparency, opaqueness…but all over the world – a photosynthesis event..
    Thanks again for sharing…

  3. Hello! Came across your blog because the thought was in my head “the perfect boy is one who sheepishly brings you tea in a jam jar because all his cups need washing” and found your entry on the pear-picking job, which sounds wonderful.

    But I have a question: what is Australian Medievalism? Because european-australians weren’t here that long, and I wouldn’t have thought ‘medieval’ would have applied to indigenous australians. Is it referring to our fairly medieval treatment of refugees?

  4. Thanks for your comments, fifi and troppo, I thought you both might be interested in this one…

    Yes, it truly was beautiful, exciting, wonderful, engaging, like stepping into and exploring another world. It was such a delight to see ordinary germans who probably wouldn’t normally venture into contemporary art enjoying the exhibitions along with more obviously arty types. Definitely my favourite encounter with contemporary art so far. It was designed to be welcoming – even the guards were friendly and wore art smocks.

    Thanks for dropping by, mckinley. Australian medievalism just means any way the middle ages are invoked or portrayed in Australia. There are lots of ways – the gothic architecture of our cities and universities, movies, books, poems, the odd reference in newspapers and politics. These invocations reveal things not only about how Australians think about the middle ages, but how they think about themselves. Your comment about refugees is an interesting case in point – it uses an image of the Middle Ages as brutal and cruel to comment on contemporary Australian policies.

    Nothing wrong with tea in a jam jar!

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