Since its debut in 1955, the documenta has become one of the world’s most influential and internationally acclaimed exhibitions of contemporary art. Every five years, the exhibition presents a multitude of current international artworks for 100 days straight.
Artistic Director Adam Szymczyk proposed a twofold structure, reflected in the working title "Learning from Athens", as the guiding principle for documenta 14. In 2017, Kassel and the Greek capital will host the exhibition on an equal footing: Kassel relinquished its hitherto undisputed position as the central exhibition venue in favour of another role, namely that of a guest in Athens. As well as coming to bear on the actual process of creating an exhibition in two parts, the different locations and divergent historical, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds of Kassel and Athens inspired and influenced the individual works of art.Participating artists were invited to think and produce within the context of the emerging dynamic relationship between these two cities and to develop a work for each of the two locations. documenta 14 sought to encompass a multitude of voices in, between, and beyond the two cities in which it was situated, reaching outside the European context from the vantage point of the Mediterranean metropolis of Athens, where Africa, the Middle East, and Asia come face to face.
The curators did not choose Greece arbitrarily, but because it symbolises a rapidly changing global situation: “It embodies the economic, political, social and cultural dilemmas which Europe is being confronted with today – in the same way Kassel in 1955 represented the need to address the trauma of destruction which National Socialism brought to Germany, and likewise served as a strategically vital location at the onset of the Cold War. Athens exemplifies the current problems which go above and beyond the proverbial view of the ‘Greek crisis’ as these problems are just as European and global in scope as they are Greek, and are by no means resolved.”
On April 8, documenta 14 opened its exhibition in Athens. The exhibition in Kassel opened on 10 June. Thus, the two parts of documenta overlapped for one month.