Last month we hit the Black Forest, Germany for the dOCUMENTA(13) press week – major contemporary art fair that only happens every five years - to see some art and get drunk at the press parties.
First, the parties were really really tres fun – we loved the fact we were allowed to take over Kassel train station to boogie on down to a DJ whilst trains were still truckin in n out, bewildered passengers wading through the crowds with their luggage, dazzled by disco balls. Can you ever imagine Cameron n co allowing such festivities in St Pancras? Nope, neither can we. We hung out on a platform guzzling wine n talking to lovely artists from Berlin till 3am! Marvellous eve. Other parties worth a mention was the vodka bash in the oldest gothic church in town (and we’re talking the birthplace of fairy stories here – the Grimm bro’s hometown) where we enjoyed cocktails and Pink Floyd style psychedelia on the light display front. All in all, great incentive for starting up a zine. Thank you, Documenta, for all that.
So, we encountered on our first day the increasingly familiar site of a pop up kinda camp site, right in front of Fridericianum, the main exhibition hall. I said to my colleague, ‘I bet you that’s Occupy’ n he said ‘Nah, it’s just some artistic thing, we’re in the middle of nowhere.’ However, upon approaching the tents n having un petit chat with their residents, my suspicions were confirmed. We were informed that the anti-1% protesters had made their way from Frankfurt (the biggest Occupy hub in Germany) to Kassel, to make a stand against both the exhibition’corporate sponsorship and general Capital/Merkelism – thus ‘Doccupy.’
In response to the tent town, dOCUMENTA’s Artistic Director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev said “I welcome the ‘doccupy’ movement in Friedrichsplatz, which has grown over the last weeks. It continues the wave of democratic protests that have been spreading across many cities in the world. It enacts the possibility of re-inventing the use of public space and appears to me to be in the spirit of the moment and in the spirit of Joseph Beuys who marked documenta and its history significantly, embodying another idea of collective decision-making and political responsibility through direct democracy.”
In all fairness to dOCUMENTA, it really did incorporate some powerful political art. We especially enjoyed the ‘Picasso in Palestine,’ whereby a film made by director Rashid Masharawi and Hourani is exhibited, documenting the process of preparing, transporting and exhibiting the work of Picasso to the occupied Palestinian territory (the only ever masterpiece to be displayed here), alongside a drawing after Picasso’s painting by Amjad Ghannam, a prisoner at the time of the painting’s arrival, that was sent to Hourani as a postcard from Glabou Central Prison.
We were also asked to sign petitions on the second floor of Fridericianum to make the Earth’s ozone layer part of the ‘National Hertitage,’ thus protecting it from man-made harm. Quite a sensible idea, non?
Another crazy political piece was a photographic series (which we not allowed to photograph) by Man Ray’s lover and muse Lee Miller, who was employed by the American Army JUST after WW2 to photograph the dregs of Nazi Germany. Along with snapping a lot of dead Nazi’s, she took the unbelievable measure of posing naked in Adolf Hitler’s bath. In 1945, the year of the dictator’s death, with her apparent ‘access all areas’ pass, she nipped into his apartment in Munich and got stuck in. Well, if that’s not controversy, I just don’t know what is.
You can see a pic here