“Love is a strong currency”
Documenta 14 is the first to be held in two locations – in Kassel and Athens. Three voices from the Greek capital.
“Learning from Athens” is what Adam Szymczyk, curator of Documenta 14, aims to achieve with the first Documenta to be held in two locations. The Greek part of the exhibition ended in July. Do people in Athens feel that their voice has been heard? A festival organiser, an artist and a member of the Documenta choir give us their impressions.
There was something magical about those first days, about first sharing our ideas.
“Documenta 14 created a forum in Athens in which all local cultural institutions worked together. The fact that something like this has happened in Athens – in a city that was more emancipated than ever before in its contemporary history – has generated a great deal of hope in the cultural scene. The cooperation between individuals, institutions, schools, advisory bodies and government created such energy that it also spread to visitors.
One of the most exciting moments was when Adam Szymczyk revealed his idea to us in a small group. Another unforgettable experience was when, after endless discussion and effort, we were able to welcome roughly half of the participating artists to Athens three years before the opening. There was something magical about those first days, about first sharing our ideas. I will never forget the love, the energy, the hope, the curiosity, the longing – the urge to create that circulated through that room. There was an unexpressed confidence that everything would come together.
What I personally wish for in very practical terms as a result of the Documenta is the development of multiple networks. Many links have already been created between members of the Athens cultural scene and other groups worldwide. They will endure and be extremely helpful for the cultural reality here. Love, taken seriously and systematically cultivated, is a far stronger currency than the euro or the dollar.”
For me, Adam Szymczyk’s decision to bring it here is one of the most brilliant ideas in the art scene of the last ten years.
“The Documenta divided the Athens art scene, but I believe there is something good about that. Outsider circles tend to form cliques, and that makes people small-minded. From that perspective, the Documenta was something like a hint of fresh destruction. I remember the opening of an exhibition that was curated by Milovan Farronato. We really thought the building was in danger because the crush was so great. That is just one example of how the Documenta in Athens was a great success.
For me, Adam Szymczyk’s decision to bring it here is one of the most brilliant ideas in the art scene of the last ten years. Just think how much it was discussed and how many people responded! We had a plethora of events, and every curator I know wanted to do something in Athens.
Unfortunately, Germany continues to be regarded with scepticism in Greece. I don’t say that this is right, but an art show like the Documenta cannot sweep away all prejudices. In any event, more people are moving to the city or coming back to Athens. I hope that the dynamism of the Documenta continues – even if at a slower pace. It would be great to see new people in the city – people that appreciate Athens as it is.”
I am optimistic that the Documenta has provided the tools with which we can relearn history and imagine an alternative future.
Mika Hayashi Ebbesen
“Whether in Athens or Kassel, the Documenta has become an impressively complex platform for enabling the debate on the crisis of democracy to unfold – for example, by focusing on the myths associated with the rise of the nation-state and the connection between capitalism and colonial policy. A real understanding between Germany and Greece will only develop through the willingness of individual citizens to reject media propaganda and nationalist discourses.
I am optimistic that the Documenta has provided the tools with which we can relearn history and imagine an alternative future. Many artists in Athens shared my joy at the unexpected encounters and new constellations within the creative scene that the Documenta brought.”