Since 1955, every five years, this central German city of Kassel has kept faith, and waves the banner that art matters – that art can have humanist significance in an untethered world.
Documenta 14, which opened at the beginning of June and runs for a traditional 100 days to September, confirms that it is the world’s leading showcase of art, and that sincere art not only packs a punch, but can be a valuable means to contemplate and engage with the most pressing issues of our time.
The Venice Biennale, also currently on down there at the big Italian yacht lagoon, has hung in for the arty limelight since 1895, safely punting the old order of nationalities and culture in its country pavilions.
But, like the thriving international industry of art trade shows and fairs, compromised to neoliberal culture, it nowadays plays to the audience – mostly to those in the money who arrives on yachts, stay for the parties, and brag about their art acquisitions to one another.
They are the new art collectors of capitalism’s outrageous bloom, to whom a famous artist’s signature is entertainment, and his/her work simply social and monetary currency. The value of art usurped.
Documenta has, over the decades, given the famous painters, sculptors and performers the space. But, with a few hiccups here and there since it was established as a project of faith in the creative human spirit after the devastation of war and its disruption of progressive modernist culture (the city was both a seat of learning and centre of the armament industry), it has always been about the conversation. read more