Instead of cracking cases, Kassel’s police must answer the question, “Is this art?”
With documenta 14 well underway, the head of Kassel police department’s special documenta task force, Lars Viereck, recently spoke to HNA, a regional newspaper in Kassel. He recalled an incident during this year’s exhibition in which he observed two Asian women, in a car parked in a spot for the disabled. They were pulling on balaclavas over their heads.
“Are they preparing a robbery,” Viereck says he asked himself, “or is it only a performance?”
In fact, the women were tourists hoping to capture a unique selfie in front of Marta Minujín‘s much-photographed Parthenon replica made from banned books.
Such are the joys of policing the city-spanning contemporary art event, a task which has led Kassel’s police force to create the special documenta unit to make sure there is no mischief or wrongdoing during the festival. Much of the unit’s efforts are spent on the specialized task of deducing whether any out-of-the-ordinary activity is a spectacle associated with the exhibition or a criminal incident that requires law enforcement to intervene. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
In another example, a concerned member of the public reported white smoke billowing from the Fridericianum, documenta’s primary exhibition venue. Was it harmless art or a deadly inferno? “That’s normal, it’s art,” officer Oliver Stiebing reassured the visitor, according to the German press agency DPA. (The smoke piece, Expiration Movement, is a work by Daniel Knorr.) read more