BERLIN — Debt was one of the core themes of the 14th edition of Documenta, the sprawling German exhibition of contemporary art that takes place every five years in the city of Kassel. The failure of this year’s show to balance its own books may be one of its enduring legacies.
The exhibition, which closed Sunday, was divided between two cities — Kassel and Athens — in part to draw attention to the failures of the capitalist system that led to Greece’s near-default on its debt in 2010. Bankruptcy there was averted by bailouts worth hundreds of billions, and Greece was plunged into a devastating economic crisis, from which it is only now emerging.
Called “Learning From Athens,” Documenta 14 appears to have practiced what its title preached — at least in terms of relying on bailouts. The cost of operating a second venue appears to have contributed to a deficit of more than 7 million euros ($8.4 million) in the finances of Documenta GmbH, the company that runs the exhibition, according to the Hessische Niedersächsische Allgemeine, a regional newspaper serving the Kassel area.
The city of Kassel and the state of Hesse, which are both shareholders in the company, then stepped in to cover the deficit with loan guarantees, according to the newspaper. Read more