There was no way that documenta 14 was ever going to compete with its predecessor on the scale of its intervention in the expansive terrain of Karlsaue Park. Some fifty plus artworks were scattered across the park during dOCUMENTA (13), which made this the most densely populated space for works as well as of visitors, turning a quiet stroll in the park into a mass treasure hunt for art lovers.
The morning I spent at Karlsaue Park today, however, was a mixture of frustration and excitement as I combined my visits to the 4 works of documenta 14 (by Cuidad Abierta, Olaf Holzapfel, Benjamin Patterson and Lois Weinberger – pictured) with a foolhardy quest for remnants of works from five years ago.
But what this combined search for traces of past works and this year’s four pieces taught me was that one of the major strengths of documenta 14, as generated by its split between Athens and Kassel, is that it allows the artworks of one site to forge a contingent relationship with other works elsewhere, either in Athens, Kassel or both. Furthermore, each of the four works shared the form of some kind of structure which had the effect of contingency in a different way: they all demanded some form of mediation from the visitor to be activated, understood and appreciated. In other words, each work caused visitors to triangulate between what they encountered in the park and works on other sites. Of course, this is not to say that certain networks and connections between objects and artists were not deployed at dOCUMENTA (13) – there were artists, for example Susan Hiller, who had works in Karlsaue and elsewhere in Kassel. That said, the spectacle of sheer number of works to be discovered dispersed across the part, makes it harder to believe that they were meant to be encountered in this contingent, mediated way.
I will write about this in more detail tomorrow as I am experiencing some technical difficulties (in addition to extreme exhaustion from my day’s adventures) so I will continue this post on my return to Malaga tomorrow.
In the meantime, here is a video of a ten minute bike ride through the park from 2012 and dOCUMENTA (13) that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.