Sentenced to Life: Alyce Kaplan at dOCUMENTA (13)

I did not visit Kassel five years ago, but I cannot forget Alyce Kaplan’s work in the hexagonal room on the top floor of the Orangerie. While I didn’t see it in person, her work appeared on the gray carpeting on the landing as a colorful reflection. I don’t recall stepping closer to that reflection, watching it, walking around it, squinting to see more. If I’d been there, I would have watched it in silence, taking a small step back, bringing out my Leica (I don’t own a Leica, but a Panasonic with its Leica lens). I may have taken a photograph, in a deliberate way, only to realize later, to my dismay, that I had the black and white setting on, so this photograph captures nothing of the rainbow-colored splendor of Kaplan’s work only the gray of the carpet.

If there, I would have walked over to the walltext to see the artist and title of this ephemeral work. It was then that I first discovered the name Alyce Kaplan. Although in reading more about her since, sometimes her name is spelled ‘Alice’. The title, however, was unforgettable:

“And I think to my selffffffffffffffffffff, what a wonderful worrrrrrrrrrrrld”

At the time, while somewhere else entirely, I was thinking about that passage in Apuleius’ “Metamorphoses” (aka “The Golden Ass”), when the protagonist Lucius hears about his future from the dubious prophet Diophanes and how it seems as if he will be destined to become a character in the novel we are reading:

“Now my glory will be sufficiently rosy, now I’ll become a grand narrative and an unbelievable parable written down in books.”

Years later, I was, in fact, reading the Guidebook from dOCUMENTA  (13), and I looked up Kaplan in the index. It led me to p. 218 and there, to my surprise, beside the reflection appeared, instead of Kaplan’s name, that of another, the curiously Spanish-sounding name of Finnish artist and famous collaborative partner of Erkki Kureniemi (creator of the “Love Machine”): Iraida Lombardía.

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