Documenta 14’s Athens Pre-Program Focuses on Sex, Violence, and Immigration

Sex activist Annie Sprinkle will host an event on the pleasures and perils of water.

Andreas Angelidakis, installation view of 68 blocks of ruins. Courtesy of documenta 14.

Documenta 14, also known as “Learning from Athens,” has officially kicked off its extended preliminary public program in the Greek capital. The event, titled “34 Exercises of Freedom,” started on September 14 and is scheduled to run through the 24, culminating with a “Transfeminist Queer Night” this Saturday.

Billed as neither a conference nor exhibition, “34 Exercises of Freedom”—hosted in the Athens Municipality Arts Center at Parko Eleftherias—features a roster of international artists, professors, poets, and social activists, including, among others, sex specialist Annie Sprinkle.

On Friday night, under the umbrella of “Postporn Activism and Ecosexual Freedom,” Sprinkle will host an evening on the “pleasures and perils of water,” titled Wet Dreams Water Ritual.

Such a topic does not shy away from controversy, considering the context of Athens and its role in the refugee crisis.

The topic of water in relation to Athens’ location has been one of interest since Documenta 14’s inception. In a 2014 conversation with Artnews Artistic Director Adam Szymvzyk said, “What interested me is that Athens is a contemporary metropolitan city of the Mediterranean that is connected to other places across the water. It borders Turkey, it has an influx of migrants coming all over the place.”

The closing week’s program’s subtitle is “Parliament of Bodies,” and, according to the press release, it “aims to write a queer anti-colonial symphony of Europe from the 1960s, scripting dialogue and giving visibility to dissident, heterogeneous, and minor narratives.”

The lineup consists of a number of events related to sex and violence and what may possibly result when contextualized in trauma. Bonita Fly hosted a workshop titled “Interior Effects as an Outcome of War,” which focused on undiagnosed, untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered not by soldiers, but instead by their family members in the wake of these soldiers’ return home.

As a conclusion to the program, artist Irena Haiduk will perform an epic oral poem, in a nod to the mode in which history was recorded and transmitted for centuries. According to the press release, so too will the poem serve as a historical record of the 10-day event, in an act that further honors the form of oral history in which the poem itself is paying tribute.

Documenta 14, “34 Exercises of Freedom, Extended Program,” runs in Athens from September 14–24, 2016

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