The Art World Reacts to documenta: 5 Things Everyone Is Already Talking About on Social Media

A gargantuan installation by Marta Minujín is dominating the social media airwaves so far.

Marta Minujín, The Parthenon of Books, foreground, and the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, whose tower emits white smoke in Daniel Knorr's Expiration Movement (2017). Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.
Marta Minujín, The Parthenon of Books, foreground, and the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, whose tower emits white smoke in Daniel Knorr's Expiration Movement (2017). Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.

Hundreds of artists, collectors, critics, curators, and other art lovers have convened in Germany, for the 14th edition of the monster quinquennial exhibition, which first opened this spring in Athens and hosts its preview opening today in Kassel.

Curated by Adam Szymczyk, the show features work by 160 participating artists, with a robust schedule of events and performances all week. For those of you can’t make it to the event, you can at least get an good eyeful of its gargantuan installations and slow-motion performances via social media. There are also a few early critiques of the show and playful jabs at the organizers, as well as some views of some notable visitors. Here’s what we’ve learned about documenta 14 from the world of social media.

 

1. GEE, THERE ARE SOME HUGE, EYE-CATCHING WORKS!

 

Argentinian artist Marta Minujín’s anti-censorship work The Parthenon of Books (2017) is catching the eyes of many visitors. The work is chockablock with books that are or have been banned by national governments, and it ties together references to the show’s second venue in Athens (often called the birthplace of democracy), the history of Nazi book-burnings, and Argentina’s own experience with dictatorship.

Others spotted a giant work by Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, who was caught in a high-profile conflict with art dealer Stefan Simchowitz last year, and had a similarly large-scale installation in Okwui Enwezor’s Venice Biennale. Berlin curator Marie-Ève Lafontaine has a sassy observation in the comments on Monopol magazines Instagram post: “Probably recycled from Venice two years ago 🤔”

Von Ghana über Athen nach Kassel: Die Jutesäcke des Ibrahim Mahama #documenta14 #ibrahimmahama

A post shared by Monopol-Magazin (@monopolmagazin) on

2. HANS HAACKE HAS REDEFINED “THE PEOPLE”

 

Hans Haacke, <i>Wir (alle) sind das Volk—We (all) are the people</i> (2003/2017). Photo courtesy Naeem Mohaiemen.

Hans Haacke, Wir (alle) sind das Volk—We (all) are the people, 2003/2017. Photo courtesy Naeem Mohaiemen.

The German artist, known for a career of politically minded work, proclaims in a dozen languages that “we are (all) the people,” a sentiment that runs counter to rising tides of nationalism and nativism around the globe.

 

3. ONE PERFORMANCE SLOWS THINGS DOWN TO A CRAWL

 

the continuous pace of emergence @mariahassabi #mariahassabi #nialljones #documenta14 #nofilter

A post shared by biba bell (@bellbiba) on

 

The dancer and choreographer Maria Hassabi’s performance transpires at a snail’s pace, and it’s making visitors stand still. (She recently had  a performance at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where she made an admirer out of artnet News critic Blake Gopnik.)

 

3. THE SHOW’S VISITORS ARE A DAPPER BUNCH

 

#kassel #documenta14 #art #visitors #costume #pictureoftheday

A post shared by Kai Pfaffenbach (@kai_pfaffenbach) on

Photographer Kai Pfaffenbach spotted a very stylish visitor at the show.

#documenta14 #fridericianum #myfirstdocumenta

A post shared by Dirk Pörschmann (@dirkpoerschmann) on

It’s this little guy’s first documenta, apparently.

Momus contributing editor Tausif Noor wonders if there is some conflict afoot with this Frenchman’s getup.

Beloved video artist Jonas Mekas made the scene, looking cool as ever.

 

4. THE FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE CYNICAL

 

Amy Zion, a writer and curator, is a bit critical on first flush.

Ottobong Nkanga, #documenta14

A post shared by Kunstkritikk (@kunstkritikk) on

German magazine Kunstkritikk noted that a work by Otobong Nkanga is seemingly missing a label, so someone took it upon themselves to create one.

The organizers of documenta 14 have been very secretive about the show until the last minute; here, a German radio station comments wryly on a sign spotted in Kassel that issues a warning. “Finally,” says the comment to the post, “a clear announcement.”

Molly Taylor, who works in art publishing, spotted a bit of graffiti calling out the organizers for economic hypocrisy.

A Twitter account devoted to news of the museum world had a clever take on our own article about documenta merchandise.

More 14 #documenta14 #inspiration #itsvenicebaby

A post shared by Angelos Frentzos (@angelosfrentzos) on

And, speaking of the merch, here are the documenta 14 socks worn with a pair of Raf Simons kicks.

 

5. WORDPLAY IS EN VOGUE

 

Maybe you’ve heard about dogumenta, which lets man’s best friend share our experience of art. It’s not far from there to duckomenta, which is made up of, well, daffy versions of some staples of art and visual culture.

 And with that, we have to… duck out.


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