More Documenta

Leaves Of Grass by Canadian Geoffrey Farmer

Perhaps one’s abiding memory of the blockbuster show nowadays is that everything pretty much becomes just ‘stuff’…even ones own work begins to look like ‘stuff’ seen in the context of so much other art.  Inevitably material with a sense of theatre tends to stand out in such situations – take for example the work by Geoffrey Farmer.  This ingenious project, utilising images culled from Life magazines going back over the decades and using grasses and that stuff called (in England at least) ‘Oasis’ as the support, was a real crowd pleaser stretching as it did the whole length of the corridor on one side of the neue gallery.  I was intrigued as to whether the whole work was finely balanced or whether anchored to the plinth and I especially liked the small typewritten statement on the wall half way along the room that I thought said so much about this kind of event…

and here’s the fragment of the work referred to in the text.

Another tour de force was Nedko Solokov‘s crazy installation that roamed the ground floor of the Bruder Grimm museum.  Very appropriately he had explored his own childhood dreams and fantasies and played them out in a jumbled mixed media cornucopia of delights.  That the brothers were still in evidence on the walls around the piece seemed highly apposite, I imagine they would have loved it.  The central focus of the work saw his desire to be a knight in armour conjoined with a longing to have been a rock drummer in a video played out in a nightclub in Sofia where he is based.  To cap it all the last room contained cases with ringbinders documenting the artists entire output over the past thirty years!

One of the games you can play with a show like Documenta is to spot current Zeitgeists…textiles seem to be having a moment, carpets, tapestries and embroideries are all in evidence at D13 -and were also in evidence at Ostrale.  Goshka Macuga cunningly contrived to mix this trend with photography and link it to the Afghan theme that is much in evidence throughout this Documenta.  There was no denying the power of the piece nor its theatrical display in the curved lobby area on the first floor of the Fridericianum.

The Afghan connection surfaces again in a video work by Omar Fast. Let me nail my colours to the mast – I have quite a distaste for a lot of video work especially the ‘high def wondering camera and no discernable content’ kind.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve experienced a lot of great work by, among others, Bill Viola and Sherin Neshat, just to name two, but a lot more leaves me cold.  But here was a compelling and melancholy narrative with sufficient mystery and allusiveness and a knowing reference to Jeff Wall thrown in.  I’m not going to describe it…like so much of Documenta’s past this is likely to turn up in other locations over the next two or three years.

still from Continuity by Omer Fast

There was so much more we saw, or indeed in the case of Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller and Natascha Sadr Haghighian heard, and a great deal more that various reviewers have suggested we ought to have seen but enough is enough…its time to move on to Dresden and Ostrale – of which more in my next post.

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