Site-specific Research documenta 14, April 6-9, 2017, Athens
Kirsten Kötter at documenta (EMST, 07.04.2017)
Documenta 14 in Athens has a political ambition. But several statements are incompatible. On the one hand, the curators try to overcome boundaries with an internationalist intention - this was expressed in the opening press conference. On the other hand, the curators sometimes celebrate historical rebellions in the exhibition and ignore that these were extremely nationalistic. Documenta is inconsistent. Many single statements and points of view are contradictory. This diversity reduces the significance.
Many works of art from the 1970s, from the pre-Internet era, are located between the current works of art. Artistic director Adam Szymczyk understands 'politically' in the sense of a philosopher who tries to think fundamentally new ways without practical necessity.
The curators' influence is most striking in the four main exhibition spaces (Conservatoire, EMST, Benaki Museum, ASFA). The works of art are not clearly separated. The intention of the artist cannot take full effect. That is why I cannot find an intuitive approach. You only find few additional information in the exhibition. That is why I cannot find an intellectual approach. There are only a few exceptions. I get an impression of randomness.
This is quite different in the outer spaces where the artists could intervene more. Only one or two artists are in one place. The result is always very good as the interaction of artist and place generates synergies and complexity.
It is nice to get to know Athens through the documenta. But a documenta visit in Athens tends to become touristical. Does this correspond to the political ambition?
I visited two political community-orientated documenta projects: Rick Lowe's Victoria Square Project at Elpidos 13, and Mary Zygouri's project in the neighbourhood of Nikaia connected to the Museum of the Kokkinia Blockade.
Athens as the capital can not stand for all Greece. Athens is full of tourists from the whole world. Only a few documenta visitors get to the periphery, to Piraeus or Nikaia. You are immediately noticed as a stranger.
Site-specific Research: My artistic work takes place in public. I record events at special locations in nature or in urban spaces. My abstract paintings are logs. Participant observation is a method of field research in the social sciences. I work comparably. My work connects aesthetic and sociopolitical issues.
Opening Press Conference (Athens Concert Hall Megaron, 06.04.2017)
Opening press conference in Athens at Alexandra Trianti Hall at the Athens Concert Hall Megaron, Vassilissis Sofias and Kokkali. Adam Szymczyk, the artistic director of documenta 14, and the curatorial team express their opinions and purposes. A vocal orchestra of all documenta members and artists presents a sound performance in a concert.
Kirsten Kötter in the press conference, 06.04.2017
Adam Scymczyk talking in front of the chorus, water colour, 17 x 24 cm
The speakers: Adam Scymczyk (blue, turquoise), Marina Fokidis (pink, red, brown), and following speakers from the documenta curatorial team, water colour, 12 x 17 cm
Following speakers from the documenta curatorial team, water colour, 17 x 24 cm
Kirsten Kötter in the press conference
Friends of the Kassel NSU victim Halit Yosgat are speaking, people from the audience stand up spontanously, also the two young women in front of me, water colour, 12 x 17 cm
Banu Cennetoğlu (Gennadius Library)
The Gennadius Library was founded in the 1920s as a result of a private donation. The Ankara-born artist Banu Cennetoğlu presents her installation of 145 limestone printing blocks in the garden of the library. The texts represents the diary of Gurbetelli Ersöz, a journalist who supported the human rights of the Kurdish people. After an imprisonment she joined the armed struggle and died in 1997. The diary tells the last two years of her life.
The place and the work of art are very beautiful. But the work of art tells a terrible story. Is it good to transform it in this beautyness or not?
Near the work of art in the garden, water colour, 17 x 24 cm, 06.04.2017
The work of art in the garden, water colour, 12 x 17 cm, 06.04.2017
Work of art by Banu Cennetoğlu
Benjamin Patterson (Byzantine and Christian Museum)
Benjamin (Ben) Patterson was a pioneer of fluxus and experimental art. He was born in Michigan in 1934 and died in Wiesbaden in 2016. A sound installation in the garden of the Byzantine and Christian Museum evokes the impression of a surrealistic froc pond. It combines frog songs with words: This ist Ben Patterson speaking ... - this collage ist great!
Watercolour, 12 x 17 cm, 06.04.2017
Rainer Oldendorf (Polytechnion, Prevelakis Hall)
Rainer Oldendorf shows his work in Prevelakis Hall, a building of the Polytechnion, the National Technical University of Athens. Oldendorf and his collaborators refer to an exhibiton in Athens from 1933 which addressed the Functional City. The installation deals with the space, the walls, the floor and the furniture.
Water colour, 12 x 17 cm, 07.04.2017
I tried to transform the scent of orange blossmons and the colours of Greek architecture in front of Prevelakis Hall.
Gauri Gill (Epigraphic Museum)
The Epigraphic Museum contains ancient stone inscriptions. During the documenta 14, the photographic artist Gauri Gill from India shows four of her series of photographs, which refer to the surrounding inscriptions: 'The Mark on the Wall', 'Proof of Residence', 'Traces' and 'Birth Series'
Rick Lowe (Victoria Square Project, Elpidos 13)
Rick Lowe initiated the Victoria Square Project. It is a space for the neighbourhood of Victoria. The project base is located at Elpidos street 13. The project intends to bring locals, visitors, strangers and fugitives together. The project teams issues a newspaper which introduces local tradespersons.
Victoria Square Project, water colour, 12 x 17 cm, 07.04.2017
Victoria Square Project
View from the EMST to the Arcopolis, 07.04.2017
The EMST, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, is one of the main exhibition spaces of documenta 14 in Athens.
Maria Magdalena Campos Pons, Neil Leonard (ASFA)
In ASFA, the Athens School of Fine Arts, Maria Magdalena Campos Pons and her husband Neil Leonard show their installation Mantazas Sound Map. Campos Pons was born in Cuba and lives in Boston. The installation consists of glass jars, of ornamental grilles, of wood and plants and is added by a video an by sounds from Cuba. Campos Pons is present and communicates with her visitors.
Maria's installation, water colour, 12 x 17 cm, 08.04.2017
2. Maria Magdalena Campos Pons in her installation
Talking with Maria
Rebecca Belmore (Filopappou Hill, Pikionis Paths)
On Filopappou Hill or Hill of Muses you will find the Pikionis Paths which were created in the 1950s. Now in spring the soil is covered with dark red poppies and other flowers. On the hill, facing the Akropolis, is Rebecca Belmore's marble tent which quotes the relics of Greek ancient times. At the same time the tent refers to the indigenous origin of the Canadian artist and it is a symbol for the refugee crisis in Greece.
Marble tent of Rebecca Belmore
The Hill of Muse in April, water colour, 24 x 32 cm, 09.04.2017
Painting on the Hill of Muses facing the Acropolis
Painting on the Hill of Muses facing the Acropolis
Poppy flowers (and yellow and violet flowers)
Vivian Suter (Filopappou Hill, Pavillion near Saint Dimitrios Loubardis)
Vivian Suter's painted panels of fabric are hanging beside the pavilion near the Church of Saint Dimitrios Loubardis. The paintings were made in the crater of a volcano on the island of Nisyros. Some of them still include traces of their point of origin like ashes and grime.
Water colour, 12 x 17 cm, 09.04.2017
Mary Zygouri (Nikaia, Museum of the Kokkinia Blockade)
The Museum of the Kokkinia Blockade is situated in the municipality of Nikaia, a suburban district near Piraeus. The museum commemorates a massacre on August 17, 1944, when German Nazi troops executed 74 members of the Greek Resistance. Refering to that history and the present crisis, the Greek artist Mary Zygouri works together with pupils and with other inhabitants from the neighbourhood. The pupils are part of a performance. Old men perform music. Zygouri and her team run a long time project which reasearches the historical incident of 1944 and a related performance of 1979. The project is meant to improve the present situation in this area wich was always the home of refugees. The results of this collaborative and social project are shown in installations, in a performance and in a film.
Historical ground with ruined building, garden and museum, water colour, 17 x 24 cm, 09.04.2017
In the museum, water colour, 24 x 32 cm, 09.04.2017
In the studio across the street, water colour, 24 x 32 cm, 09.04.2017
The artist Mary Zygouri and the drama therapist Irida Baglanea and the singers in the studio
Singing in front of the museum