Far from a caps lock disaster, dOCUMENTA is actually an international exhibition of contemporary art. Inhouse Stories, Film & Photography Project Manager, Amy Christian, went along to dOCUMENTA13 in Germany earlier this year. And this is what she thought about it.
I have to admit that I teetered on the edge of quitting the two-and-a-half hour queue at least three times. But standing in Kassel’s draughty train station at dOCUMENTA13 clutching a luke warm, milky tea in one hand, a 6lb guidebook in the other and looking every bit the fresh faced newbie, I somehow managed to hold on. Upon receiving my standard-issue iPod and headphones at the front of the queue, I was strangely giddy with excitement (maybe it was the warm room that I had finally entered) at starting this sought-after tour of Kassel’s train station…
And so I spent my first morning at dOCUMENTA, absorbing the surreal experience of Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller’s work which took us on an audio visual journey around every corner and platform of the station. As soon as the headphones were on my head I was suddenly in a parallel world, at the station but in a different time. I was seeing things through someone else’s eyes, living and breathing their thoughts, memories and experiences.
The use of sound and your own participation brings the story to life around you and so reality merges with fiction. You are asked to move the iPod as if you are filming and a movie plays out in front of you – the guidebook refers to it as ‘physical cinema’ – you deeply experience the events in the film because you are in the exact spot in which they were filmed. It is a very unsettling experience. At one point a delivery truck in the film reverses right next to you and you find yourself jumping out of the way. A group of ballet dancers perform in a quiet area and you find yourself drawn closer and closer, even though they are not really there.
We continued our experience of dOCUMENTA in the train station. Willie Doherty’s film ‘Secretion’ intricately mixes fiction and invisible memory to create something that leaves you shaken and overwhelmed with emotion. And Rabin Mroue’s ‘The Pixelated Revolution’ is an interesting mix of video, photos and flip books with audio that capture the deaths of the Syrian revolution. All captured on mobile phones by the victims themselves, it has an intimate feel that allows us to see into the conflict from a completely unseen perspective.
Day two was just as interesting, albeit in a less practical way. We visited Kassel’s gigantic park and saw art works such as Giuseppe Penone’s giant rock in a tree and Anri Sala’s giant skewed clock. Anna Maria Maiolino’s house full of clay sausages was a little unsettling and I still can’t quite work out what it meant. But then, not all art is for everyone and that definitely wasn’t for me.
Two days at dOCUMENTA is no-where near enough time to absorb the magnitude of art on display. It’s clearly the cream of the crop and has been curated to perfection over the last 5 years. There is something for everyone and you can’t help but leave just a little more inspired, a little more excited and a little more open minded about the possibilities before you.
Find out more about dOCUMENTA at http://d13.documenta.de/