One month out from the opening of Documenta 14 in Athens, much of the quinquennial’s program remains shrouded in secrecy. However, at a press conference today in Kassel, Germany, its organizers said that they planned to host works from Greece’s National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (EMST) at the Fridericianum in Kassel, and that the EMST will be the largest venue for Documenta in Athens.
According to a report from Deutsche Welle, about 230 works by some 70 Greek and international artists will be installed amid pieces newly commissioned pieces at the Fridericianum, which is typically the main site of the show. A release from Documenta says, “The EMST building and the museum’s collection are made public, though not simultaneously and not in the same space, in keeping with the conditions of displacement that both EMST and Documenta 14 currently work within.”
In late 2014, Documenta 14’s director, Adam Szymczyk, revealed the exhibition, which is typically staged every five years in Kassel, Germany, would also also take place in the Greek capital. While Documenta has roamed in the past—its 13th edition, in 2012, included a satellite location in Kabul, Afghanistan, and events in Alexandria, Egypt, and Banff, Canada, and the 12th, in 2007, involved a few lucky visitors being sent to dine at the famed El Bulli restaurant on the Costa Brava in Spain—this is the first time that a city is being afforded equal status to the Kassel mothership.
While planning Documenta 14, Szymczyk had spoken of perhaps showing the recently rediscovered holdings of Nazi art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt, though that plan has not panned out. (The Kunstmuseum Bern, to which the dealer’s late son, Cornelius Gurlitt, bequeathed the collection, now holds it.)
Documenta 14 opens to the public on April 8 in Athens and June 10 in Kassel. In Athens, the action will reportedly begin with a horseback procession modeled on one found on a frieze of the Parthenon. Last month, Greece’s Central Archaeological Council approved the proposal but, as the Athens News Agency put it, “drew a line…at the organizers’ request to use miniature Skyrian ponies.”
Though Documenta organizers reportedly argued that the horses on the frieze were small, the council issued a unanimous statement that read, in part, “The people and the horses on the Parthenon frieze have a certain proportion. The horses there are large, they are not ponies.” Noted!
According to ANA, that dramatic opening will inaugurate a 1,850-mile horseback ride from Athens to Kassel inspired by a ride that writer Aimé Félix Tschiffely made from Buenos Aires to New York in 1928. It’s not clear who will be riding all of these large horses, but a colleague just pointed out that it might be nice to see former Documenta directors—Okwui Enwezor, Catherine David, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and so forth—atop those beautiful animals. Here’s hoping.