So I am no longer a dOCUMENTA virgin. The greatest art show that no one’s ever heard of. Taking over the not-very-chocolate-box town of Kassel (every 5 years for 100 days) the art piles up in every corner of the town: at the end of railway platforms, parks, legitimate gallery spaces, illegitimate space, hotel ballrooms. Kassel is not the most rocking town in the country. We Brits blew it to smithereens in the 40s so most of the historic charm has been wiped off the map. We now have a 50s town which has been compared to Coventry – says it all. There are a few gems such as the Grand City Hotel Hessenland and the divine train station which are replete with all the original fixtures and fittings. And a huge park – but art aside the rest of the town does rather such unfortunately.
We did our best with the German restaurants but my god has that town been overtaken by the pizza – like the cane toad of Germany! Don’t really know what else to say – I can’t recommend too many places and do my usual other than suggest Karl’s Hospital which was good. And the beer, as always is supreme. We did veer off programme though and dive into the Sepulchral Culture Museum. That was firmly on brief for me.
So the history of dOCUMENTA lies in a post-war art initiative to re-establish Germany back into the social and creative fabric of Europe. And they appear to have done a rather impressive and effective job having laid the foundations for one of the largest and most significant non-profit art festivals in the world.
So we were there escaping the British summer to indulge in some committed art viewing, consuming, watching, listening…some mesmerising installations and immersive experiences right across the board. This is not art Berlin style, it is not Frieze. Or Basel. This is something else altogether. Art Boot Camp?
dOCUMENTA 13 – on til 16th Sept. Worth checking out the site regardless, its a beautiful piece of work.