May 29 2017
Learning from Athens is the subtitle of Documenta 14 in Athens. The context of this vast city with its enormous history as a context to the art that is shown in the different venues definitely adds to its impact. Greece is still in economic problems and the number of refugees that are stuck in this country do not help to stabilize the country. For years I hear that young Greeks want to leave the country, but they don’t have the money. They can not migrate, even though Greece is part of the EU.
This tension is the atmosphere in which Documenta 14 is installed. A lot of the art is about migration, oral history is a major technique with which migration is being presented. Personal stories on video, with talking heads, which force you to listen to the stories instead of looking for images.
You can see a lot of video in general, Video is time based art and a lot more of that can be experienced. Under the title Body of languages continuing performances are brought in different spaces in the city. Music, art-performance, theatre, lectures and multi-disciplinary happenings are a way to engage the audience and to communicate with them directly.
Older ways of communication are featured, at times I had the impression old languages, old ways of living and other mores are re-evaluated. Also political history is shown as a reason for migration.
In all this, I was touched most by art-works that found an effective visual language for telling the story that the artist wanted to tell. The beautiful video in the conservatoire and the sculpture in the inner square in the Benaki of Hiwa K, The Graphic installation of Rosee Rosen in the Benaki, the Thai singer in Aarin Rungian’s video in the ASAF, the installation of Nikhil Chopra and a lot more made me think this Documenta is worthwhile. My initial scepsis changed in real considerations to maybe visit the Documanta in Kassel also!