dOCUMENTA (13): The Beach

After experiencing that being led by a chanting stranger through total darkness is not as scary as it sounds in Tino Sehgal‘s performance at Huguenot House, we decided to spend some time outside for a change. Some of you may not remember, but there was a time when summer days meant (heart) warming sunshine.

With perfect weather we made our way to the park Karlsaue, where the first water we saw was luckily not poured on us but gathered in a rectangular pool embedded in the ground. Howbeit, the work by Massimo Bartolini feels certainly not less contemplative than watching endless rows of raindrops falling towards the ground: Untitled (Wave) consists of a wave that is rhythmically swaying back and forth and sometimes spilling over on the surrounding grass. Bartolini’s work symbolizes the endless cycle of life being visible in constant transformation: the wave’s movement is infinite but always different in its outer appearance. Besides the spilled water nurtures the vegetation, thick grass planted rectangular around the pond. Furthermore, Bartolini’s little pool refers to the tradition of aligned water basins, a means that was popular when the Karlsaue was designed as a baroque pleasure garden in the 18th century. As well as to the fountains that can be found in the park, whose infinite circulation of water can be seen as a representation of the circle of life.

All that thinking about water and life made us realize that we were starving. Not yet familiar with CCB’s disposition of the 24 pavilions on the 125-hectare ground we just started walking, got lost and soon missed the guiding hands of our assistants from Tino Sehgal’s performance.

Luckily we stumbled over something that clearly looked like we could find some refreshment: A colourful tent structure. Immediately we were invited to eat some couscous inside. Was that some clever local that had the winning idea of making a business by selling food to the art enthusiasts who forgot to eat in the morning? It turned out to be the work of Robin Kahn & La Cooperativa Unidad Nacional Mujeres Saharauis: The Art of Sahrawi Cooking. The artist spent one month with the women of a Western Sahara settlement and published a book about their cooking. With the translocation of a solitary ceremonial desert tent stitched artfully by the women to Kassel, Kahn wants to invite people to learn more about the doom of that indigenous people that have been annexed by Morocco. Was that a piece of art? Maybe.

Summing up the last hours: we had sun, relaxed by the pool, had a nice snack in the cooling shade of a desert tent. And now the sun was going down behind something that looked suspiciously like a dune (Song Dong’s Doing Nothing Garden). Was Kassel partly recovered as the perfect 24-hour beach hideaway? The answer is always maybe.

This is the forth part of Niche Berlin’s thoughts on dOCUMENTA (13), read part one, two and three.


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